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TV Review: Flash: Potential Energy

The Flash -- "Potential Energy" -- Image FLA210a_9546b -- Pictured: Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West -- Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

If there’s one thing that the Flash TV show does very well, it’s not wasting any time in making a point. After the mid-season finale, there were still a lot of questions understandably left in the air over the overarching plot with Zoom, and Earth-2. While the show doesn’t necessarily get any closer in the mysteries surrounding those two major plot points, it does start addressing just how Barry can defeat an enemy he’s so hopelessly outmatched against beyond the “get faster” workouts of the previous season. Which is where the Turtle comes in.

The show’s willingness to use obscure and even the sillier parts of the considerable amount of enemies the Flash racked up over the years in the comics is one of its strongest points and the Turtle has always been firmly in both categories as a man who decides to wear a turtle costume (complete with shell!) to fight the Flash. The show dispenses with that entirely and makes him a man who can neutralize kinetic energy, which conveniently allows him to counter the Flash’s speed, and probably Zoom’s speed which makes him a very attractive target for Team Flash. Though it does open up the uncomfortable question of why someone like this was allowed to run free, despite the handwave of being busy with other threats,  that may be more thinking than needed. That said, the Turtle is less of a character and more of an obstacle/plot device, the focus of the episode is squarely upon the fragmenting relationship of Barry and Patty Spivot, along with the stumbling baby steps of Joe and his heretofore unknown son Wally.

As is typical with the Flash, while the writing is very relaxed and comfortable with it’s nature as a superhero show where a man wears a full body suit in the business of punching out men with cold guns, the show still has a lot of work in creating enough soap opera to satisfy it being on the CW. More disturbingly it needs to work on crafting female characters who aren’t defined by their relationship with the main male characters on the show.

Where the show continually fails is insisting upon strange relationship dynamics, like Caitlin’s soap operatic relationship with Jay Garrick, or repeating the “I can’t tell her my secret identity, it could only hurt her” trope that defined Barry’s relationship with Iris in a very annoying way in Season 1, which the characters themselves point out. This happens, as always, only when it’s too late to do anything about it. While Patty breaking up with Barry was inevitable, that was only the case because the show insists upon Barry handing out his secret identity to anyone except whomever he has a crush on/is dating, and it continues to drag down the otherwise quality writing and performances. Even Grant Gustin’s likability can’t save writing this ham fisted.

Wisely though, the show takes a better tack with Wally and Joe. While having Wally be a street racer initially threatened to skate towards some very uncomfortable waters, namely in repeating the New 52 introduction of Wally in the recent Flash comics where he’s a “troubled youth” straight out of an after-school special. The biggest issue Wally has in terms of damage is a natural one that arises from Joe attempting to force his fatherly authority upon someone who’s never known him and expecting that they be a family. While Joe may want to help, Wally isn’t having it since he’s had to suffer and help his mother by his lonesome his entire life and no amount of “insta-dad” will fix that. While Keiynan Lonsdale doesn’t get much to do yet beyond being guarded, Jesse Martin as usual milks every drop of pathos for what it’s worth and channels Joe’s desire to be a father, but without betraying his duty as a cop, or ultimately pushing Wally out of his grasp. That’s ultimately the saving grace of the show, the weird little families we form out of necessity, and sometimes duty, one that ultimately saves Barry as well as Joe.

That said, while there are some flaws in the construction of this episode, there’s more good than bad here. While hopefully the problems start to reduce, now that some of the cast fat has been cut with Legends of Tomorrow, hopefully the focus will return to the remaining cast.

4 out of 5 Turtles

P.S.

  • Look, I know we need the villain to be threatening and all, but the Hannibal Lector-lite traits aren’t really a replacement for character,  we get it the Turtle is a threat.
  • Seriously Joe could probably find tears drinking coffee, I’d just watch a show with Joe running around in a skull cap tracking Wally and solving mysteries.
  • Did the Turtle look kind of dead to you by the end? Or was that just me?
  • I deem this the start of regular Flash post-midseason reviews.
About soshillinois (294 Articles)
What's there to say about me? Well I'm an avid fan of comics, video games, tv shows, and movies alike. I love to read, consume, and discuss information of all kinds. My writing is all a part of who I am.
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