Spoilers for The Flash. Trigger warning for abuse, violence, and imprisonment.
Barry no longer has his speed powers, Caitlin's been kidnapped by Zoom, and Zoom is running around faster than ever. For Team Flash, it is not a good day to be in Central City. When a meta-human kidnaps Harry, the team has to figure out a way to save him... without Barry's speed abilities.
This is The Flash!
Barry is regular...again. He has to ride the bus to work, wait in line for coffee, and take his regular, old time to do work. Let's just say after two years of speed abilities, being normal again really wears Barry down. (He's so sad in this episode, I just want to give him a big hug and wrap him in a blanket. Blanket burrito Barry.)
(Oh my gosh, Barry!!!--source)
At STAR Labs, Cisco vibes using Jay's helmet to locate Caitlin. She's safe, but Zoom has her in his lair. Harry throws a temper tantrum over what happened. He blames Barry for everything. Iris, however, stands up for Barry and says they all share the blame. But Harry is still mad. He packs away some gear, including a gun, and decides to find Jesse without their help. Joe tries to comfort Barry, but he's still pretty upset. (Poor Barry. Here, have a shock blanket, it'll help.)
(Cisco is the best, though.--source)
Caitlin sits on a bed in Zoom's lair; she's handcuffed to it. Zoom visits and tries to convince her to eat. She tells him to take off his mask to talk to her, so he does. He tells her he won't hurt her because he does care for her. She calls him Hunter, and he has a brief flashback to his childhood again. (Oooh, this so interesting. I seriously smell a redemption arc, but I don't know how they can possibly do it.) He also admits he is a monster, but he also says he loves her. When he reaches for her face, though, she jerks away from him. He releases her from the handcuffs and zooms away. (Alright, I'm getting some major Kylo Ren vibes here.)
Hunter: "You're here because I love you. It may take awhile, but someday you'll start feeling that way about me again too."
She gets up and walks around the lair. The Man in the Iron Mask taps against the glass, but she says she doesn't understand. Then, a voice comes from behind. She turns around to find Killer Frost behind a glass cage. (Excellent. Dis gunna be good.)
Wally visits Joe at the precinct. He asks him about the Flash--it wasn't hard to figure out Joe was the connection to the Flash. But Wally doesn't want to know the Flash's identity; he wants to talk to him. However, Joe refuses, saying right now wasn't the best time. Harry shows up at Jesse's apartment. She's still angry at him and refuses to leave with him. She says she's as afraid of Harry as she is of Zoom. (Poor Harry. This is just one sad pity party after another for these guys.) As Harry drives away, a man steps out in the middle of the road. Harry slams on his brakes, but the van hits the guy. Only the guy is a super strong meta, and his body smashes the front end of the van. He comes around to the side and kidnaps Harry!
(Blarg. She's kind of annoying.--source)
At STAR Labs, Cisco and Barry receive an alert that something is wrong with the van. They watch footage of the meta taking Harry. Barry calls Iris to help him track down the van. When they get there, Barry does forensic work. He thinks the guy was a meta--probably someone from Earth-2. Meanwhile, Harry wakes up, handcuffed, in a warehouse full of carnival rides. James Griffin Gray--the meta--introduces himself and accuses Harrison Wells of ruining his life with the particle accelerator. He shows Harry what he can do--bend metal with his bare hands. (Aka, he has super strength.) However, Gray looks like he's forty when he's only eighteen. Every time he uses his ability, he ages rapidly. (This is creeeepy.)
On Earth-2, Caitlin and Killer Frost chat. (It's actually brilliant.) Killer Frost wants Caitlin to break her out of the cage, and in exchange, she'll help Caitlin get back home. So, Caitlin works up a device to break the glass of the cage. She asks Killer Frost how she got her powers; she tells her it was the dark matter (of course). They bond over mommy issues. (One of the greatest things about Earth-2 is characters meeting their doppelganger and learning about another life they could have lived. I live for these kinds of stories.)
Killer Frost: "Let's make a deal. You get me out of this box, and I'll help you get home. Might even throw in some wardrobe tips for free. So what do you say, Caitlin? Do we have a deal?"
(This is brilliant acting on Danielle Panabaker's part.--source)
Barry and Iris bring Jesse and the forensic samples back to STAR Labs. Cisco runs fingerprints, and they discover the meta is supposed to be an eighteen year old. However, when they run a facial recognition, they learn it is the guy who kidnapped Harry--only he's aged. A lot! Jesse offers to help run the blood samples since Caitlin isn't there. Wally visits Joe once more at the precinct, begging Joe to let him meet the Flash. He says when Zoom kidnapped him, it was the first time he was truly afraid of dying, but the Flash saved him. He wants to thank the Flash for that. So Joe agrees. (I love seeing how much Wally has changed over the course of this season. I'm starting to like his character a lot more.)
(This was hilarious.--source)
Team Flash locates Gray, and Barry says they need to stop him. The boys--Joe, Cisco, and Barry--track Gray to some kind of warehouse (different than where Harry is being held). Gray, of course, isn't willing to hand over Harry. Instead, he starts chucking heavy objects toward them. Joe and Cisco distract Gray while Barry sneaks around to get a better shot. When Barry shoots Gray, he misses. Gray heaves a heavy barrel at Barry, and Barry is injured. But Barry also watches as Gray ages right before his eyes.
Jesse finishes tests on the blood, which explains why he ages so quickly. Whenever he uses his abilities, it takes the energy from his body. Iris comforts Barry as he sadly looks at his Flash suit. He tells her that the first person he ever saved after getting his powers was her. She tells him he can still be that person, the person he's always been. Suit or no suit, he can still be a hero.
