The Flash: Potential Energy Review

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By: Ashley Binion (@ashleybinion)

The Flash returned from its winter hiatus with an episode focused on character drama and a new villain of the week.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Unlike much of season one, “Potential Energy” was an episode that was unburdened with spinoff-setup duties or trying to develop a character who is a complete unknown, I’m looking at you Zoom. As a whole, the series will benefit from not being pushed into Legends of Tomorrow setup. This is where the series fell flat in the first half of its second season.

Some of the best episodes of The Flash, and Arrow, are where they focus on character development and drama. That’s why season one of The Flash, and season two of Arrow, was so exciting to watch. They combined a menacing villain with superb character work. Having a villain that’s emotionally connected to the hero is fascinating and compelling to watch. “Potential Energy” focused on West family drama along with Barry and Patty’s relationship.

Yes, Barry’s relationship woes are typically low points for the series, but in this episode it worked well. It’s a typical trope with superheroes, keeping their secret identity hidden from the ones they love to keep them safe. This is the same trope that hindered season one: Barry hiding his identity from Iris to keep her safe. I dislike that the series is recycling the same plotline, but instead insert Patty for Iris. Patty is so likeable and their relationship has been refreshing to watch, that it’s a shame that their relationship has come to an abrupt end, for now.

I appreciate the series giving the West family more to do than just be Barry’s emotional support. They needed a plot outside of Barry, and so far the Wally drama is working. Wally is understandably angry that his father was missing throughout his life as well as being drawn to the father he never knew. As a result Jesse L. Martin, Joe West’s portrayer, crushed every scene about or with Wally. After the surprise arrival of Wally in the midseason finale, it would’ve been more appropriate for the episode to focus more on the West family dynamics.

Turtle was a solid villain-of-the-week. He was a fantastic juxtaposition for The Flash’s speed. And, of course it helps that Battlestar Galactica alum Aaron Douglas was Turtle’s portrayer. Having someone move so slow in comparison to what the audience is used to speed was fun to watch. Team Flash is so used to speedy villains, like Reverse-Flash and Zoom, that this was a shift for the group who usually relies on speed or one of Cisco’s gadgets to defeat a villain. It was also a throwback to season one villains who were affected by the partial accelerator blast. For the most part, season two has featured villains who have come from Earth-2. That’s not necessarily bad, just different.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


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