The Flash: “The Reverse-Flash Returns” Season 2 Episode 11 Review

Legends of Tomorrow left The Flash with a pretty big problem. Captain Cold was this show’s best villain aside from the two brief appearances of Mark Hamill’s Trickster. Now he’s off to bigger things, leaving a pretty significant hole for The Flash to fill. The aptly titled “The Reverse-Flash Returns” strives to refill that hole.

It was inevitable for season one’s big bad to return eventually. If you know the comics, Reverse-Flash isn’t a character you kill off after one season. So, through the narrative magic (or whatever you want to call it) of superhero storytelling, theres a loophole that allows a man erased from time and space to return. Measuring up to the actual magic Wentworth Miller has pulled off as Cold, what Eobard Thawne lacks in on-screen charisma is made up for in the show’s mythology. When we find the character again, its before he’s killed Barry’s mother and taken Dr. Wells’ identity. All he’s done is found out which time period the Flash exists in. Team Flash can work with this and Barry is able to beat Reverse-Flash, even restraining himself from killing him.

This episode did a great job expanding Cisco’s vibe powers, allowing him to see into the future with some goggles Wells made for him. With all the time travel and multiverses going on, Cisco now gets to play an even bigger role in stopping the villains, something wonderfully explored when he boasts to a captured Thawne midway through the episode.

But then, you can’t mess with the timeline. As Cisco starts fading a la Back to the Future, Barry has to make the difficult decision to let Reverse-Flash go. The visual cues back to the season one finale were smart, but the outcome was very different. Now, Reverse-Flash can come back to face his nemesis at any time. That’s a very exciting thing.

Unfortunately, the rest of “The Reverse-Flash Returns” bordered too much on melodrama that failed to connect. First was Barry and Patty’s official goodbye. While this was better done than last week’s goodbye, it still felt like we got a goodbye last week. Patty didn’t need to be in this episode at all. Some of the stuff after she figured out that Barry is the Flash was very good, but there was a lot of repetitive moments before that.

Then there was the whole West family drama that is so overstated and drawn out by family members convincing other family members that their way of thinking about the whole situation is wiser. It is narratively exhausting. I’m beginning to question the show’s entire use of Francine. What if Wally had just showed up? Would it really have had the writers jumping through more narrative hoops than they are now? This storyline can end whenever.

All this combined made “The Reverse-Flash Returns” a really uneven episode. While the A-story was really strong, the B- and C-stories were blatantly annoying. The Flash, which used to be devoid of melodrama, seems to have started relying on it to move from plot point to plot point. There used to be more care put into these stories, but the show now seems more interested in planting the certain integral piece of information that episode delivers for the season’s endgame. Luckily, the return of the Reverse-Flash feels pretty big. Grade: B

Some Other Notes:

  • I really thought they were going to go the route that this Eobard Thawne is from Earth-2, but I’m glad they didn’t so he can reappear as many times as they want. I can’t wait to see what role he’ll play, if any, in the final confrontations with Zoom.
  • I was very excited for Wally West and so far he’s been nothing but a disappointment. The Flash did not need a moody teenager to mope around.
  • I watched Cisco’s future vision a couple times and it seems to be almost completely devoid of easter eggs. All I really saw was a lot of shots of the singularity. Did anyone else catch something I missed?

By Matt Dougherty

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