The Flash comes back from the hiatus with “Potential Energy,” a show that mixes some great special effects with a mild overdose of soap opera. It opens with Barry having nightmares about a date with Patty. They get an uninvited party crasher and things go downhill quickly.
Joe and Iris give Wally West a tour of police headquarters. Joe is babbling, Iris is funny, and Wally is just kinda snarky. He gets a little shaken up when one of the arrestees recognizes him and calls him “Tail Lights.” That gets explained later. Patty stops by to talk with Iris about Barry. Iris gives her a little advice after some entertaining banter. Patty generally gets good lines.
At STAR Labs, Wells is flipping out and generally throwing a tantrum. Cisco walks in on this, and they talk about their lack of progress against Zoom. Cisco is apparently tracking theoretical metas in his off time (I guess he needed something to do after Kendra broke up with him to go be Hawkgirl), and has one in mind he’s dubbed The Turtle. Turtle slows down everything around him. This is a nod to the very first Barry Allen Flash story, where he fought a guy called Turtle, but he didn’t have any actual powers. Cisco’s theory about the Turtle is proven when he shows up to steal a gem from the police during a press conference, and even Flash’s power isn’t enough to stop him.
Wells storms off when Barry gets back, trying to figure out a way to stop Zoom. Caitlin manages to find some criminal records that fit the man Barry saw. Jay broods that he can’t help people any more since he lost his powers. When Caitlin offers to help, he says he’s already tried everything and walks off. Jay gives up kind of easily on something that was supposedly so important to him.
Back at work, Barry finds out that Joe, too, knows about Cisco’s list of metas. So do most of the cops Cisco works with. They’ve taken to calling him Cisco de la Mancha, which seems a bit literary to me. Bringing up something that’s allegedly been ongoing that we’ve never seen on the show before is often a bit dicey, but this one sort of worked. Barry is the main focus of the show, and Barry’s the one who didn’t know about it.
In the midst of all this, Patty and Barry make a date for the next night. Throughout the episode, Barry talks to most of his friends about what’s going on with him and Patty. Everyone thinks he should tell Patty the truth except for one person- Wells. Now me, I wouldn’t consider Wells the font of emotional health and stability, and I sure as hell wouldn’t take relationship advice from him. Then again, Iris lost her fiancé through time paradox, Caitlin was widowed almost as soon as she was married and Cisco’s last girlfriend grew wings and flew off, so they’re not exactly lucky in love either.
Barry somehow or other gets the brilliant idea to change his date with Patty, asking her to come along to the museum where they are hoping to trap the Turtle. Yeah, good plan. Oh, well, he’s the Fastest Man Alive, not the Smartest. Things go poorly, including Patty almost getting killed, the date being interrupted by the entirely expected appearance of a super villain, and general chaos. If you’re going for the Extreme Date Experience, it’s only fair to tell your date that’s what’s happening.
Other important events at the Museum included some more flirting with Jay and Caitlin and another odd discussion between Wells and Cisco. They talk about Cisco’s penchant for naming metahumans, and how Zoom got his name. It’s not a fun story. Patty’s night gets worse after Turtle figures out she’s important to Flash and kidnaps her.
Flash, of course, eventually tracks down the Turtle and shows up to save Patty. The effects of Flash’s speed versus Turtle’s inertia powers were really impressive. Flash takes a nasty beating, and it shows how determined and heroic Barry is that he kept going. It was a nicely done scene.
The episode ends well for no one. There’s treachery at STAR after Turtle is put in the Pipeline. A secret is revealed about Jay. Patty makes a decision that I saw coming a while ago. And after just showing up and being kind of a brat, Wally is leaving town. At least he and Joe got one decent scene together. Then, at the very end, a familiar face shows up that bodes ill for Barry, the Flash, and everyone at STAR.
What I liked: The Turtle’s power was creative and the effects for it were great. I also like the nod to the first Barry Allen story. Joe’s a good man, and tried really hard to connect with Wally. Wally was a snot, but it was sort of understandable why.
What I didn’t: Almost everyone gave Barry the same advice, and he didn’t follow it. Barry isn’t supposed to be stupid. I don’t like Jay’s secret, or his resigned attitude about it. And give Jay his powers back already.
I’m really not sure how I feel about the surprise in the final scene yet.
I’ll give this one a 3.5 out of 5. It had it’s flaws, but the positives outweighed the negatives. Barry and company have a nasty surprise coming their way.