The Flash “The Reverse-Flash Returns” Review (Season 2 Episode 11)

One of the great strengths of The Flash is the way it can tell “villain-of-the-week” stories that still manage to tie into the larger storyline. It’s not always perfect, but it certainly has a higher batting average than Arrow in this regard, managing to tell engaging stories on a weekly and season-long basis. Such is the case with “The Reverse-Flash Returns,” an episode completely tied up in storylines that reach all the way back to the show’s pilot that still manages to exist as a self-contained adventure for Team Flash.

What’s funny is that, in and of itself, the Reverse-Flash has little bearing on the overall arc of the season. As Harry puts it towards the end of the hour, this essentially serves as a Reverse-Flash origin story, showing the events that would lead Eobard Thawne to learning enough about The Flash to travel back in time and kill Barry’s mother. Really, this was a story that could’ve happened at any point in the series’ run, a fixed point that shows how the battle between the two speedsters is an eternal one. However, it works as a standalone adventure because it shows how far Barry has come as a superhero, easily defeating Thawne in a way he never could last year.

Still, while Reverse-Flash was incidental, this episode still pushed things forward in a big way, with Cisco getting a better grasp than ever on his Vibe powers. It was a good development in Cisco’s ongoing arc, one that showed the potential of his powers while also putting a necessary limit on how far those powers can take him. Also, the reveal that Jay’s Earth-1 doppelganger is actually named Hunter Zolomon raises a number of questions about Zoom’s identity. No doubt we’ll hear more about him in the coming weeks.

Sadly, the show was dragged down by what seems to be the clunky, poorly-executed end to Patty and Barry’s relationship, at least for now. Make no mistake, I’m sure we’ll see Patty again before the season’s over, but the wedge forced between the two in the past couple weeks has been a major drag on the show’s momentum. It really feels as if the two worked until the show suddenly decided they shouldn’t anymore, and everything from Barry’s distance to Patty’s false alarm call at the end were frustrating.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments!