It’s been a long midseason break, and it’s fantastic to have The Flash back on our screens. After spending much of the first half of the season building towards the Legends of Tomorrow spinoff with elements like Hawkgirl and Hawkman being introduced alongside the Atom, The Flash finally has the time to divert its attention to the season-long arc that has been building up and Potential Energy delivers for the most part, even if it may suffer from some flaws.
The episode itself honed the attention on Patty and Barry’s romantic pairing, which as expected, is just a diversion from the inevitable one between Barry and Iris. It went some way to put an end to the romance between the two, and thankfully, the show didn’t fall victim to the trope of killing off a superhero’s love interest. Maybe something like that it would have happened on Arrow, (and it might have done in the midseason finale), but here, Patty gets a lighter farewell, at least for now. The episode was all building up to the moment where Barry would confess the truth to Patty or not, with some good moments throughout the episode that put an interesting villain, The Turtle, in the spotlight.
When that aforementioned villain is played by former Battlestar Galactica (Chief Tyrol!) star Aaron Douglas, it certainly makes for an interesting episode even if The Flash does, by avoiding the love interest getting killed storyline, use the clichéd love interest getting captured storyline, which isn’t much better. The Turtle was a good villain and not just because he was played by Aaron Douglas, but also because his power was pretty cool, with the ability to slow down time making it an effective way to negate Barry’s powers at least, until he managed to find a way to stop him. The fact that The Turtle has been a long ongoing problem that Cisco and S.T.A.R. Labs only now had finally had a chance of stopping was a nice addition, especially as Barry only found out about him after multiple Central City Police Officers and Iris did.
Bryan Q. Miller will be instantly recognisable to Smallville fans for his work on the comics series and it was great to have him work on the episode with a balanced pacing script that handles action and family drama well, not overloading on one or the other and finding a nice middle ground. The fact that Turtle isn’t the main focus of the episode allows for more focus on matters elsewhere, and means that his powers don’t get boring and repetitive after a while. The West family drama also made a return this week as we got to meet Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale), and it’s clear that it isn’t going to be an easy ride. I didn’t like the whole Fast and Furious/Fan4tasic vibe that they had going on with Wally’s character in regards to the street racing scenario, but maybe that’s just me. It was a way of showing that Wally doesn’t really care that much about what his father has to say with legal matters even though he’s a police officer, and sets up the promise of an eventual Barry/Wally interaction very well indeed. It remains to be seen when Wally will inherit the powers of The Flash like his comics counterpart, but there’s a lot of potential still to be had with this storyline even if it didn’t get off to the best start.
Patty and Barry’s breakup this week was handled well and it’s easy to see why. Patty has been put in more danger since her arrival on the show than any other female protagonist, and it’s easy to see why she’s had enough. But that said, she’s proved that she’s capable of handling herself, and means that the team who know about Barry’s identity doesn’t gain another member. At this point, much like with Arrow, far too many people know for it to be that much of a secret anymore.
The final few moments of the episode also came on a welcome note as we got a nice Wells monologue. He isn’t going to bow down to Zoom and is prepared to go to any means necessary to stop him, as is evidenced by his talk about his daughter. He’s afraid when he loses her and it will be interesting to see if he inevitably, at some point down the line, gains the power of Reverse Flash and becomes a speedster himself like his Earth 1 counterpart. There’s plenty of potential there to develop with the Wells storyline as we ask the question, is he doomed to be evil? Or will he remain on Barry’s side? It’s pretty clear that this is going to be a long term development though, whatever happens.
On the whole, this was a solid episode of The Flash. The show didn’t return with the most groundbreaking episode yet, but it didn’t need to. Packing a powerful punch in the storyline despite some flaws it finally got things on track as we head into the rest of the season.
The Flash returns next Tuesday at 8pm on the CW!