THE FLASH Gets Timey-Wimey With a Twisted Origin Story

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Episode 211 “The Reverse-Flash Returns”

Welp. So much for Aaron Douglas making another appearance as the Turtle…

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Barry (Grant Gustin) is spending a lot of time as The Flash, rescuing people, rushing to and fro, all in an effort to avoid the conversation he eventually will have to have with Detective Patty Spivot (Shantel VanSanten), who’s basically given him an ultimatum: real relationship or “Bye, Felicia” or something…

(I think I’m too old to get some of these pop culture references now, but maybe you get it…)

Remember: all it took was a bolt of lightning. (Bettina Strauss/The CW)
Remember: all it took was a bolt of lightning. (Bettina Strauss/The CW)

Meantime, Wells (Tom Cavanagh) is irritated because Barry needs to be working on increasing his speed, not chasing around Central City looking for good deeds to do, such as removing all the wheels from a runaway eighteen wheeler full of toxic chemicals before it slams into a wall.

And by the way, it was rigged for that. Who did that? Where’s the follow-up investigation? Barry stopped the truck just in time, but then what? Look for that to come back, unless the writers drop the ball. It’s Chekhov’s Chemical Truck.

But in the process of stopping the truck, the Flash is observed by Eobard Thawne (Matt Letscher), who realizes that he’s finally found the time period when the Flash lives. Which means he now has a target date to use to help him figure out who the Flash really is.

Y’see, this Reverse Flash hasn’t killed Barry’s mother yet.

OK. Excuse the crudity of this model. I didn’t have time to build it to scale. Eobard Thawne comes from the future.

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In the original timeline, Eddie Thawne lived and had descendants. Eobard Thawne was the one who grew obsessed with the Flash, wanted to become the Flash, even to the point of replicating the lightning strike that gave Barry his powers. And at some point, Thawne realized he would never be the Flash. So he decided to be the reverse of everything the Flash represented, and ended up as the Reverse Flash, enemy to the Scarlet Speedster.

Now, Eobard Thawne has a mission: to find out the identity of the Flash and destroy him. To do that, he spends his time jumping back and forth through time in an effort to locate the Flash’s home time. Which he does in this episode. This is the first time Eobard Thawne finds the Flash in his proper time.

Using that knowledge, and the knowledge that the Flash works with a team at STAR Labs, and now knowing — thanks to Cisco — that he’s partially responsible for events, Thawne now has a point of reference for figuring out the Flash’s secret. So it’s only a matter of time before he gets it. From there, he goes back and kills Nora Allen (a fixed point in time. “I’m so, so sorry.”) and sets in motion a chain of events that results in timeline B where Eddie Thawne kills himself in order to destroy Eobard Thawne before he has a chance to exist.

Only he’s already existed in the future from timeline A. So what he have here is a predestination paradox of sorts. Eobard Thawne did exist in the original timeline, which he then changed himself by trying to destroy the Flash.

Got a headache yet?

Like Harrison Wells says, this is the Reverse Flash’s origin story. This is where it all starts from the future.

He has to get back to the future. (Bettina Strauss/The CW)
He has to get back to the future. (Bettina Strauss/The CW)

Thawne, however, is stuck because of his diminished access to the Speed Force™, and so he goes to the one person in this time who can help him get enough speed to get home. Kidnapping Dr. Tina McGee (Amanda Pays), he forces her to modify her tachyon doohickey to generate enough energy to boost him over the threshold to enter the time stream.

Team Flash, trying to figure out where Reverse Flash has taken the good doctor, is using a tachyon scanner to try to find him in the city, but no dice. So Cisco (Carlos Valdes) figures maybe he can “vibe” a location. Only he can’t control the power. Wells, working off a hunch, figures out that Cisco’s ability is triggered by activity in his fear receptors coupled with adrenaline and dopamine.

You know, as much as Cisco and Harry don’t like each other, they actually do get along quite well when it comes to figuring things out and developing processes and scientific techniques in order to advance their agenda of finding zoom. The side effect of course is that sometime this season, we will eventually get Vibe in full costume.

