‘The Flash’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 2, Episode 10: ‘Potential Energy’
Welcome back to Up To Speed, in which Flash TV show veteran Dylan Todd and newbie Ziah Grace break down the latest episode of The Flash, dispense some Flash Facts, and talk about what works, what doesn’t, and where the series might be headed.
This week, Cisco looks for his white whale, Twells deals with shades of gray, and Wally West is the black sheep of the West siblings. It’s the most colorful episode that doesn’t feature the Rainbow Rider in “Potential Energy”, directed by Rob Hardy, and written by Bryan Q. Miller.
Ziah: And we’re back in 2016 with Up To Speed, featuring your favorite Flash Recapper, and also Ziah. First off, Dylan, it sure is good to have the boys back in town, wouldn’t you say? How’d you feel about Season 2 Part 2, 2 furious?
Dylan: I thought it was a really good episode to kick off with! Fun dialogue, good balance of villain storyline and personal stuff, an interesting villain with powers that proved a real challenge for Barry. All in all, a really strong start now that we have all that Legends of Tomorrow set-up out of the way.
Just by way of disclaimer, I should say that this episode was written by Bryan Q. Miller, who’s also written for shows like Defiance and Smallville, and who I’ve also worked for on a couple of his comics projects. That said, I’m a consummate professional and won’t let this color my commentary.
Ziah: Okay, let’s start with The Turtle. As all Flashers know, The Turtle is one of the first Flash villains in the Silver Age milieu, so it’s fitting that he’d just show up with a minimum of build-up or character connection. Now, first off, I was confused about the Turtle’s powers. Normally I’d be able to just shrug it off since The Flash has always been more about the aesthetic rather than the air quotes “SCIENCE”, but they made a point of talking about the 2/10 of a second that The Flash had before he… pulsed again? Dylan, was I just asleep at the wheel here? What can The Turtle do in this brave new world?
Dylan: He slows kinetic energy down and yadda-yadda-yadda. Or potential energy? He slows stuff down, but Barry can still move through it because of The Speed Force. They had a whole scene where Cisco and Twells talked about it. It was as science-ey as Weather Wizard’s powers or Captain Cold freezing lasers, I guess. I don’t watch these shows or read these comics for actual, real science.
Ziah: That’s totally fair. Cisco gets like 50 Gold Stars for this episode, if that’s segue enough. Every single delivery of his reminded me why I was so excited to get back to this dumb/great show. And you’re basically right about this show’s love/hate relationship with science, but I guess I was mostly confused about how Flash beat up The Turtle? (Sidenote: how great is it that a sentence like that is understood by millions of Americans)
Dylan: Yeah, his defeat boiled down to “basically he ran fast,” which has sort of been the solution for ¾ of the problems Barry has encountered on this show. And unlike, say, the Trickster/Weather Wizard boss battle, this one had me straining as Barry pushed through the Turtle’s Slow-Bubble. Also, him running away to ramp up speed was a fun touch.
Ziah: Ohhhh, that’s what he was doing. Yeah, this might be my bad on not getting it then. I genuinely was surprised that Barry suddenly could cut through his slow-powers, so that was my first note, since while we might disagree on CC’s laser-freezing powers, they’re pretty insubstantial to the plot insofar as our favorite scarlet-speedster-who-isn’t-90s-Wally-West is concerned.
Alright, slightly exaggerated super science notwithstanding, how great was Cisco this episode? Because, again, Cisco was/is amazing. This was an all-time episode for Cisco Ramon.
Dylan: Even the tap-dancing around the fact that all the sudden Cisco has a list of missing Metahumans was handled well. It makes total sense that he’d have his eye on people that he’s given nicknames to, and Barry’s too busy moping or fighting to be in the know.
Ziah: There is literally nothing I believe quicker (rimshot) on the show than that Barry’s friends have a list of people/goals that he’s just been too self-absorbed to pay attention to.
Dylan: And how great are Cisco and Twells together? I need a spinoff show that’s them living together, Odd Couple-style. They’re so fun together.
Ziah: Amazing. Amazing. One of my immediate notes was Cisco coming in to say, “No, you don’t get to throw somebody else’s stuff around when you get pissed off” to Twells. That and his Bear-themed shirt (speaking as CA’s resident Bear-fan) has firmly cemented Cisco as The Best Character.
Speaking of Twells, we’ve got some slow movement on Twells trying to find a loophole out of his Zoom situation and the origin of the latter’s name. How’d you feel about this revelation? I found it kind of rote, since it’s the same kind of “no, this is serious” defense of superhero/supervillain names that’s overused in cape adaptations. I much prefer Cisco’s, “No, this totally works, you wear green and slow stuff down, so you’re The Turtle,” than a sort-of-serious defense that a villain with a stupid name is still scary.
