The Flash: “Potential Energy” Season 2 Episode 10 Review

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With all the Legends of Tomorrow setup finally out of the way, The Flash has a newfound freedom that it just doesn’t take advantage of. The show gets to be itself again, which you would hope the writers would use to remedy the general sense of neglect toward the season’s big Zoom arc. Instead, we get more baby steps and a few wrap-ups from the first half of the season.

The biggest piece of story in “Potential Energy” sees the show deciding just where Patty Spivot sits in this universe. If this was indeed her last episode for a while, as the ending seemed to suggest, it was a disappointing finish. After pumping a few bullets into a giant shark man earlier this season, a guy called the Turtle who can slow things down around him puts her at whits end.

We learn at the top of the episode through some clever self-referential humor that Cisco has been tracking the Turtle for some time now, something everyone besides Barry is somehow aware of. This new foe is a stocky guy wearing a green coat with his hood always up (read: he looks sort of like a turtle). Yet, there are attempts to turn him into a creepy villain. Turns out, he collects women and puts them in glass cases. This might have landed better had he not-so-hilariously resembled a turtle. He kidnaps Patty after a confrontation with the Flash where the hero saves the girl in a way that the villain can tell he loves her.

The final fight had a few key problems. The biggest is that I don’t buy Patty being so helpless in the hands of the Turtle. She’s smart and strong enough to have found a way out of there, instead of helplessly crying like she did here. Secondly, the Flash’s victory over the Turtle was really poorly constructed. He loses, gets punched, leaves, comes back in the same way, doesn’t get punched somehow, then wins. It was a lazy victory against a villain who’s power looks to play a larger role in the fight against Zoom, or perhaps the Flash, later in the season.

Speaking of, the most compelling bits from “Potential Energy” were the clearly conflicting motives of Harrison Wells. Is he going to steal Zoom’s speed or Barry’s? By some miracle, The Flash has made a character as shady as he was last season and injected it with something fresh. That’s because unlike season one’s more mysterious version, season two’s Wells means well but is being forced to make difficult decisions, and it’s not always clear he’ll make the most noble choice. That’s exciting drama, especially considering the show’s already rich history.

Also working better than the episode’s main plot was the West family drama. As Joe and Iris do everything they can to integrate Wally, their newest son/brother only seems to pull farther away. He’s not a child, but an adult with his own problems and goals. The long lost family member returning to their roots is a tired plot on television, but The Flash is going for practicality over drama. We saw it before when Barry told Joe he was the Flash and everything was just fine. It allows us to move through recycled plots that sort of have to happen with as little melodrama as possible.

So for everything the main story failed to accomplish, the episode’s subplots have a lot of stuff worth digging into. “Potential Energy” was hardly the best Flash entry, and it was still too far removed from the season’s central story, but it did some necessary work that’ll hopefully lead to better stories to come. Grade: B-

By Matt Dougherty

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