A Closer Look: The Flash – “Back To Normal”

Last week’s explanation of ‘Who Is Zoom’ really knocked the wind out of us… and everyone for that matter. With his speed now gone, Barry Allen must now adjust to everything going “back to normal”; but what is normal? This episode not only looked into that; but also gave an overwhelming sense of “normalcy” overall as we see many parallel situations come to light. Just because you’re different people doesn’t mean rules and blame don’t apply.

So let’s take a Closer Look at this week’s episode “Back To Normal”.

The Flash Back To Normal Closer Look

“Back To Normal” – What Is Normal?

As I began to mention up top, this episode asked the question ‘what is normal for Barry Allen’. Sure, he’s back to being a normal person without powers; but notice how the episode began with a flashback of Barry’s usual – dare I say “normal” – routine. Barry has been the impossible for almost two years now. For all intents and purposes, the impossible IS normal for Barry. Yes he’s not “back to [being a] normal” person, but this episode gives him all the reasons he needs to go ‘back to [his new] normal’ of having his speed and being a hero.

Though even without his speed, Barry is still a hero. Whilst talking to Iris, we see Barry’s lowest point as. Before he became “The Flash”, he saw his powers as the way he could “protect Iris”. Before everything else, that was his role as the Flash and it’s what meant the most to him. But without this, he doesn’t even know who he is anymore. He’s lost his foundation and reflects upon how these powers and the accident changed his life so much. The powers were a way he could try to make up for lost time, but without them was it all for nothing? Thankfully Iris snaps him out of this and reminds him of the hero he is; and this helps empower Barry to take on Griffin. He might not have his powers, but tracking down and outthinking Metahumans is certainly “back to normal” for Team Flash. But even though they won, they need things completely back to normal. They need Barry’s speed. They need Caitlin back. And they need to stop Zoom, who is become more and more psychotic, and yet also more and more sympathetic.

Comparing And Contrasting Zoom & Wells – Love & Fear And Kidnapping/ed & Saving/ed:

Last week we saw Zoom listen to Caitlin and spare Barry’s life, meaning he still has some humanity left in him. Sadly, that humanity might not be enough to save him; but it is enough to make us feel sorry for him. Much like how last week, Zoom flashed back to the night of his mother’s death when Caitlin called him “a monster” (like her dad) this week he did the same when he commanded Caitlin to “stay” (again reminding him of what his father said that night). Setting up these parallels and love of Caitlin adds tremendous depth to his character as Zoom is more and more seeing Caitlin as the only person in his life he loved besides his mom. This is also why he kept Killer Frost alive – not to mention this could also be an additional reason he killed off Deathstorm. He is desperately trying to cling onto something that reminds him of home; but he isn’t the only one.

Though not apparent at first, the Wells and Zoom parallel kicks in almost immediately when Jessie proclaims “I am afraid of zoom but I am just as afraid of you”. Both are men who’ve done/are doing bad things to hold onto someone they loved. Additionally, by episodes end we hear how Jessie felt burdened by the fact that ‘Wells killed that man for her’. Similarly, we also witness Caitlin get burdened by the fact that ‘Zoom killed Killer Frost because she tried to help’ – and would kill again if she tried to help the Man in the Iron Mask. Though as the episode continues we see similarity between them grow as Wells recounts his reasoning for protecting Jessie so harshly. After he lost his wife (Jessie’s mom) he was broken and Jessie was the only shred of life to him; and when she was taken he snapped. This is similar to Zoom who after losing his mom snapped; but one wonders if he’ll get even worse trying to protect Caitlin OR if like Wells will eventually apologize and set her free.

