[Review] The Flash (2014) Episode 2×10: “Potential Energy”

This week, more than one person says goodbye. Slow down and take a breather, because it’s time to take a look at CW’s The Flash.


BETHANY

The theme of this episode could be described as “HOW DO I RELATIONSHIP?”

Anybody could probably tell you the answer: it takes work, it takes trust, it takes love. The thing about trust, though, is that it’s a leap of faith. You have to hope that someone will catch you if you jump. If you don’t know that you’ll be met halfway, you stop at the edge and suddenly there’s this chasm between you and someone else, one you didn’t see before.

I mean, it’s all metaphorical, here. But you don’t really run up on that chasm until the moment comes when you have to trust, and be trusted. You have to meet in the middle; it doesn’t work any other way.

Spoilers under the cut.

This is an episode that I had only previously watched halfway through. I actually bailed because the bulk of the first half was kind of…awkward. It was deliberately so – Joe was going around introducing people to Wally, talking about being father and son, and it was clear that it was making Wally really uncomfortable. Like, they just met, and Wally’s a grown adult who’s used to not having a dad, and this is not comfortable at all. Rewatching it, those scenes are still cringeworthy.

I empathize with Joe, I really do. I didn’t meet my sister until she was six, and I still feel like I missed a lot. I would have liked to know what she looked like as a baby, what her first word was. I would have liked to have been there when she started crawling and walking. I would have been six and seven myself, but I would have remembered and been a part of it. My sister is a big part of my life, and I’m so glad to know her now, but I wish I had known her then.

But Joe was forcing it, whether out of panic or joy (both, I suspect), and it made me want to curl up and die inside. I feel second-hand embarrassment very keenly, so this was a difficult sit. They work through it; Joe apologizes and it looks like they’re making a good start. But ugh, that was awful.

Moving right along, let’s talk about the Patty Plot this episode.

Can I just say: ugh.

First of all, the episode is such a tease. Iris tells Barry to tell Patty the truth. Barry decides that, yes, this is a good idea, and he will definitely do it in the middle of trying to stop a metahuman who can slow everyone else down instead of, like, meeting her before the whole thing and saying “look, here’s what’s going on, I want you to be a part of this.” Several times, just as he’s worked up the nerve, something happens and he doesn’t tell her.

The last thing that happens is that she breaks up with him so she can leave town and pursue her career in forensics. (Go Patty! Take care of yourself! follow your dreams!)

Second of all, Patty becomes the victim of a kidnapping because the Turtle (our aforementioned metahuman) decided that she was what the Flash treasured most, based off of no evidence. Which is, let’s be clear, a really gross plot. It’s been done and done and done again. The Turtle (an otherwise harmless thief who was a collector) deciding to just straight-up murder Patty because the Flash saved her life is…I feel like it was a hell of a jump, and it was clear that it was all done just for reasons of Plot. (Sidenote: hasn’t Patty been held hostage an excessive number of times, at this point? Without having any agency in being freed at all? Iris was a hostage once or twice, but when she was, she was often an agent of her own freedom.)

I really like Patty, and this episode was frustrating on that part – the hostage thing felt really forced – but, on the other hand, I think her decision to leave and move on was very natural. Barry had skived off suddenly for no reason, right when it seemed like he was about to tell her something important, and then she’d almost died. She was kidnapped and nearly murdered because the Flash saved her life – a fact which is true for a good portion of Central City – and she’s been putting off a decision to leave for a long time. (Apparently. That was maybe a little forced too, but it makes sense for her character to have put off her dream for the pursuit of justice.)


KEVIN

Here’s the thing. Patty, like Iris, figured out that Barry has more going on than he admits. And Patty, like Iris, gave Barry one last chance to come clean of his own volition before letting him know that she knows.

Patty, like Iris, lets Barry know that she’s not putting up with his bullshit. And it may not have been a big, cathartic confrontation, but it was equally as badass. And through it all, she’s been respectful of Barry’s needs – way more than most people would be, a fact that she says herself.

