I was sure that after all the spinoff duties were over, The Flash would return to kicking ass. While this was an underwhelming winter premiere, it does seem like the show is slightly back on track and has returned to form.
First, the cringe-worthy stuff. The Barry/Patty romance took a huge melodramatic turn this week because the writing is simply horrendous when it comes to this storyline. There is no logical reason in the world to STILL retread the biggest superhero trope known as “the hero hides his identity from his love interest”, especially when literally every other character on this show (including meaningless, random people like Linda) know Barry’s secret. This episode, to be fair, had plenty of chances to undo the damage done in previous episodes regarding this arc, but the fact that the writers are unwilling to go the distance is ridiculously exhausting. Shantel VanSanten does her best with the awful script and even gives a fantastic performance during her fight with Barry at her apartment, but it’s hard to be fooled by these actors’ charm anymore when the material is too clunky. To make things even worse, the hour got even more clichéd with Patty leaving town (but I have a feeling she won’t be gone for long).
The most upsetting thing about this episode is that the Barry/Patty breakup only solidifies one notion: their relationship was simply another obstacle for the eventual Barry/Iris hookup (who are definitely endgame, to my dismay). Patty’s entire arc on this show doesn’t feel nuanced, and that only makes the audience (or at least me) feel frustrated, something also hugely felt whenever Caitlin and Jay are on-screen together, doing whatever it is they’re doing. The over-the-top ending (Jay is dying and the only way to save him is to give him his speed back) is absolutely ludicrous and had me rolling my eyes repeatedly.
The villain of the week was surprisingly not an Earth 2 villain which gave this episode a season-one feeling to it, but sadly The Turtle was a bit underwhelming and undeveloped. Still, the show knows how to entertain, and seeing The Flash stuck in slow-mo never stopped being fun, as was the super creepy Harry/Cisco scene discussing the origin of Zoom’s name. I probably sound like a broken record, but Tom Cavanaugh nails every spine-chilling line with his scenery chewing, and his presence in this episode really helps it from falling completely flat.
The ending, both Harry stealing The Turtle’s powers (that is what happened, right?) and Reverse Flash returning to some suburban world with Gideon (a character that is much more developed than Iris, to be honest), is not the biggest bombshell but still intriguing enough that will hopefully make next week’s show more exciting.
– I was genuinely frightened by the teaser which had Zoom steal Patty from her date with Barry and throw her off a building, until the whole thing turned out to be a nightmare.
– The West family drama was even worse than I expected. Was Wally really upset at Joe for not being there even though he didn’t know he existed? That entire subplot is going to be absolutely exhausting, especially after seeing how passive-aggressive Wally is.
– Are we really supposed to care about Caitlin and Jay as a couple?
– Harry had a creepier-than-usual tone in his voice this time, right? Is it because he’s tired of lying to the STAR Labs teams about secretly working with Zoom to save his daughter?
– Seriously, Patty was a really, really cool girlfriend who looked absolutely stunning in that dress.
– Anyone else tired of all the “fast” jokes and one-liners? Barry saying “fast is my specialty” after Patty storms out had me laughing.
– Heartbreaking (but also cringe-worthy): Patty hugging The Flash after he saves her and thanking him “whoever he is”.
– Even if Patty moves to a whole other city, shouldn’t it be ridiculously easy for The Flash to go see her every single day? More reason to tell her who you really are, Barry!
– Thank God for Cisco for constantly spitting out the funniest lines every week.
– The special effects are always so visually incredible and cool, they really make you forget about the weak writing (sometimes).
Red Blurs & One-Liners
Cisco: Do you think it’s a good idea when you’re fighting crime to bring a date?
Barry: Why have you never mentioned this guy to me before?
Cisco: Oh, I don’t know, I think we’ve just been a little distracted, you know, what with Captain Cold and the Weather Wizard and Gorilla Grodd. Do I need to go on?
Patty: Holy crap, I’ve been a really, really cool girlfriend.
Cisco: I think we found our next target for our thirty-something metahuman not-a-ninja turtle.
Caitlin: How long did it take you to come up with that one?
Cisco: It just came out of my mouth, did you see that? It was amazing.
Caitlin [to Jay]: How do you look in a tux?
Cisco: C’mon, he’s 6’2”, he’s square-jawed and he’s jacked. You think he looks fine.
Jay: I’m 6’4”.
While still entertaining from start to finish, the Barry/Patty drama was too contrived and frustrating in this mediocre midseason premiere.