In this episode of The Flash, “The Reverse-Flash Returns,” Barry once again faces off against his worst enemy when Eobard Thawne makes a shocking reappearance in Central City. Meanwhile, tragic circumstances give Iris an opportunity to bond with Wally, and Patty gives Barry one last chance to tell her the truth before she leaves town.
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Cisco Makes a Shocking Discovery
In their continued attempt to find a way to defeat Zoom, Cisco thinks that if he can figure out how his Vibe powers work, he can use them to locate Zoom whenever they need him to. Alas, Cisco does not know what triggers his powers, but it does not take Harry long to figure it out. He summons Cisco to the time vault and dresses up as the Reverse Flash to scare Cisco. Harry has realized that Cisco’s powers are triggered by an adrenaline rush, and the quickest way to achieve that is through fear. Harry then scares Cisco into using his powers. Once Cisco vibes, he sees the real Reverse Flash and realizes that he is in Central City right now.
Thanks to Cisco’s information, Barry arrives at Mercury Labs and finds the Reverse Flash attempting to kidnap Christina McGee. Barry and Eobard fight, but Eobard manages to best Barry and escape with Dr. McGee. (Though, to be fair, seeing his supposedly dead former foe back in town clearly throws Barry off his game and gives Eobard the advantage.)
Gone But Not Forever
In the season 1 finale, Eddie gave his life to destroy the Reverse Flash, so how is Eobard Thawne alive and back in Central City? Well, it turns out that this Reverse Flash is from an earlier point in the timeline — i.e. before the events of The Flash season 1. Though he should have been erased from existence when Eddie shot himself, Eobard still exists because of a timeline remnant — Eobard used the Speed-Force to preserve his timeline and his timeline is still happening because he is from the future — which is why everything that Eobard did up to the moment Eddie died still happened. Alas, none of that has happened to this Eobard yet and he does not even know that Barry Allen is The Flash.
Once Harry gets that explanation out of the way, the team has to figure out how to locate the Reverse Flash and save Dr. McGee. Harry creates some high-tech goggles for Cisco to use when he vibes so they have the ability to control what he sees. This time when Cisco vibes, he sees lots of different events all at once. Harry gets him to focus on the Reverse Flash, and Cisco sees the Reverse Flash kill Dr. McGee and use the machine he forced her to create to return to his own time. But when Cisco reveals this information to the others, they realize that Cisco’s vibe was of the future, namely a little less than four hours from now. (Am I the only one who is confused by their shock that Cisco can see the future? Given that he can see the past and the present, wasn’t it inevitable that he would also be able to see the future?)
The team is able to zero in on the Reverse Flash’s location, and Barry gets there just in time to save Dr. McGee. Barry sends her to safety and then breaks the time machine she created to send Eobard home. Barry fights the Reverse Flash and beats him because this version of Eobard is apparently not as fast as Barry. Barry comes close to killing Eobard, but Joe talks him down and they throw Eobard into one of the cells at S.T.A.R. Labs.
The Consequences of Messing with Time
Once they lock the Reverse Flash up, Barry wants to talk to him, but Harry says he can’t. Harry says that they cannot do anything to mess with the timeline because they do not know what the consequences would be. But it turns out that they have already messed with the timeline simply by locking Eobard up. And poor Cisco suffers as a result of this playing with time.
After they lock up the Reverse Flash, Cisco starts to get nosebleeds. These nosebleeds are followed by seizures, and Harry says that all of this is happening because they ruptured the timeline when Barry captured the Reverse Flash. The only way to save Cisco is to restore the timeline by sending Eobard home. Since Barry destroyed the machine Dr. McGee created, he will have to combine his speed with Eobard’s in order to send Eobard back to the future.
Barry and Eobard follow Harry’s plan, and the Reverse Flash is sent back to his own time. Once he is gone, Caitlin tells the others that Cisco will be okay.
Why Did the Show Bring the Reverse Flash Back?
As Harry explains throughout the episode, nothing Barry and Team Flash do now will change what happened before. There is no way to save Barry’s mother, just as there is no way to keep Eobard from learning about Barry and the S.T.A.R. Labs crew. As Eobard starts to piece together who these people are and what connection they have to him, Harry reveals that this is his origin story.
Aside from explaining how Eobard learns about the gang at S.T.A.R. Labs, I believe the show also brought the Reverse Flash back so we could get some good moments of Cisco and Barry confronting him. (Though, these confrontations seem a bit ill-advised since Harry warned them not to do anything that could alter the timeline.)
When Cisco goes to see the Reverse Flash, he lets Eobard know that he was the one who helped stop him. Cisco tells Eobard that he has powers and that Eobard is the one who gave them to him. I guess this is why Eobard-Wells did not seem surprised to learn that Cisco had powers back in season 1.
