Following last week’s insulting shitshow of an episode, ‘The Flash’ tones things down to its usual levels of blatant nonsense. I guess that’s an improvement, and an episode like this probably wouldn’t bother me under normal circumstances, but it’s hard not to feel disillusioned with the series right now.
After stupidly and needlessly giving up all of his Speed Force to Zoom, Barry is just a regular guy again. He has to take the bus to work and wait in line for coffee. (Did he steal coffee before now? Because that seems to be the implication.) He’s depressed. While this isn’t the first time Barry has lost his powers, he seems to be under the impression it may be permanent this time. (I doubt it.)
Cisco vibes on Jay’s helmet and confirms that Caitlin is still alive. Dr. Wells blames Barry for bringing Zoom back to this Earth, as well he should. Fearing his daughter’s safety, Wells grabs that big, goofy plasma rifle he brought with him when he first arrived and heads out to track down Jesse by following cellular dead zones or something.
Meanwhile, Caitlin is trapped in Zoom’s lair on Earth-2. Jay/Zoom promises not to hurt her, tells her he loves her, and removes her handcuffs. Knowing that she won’t be able to leave the place due to the giant cliff at the only entrance, Jay leaves her to wander around his lair while he’s gone. She discovers both the man in the mask and her own doppelganger, Killer Frost, locked in cells.
Wells finds Jesse living in an apartment outside town. Her roommate has no compunctions about letting in a stranger carrying a comically large gun. Jesse insists that she won’t go anywhere with her dad. Ever since she found out that he killed a man (The Turtle) to protect her, she’s afraid of her own father. Dejected, Wells leaves the apartment and drives back toward Central City. Before he gets there, a new meta-human with super strength causes his van to crash, rips open the door, and yanks Wells out of it.
Fortunately, the S.T.A.R. Labs van was equipped with a dash-cam (pointing inwards, for some reason). Cisco detects the crash and sees Wells being kidnapped. Barry, unable to race to the rescue, instead follows Wells’ trail to find Jesse and tell her what happened. He brings her back to the lab, where she has a change of heart and agrees to help ID the perpetrator.
On Earth-2, Killer Frost gets the best line of the episode when she takes a look at her modestly-dressed doppelganger and asks, “Why hide the girls?” Frost makes a deal with Caitlin. If she’ll help her escape from the cell, Frost will use her ice powers to get them both down the cliff so that Caitlin can get back to Earth-1. With no better options, Caitlin agrees. As she works on a way of getting the cell open, the two talk a bit and bond over their respective bitchy mothers.
The meta who kidnapped Wells is named Griffin Grey. Although super strong, he’s aging at an accelerated rate. He claims to be 18 but looks 30 years older than that. Thinking that this Wells is the Earth-1 Dr. Wells, he blames him for this predicament and demands that he make a cure.
Using some silly science BS, Cisco and Jesse detect Grey at an abandoned chemical factory. Joe, Cisco and Barry head over there. Joe has his service weapon and Barry takes Wells’ big rifle, which he retrieved from the crashed van. Grey confronts them at the entrance and tosses barrels at them like Donkey Kong. Every time he uses his strength, he visibly ages a little more. Barry gets hit by a barrel and, without the benefit of speed healing, is seriously injured. Grey grabs Wells and gets away.
Caitlin rigs up a device to shatter the glass to Killer Frost’s cell. Almost as soon as she’s out, Frost betrays her. She says that, now that Zoom has the real Caitlin he loves, he won’t have any use for the lookalike anymore. Frost chucks an ice dagger at Caitlin, but Zoom rushes in, phases directly through Caitlin’s body, grabs the dagger and kills Frost with it instead. He warns Caitlin not to bother trying to open the mask guy’s cell next, or he’ll just have to kill him too.
Wells sloshes some chemicals around in a beaker and pretends to whip up an anti-aging antidote, but Grey is smart enough to know that he’s faking and has just been diluting a solution over and over again. Wells tells him that there is no cure for his condition.
Jesse locates her father again by tracking the meta-human detector on his watch. Barry plans to trick Grey into using more of his super strength – enough that he’ll age again until he’s old and weak. That might be pretty easy to do if Barry had his speed and could run circles around Grey. Failing that, Cisco reinforces the chest portion of his Flash suit with dwarf star alloy, the same stuff that Ray Palmer’s A.T.O.M. suit is made of. It should be strong enough to withstand one super-punch.
They find Grey at an empty amusement park. As he planned, Barry wears Grey down. He takes a punch directly to the chest but gets back up again. Grey punches him a second time, this one in the face, but must have been significantly weakened because Barry shakes it off. Grey keels over and his body returns to its original youthful state when he dies. No need to put this one in the Pipeline prison, I guess.
Wells and Jesse make up. Wells promises to go easier on his daughter from now on if she’ll promise not to run away again.
Throughout the episode, Wally pestered his dad about wanting to meet The Flash. He gets to be really pushy and annoying about it. Eventually, Joe relents and sets up a meeting. In full costume, Barry stands back enough that Wally can’t get a good look at him. Wally thanks him for saving his life. That’s nice, I guess.
In handcuffs again, Caitlin begs Jay to let her go home. Jay tells her that she’ll change her tune once he’s conquered multiple Earths, and implies that Earth-2 is already under his control.
Finally, Wells gets back on board with helping Barry rescue Caitlin and defeat Zoom. The first thing they need to do is get Barry his speed back. The way to do that, apparently, is to create a new particle accelerator explosion.
First off, I’m relieved that this episode has no time travel nonsense in it. I can put up with a lot of implausible foolishness on this show, but the time travel stuff makes no sense at all and only gets dumber every time the writers fall back on it. Since that’s not a factor this week, this episode is automatically an improvement over the last one.
I’m sad to see Killer Frost go, because that character was a much-needed contrast to the innocent bookishness of Caitlin. That said, Danille Panabaker apparently took lessons in villain acting from Wentworth Miller. Even with such limited screen time on the show, I was getting tired of listening to Frost snarl every line of dialogue. Writing her out now is probably for the best.
Wells’ plan to get Barry back his powers by making a new reactor explosion seems like a really bad idea to me. The last time Wells stole some of Barry’s Speed Force, the speed came back on its own after a little recovery time. Will that not happen again? It’s not like Wells made Barry not a meta-human. When you drain all the gas from a car, it’s still a car. You just need to fill it back up again. Couldn’t a little Velocity-9 shot give him a jump-start?
Why do I feel like I’m putting way more thought into this than the show’s writers ever do?