Television

The Flash: Season 2, Episode 19 - "Back to Normal"

Gregory L. Reece

Barry Allen's no longer the "fastest man alive". His return to normal allows focus to shift away from him and onto other members of Team Flash.


The Flash

Airtime: Tuesdays, 8 pm
Cast: Grant Gustin, Keiynan Lonsdale, Teddy Sears, Tom Cavanagh, Violett Beane, Haig Sutherland, Carlos Valdes, Jesse L. Martin
Subtitle: Season 2, Episode 19 - "Back to Normal"
Network: CW
Air date: 2016-04-26
Amazon

Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) is no longer the "fastest man alive". Forced to give up his speed powers to Zoom in order to save his step-brother Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale), Barry's life has returned to normal. Groggy mornings. Bus rides to work. Spilled coffee.

The opening scenes of "Back to Normal" had me convinced that we were going to get to see Barry go through a normal day as a police scientist and ordinary guy, a character study, perhaps, that would reinforce the quiet heroism of the character even when he's deprived of the physical qualities that make him special.

Instead, Barry's return to normal allows focus to shift away from him and onto other members of Team Flash.

Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) remains trapped on Earth-2, a prisoner of her former love interest, Jay Allen (Teddy Sears), a.k.a. Hunter Zolomon, a.k.a. Zoom. She discovers that her Earth-2 doppelganger, Killer Frost, is also a captive in Zoom's prison. The interaction between the two characters, both played by Panabaker, isn’t as fun as it should have been nor is it particularly revelatory of Caitlin's character. While we learn, for example, that Caitlin and Killer Frost were both raised by frosty mothers, Caitlin still seems to be defined more by her unlucky romantic life than by her own personal history or character traits.

Meanwhile, Harry (Tom Cavanagh), upset that the team decided to open the portal to Earth-2 against his advice, decides that it’s time to track down his missing daughter, Jesse (Violett Beane). Fortunately, people from Earth-2 vibrate at a different frequency than the world around them, thus creating cell phone dead zones that Harry uses to track her. Their reunion does not go as planned, however, and on his way home Harry is abducted by Griffin Grey (Haig Sutherland) who mistakes him for the Harrison Wells of Earth-1, a man he holds responsible for the accident that transformed teenager Grey into a super-strong, but rapidly aging, super-villain.

Since Flash is now powerless, battling the villain-of-the-week requires a real team effort. Jesse, in particular, proves to be a nice substitute for her captive father in the "brilliant scientist department". (She had five majors in college, after all.) With a bit of off-screen help from Arrow's Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), she and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) beef-up Barry's suit just enough for him to be able to take a couple of punches from the graying bad-guy.

Yet another plot line follows Wally as he comes to term with the fact that he was almost killed by Zoom, a fate from which he was rescued by the Flash. Wally, one of the last of the regulars who doesn't know the hero's real identity, convinces Joe (Jesse L. Martin) to arrange a meeting with so that he can express his thanks. Wally's is definitely the C (or maybe D) storyline in this episode, but for those fans who know the character from his long history in comics, his scene with the Flash portends some important developments that are sure to come our way.

The episode ends with Wells being inspired to help Barry regain his powers. We can only hope that he succeeds. It wasn't bad to see a powerless Barry for one episode, but I don’t know if this problem is one that we want to see play out over several weeks. The sidelining of the Flash helped to make this episode seem a bit like a filler episode in which the larger season-long plotline wasn’t advanced very far. One of the charms of The Flash, of course, is its non-stop momentum. Individual episodes can sometimes feel like they pack a whole season's worth of story. In "Back to Normal", however, things mostly remained unchanged. The story opens with Barry without powers and Caitlin trapped on Earth-2, and that’s exactly how things end.

One of my favorite parts of this show is seeing the Flash run and hearing Harry, or Harrison, encourage him to run faster. It's a dynamic that has served this series well since its inception: move things along quickly and, when in doubt, move them along quicker still. Since that was missing this week, I'll do the honors myself. I'll give the encouragement and the advice.

Run, Barry, run!

6


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Film

Greta Gerwig's Adaptation of Loneliness in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'

Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women strays from the dominating theme of existential loneliness.

Music

The Band's Discontented Third LP, 1970's 'Stage Fright', Represented a World Braving Calamity

Released 50 years ago this month, the Band's Stage Fright remains a marker of cultural unrest not yet remedied.

Music

Natalie Schlabs Starts Living the Lifetime Dream With "That Early Love" (premiere + interview)

Unleashing the power of love with a new single and music video premiere, Natalie Schlabs is hoping to spread the word while letting her striking voice be heard ahead of Don't Look Too Close, the full-length album she will release in October.

Music

Rufus Wainwright Makes a Welcome Return to Pop with 'Unfollow the Rules'

Rufus Wainwright has done Judy Garland, Shakespeare, and opera, so now it's time for Rufus to rediscover Rufus on Unfollow the Rules.

Music

Jazz's Denny Zeitlin and Trio Get Adventurous on 'Live at Mezzrow'

West Coast pianist Denny Zeitlin creates a classic and adventurous live set with his long-standing trio featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson on Live at Mezzrow.

Film

The Inescapable Violence in Netflix's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui)

Fernando Frías de la Parra's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui) is part of a growing body of Latin American social realist films that show how creativity can serve a means of survival in tough circumstances.

Music

Arlo McKinley's Confessional Country/Folk Is Superb on 'Die Midwestern'

Country/folk singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley's debut Die Midwestern marries painful honesty with solid melodies and strong arrangements.

Music

Viserra Combine Guitar Heroics and Female Vocals on 'Siren Star'

If you ever thought 2000s hard rock needed more guitar leads and solos, Viserra have you covered with Siren Star.

Music

Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts Honor Their Favorite Songs With "Oh No" (premiere)

Ryan Hamilton's "Oh No" features guest vocals from Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo, and appears on Nowhere to Go But Everywhere out 18 September.

Music

Songwriter Shelly Peiken Revisits "Bitch" for '2.0' Album (premiere)

A monster hit for Meredith Brooks in the late 1990s, "Bitch" gets a new lease on life from its co-creator, Shelly Peiken. "It's a bit moodier than the original but it touts the same universal message," she says.

Music

Leila Sunier Delivers Stunning Preface to New EP via "Sober/Without" (premiere)

With influences ranging from Angel Olsen to Joni Mitchell and Perfume Genius, Leila Sunier demonstrates her compositional prowess on the new single, "Sober/Without".

Music

Speed the Plough Members Team with Mayssa Jallad for "Rush Hour" (premiere)

Caught in a pandemic, Speed the Plough's Baumgartners turned to a faraway musical friend for a collaboration on "Rush Hour" that speaks to the strife and circumstance of our time.

Music

Great Peacock Stares Down Mortality With "High Wind" (premiere + interview)

Southern rock's Great Peacock offer up a tune that vocalist Andrew Nelson says encompasses their upcoming LP's themes. "You are going to die one day. You can't stop the negative things life throws at you from happening. But, you can make the most of it."

Music

The 80 Best Albums of 2015

Travel back five years ago when the release calendar was rife with stellar albums. 2015 offered such an embarrassment of musical riches, that we selected 80 albums as best of the year.

Film

Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.

Books

The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.

Music

Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.

Music

King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.