In Review: The Flash, Episode 42 “Back to Normal”

Decent filler, but filler nonetheless.

The Flash, Episode 42 “Back to Normal” Broadcast April 26, 2016

Written by Brooke Roberts & Katherine Walczak

Directed by John F. Showalter

“Previously on The Flash,” Jesse leaves the safety of her father to seek life on her own, Iris wonders if she and Barry are destined to be a couple, Wally is captured by Zoom as bait for Barry, a deal is made to trade Wally for the Flash’s speed force, Zoom powers himself up with the cosmic stuff and runs off with Caitlin.

With the loss of his abilities, Barry gets dressed for work at normal speed, rides the bus to work, stands in a long line for morning coffee, and trudges though paperwork. “I’m just a regular guy.” Cue opening title sequence.

At S.T.A.R. Labs, Cisco uses Jay’s helmet to get a vibe on Caitlin’s whereabouts: she’s in Zoom’s lair on Earth-2. Barry wants to save her, but there’s not much he can do without his abilities. Wells enters with a big gun, stating he’s going find his daughter before Zoom does. Speaking of the villain, back at his base, he visits Caitlin whom he’s chained to a cot. She refuses to speak to him while he’s in his black suit, so he changes at super speed. She calls him by his real name and that sets off a painful memory for him. “You’re here because I love you,” he tells her. He undoes her manacles and tells her to look around, “…you’re going to be here a while,” and dashes off. She finds the mysterious helmeted individual tapping out his unceasing code. Caitlin tells the prisoner she doesn’t understand him and is answered from the cell behind her. “Well hello, doppelganger,” says Killer Frost. At CCPD Headquarters, Wally shows up to ask Joe if he can arrange for him to meet the Flash. Before Joe can answer, he’s called to the chief’s office; the teen is very disappointed. In an apartment complex, Harrison gains entrance saying he’s looking for Jessie. His reunion with his daughter does not go smoothly. “You killed a man!” she says. “I may be afraid of Zoom, but I’m just as afraid of you!” Driving back home alone, Harrison’s car runs into a man who intentional walked into the path of his vehicle. Wells is knocked unconscious. The man, an obvious meta, rips the door off the car and pulls Wells out. Cue first commercial break.

The highlight of the episode was Danielle Panabaker, acting against herself. Killer Frost has been fun in previous episodes, and she’s just as fun here. The best scene of the episode was the two women comparing their lives, with a tease given about a new, unknown character in Caitlin’s life. What the two women are scheming isn’t surprising, nor is the end result, sadly. Also a highlight was Tom Cavanagh going from distraught to frustrated in looking for his daughter and getting a tongue lashing from Haig Sutherland as Griffin Grey. As the new villain of the episode, Grey was a fun character who had some really nice monologues and some strong motivation. His conclusion, though, was also unsurprising, though it was done sensationally by the show’s make up and special effects crew. Grant Gustin was fun to watch as Barry going through life as someone who’s normal, and the frustration in his voice matched his upset actions.

The good: Grant Gustin, Danielle Panabaker, Tom Cavanagh, Haig Sutherland, Teddy Sears giving Zolomon some painful memories, the make up and special effects.

Fun lines: “That’s on you,” “That’s why I’m always dropping calls around you?”, “Who’s Charlie?”, “Too slow,” “No, I don’t,” “As we say in science, ‘I’m cautiously optimistic’,” “Home sweet home,” and “Let’s go.”

The bad: A predictable story that came across as filler before returning Barry to his powered up statue, Wally’s scenes came across as very awkward, and the Barry and Iris scene could be fast forwarded through and nothing lost in the story or for the characters. It’s also gotten old to see characters get knocked off on Earth-2. The same thing happened on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine during their Mirror Universe episodes; after awhile every character was killed in some over the top way, making the novelty of going to that dimension just another opportunity to have an actor get to die. It would be nice to see some people survive.

The final line: Decent filler, but filler nonetheless. Everyone gives their all, but with exception to what Danielle Panabaker gets to do, there’s nothing to grab the viewer. Overall grade: C+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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