Dylan: Agreed, but I also thought that it underscored the fact that Zoom is a scary mother who will eat your face off for fun. Who knew Earth-2 was the scary Earth? (I also didn’t think his little speech nailed why Zoom is actually a scary name, but it was a nasty little story.)
Ziah: I guess he…. Zoomed right past it, huh?
Dylan: We also saw more of Wally West, Joe’s new son, and boy, he sure was a meanie, huh?
Ziah: Yeah, that was a bit odd to me, as well. Why did Wally West change his mind about getting to know Joe and Iris during the mid-season break? I thought him showing up was pretty clear proof, but then the next time we see him, he’s Tokyo-drifting and moving to Central City like most millennials his age.
Dylan: I thought the episode sort of laid it out. He was in town to channel his inner Dom Torretto and the family thing was a side quest, but once he saw the sort of thing he was jumping into, family-wise, he was like, “Nah, I’m gonna race cars instead and say hurtful things to my dad when he catches me breaking the law even though he could arrest me and is also wearing a jaunty beanie.”
I thought him and Joe found a good balance by the end, though, with Wally heading back to his mom and both of them agreeing to take their relationship… slow. (Get it?!) Also, shout-out to Wally for “The White Shadow.” He burned you real good, Barry.
Ziah: Wally West, King of Keystone City Burns, sure. I’ll say that Jesse L. Martin killed it on delivering a performance of a father trying to connect with a son he never knew, but to be honest, I found the drag racing kind of boring (because he likes to go fast, you see).
Speaking of the West family dynamic, Iris is once again Barry’s-only-female-friend-people-know-because-Caitlin-spends-all-her-time-in-the-lab, but at least they’re giving Iris something to do. I actually like her role as Barry’s actual confidante, even while I want her to get more to do. So, with that in mind, how’d you feel about the Patty Spivot dilemma?
Dylan: I agree with Iris’ role this episode being a lot better than previously, and I liked her telling Barry, “You know, a year ago you lied to me and it was real crummy,” and I also thought that Barry almost telling Patty like twice this episode was really cool, even though the football was yanked back both times we actually started running towards it.
Ziah: We’re both blockheads, I guess.
Dylan: I will say this: if Patty actually does leave Central City for Midway City like she says she’s going to, I will be a little miffed. She’s fun and she’s good for Barry even though he really doesn’t deserve her for all the reasons she point out in their argument.
Ziah: Yeah… Man, that argument. I really can’t fault her for literally anything she brings up. I know we’ve brought this up in the past, but Barry worrying about telling her he’s the Flash looks really really bad considering who he’s told this season. When you tell your ex-girlfriend who’s dressed up as a light-wielding supervillain your secret identity, you lose your moral high ground real quick.
Dylan: Also, Barry leaving Patty at the museum after the Turtle almost dropped a chandelier on her is just unforgivable.
Ziah: Yeah, he really could’ve chandlelier’d that better.
Dylan: Ay-yay-yay. We also had the Jay/Caitlin romance thing bubbling in the background this week, and was it just me or did Jay come off a lot less drippy this episode? I mean, besides the part where he told Caitlin that he was better at her than science and that she couldn’t get him back his speed if she tried.
Ziah: I mean, you’re not wrong, but he also had, what, five lines? Jay is kind of a heavy water drip, so less is more where I’m concerned. I did like his chiming in on exactly how big of a beefcake he was (6’4’’). So what kind of disease do you think he has? Crisis-on-Infinite-Earth-itis?
Dylan: I’m calling it now: he has an Earth-2mor.
Ziah: Wowwwwwwwwww. Well done, Dylan. That was pungent. So, The Turtle? Not murdered (by Barry), but very much experimented on by Twells! I like this development, since it’s not quite as rote as just hinting that Twells will be betraying Barry down the line. There’s lots of room for his storyline to go, and his playing bad-scientist to Jay’s good-scientist is a lot of fun.
Dylan: I totally thought he killed him? He shot a gun up into his brain and left him bleeding on the floor while having an internal monologue about how he’d do literally anything to save his daughter. We’ll see, but I thought it was pretty clear he died. Poor Galen Tyrol.
Ziah: Dang! I swear I was paying attention this episode, but I thought he was just ignoring some scientific-Geneva-convention stuff. You’re probably right, since that makes his inner monologue more poignant. Huh. Well, let’s talk about the closer: the appearance of (probably) Eobard Thawne. I wasn’t reviewing Flash S1 alongside you, so to be honest, I’m still stunned every time I see Flash’s far-flung distant descendent except from another universe show up, so well done, Flash team!
Dylan: Yeah, that’s Eobard Thawne before he jumped into Wells’ body in the past, but it looks like he’s in the present but he’s from the future. So there’s all that. I will say this: season two has no shortage of speedsters running around Central City.
Ziah: The only thing they can’t outrun is our criticism. Alright, we’ll see you next week, Flash Fans!