When Season 1 of The Flash ended, we still had some remaining questions. Why did the Reverse Flash hate Barry so much? Why did everything stay the same? Was this the last we’d ever see of the Reverse Flash? Well this week’s episode aptly titled “The Reverse Flash Returns” finally gave us all the answers we were craving – and some we weren’t. Beyond the Reverse Flash return, we learned a lot about the timestream as well as the difficult times some of our characters are going through.
In perfect The Flash fashion – Flashion? – , this week’s episode paired huge revelations, spectacular action and deeply emotional moments. So let’s take a Closer Look at this week’s episode of The Flash titled “The Reverse Flash Returns”.
“The Reverse Flash Returns”… For The First Time? – Answering The Remaining Questions:
As I was saying earlier, we were left with many questions after Season 1. For starters, WHY did Eobard Thawne hate Barry so much? And furthermore, if Eddie Thawne killed himself and thus Eobard Thawne was erased from existence, WHY is everything still the same? Well this episode answered both and also remained impressively true to the comics. So let’s deal with Question #1 first: Why did Eobard hate Barry/The Flash so fiercely?
Well as it turns out, Thawne didn’t hate Barry/ The Flash out of vengeance or anything like that, but rather out of a strange mixture of unrequited love and fate. In the distant future, Eobard Thawne grew up admiring the Flash and always wanted to be like him. So much so that he even tried to recreate the accident that gave the Flash his powers, and it worked. Eobard thought this could be the path to becoming the Flash’s most trusted friend and ally; but sadly he learned fate/history had a different plan. Through time traveling, Thawne learned that his fate wasn’t to become the Flash’s most trusted ally but rather his worst enemy. Filled with rage and a sense of forlornness, Thawne focused all his energy and hatred on the Flash and tasked himself with being the opposite of everything the Flash was and stood for. As with most situations like this, the reason Thawne’s hatred was so intense was because he did indeed love and admire the Flash.
As for how Thawne is still in existence and everything he effected – Barry’s mother’s death, particle accelerator, etc – still remained, that is a slightly more confusing timey-wimey answer, but I’ll do my best to explain. You see, time – and especially time mixed with interference from Speed Force acts a little differently. You see, Thawne was indeed from a future timeline so in the normal sense, Eddie Thawne killing himself would have made it so that Eobard was never born; BUT time is no necessarily a straight line – yes I’m going to have to quote some Doctor Who here.
When Eddie killed himself, it was in OUR present but Thawne’s future. Thawne is traveling backwards in time due to the Speed Force and many of his realities have already happened by time Season 1 occurred. As Wells said, this moment in many ways in Thawne’s origin story. In order for Eobard Thawne to be erased in his future (our present) he has to be alive in his past (our present)…
If this still doesn’t make sense, allow me to explain in another way: This pre-Season 1 finale Eobard Thawne is a “timeline remnant” that MUST exist or else the stacking Time Paradoxes would rip the timeline apart. Barry’s mother is a fixed point – as is probably the particle accelerator explosion and such – and messing with such points have cataclysmic ramifications, which I can’t help but feel we’ll experience in Season 3 but that’s another story. The point is, pre-Season 1 finale Eobard Thawne MUST still exist because otherwise he wouldn’t be erased. Eddie killed himself to erase Eobard from the timeline. If Eobard is fully erased from the timeline, then Eddie has no reason to kill himself – which means Eobard would still exist in the timeline. Because of all this, the Eobard that existed at the end of Season 1 was erased from existence but all prior versions of him HAVE to remain or else the timeline would end up in an infinite paradoxical loop because an “Effect” of an action erases the “Cause” of that very same action. Does your head hurt yet? Mine too. Hopefully the above graphic I made can help; but the take away is, messing with the timeline is VERY tricky and time will fight you back to make sure things stay intact.
Saying Goodbye & The Things We Run From – Francine West, Patty Spivot, Jay Garrick & More:
Now on a more emotional note, this episode heavily dealt with the idea of things you try to run from. As the episode opens we know this heavily will deal with Barry and his breakup last week with Patty. The woman he was about to trust with his deepest secret decided to take a job in a different city and once again someone looses someone he loves – but he wasn’t the only one this episode. While Barry had already written things off and was trying to run from the open heart-to-heart farewell, it seems like everyone else was tackling theirs head on.
On Caitlin’s end, she’s trying to help Jay not die – a path that takes a very surprising turn which I’ll examine more in the next section. Though beyond her fight for Jay, we also hear about how Caitlin’s dad was dying too and how she learned to always fight for those around her and even if she couldn’t win, at least make sure they knew how she felt about them. There’s a fitting parallel here with Iris and the rest of the West family’s trauma in coming to terms with Francine’s final days. Iris finally forgives her mom – as she knew she eventually would – and only wishes her mom had come back sooner, but even so Iris makes sure to tell her mom exactly how she feels. She learned this lesson all too well last season when Eddie was so suddenly taken from her. And this is surprisingly where things start to come full circle, as Iris’s brother Wally can’t seem to bring himself to visit his mom. Like Barry – again – he seems to be racing to avoid a painful goodbye; but he’ll come around just as Barry eventually does.
