While a definite comedown after last week’s strong outing, Back to Normal sufficiently explained the terrible predicament of Team Flash.
With his powers sucked away, Barry is back to living life as a regular person enduring an inconsiderate lout on the bus, suffering through a slow line for coffee and normal reflexes. This was a fun premise, but the writers couldn’t play it up for laughs since we’re in the home stretch of the season and Barry is obsessed with stopping Zoom. Earlier this season or even the first year this would have been much more effective. At this point in the season it felt like a time-killer.
Given this particular point in the season, the episode’s main arc felt a little ill-timed. Griffin, based on a Flash comic character who gained incredible power that rapidly aged him, wasn’t the strongest foil to really drive home the importance of Flash’s powers. After all, this fight just needed a little more teamwork than usual and a better strategy than run real fast and punch before Griffin fell victim to the rope-a-dope before reverting to his younger self. And what kind of bizarro episode is this when Joe makes a better pop culture reference (calling Griffin ‘Grandpa Simpson’) than Cisco?
Griffin’s tragic tale completely failed to resonate with Wells, who decided the only way to restore Flash’s powers was to trigger another particle accelerator event. That plan seems more than a little ludicrous, but the potential for some unexpected repercussions (read: West, Wally) makes me eagerly anticipate how this goes horribly wrong.
The episode’s best moments were the subplots. Wally told Joe he wanted to meet The Flash and thank him for sacrificing his powers to save him. Wally hasn’t been portrayed like a typical bratty teen, but this episode cast him in a different light as a guy we could eventually see becoming a hero. Whether making Wally Kid Flash is the eventual goal, the writers have done a commendable job establishing his love of going fast and now giving him incentive to risk his life for complete strangers if given powers to help them. Flash and Wally’s scene definitely recalled the origin of Steel with John Henry Irons’ first encounter with Superman. Check that out in Reign of the Supermen.
Caitlin had the more thrilling subplot as she tried to convince Zoom to let her go. Initially, he was content to let Caitlin run around his lair, but that quickly backfired as Caitlin met Killer Frost. Caitlin and KF compared notes on their divergent paths in life, but frustratingly we still got nowhere on the identity of the masked man. The show runners haven’t done anything to make me lose confidence in them, but his identity is really going to need to deliver this extended build up.
KF realized she was only spared due to her resemblance to Caitlin and now she had no value. Hoping to increase her stock, KF launched some icicles at Caitlin before Zoom arrived to phase through Caitlin and impale Killer Frost. Deranged serial killer Hunter Zolomon is a lot more unpredictable than earnest Jay Garrick. What with Jesse’s biotech background setting her up as a perfect Team Flash fill-in, I’m starting to worry if Caitlin will survive this season.
Zolomon appeared bored with the whole let me make Caitlin fall for me and decides he’s going to have some fun tearing through multiple Earths with his maxed out power. That’s exactly why curing and enhancing a serial killer will always be a very horrible idea. Almost as bad as potentially setting off a new metahuman power distribution bomb.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Short of major bombshell reveals, this week relied on the original winning formula that still works even if it’s no longer quite as sensational.