Time to rejoice, because The Flash is back! The question is whether the Fastest Man Alive will be as excited as we are that he’s back on the job.
Why wouldn’t he be? Well for starters, Zoom is still out there, too fast for our hero to defeat directly. Not only that, but the Earth-2 Harrison Wells is being blackmailed into helping him, meaning Barry’s original worry that he wasn’t to be trusted has kind of proven correct.
Barry’s personal life is going well thanks to his relationship with Patty Spivot, but since she doesn’t know he’s the Flash, the potential is there for it to go awry at any moment. Topping it all off, Wally West has come to town, and he’s sure to complicate the lives of the West family.
There’s also the matter of a brand new supervillain, though not one new to everyone on the S.T.A.R. Labs team. Confused? Let’s get into “Potential Energy” and clear it all up.
Not-So-Fast Recap: As Barry’s voice-over explains how his particular “boy meets girl” story is different than most, we see why that’s true as he tries bringing Patty flowers at super-speed and they burst into flames. They laugh it off, but no one is laughing when Zoom snatches Patty, takes her to a rooftop and drops her … Though fortunately, it’s just a nightmare Barry is having.
Joe West shows Wally around the police precinct, though his son makes a comment about how Joe must not be a great detective like everyone is saying. Oh, I get it. Joe and Iris invite Wally to dinner and are surprised when a young criminal seems to recognize him, though Wally blows it off. Patty stops by to talk, but not to Joe — to Iris.
They go to Jitters, where a lot of the talking on this show takes place. Patty mentions that something seems to be holding Barry back, and when Iris says he sometimes acts like he’s carrying the burden of the entire world alone, she claims he doesn’t need to do that with her. So tell him that, says Iris.
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An obviously frustrated Harry Wells is throwing stuff at S.T.A.R. Labs. He doesn’t have any time for Cisco Ramon, though he perks up when Cisco wonders if they can’t slow down Zoom by stealing his speed instead of speeding up Barry. Hey, stealing speed is supposed to be Harry’s secret mission. Convenient, that.
What Cisco is referring to is his “White Whale,” a metahuman he’s named the Turtle. Amusingly, everyone has heard of him but Barry. The Turtle’s powers work by slowing time all around him, and he’s got a weird M.O. where he only steals things of great personal value to their owner. Fortunately, there are some special diamonds being shown off tomorrow that fit that perfectly.
For some reason, there’s a press conference or ceremony of some sort at the police station, which is like having a sign that says, “Metas, please steal these!” The Flash is on hand, but even he’s helpless as the Turtle slows down time and simply waltzes away with the diamonds.
What was it like? Barry tells the team it was like all the kinetic energy was drained from his body, which is pretty much exactly right. They ID the Turtle, but Jay Garrick is glum (as usual). Caitlin Snow suggests they work on getting his speed back, but he says he’s already run every possible test. Such a ray of sunshine.
Barry talks to Joe at the station before getting approached by Patty. He chalks up his recent distance to the anniversary of his mom’s death and suggests a romantic evening together soon.
Not tonight, though, because it’s supposed to be dinner with Wally. When he doesn’t show, Barry and Iris end up talking about Patty instead. She insists that he needs to tell her the truth, and he seems to agree that he will.
The arrival of a world famous painting at Central City Museum and a fanc gala in its honor seems like the perfect chance to lay a trap for the Turtle, and Barry turns it into a date with Patty too. Cisco chides him for bringing a date to a potential super-battle, but he says he’s going to tell Patty the truth anyway. That gets mixed reactions: Cisco likes it, Caitlin is unsure, and Harry grabs him on the way out to advise against it. If Zoom finds out who he loves, Harry says, the villain will take them.
Barry, Jay and Caitlin are all dressed to kill at the gala, though Cisco and Harry have to sit outside in the van. They discuss the naming of villains, and Harry tells a harrowing tale of how Zoom got his name. It’s not pretty. Cisco offers to vibe if Harry needs to know if Jesse is still alive, but he’s already confident she is.