When Cisco’s life was on the line, Barry had to let go of all the hatred he had for Thawne. Yes, he could have kept Thawne locked up and maybe even have killed him; but it would have cost Barry Cisco’s life, and that’s one goodbye he couldn’t stand. It’s important to note though that while Barry and Patty do have their goodbye moment, it was on Patty’s terms as she called him out as the Flash. Was this Barry actively facing his problem? No; but it does result with Barry showing Patty just how much he cares for her.
Jay Garrick & Hunter Zolomon – Easter Egg Or Foreshadowing Of The 1st/2nd/3rd Reverse Flash:
If you’re a fan of the comic, the name of Jay’s Earth-1 counterpart – Hunter Zolomon – should have rang a few bells. In the comics, Hunter Zolomon is occasionally referred to as Zoom, which many outlets are already latching onto. But what they forget is that this world’s Zoom might bear the name; but in fact seems to have a lot more in common with other Flash Speedster Villains – ie: Future Flash, Daniel West’s Reverse Flash, etc. Hunter Zolomon’s most iconic role is how he became the 3rd Reverse Flash in order to make Wally West a better hero.
Again, some people are saying that Earth-1 Jay Garrick is Zoom, but there are multiple problems with this theory. For starters, Metahumans and Wormholes only opened on Earth-1 within the last year and a half, and yet he’s been terrorizing Earth-2 long before the singularity opened. Additionally, it’s been said a few times that Zoom was created from Earth-2 Well’s particle accelerator. All in all, this still points to Zoom being an Earth-2 villain; but the reveal of Hunter Zolomon can still be more than just a simple Easter Egg.
This episode Cisco asked Eobard Thawne WHERE he got the Reverse Flash costume and ring from. This means that there could have been a Reverse Flash before Thawne. In the comics, Zolomon’s Reverse Flash copied from Thawne’s Reverse Flash, so who’s to say “the reverse” isn’t happening here. In the comics, Zolomon was the 3rd Reverse Flash; but if he does go onto become the Reverse Flash in The Flash, he’ll be the 2nd. BUT in terms of the timeline, he could become the 1st Reverse Flash, the man whose yellow suit Eobard Thawne steals/emulates in the distant future.
Again, this is just a theory, but a lot of small ideas were planted this episode. Beyond the ‘WHERE did you get the Reverse Flash suit’ part, there was also the introduction of the idea that Speedster powers can be purposefully recreated. Sure Jay and Barry had similar origin stories, but Thawne’s admittance to trying to recreate the Flash’s powers and succeeding shows that it can happen purposefully. Perhaps Hunter Zolomon gets his powers via Caitlin trying to make Earth-1 Jay’s DNA match Earth-2 Jay’s DNA. Then again, perhaps the purposeful recreation of powers was more for setting up Wally West’s future transformation. Either way, this revelation of Earth-1 Jay Garrick being named Hunter Zolomon is a huge deal!
In a Flash – Easter Eggs, Quotes & Other Notables:
- One thing goes wrong and Jay is already suspicions that Wells had something to do with it… good man!
- With most of Barry’s life and happiness – ie: Patty – as well as Jay’s health on the line, pretty soon there is going to be an all out hunt to stop Zoom. But which side will Wells fall on?
- Considering Eobard said he had been searching for the Flash’s timeline for a while, it means that Barry’s heroism exist far beyond his human years. Meaning that there will be a lot more time travel to come – future and past – and because of it, it was always unclear WHICH period the Flash originated in.
- The supped up goggles Dr Wells made Cisco could very well be the first part of Cisco’s eventual ‘Vibe’ costume. And considering we saw him almost ‘vibe’ out of existence and ‘vibe’ to the future, hopefully Cisco will keep learning more and more ways to use his gifts.
- Quotes – Winners: Cisco (as always), Harry Wells & Joe
- “Oh I see, you haven’t had your coffee this morning”
- “I had my coffee this morning! *slurp* Don’t slurp *slurp* don’t *slurp* don’t *slurrrrrrrrrp* donnnnn’t” – Cisco & Harry Wells
- “Are we talking about Barry, cause it sounds like we’re talking about Barry.” – Joe
- “Have you ever seen Barry run? He waddles, like a slow ass duck!” – Joe
- “Bye Felecia!” – Cisco to Reverse Flash
- “Oh I see, you haven’t had your coffee this morning”
The Flash returns next week with Barry facing off against Tar Pit, but what’s this? Does Iris get fatally injured or is this just another Zoom-nightmare? I guess we’ll find out next week! So see you then and I hope you enjoyed this Closer Look!