Honestly, Patty is the first person in this entire series thus far, with the possible exception of Eddie Thawne, who is an actual goddamned adult about her life. She lays out for Barry what her needs are, what she’s doing with her life, and where she’s going, and she doesn’t make him change his life to suit her. She says “this is what I need, but if it’s not what you need then you need to be honest with me about it.”

As much as I like Barry’s relationship with Patty, she did what she needed for her, and I love her even more for leaving – as much as I love her being on the show and wish she hadn’t left.

Patty didn’t leave to punish Barry. Patty left for herself. And I’ll always love her for that.

Let’s talk about the Turtle.

What an absolute creep. His wife leaves him so he kills, preserves, and mounts her on display? He went right to that from being a “small-time crook”?

The physics behind his powers is suspect, but again, ~Silver Age~. He leeches kinetic energy, but also somehow produces “slow waves” which are actually waves – we see Barry break through his pulses one by one, eventually powering through to knock the Turtle flat. The problem with “leeching kinetic energy” as an attempt to explain it is that the people caught up in Turtlespace also slow down their thought processes, so they literally perceive time as being sped up. Barry’s not affected because it’s been established that his thought processes are actually sped up when he speeds up, so he can still see in real-time even if his body is caught up in Turtlespace.

Not to mention that the lightning Barry generates is also similarly frozen.

You have time travel, show. Just say that he affects time. It’s established. It’s okay. You can just say he slows down time for people around him.

(I especially like the effect that Barry’s going so much faster than everyone else that he’s still moving in Turtlespace when everyone else is practically standing still.)

Slow-mo’ money, slow-mo’ problems.

Before I get to the scattered thoughts bullet points, I’d just like to say that both Bethany and I will be stepping back from writing these reviews. I have a new job, and both of us just have a lot less time to work on these things – as evidenced by this taking over a month to make. We’ll be replaced by someone extremely worthy of the column, someone who cares about speedsters even more than I do. So look forward to that!

Anyway, my final thoughts this episode.

  • Ugh, those nightmares. Fridged off a bridge.
  • Harry is a cat. Harry is absolutely a cat.
  • “Barry’s been busy, he’s doing a lot of running around.” I GET IT.
  • “Where are your cuffs, Taillights?” Not only foreshadowing a side story arc this season, but also really highlighting that there is so much that Joe doesn’t know about Wally.
  • Wally is a speed freak. THIS IS TOTES NOT FORESHADOWING YOU GUYS.
  • “Why does everyone know about this Cisco Turtle thing and I don’t?” Well, that’s what happens when you PUSH EVERYONE AWAY, BARTHOLOMEW HENRY ALLEN.
  • Barry: “I’ll see you at eight.” Everyone else: “Seven.” Literally everyone else in that room is better at relationships than you, Barry.
  • Midway City in the DC universe is analogous to Chicago, the same way that Central City and Keystone are vaguely the dual sides of Kansas City, MO and KS respectively. My problem is not that these cities are the replacement of real life cities, but as always, that the analogues exist AND ALSO THE ORIGINAL CITIES THEY ARE BASED ON.
    • Explain to me how you can have a Midway City and a Chicago, DC universe! Or a Metropolis and a New York! Or a Gotham and…fuck, let’s just continue going with Detroit or some other Michigan place like we discussed in a previous episode.
    • This right here is my biggest issue with DC. The inconsistent worldbuilding.

Up next: EOBARD THAWNE.

Oh boy.

Kevin O’Shea is a writer and has never made it without biting, so he advises you to go ask Mister Owl. You can find him on Twitter (@osheamobile), Tumblr (osheamobile), or in your local post office, mailing Greg Berlanti an actual goddamned map of the United States Of America.

Bethany the Martian is an abuser of parentheses and works in the Pizza Mines. She can be found on Twitter (@martianbethany) and on Tumblr (bethanythemartian).

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