This is doubtful though as this comparison becomes more of a contrast as the episode resolves and each continuously finds themselves on opposing ends. On one end, we know that Zoom kidnapped Caitlin and then saved her. On the other, we see that Wells is kidnapped and then is saved by Jessie and the others. While Zoom is an active force, Wells is a passive one; but this again flips when it comes to episode end. Both are men trying to hold onto what little pieces of love they have left in their life; but while Wells vows to ACTIVELY try to be the man Jessie can love, Zoom on the other hand never offers to change; but rather feels that Caitlin will be the one that’ll change her actions and feelings. This key difference is due to Wells being a great man at heart who is just trying to put himself back together. Zoom on the other hand never got the chance to become a good man and thus has a very polluted view of what goodness and love is.

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The Blame Game – This Is “On You”:

Another theme this episode was placing the blame for bad things “on you”. I already began to explore this in the last section where Jessie feels responsible for the Turtle’s death and how Zoom places the blame of Killer Frost and the Man in the Iron Mask’s potential death on Caitlin. Although this theme actually first pops up at the start of the episode where Wells blames Barry for their current state of affairs, which as we explored last week in “Versus Zoom” is actually kind of Barry’s fault as once again he couldn’t leave something alone. As the episode continues though ,we begin to feel things coming full circle. When Griffin berates Wells for his sins, he might be talking about the Earth-1 Wells; but we know the same sins still apply – and even if you didn’t make the connection, Wells himself pointed it out at episode’s end. Barry might have had some selfish reasons to push his luck and take on Zoom; but Wells is just as guilty for trying to push luck and make a scientific discovery the world might not have been ready for yet. Yes, both did have the best intentions; but they also both share the blame for their actions. So if they want to make up for their sins, they have to make things right and that means trying everything they once did again – Wells creating another particle accelerator explosion and Barry becoming faster and taking on Zoom.

In A Flash – Easter Eggs, Favorite Quotes & Other Notables:

  • Zoom kept Killer Frost alive because she reminded him of Caitlin. So what does he want from the Man in the Iron Mask? Perhaps an apology… from his dad… cause the man in the mask is his dad *Still Calling It*
  • Was it just me or did Wally’s speech to the Flash give a real Roy Harper and Arrow vibe? Side-kick in the making everyone!
  • They first confronted Griffin at Ace Chemical, known famously as the chemical plant the Joker fell into and became the Joker
  • We got a reference to Felicity hooking them up with some Dwarf Star Alloy – used in Ray Palmer’s ATOM suit – but only enough to cover the chest.
  • In case you’re wondering HOW Barry survived two punches from Griffin instead of two, take a closer look at the placement of those punches. The first hit Barry on the left side, the other hit on the right. This is why he was able to withstand two of them, because they were far enough apart to still have the Dwarf Star Alloy retain some strength. Yes I’m an expert in Dwarf Star Alloy… or just good at putting two and two together lol
  • It’s hard to know for sure at this juncture, but there was an interesting exchange between Caitlin and Killer Frost about how both their moms were cold. Killer Frost’s mom was cold because of the death of her son Charlie. Did Caitlin have a brother too or is there something else to explain this? Perhaps we’ll find out in the future.
  • Wells referred to his daughter as “Jessie Quick” again, another reference to her eventual Speedster nickname.
  • Favorite Quotes:
    • “That’s why I’m always dropping calls around you?” – Cisco in response to the Earth-2 Deadzone revelation
    • “Damn, that was fast… that was a poor choice of words” – Joe
    • “Girl, no, that is not common anywhere” – Iris to Jessie’s multi-multi major
    • “Ok, He-Man’s got some power… and accuracy” – Cisco about Griffin
    • “Why is it bad guys always insist on having the creepiest hideouts?” – Cisco

Next week, Barry and Wells are going to try to recreate the accident that gave Barry his powers – a plot point that has been used in the comics and animated movies before (and last season when Barry momentarily lost his speed). So it can be done and they better do it fast because Zoom is setting his sights on Earth-1 now. Will the Flash win? Will the Green Arrow or any other heroes help? Well one of those things better be true or else we won’t have a Season 3 of The Flash lol So stay tuned!

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