(They're definitely setting them up again.--source)
Gray gives Harry ingredients to help him make a cure. They discuss who they care about. (Okay, Gray talks while Harry ignores him.) Gray blames Harry for everything, and Harry just takes it even though he didn't do any of it--it was the other Harrison Wells.
On Earth-2, Caitlin tests her device on the glass cage. It works, and she's able to break the glass. Killer Frost steps out. Caitlin wonders out loud how to save the Man in the Iron Mask, but Killer Frost turns on her. (Wow, I never saw that coming or anything.) She shoots ice blasts at her, which causes Caitlin to slip and fall. She says Zoom kept her around because she looks exactly like Caitlin, but now Zoom wouldn't have any reason to keep her. She throws an icicle shard at Caitlin.
(I actually love Killer Frost.--source)
But Zoom arrives, running so fast he runs through Caitlin, and he snatches up the icicle. He then uses the icicle to stab Killer Frost. He takes off his mask and tells Caitlin if she tries to break out the Man in the Iron Mask, he'll die too. Then, he leaves. (Whoa. Whoa! WHOA! I'm so mixed up about Zoom. He saved her, but he's still a monster. He's also very possessive of his--or maybe not his--things. Kylo Ren, much?)
At STAR Labs, they track down Harry using his watch. Cisco--with Jesse and Felicity's help--revamps Barry's suit. They put a little bit of the material from Ray Palmer's ATOM suit into the front of the Flash suit, which will Barry a little defense (read: exactly one punch from the "He-Man") in a fight against the meta. At the warehouse, Harry finishes his "cure" for Gray. But Gray isn't an idiot; he knows Harry's been stalling for time. Harry admits there isn't a way to cure Gray. Gray gets mad, but before he can pummel Harry, team Flash shows up.
(Barry is so done with being "normal." Your face, sir, amuses me.--source)
The girls cover lookout duty while the boys distract Gray, trying to get him to use his powers. Barry says they can help him, but Gray says it's too late for that. He fights Barry, growing older with every swing. Finally, he punches Barry in the chest. Barry goes flying, and Gray collapses, dead. Barry is a little short on breath, but he's fine. When they go to Gray, he's turned back into his eighteen-year-old self. They rescue Harry and return to STAR Labs.
Jesse and Harry talk over everything that happened. Jesse apologizes, but she tries to explain her feelings. Harry understands, and he explains that when Jesse's mom died, he felt so helpless. He hadn't been able to protect her, so he swore he would always protect Jesse. When Zoom kidnapped her, he snapped. He promises to be a better father if she promises never to run away again. Then he calls her Jesse Quick.
Wells: "When your mother died, honey...something inside me broke. I couldn't protect her. And I swore--I swore on her grave, no less, that I would protect you and then Zoom took you, and I snapped. I just snapped. I couldn't breathe. I...I couldn't lose the only other person that I love."
(In the comics, Jesse Quick is the daughter of a speedster named Johnny Quick. She has her own speedster super powers, including the ability to fly using her speed. Does this mean we might get another speedster in the show someday? Possibly! Let's just hope she doesn't turn into an evil, raging psychopath.)
Joe brings Wally to meet the Flash. When the Flash arrives, Wally thanks him. He promises he won't waste the second chance he's been given.
On Earth-2, Zoom re-handcuffs Caitlin to the bed. He tells her she should be grateful he saved her life, but she asks him to take her home. He says she should stay. This gives him another major flashback. (It's almost like he's being... torn apart.) But Caitlin's pleas to return to her earth gives Zoom an idea. (A wonderful, awful idea.) Instead of measuring his success by the number of victims, he's going to measure his success by the number of earths he conquerors. Then, he laughs. He grabs Caitlin and zooms away.
Barry and Harry talk at STAR Labs. Barry doesn't know how to save Caitlin without his powers. Harry says he can't. Then, he tells Barry that he will help him get his speed back--by creating another particle accelerator explosion. (Oh, brilliant.)
Concluding ThoughtsWhew, this episode was all kinds of crazy. I expected things to be "back to normal," but now I know that's impossible for someone like Barry--powers or no powers. It was interesting to see how he dealt with the loss of his speed force. Poor Barry.
I was excited to see more development with Harry and Jesse. (Especially the whole Jesse Quick thing!) I'm glad they reconciled because it was becoming a bit annoying how bratty Jesse was acting. She definitely has valid reasons for her feelings, but she executed her reaction poorly.
The Earth-2 stuff is what I live for. I loved Killer Frost's interactions with Caitlin. I'm kind of sad they killed her off because I enjoyed her character immensely. I'd still like to have some kind of hint at who the Man in the Iron Mask is. I'm still crossing my fingers that it's Hunter/Jay/Zoom from Earth-3 or something. (Maybe the real Jay Garrick?) Zoom, however, is another matter entirely. Maybe I'm still not over Jay Garrick turning evil, but I really feel that the writers are hinting at something more with Hunter Zolomon. He seems to be so conflicted, which stems from his childhood. (*CoughsKyloRenCoughs*) He does seem to care for Caitlin (perhaps his methods of showing that aren't the best), but he's still stuck in the mindset of the monster. Is it too much to hope for a redemption arc?
Wally's interaction with the Flash suggests we might be seeing Wally as a speedster soon. I hope so. It will definitely make things more interesting if there's a second good speedster around to help Barry out--or even a third if Jesse turns into one too. The writers have set up a lot of interesting threads for future episodes and seasons. I'm excited to see what's in store next for The Flash!
What did you think of "Back to Normal"?