Patty shows up looking equally elegant, and Barry asks her to dance. He seems like he really will tell her, but when he spies the Turtle, he has to bolt. Patty draws a gun on the thief, but his powers easily allow him to escape. The Flash arrives, but the Turtle shoots a chandelier over Patty’s head, and our hero is barely able to power through the time-slowing bit, taking the impact himself.
He gets a clean bill of health, but he needs to go see Patty. Jay and Caitlin have a private conversation so they can have the champagne they didn’t get to have at the museum, but it looks like Caitlin takes his glass …
Despite his efforts, Patty isn’t having any of Barry’s non-excuse for leaving her at the museum. She lays all her cards on the table, saying that they’ve had fun, but she’s moving past that to the close part. He needs to figure out what he wants and do it fast.
Someone got Fast and Furious in my Flash! We see a street race in which Wally is participating, and he wins, earning the other racer’s car. Joe is there too, and the two Wests have a bit of a testy exchange. Wally reveals that he’s street racing to be able to pay his mom’s hospital bills, and he doesn’t want any of Joe’s help to do so.
There’s a knock at Patty’s door, but it’s not Barry — it’s the Turtle. His powers make the four shots she fires useless, and he reveals he’s kidnapping her to take what’s most precious to the Flash. Later, we see his hideout is a library, and he explains that he wants to make Patty stop moving forever. He did the same to the wife who tired leaving him, and now she’s stopped moving. That might be the proverbial fate worse than death.
The S.T.A.R. Labs gang is on the trail, with Harry deducing that the Turtle keeps everything he steals and Barry zeroing in on the Nadel Library. Barry rushes off as the Flash, saying he’ll just power through the Turtle’s abilities. That might work, according to Cisco and Caitlin, but he’ll only have two tenths of a second to pull it off.
The showdown arrives, and Flash’s first attempt goes … well, badly, with the Turtle landing four punches while our hero is stuck standing still. Undeterred, Barry regroups with a big running start and manages to time the pulses in order to land one big shot. A grateful but scared Patty thanks the hero, “Whoever you are.”
With the Turtle in the pipeline, Caitlin wants a word with Jay. She knows he’s sick, dying even, and when he tries to protest about her taking his DNA without his knowledge, she wants an explanation on how he could let her get close knowing she lost her husband not that long ago. She wants to help him find a cure, but Jay says the only cure is to get his speed back — and the only way to do that is to stop Zoom. So let’s do that, Caitlin says.
Wally stops by the West house to get a sweater he left there before going back to Keystone. He says he won’t apologize, but Joe says he’s sorry for rushing the father-son thing. Let’s just take it slow. That seems to get through with Wally agreeing to stick around for some Chinese food.
Finally, Barry is ready to talk to Patty, but she beats him to the punch with a bombshell of her own. She’s been admitted to the Midway City University CSI program, and she’s moving on. From everything.
At S.T.A.R. Labs, we see Harry recording a journal entry to Jesse, recalling the time he got scared of losing her on a field trip. In that moment, he realized he’d do anything to get her back, and … holy crap, did he just kill the Turtle by ripping something out of his brain through his nose? Damn.
In the final scene, we see something we haven’t seen in a while. It’s the Reverse-Flash, and he unmasks to reveal the real Eobard Thawne before asking Gideon where the hell he is.
OMG Moment of the Week: I think we just saw it. Thawne was supposed to have been erased from the timeline, but somehow, he’s alive. Unless he’s the Earth-2 Reverse-Flash. I’m open to other suggestions as well.
Comic Book Reference of the Week: The painting on display at Central City Museum was from Markovia! That’s the land of Geo-Force, among others.
#SnowJay Alert Level: We’ll have to go Orange here. They’re very much on the way to being a thing, but there are still some honesty and trust issues to work through, obviously.
Final Thought: It’s great to have The Flash back, isn’t it? Even though the Turtle was a bit of a Villain of the Week, he’s still serving the overall narrative thanks to his specific power. Didn’t see the Patty thing coming, and hopefully it means Barry won’t be moping around for weeks. And that was one heck of a tease for next week with the Reverse-Flash.