The Flash Review: “The Reverse-Flash Returns”

What it says on the box.

Title: “The Reverse-Flash Returns”

Director: Michael A. Allowitz
Writers: Aaron Helbing and Todd Helbing

Grant Gustin as Barry Allen / The Flash
Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon
Matt Letscher as Eobard Thawne / Reverse-Flash
Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow
Shantel VanSanten as Patty Spivot
Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells
Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West
Teddy Sears as Jay Garrick/The Flash / Hunter Zolomon
Candice Patton as Iris West
Keiynan Lonsdale as Wally West
Vanessa A. Williams as Francine West
Amanda Pays as Christina McGee
Morena Baccarin as the Voice of Gideon
Aaron Douglas as Russell Glosson / The Turtle


Patti learns Barry’s secret, Cisco gains a greater understanding of his powers, and the Reverse-Flash returns.

High Points

We have the original, unmodified Reverse-Flash here, and Matt Letscher puts his own spin on the evil speedster that works well. We also see the West family coming together in a credible manner.

While the introduction of Hunter Zolomon is likely an important moment for the show, I have some words about how and why he was introduced this week under “Low Points”– even if it is more of reflection.

Low Points

This episode features a number of problematic moments that might be overlooked, individually: the ease with which Barry’s double-identity could (and would) be discovered, the arbitrary effects of timeline tomfoolery, and Cisco’s out-of-character gloating to the Reverse Flash’s face.

Then there’s the matter of Jay Garrick’s doppelgänger. Garrick certainly could have one but, given the number of changes between the two Earths’ timelines, he wouldn’t necessarily have one. There’s no way, for example, that the two Garricks will lead parallel lives at this point, given their divergent stories, and produce identical descendants. Now, the show may posit that, somehow, no matter what else changes, Garrick has a doppelgänger. If they’re going to posit the principle, it should mean something. Here, the existence of the Earth-One Garrick/Zoloman gets dismissed as useful in a waste-of-time visit to a park that doesn’t need to happen, given that Zoloman’s inability to help is based on reasons Garrick knew and could have easily explained. I realize they probably wanted to introduce Hunter Zolomon, but that introduction could have been handled in a number of ways that made more sense.

The episode has too many wasted opportunities and arbitrary developments.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 The basic timey-wimey premise underlying the episode’s main conflict has been done many times before.

Effects: 5/6

Acting: 5/6 The actors get several character moments, which they handle well.

Story: 4/6

Emotional Response: 4/6 So much could have been done with the Reverse-Flash, and hopefully, will be. However, the ease with which time travel can undo death, plot developments, and so forth, ultimately undercuts emotionally involvement, especially if it can be accessed whenever the plot requires it.

Production: 6/6

Overall: 4/6

In total, “The Reverse-Flash Returns” receives 30/42

4 replies on “The Flash Review: “The Reverse-Flash Returns””

  1. Is it me, or do the “Low Point” lists for this show always seem to be a lot longer than the high-point?… I mean, I’m enjoying the show, too, but there are a LOT of groan-worthy moments in each and every episode.

    • Perhaps, but I also think the show’s groan-worthy moments take longer to explain. It doesn’t help that Marvel has been raising the bar for comic-book series. It’s kind of a repeat of the comic-book industry in the 1960s.

    • I’d also nominate Patti’s unnecessarily public stunt at the end, that’s one major security risk off the show!

      I think the problem is Flash’s power. Super-speed is ridiculously overpowered and trumps virtually any other power. Outside of other speedsters the only way Barry has consistent threats is by doing stupid things.

      And in order to make sure Barry doesn’t stand out as uncommonly dumb everyone else has to be dumb too.

      Hence a show full of people doing dumb things.

  2. I’m surprise no one mentioned the time travel/paradox part of the story. I mean, isn’t there one science fiction fan among the Flash writer?

    There was no tame paradox in this story, even if they claimed there was one. having the reverse Flash show up in the “present” and be thrown in the pipeline does not invalidate in anyway that he can still go back in the past to kill Barry’s mother.

    The only thing that would have created a paradox would have been if the reverse Flash were to die in the “present”.

    Personally it feel like very poor writing to try to create a conflict where one isn’t needed. I mean story wise it would have been much better for the reverse Flash to be imprisoned, then escape, find out about Barry’s identity and then the chase that ends up in the past can happen.

    It isn’t like they would have to show us the reverse Flash until he escapes so there’s no need to worry about having to pay the actor.

    I really wish shows that can’t handle time travel properly wouldn’t play with it. They should leave that to the experts.

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