TV Review: The Flash – “Potential Energy”

The Flash - Potential Energy
Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my review of the previous episode of The Flash here.
This week, our hero faced a supervillain who can slow people down to a stop, and defeated him by running really fast. Ladies and gentlemen, The Flash!
The Flash ran into a problem with Patty Spivot. She’s been a great addition to the cast—endearing, capable, and sharing a wonderful rapport with Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen. A love interest like that would have to learn the Flash’s secret identity at some point. And yet… don’t enough people know who the Flash is as it is? Isn’t Team Flash already getting too big?
Barry Allen and Patty Spivot in "Potential Energy"You could see the writers struggling with this conundrum throughout the season, to the show’s detriment. Keeping Patty in the dark, especially knowing how carefree Barry had become with his identity, was starting to make less and less sense for the characters. Which is why I was so relieved when this episode tackled that problem head-on, with Barry contemplating finally telling her the truth.
A lot of people who watch The Flash and Arrow have an aversion to “relationship drama” as if it were inherently bad, but I thought it was handled really well in “Potential Energy”. Patty’s reaction to Barry keeping her at a distance was very realistic, and it was jarring to see her, usually so cheery, genuinely upset this time. And with the way Barry had been treating her, I don’t blame her for stepping away from the relationship. The plot device that actually enabled her to leave came out of left field, though—I do wish the writers had set it up earlier in the season.
The main part that bothered me was the show’s reliance on the “keeping loved ones in the dark for their own protection” cliché, which is not only overused by now, but also doesn’t even make sense anymore. I suspect the main reason Patty was sent away was because the writers didn’t want her to know the truth but couldn’t logically keep justifying it, which is understandable. I just wish they didn’t rehash an overused and illogical trope in the meantime.
The Turtle was a pretty solid villain, too. More than just a one-off, he tied into both the episode’s plot by adding fuel to the Patty dilemma as well as the season’s long-term plot by providing Cisco and Wells with the means to fight or—in Harry’s case—help Zoom. Plus, his powers were a unique hindrance to Barry’s speed, even if the resolution (“believe in yourself and run really fast!”) was typical. And the running gag of everyone but Barry knowing about the Turtle was pretty funny.
The main side-plot dealt with Joe and Wally, and though the writing was that of a pretty standard estranged parent story, Jesse L. Martin’s acting and likability kept it compelling. It will hopefully be a slow burn, but I can’t wait to see Wally West develop.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

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