The Reverse Flash is back in the Tuesday, Jan. 26 episode of “The Flash,” and not only does his presence raise one very big question (how?!), it also leads to Barry having to make a tough choice. Elsewhere, Patty’s on her way out of town, but not before figuring out something huge, and the West family deals with saying goodbye to Francine.
Well, it’s a good thing Barry’s not exactly looking for a break at the moment because he’s not going to get one. Things with Patty are awkward when it comes to her leaving (but not quite yet) and them having to work together. Though she tries to talk to Barry, he’s not exactly receptive, and instead, she does some digging and figures out he’s the Flash. (There are details in case files he couldn’t have known any other way.) When she confronts Joe with this realization, he tries to lie, he really does (Barry’s running is like a duck waddling, didn’t you know?), but as she reminds him, he told her she’d have to lie to do this job. And he’s a terrible liar.
Patty then goes to Barry, who tries to make the idea seem crazy, but she knows better – and feels stupid enough as it is that she didn’t figure it out sooner. But she was smitten, she says, and now, she just needs him to admit he’s the Flash and she’ll stay. He won’t do that, refusing to get in the way of her being a CSI like she’s wanted and having her be another person that can be used against him. That doesn’t stop her from calling him and claiming there’s a man with a gun on her train. Barry doesn’t see through the obvious lie/trap and speeds to her. This doesn’t change the fact that she’s leaving, and she says goodbye as he speeds off.
Barry comes close to losing someone else in his life in this episode as well. Eobard Thawne is back, as the team learns when Cisco, trying to figure out how his vibing works, sees him at Mercury Labs. (Side note: Yes, Harry killed Turtle, and yes, he can’t be trusted, but how entertaining are he and Cisco? That morning coffee exchange is gold.) Eobard kidnaps Christina McGee, in order to get her to help him get home, and everyone is left wondering how it’s even possible for Eobard to exist.
Cue Harry explaining time remnants, different timelines, moments in time and fixed points (like Barry’s mother’s death). It’s all “wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff,” to borrow a phrase from “Doctor Who.” Upon figuring out that fear is what triggers Cisco’s vibes, Harry fiddles around with his goggles, and Cisco enters “full on vibe mode.” He sees different events in time, and Harry guides him to focus on the Reverse Flash and Christina – but Cisco sees him killing her and speeding off into a speed machine into the future. There is one bright side to that: it happens in the future. Time may be on their side, but not for very long. They’ll be able to trace the tachyons in the machine once they’re activated, but then Barry will have to speed in and save Christina before Eobard kills her. He cuts it close, but he succeeds – and when Eobard speeds off, daring him to catch him, Barry does, with Joe in his ear telling him to stop hitting him and bring him in alive.
They stick Eobard in the same cell they stuck Wells last year, and Harry warns Barry against going to talk to him. Any time someone messes with a timeline, it’s impossible to predict the ramifications. Cisco does go to see Eobard, to let him know that he figured out he was back and helped stop him, using powers that he gave him. “Bye, Felicia,” he says and leaves him to rot in the cell he helped build. But what’s going on with Cisco’s nosebleeds?
Well, it’s about to get worse. Barry, making sure to stay in the dark, does go to see Eobard, to find out why he hates him so much. As Eobard explains, he was obsessed with him and wanted to be him, so he duplicated the reaction and it worked. However, as he discovered with the ability to travel through time, his fate was to be the Flash’s greatest enemy. So instead, he became the reverse of everything he was. “I am the one thing you cannot stop,” Eobard informs him – and he may be right, because that’s when Cisco enters a prolonged state of chronic seizing and then seems to fade in and out of existence. Harry realizes it’s because they ruptured the timeline when they captured the Reverse Flash. Cisco is being affected by changes to the timeline, changes to the past and present. In order to save him, they have to restore the timeline and send Eobard back to the future.
It’s the last thing Barry wants to do after finally catching him, but he doesn’t want to lose Cisco either. Since Barry destroyed the tachyon machine, he has to use his speed to catapult Eobard past the time barrier. And here is Eobard’s origin story, when he learns all about them. It works, and once Eobard is gone, Cisco stabilizes.
Meanwhile, Joe tells Iris that Francine doesn’t have much time, leading to a heartbreaking mother/daughter moment. Iris tells her mother she’s not angry anymore for what happened, she just wishes she had come back sooner so she could’ve forgiven her like she’s forgiven her now. However, Wally hasn’t been to see his mother, which Francine attributes to him being angry. Iris tracks him down and offers some advice from the perspective of someone who lost a loved one the year before and didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. Being able to do so with Francine helped them both find peace with what happened to their family, she tells Wally. He should see his mother while he can. Wally winds up taking her words to heart and asking her to go with him.
Finally, there’s the matter of saving Jay. Caitlin thinks that their best bet at the moment is to replace his dying cells with healthy ones indistinguishable from his, so that means finding his Earth-1 doppelganger. There’s just one problem: Jay Garrick doesn’t exist there. That’s because his doppelganger’s mother died during childbirth, and he was adopted, so he has a different name: Hunter Zolomon. And as Jay tells Caitlin, his DNA was mutated when he became a speedster, so the only way to reverse what’s happening to him is to catch Zoom and get him his speed back.
“The Flash” season 2 airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW. What did you think of episode 11 “The Reverse Flash Returns”?