[Review] The Flash (2014) Episode 2×11: “The Reverse-Flash Returns”

This week’s Flashcap says goodbye to Kevin and Bethany’s reign of tyranny and welcomes Becky and George’s reign of tyranny! Both sides are clearly just as bad here on CW’s The Flash.


BECKY

It’s nice to have the episode intro narrative kick off with Barry acknowledging that he’s been putting off dealing with things, which he still does even as he narrates, patrolling the city for small crimes instead of confronting the more active issues in his life, like Patty, his family, Zoom, etc. As much as it can sometimes be frustrating as a viewer, I also appreciate that the characters are imperfect people, because for the most part, the show does eventually get around to calling the behavior out.

Spoilers under the cut.

After a season of slowly-growing irritation with no one on Team Flash seeing the snake in the grass that was Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne, every moment of Harry’s frustration and Cisco being a thorn in his side is a delight. He may be a different Harrison Wells, but it’s kind of cathartic. Especially when Harry is being his own special brand of snake by colluding with Zoom.

I love every time we see Barry solve a problem by dismantling things at high speed, even when it’s highly unlikely that would work out to solve the problem in real life. Part of the fun of speedsters is having them do something semi-mundane and having it save the day because they did it in the blink of an eye while everything else is happening at relative snail’s pace. Like removing all of the tires from a runaway semi-truck while it’s in motion. It lends itself to that sort of everyman feeling of the Flash. He doesn’t have super-strength or flight; he’s just fast and clever.

This episode, Eobard Thawne is back, in his original body. He’s here mostly to provide some time travel shenanigans details, as well as a villain of the week who didn’t need to take up narrative time to set up his motive. It also provided impetus to further develop Cisco’s powers, which we’ll need later.

The overarching theme this episode is important final conversations. Choosing to have them. Avoiding them. Missing them.

Barry is avoiding having the final conversation with Patty before she leaves town for CSI school in Midway City. Patty wants to have that final conversation. I can’t really blame either of them entirely. Patty is following her dream career path, furthering her education, and doing what’s right for her. She wants to talk things out and have closure. For Barry, Patty dropped the news that she was leaving town with very short notice, despite what he thought was becoming a serious relationship. There was no discussion; it was just him being informed of how it was. He doesn’t want to hold her back – and nor should he – but it’s also kind of a relationship-ender, and with his abandonment and loss issues, Barry doesn’t want to drag out his hurt by constantly poking at the fresh wound. Trying to needle him to be amiable about it on a two-day timeline is a bit much to expect. Barry is keeping secrets from Patty, but the fact that her plans to go back to school in another city was never discussed between them says that maybe the relationship wasn’t all that serious for her. School plans are a pretty easy and high-level topic of conversation when you’re just getting to know someone. Add the short length of their romance to the amount of trust and risk involved in sharing Barry’s secret identity, and it really isn’t reasonable for Barry to open up to her about his double life now. Of course, Patty doesn’t know all of Barry’s issues to be sensitive to them, but it goes back to the relationship apparently not being as developed as either of them thought it was.

The fact that Patty has figured out Barry is probably the Flash and is still needling him about telling her that secret, along with telling Joe even though he may not know, and finally forcing Barry’s hand with the fake train emergency while she couldn’t be bothered to tell Barry something as basic as planning to go back to school in another city just makes me irritated with her. Her final conversations have had a definitive passive-aggressive and manipulative quality. I don’t like that Barry’s logic behind not telling Patty is said to be about putting her in danger – because if that’s the concern, keeping people in the dark has never been the greatest solution to that – but I feel like he had plenty of other reasons to not share with her.

For the Wests, we have Francine dying. Joe seems to have gone through most of the grieving and closure progress of his issues with his ex-wife in the episodes leading up to this, so we get to see him having a heartfelt and peaceable farewell. He has his closure with Francine, and now it’s just saying goodbye and letting go. Iris’ relationship with Francine is much more new and raw, and her final conversations with Francine are about accepting and dealing with the anger and sense of loss in finding out her mother was alive, had abandoned her, raised a brother she never knew, and now Iris is immediately losing the woman. Iris finding room for forgiveness in Francine’s final days is a great conclusion to that arc. It’s a difficult and emotional arc for Iris, and I think Candice Patton does a stellar job with it. Wally has similar anger to deal with towards Francine. He’s just finding out he has a father and a sister he never knew while simultaneously losing the only parent he’s ever known and trying to cover her medical bills. It’s Iris and Wally’s burgeoning new relationship that convinces him to go have that final conversation with Francine and start his healing process.


GEORGE

Saying goodbye can be tough. It’s supposed to be a definitive ending to a chapter of your life, sometimes someone’s entire story, and how you deal with these endings can tell a lot about what kind of person you really are. This week on “Goddammit, Barry!”, everyone has to deal with a variation on goodbye, from the bittersweet (Barry and Patty) to the tragic (the West family and Francine). Barry withdraws, keeping himself emotionally distant from everyone. Patty tries to end their relationship on a positive note (and eventually gets it), but not before she figures out what Barry should’ve told her already. I’m going to miss Patty and I hope she eventually comes back to not be kidnapped.

Wally running away from his mother’s impending demise is so…Wally, but Iris showing him that he doesn’t need to shoulder all that pain himself was a great touch. I wish this whole subplot was in a different episode and given time to play out. Likewise for Caitlin trying to find a cure for Jay while they fall in love. These are full-on B-plots that each deserve more time, but the A-plot is all-consuming in this episode for one big reason: Eobard Thawne.

Eobard is that goodbye you keep trying to make but the motherfucker will…not…go…away! It doesn’t help that this is, for him, his first appearance and he hasn’t a clue who the Flash really is. That doesn’t last long, though, because Cisco has to showboat a little and give Thawne enough clues to figure out the rest. But the point of Thawne, who’s already defeated, isn’t to be a huge threat to Barry. It’s to say goodbye to some of the pain Barry and Cisco have been holding on to. It’s also to show the rules of time travel and set up the end of this season.

Tune in next week for more “Goddamit, Barry!” and see…wait, no, I’m sorry, there’s a slight change in the programming. Next week is “Fuck you, Harry!” Stay tuned.

George Hatch is not the Reverse-O’Shea. He’s more the new update to Made Of Fail software that you secretly hope doesn’t brick the device. He can be found on Twitter at @Raeseti.

Becky Shire is everyone’s favorite Flash Guru, cosplayer and all-around badass. You can find her on Twitter at @ElfGrove.

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