So Wells rigs Cicso’s goggles to activate the center of the brain to trigger a vibe manually. Which gives Cisco the ability to see where Reverse Flash is holding McGee, and he gets the bonus-level power of seeing not only other places and other dimensions, but other times as well — this time seeing about two hours into the future. His description of the place, plus the team finally detecting a tachyon pulse, gives Barry just enough warning to be able to save Dr. McGee.

And the Flash captures the Reverse Flash, and all was right with the world.

Until Cisco starts vibrating out of existence. Because there are consequences to messing with the time stream. It becomes an awful, awful mess when you buy the Sports Almanac try to change history to give you a better outcome. It might be a bright happy time for that moment, but at some point the Piper will come calling for his payment.

So Barry has to help Reverse Flash get back to his own time, which he does by running at high speed around the particle accelerator chamber, giving Thawne the last bit of “oomph” he needs to skip into a wormhole, thus saving Cisco from certain doom so they can get back to defeating Zoom.

Wells, using the tissue sample from the Turtle’s brain, may have found a method for slowing Zoom. But he’s keeping his cards very close to his vest at this point, which supports the idea that he’s acting out a personal agenda that’s about more than just getting his daughter back. Otherwise, why keep the knowledge to himself? Except, of course, he’d have to admit to being responsible for the Turtle’s death, something Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears) already suspects.

Jay, of course, goes missing for a bulk of the episode, like he does. Where does he go when he’s not at STAR Labs? Really?

Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) is determined to cure him, and goes off in search of Jay’s 1955 Earth-1 counterpart, only she can’t find any record that a Jay Garrick exists on Earth-1. Jay already knows that finding his counterpart won’t work because his own genes have been altered by the event that gave him speed. And he’s already found the guy, telling Caitlin that she can’t find him because on this Earth he was adopted as a child and now lives under the name Hunter Zolomon.

Yes. Hunter Zolomon. Also known in the comics as Professor Zoom, who became a villain during Wally West’s days as the Flash in order to make the Flash be the best hero he could be.

Speaking of Wally (Keiynan Londsale), the show is still presenting him as a one-dimensional character with very little reason for any of us to care about him. Although his performance is better than Hayden Christensen’s…

"Man, this is heavy..."(Diyah Pera/The CW)
“Man, this is heavy…”(Diyah Pera/The CW)

For some reason, Wally doesn’t want to visit his dying mother in the hospital. Now, check me on this. He’s been participating in illegal races to win cars to sell to raise money for her hospital bills. He’s resentful of Joe (Jesse Martin) trying to be “Dad” after all these years. He presents as the protective “we don’t need anyone” image, but he refuses to go see the one parent he’s been dedicated to caring after?

It’s a Hand of the Writer setup that allows for Iris (Candice Patton) to give him a heart-to-heart and turn him around at the last minute, and he asks her to go with him to the hospital. Because they’re siblings. And they need a healing moment. So the writers manufacture this bit where Wally doesn’t want to see his mother. It’s not consistent with what we’ve seen so far, unless you want to consider the notion that Wally so far has been written as the thug wannabe with a chip on his shoulder, and he’s just acting like the tough guy out of spite.

The end of the episode has us back where we started, with regard to Barry’s dilemma over Patty. Does he tell her he’s the Flash and risk her becoming a target? Doesn’t matter, because she’s gone through case files and figured out that Barry’s the Flash. And Joe is a terrible liar when it comes to covering for Barry.

"It's like lightning." (Diya Pera/The CW)
“It’s like lightning.” (Diya Pera/The CW)

When Patty confronts Barry, basically saying she’s willing to stay with the CCPD if he’ll just admit the truth, it’s one of those moments when you understand why Barry’s making the choice he makes — lying to her — but you just want to shake him. In a real life circumstance, if you have an attractive woman willing to stay with you and be with you and help you pursue whatever dream/goal you have in your life, that’s a woman you don’t want to let out of your life.

Do you?

Barry, of course, wants to protect her, and he also doesn’t want to be the reason Patty gives up her dream of being a forensic scientist, so he lets her go. Leaving the door open, of course, for the inevitable connection with Iris.

Sad to see Shantel VanSanten go, but Patty’s not dead, so there’s always the possibility she’ll be back. In the meantime, I want more Amanda Pays as Tina McGee. And I’m still holding out hope that on some Earth, John Wesley Shipp is still the Flash.

 

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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