Barry also has a good confrontation with Eobard, though he stays in the shadows so Eobard does not learn his identity. Barry asks his enemy why he hates him so much and Eobard explains that it was not always like that. Once upon a time, Eobard was in awe of The Flash. He spent years studying everything about The Flash so he could become just like him. And it worked, to a certain extent. But when Eobard used his speed to travel through time, he learned that he was destined to become The Flash’s worst enemy. Instead of trying to fight against that destiny, Eobard embraced it and became the Reverse Flash. He tells Barry that now that he knows what time period The Flash is from, it will not take long for him to learn The Flash’s identity.
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Iris and Wally Grow Closer
Early in the episode, Joe tells Iris that Francine is not doing well and only has a few days left. Iris goes to see her mother so they have a chance to clear the air before Francine dies. Iris shares a nice moment with Francine where she lets her know that she is not angry at her. Iris says she simply wishes Francine had returned years earlier so her happy childhood memories could have included her mother and brother. Iris says she would have forgiven Francine if she had returned back then just like she has forgiven her now.
Though Iris and Joe have said their goodbyes to Francine — although Joe’s happens off-screen — Wally has been MIA from his mother’s bedside. Iris tracks Wally down and tells him that he needs to see his mom before it is too late. Iris then speaks about Eddie for the first time all season. She tells Wally that she lost Eddie before she got the chance to tell him what he meant to her and she does not want Wally to go through the same thing with Francine.
Later that night, Wally goes to see Iris to let her know that he wants to see his mom while he can. He asks Iris to go with him, and Iris jumps at the chance to be there for her brother. As sad as it is that it took Francine’s illness to bring Wally into Joe and Iris’ life, Iris and Joe are obviously thrilled to get this chance to know Wally. I can only hope Wally eventually comes to feel the same way about them.
Patty Wants Answers
I am pleased to say that Patty is still in Central City, though she is planning to leave in just a few days. Things between Patty and Barry are very strained now that Barry knows Patty is leaving. (He apparently decided that it was not worth it to tell her he’s The Flash since she is leaving to pursue her dreams.)
But Patty is still convinced that Barry is hiding something from her, and once she realizes that Barry has been working with the people at S.T.A.R. Labs, she has the last piece of the puzzle she needs. Patty confronts Joe about the fact that both he and Barry have been lying to her. She tells him that she knows Barry is The Flash. Joe tries covering, but Patty does not buy it.
Joe tells Barry that Patty knows he is The Flash and he thinks Barry should just tell her himself. But Barry does not want Zoom or the Reverse Flash to have yet another person they can use against him. He wants Patty to leave town to follow her dreams, but he also wants her out of the line of fire.
Barry does go to meet with Patty one last time before she leaves Central City, and Patty confronts him about being The Flash. Barry tries to deny it, but Patty tells him that if he is just honest with her, she will stay in Central City. Alas, Barry has already decided that Patty would be better off away from his world, so he refuses to tell her the truth.
But before Patty leaves town, she fakes an emergency so Barry will show up as The Flash. They share a nice goodbye and Patty leaves Central City knowing that Barry is The Flash rather than simply suspecting it.
I am glad the show allowed Patty to learn the truth before she left. I am also glad they let her leave town alive and well instead of killing her off.
— Early in the episode, Caitlin and Jay tell the others that The Turtle is dead. His death does not appear suspicious because Harry covered his tracks, but Jay finds it curious that The Turtle died on the same day he was captured. Jay is not sure if Harry had something to do with The Turtle’s death, but as we already know, he does not trust Harry and tells Caitlin as much. Though, I think it is unclear whether or not Caitlin believes Jay that Harry cannot be trusted.
— Caitlin tells Barry about Jay’s illness and her determination to save him. She thinks if they can find Jay’s Earth One doppelganger, they can use his cells to help save Jay. Alas, they cannot locate Jay’s doppelganger. This is because, as Jay reveals, his Earth One doppelganger was adopted by another family and has a different name. And since this version of Jay — one Hunter Zoloman, a name apparently recognizable to comic fans and one that could suggest a connection to Zoom — never became The Flash, his DNA will not match Jay’s since Jay’s DNA mutated when he got his speed. Once again, Jay says that the only way to save him is to defeat Zoom and get his speed back.
What did you think of this episode of The Flash? Are you glad Patty knows the truth about Barry? Were you surprised that Cisco can see the future or did you also assume that was part of his Vibe powers? Did The Flash just reveal Zoom’s identity or is this Hunter Zoloman a total misdirect? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
The Flash airs Tuesday nights at 8pm on The CW.
(Image courtesy of The CW)