By Josh Melo
Potential Energy is a fitting title for the episode, as is the name “The Turtle” for the episodes villain. Where The Turtle has the ability to bring all things to a stand still, he uses his powers to bring any and all “potential” momentum the episode had to a complete stop. After teasing us with another appearance by Zoom, Potential Energy wastes its time circling relationship dramas that do little for either the characters or the overall plot.
After a month’s hiatus, I was excited to sit back and once again enjoy my favorite superhero show. The opening scene was the perfect note to start on; a funny and endearing moment shared between my favorite screen couple snatched away by the sinister clutches of Zoom. It was dramatic, intense and got things moving immediately. Only, it was all a dream. Instead, the episode does and says nothing. Barry goes back and forth on his decision to let Patty in on his secret, Wally pulls a 180 and realizes he wants nothing to do with his father, Wells neither helps nor hinders Barry and there is a weird dude who can slow down time. Well, let’s get into it.
Beginning with what was my favorite superhero couple, the Patty/Barry plotline was boring. Up to this point Barry has been keeping his identity a secret from Patty without issue. His decision to not include her in his super heroics was never really addressed, but we went with it. Now all of a sudden it’s an issue. The entire episode is built around Barry choosing what he wants for his future. When he finally comes to that decision, Patty up and leaves. She will more than likely be back, but to hinge an entire episodes emotional core on a storyline that was never going to be concluded is nothing but annoying. Why spend so much time building up this relationship only to end it in the most underwhelming way possible? “I never actually wanted to be a cop, I just wanted vengeance for my pops. Now I’m going to go follow my dreams!” (Read that in a dorky clown voice, it helps get my message across).
It may (and probably will) have repercussions down the line but as of now, it was a waste of screen time.
Not only were his interactions with Patty less than satisfying, his showdown with the Turtle was a let down as well. Yea, the Turtle was an interesting villain. With the ability to absorb kinetic energy, he seemed like the perfect tool to employ against Zoom. Only, all it took to counter his powers was to run really fast. If speed could so easily overcome this seemingly unstoppable ability, why would you even consider using it on someone exponentially faster than Barry? It makes zero sense.
Aaron Douglas played a convincing weirdo but with all of the romance taking up time and the underwhelming final confrontation, no one will remember him. On the bright side, it was funny to have everyone know about the Turtle except for Barry. For such a quick guy he’s surprisingly slow on the uptake.
Moving on to Wally and Joe, last we saw of Wally he had made a surprise appearance at the West household to spend Christmas with his long lost family. I guess the holidays must have gone poorly because now Wally wants absolutely nothing to do with Joe. To go from a seemingly happy reunion to such a cold dismissal is a bit jarring, especially after a month of waiting to find out what happened. I can understand not being a tight knit family, but if you didn’t want to see your dad, why did you show up at his house? Keiynan Lonsdale and Jesse L. Martin work the material like professionals, it was just the writing decisions that left me wanting more, or at least something different.
Rounding out the triple threat of relationship dramas are Caitlin and Jay. They continue to frolic in their tiny garden of love and there isn’t really too much to complain about here. They weren’t a heavy focus and their sap didn’t detract or add anything to the merry go round that was Barry and Patty this week. Revealing that Jay has some incurable speed disease was a tad random but at least it has something to do with Zoom.
Saving the best for last, we arrive at Dr. Wells. The midseason finale ended with Wells deciding to aid Zoom in stealing Barry’s speed. He doesn’t do much on that front but we get a lot of information about what is going on in Wells’ head. His monologue about naming Zoom was dark and interesting, a stark contrast to the rest. Having Wells ruthlessly murder Turtle while talking about how he would sink to any depth to save his daughter was a powerful moment. This version of Wells has managed to maintain his mystery without relying on a tired “does he have powers” storyline. Tom Cavanagh’s work saves the episode from being a complete wash.
The tag for this week has absolutely nothing to do with events of the episode but does thankfully hint at a brighter future (or darker, it depends on your point of view). Eobard Thawne makes a random return. No, this is not an Earth 2 version; this is the very same Reverse-Flash that was erased from the timeline at the end of season 1. How this happened? I have no idea, but if it signals a larger focus on the multiple dimensions and Zoom, I have no complaints.
At the end of the day Potential Energy was filler. Nothing really happens to further the main narrative and the events that take place have little impact other than lessening the awesomeness that was “Parry”.
Overall, Potential Energy gets a 5/10.