Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 10 - Potential Energy

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here




Plot

With Barry and Patty now officially boyfriend and girlfriend, Barry debates revealing his secret identity to her as Joe and Iris try to build a relationship with a guarded Wally West. Meanwhile, