“There are many reasons why we run. But usually, it’s to avoid what’s right in front of us; a decision to be made or a dilemma we have to face. Lately, for me it feels like running is all I’ve been doing.”
As Barry’s voiceover explains, if he’s not running to or from danger, he’s running from the harsh decisions of his ‘normal’ life. In this case, it’s Patty’s imminent departure from Central City. But first, how about we talk about the return of season one’s big bad: the Reverse Flash.
Taking time off from their petulant sniping at one another, Cisco and Harry alert Barry to a runaway chemical truck that’s about the make a mcBoom splash if it crashes. No worries as the Flash takes care of it—playing right into the hands of Eobard Thawne, better known as the Reverse Flash. “I finally figured out what time period the Flash is from,” he says after watching Barry save the day.
Back at the lab, the gang discovers the Turtle’s dead and Jay immediately points his finger at Harry. Of course, the Earth-2 Wells denies it…and promptly goes to research Turtle’s DNA. He gets interrupted when Cisco strolls in to ask for help on figuring out what triggers his vibes. It doesn’t take long for Harry to realize what that trigger is: “The rush of adrenaline,” he says after dressing as the Reverse Flash, “dopamine floods the brain and the quickest way to achieve that result: Fear!” He touches Cisco and…
Mercury Labs, two guards hold a man in yellow and red at gunpoint. They are powerless to stop him as he runs through him. The Reverse Flash has returned…
In a jarring transition, Barry arrives at Mercury Labs but cannot stop Thawne before he takes Christina McGhee. But how can he still be alive? Eddie’s death erased Eobard from existence, right? Once again, Harry’s there for the save. He hypothesizes that Eobard may have been inside the Speed Force, which protected him “like a bomb shelter”. He’s part of a timeline remnant, the Eobard that hasn’t yet traveled back in time to face Barry. And when he takes Christina McGhee to the tachyon emitter, he gets a bit more on his original foray into the past.
On the non-superhero front, Kaitlin shares Jay’s prognosis with Barry and Iris finally makes amends with Francine, who doesn’t have too much time left. She ends up paying a visit to Wally, who’s avoiding the visit to his mom but she warns him not to “make a mistake you’ll regret for the rest of your life.”
But they aren’t the only ones dealing with heartache as Barry still harbors anger over Patty leaving him. “Everyone in my life that I love leaves me at some point,” he laments. “Kind of getting used to it.” Everything in Patty’s demeanor screams that she wants him to fight for her but Barry’s resigned himself to losing out on her. It’s not a surprise when he lets her go but it is when she confronts Joe and tells her partner what he already knew: Barry Allen is the Flash.
Handy man with tech that he is, Harry does a bit of engineering to Cisco’s goggles in order to help him control his vibes. The first time he puts them on…
He sees many different images but, after concentrating, sees the Reverse Flash kill Christina McGhee and run through to the tachyon device…
Cisco shares the news and, after some work, locate Thawne and McGhee. Barry destroys the device and saves the doctor while, after a cathartic one-on-one, Barry defeats the Reverse Flash. “You’re not fast enough,” he tells his greatest enemy, “I’ll never lose to you again.”
Though he’s now held in the Pipeline, there’s still a potential for ramifications if Barry were to give Thawne any more unnecessary information or let him out…well, the latter becomes a must when, after his own visit to Thawne, Cisco goes into heavy seizing. Harry realizes it’s because the Reverse Flash is in this timeline and the only way to save Cisco is to send the Reverse Flash on his way. Despite everything in him warring not the let this monster go, Barry relents and once Thawne is thrust back into his timeline, Cisco is saved.
As we come to the end, Wally thanks Iris for her advice and asks his big sis to come with him to see Francine, which she does. We discover why Kaitlin couldn’t find Jay Garrick’s doppelganger, not that it would have mattered as returning his speed is the only way to save him. And Patty gets her final goodbye in to Barry/the Flash as she begins the first leg of her new life in Midway City.
- “Why do you hate me so much?” Barry asks the captured Thawne and the captured villain admits it originally started out as an obsession that turned into more. “The more people you saved,” he tells Barry, “the more you were loved, the more I had to take from you.” It’s here Thawne shares his own emptiness and need to become someone else. Despite this, he proclaims his superiority over Barry. “I became better than you! I am the one thing you cannot stop, Flash.” In a sense, he’s right. The two are forever linked with Thawne’s murder of Nora Allen the catalyst to the origin of both hero and villain…
- More on the time factor is Harry’s realization that “this is [Thawne’s] origin story.” The reality is mind-bending, as tales of time travel are wont to be. Without this jaunt, Thawne would never have gained the idea to take over the life of the Earth-1 Harrison Wells…like Nora Allen’s death, Thawne’s a fixed point and, if this episode did anything, it was to give a logical reason why we won’t be rid of the Reverse Flash quite so easily as we’d once thought.
- “You don’t have to lie to me anymore…admit to me you’re the Flash and I’ll stay.” With a few words, Barry could have had Patty by his side but, like many heroes, he didn’t want to hold her back, and makes a sacrifice for her greater good. It becomes a bit clearer to him when Joe points out that, as the Flash, he’ll be fighting the good fight for years to come and will have to get used to making big sacrifices. People will leave him, they will die and, as the Flash, Barry must learn to stand tall through it all.
- The Hunter Zolomon Easter egg was classic Flash. For those not in the know, Zolomon is the true identity of Zoom. Was this just one of those little treats for the fans or is this a hint to the true identity of Professor Zoom? While I don’t believe the mention is just a cool bit of homage to the fans, it’s also a bit too cut-and-dry were they to follow the letter of the comics. Whatever the case may be, the Flash writers have once again put us on our guard.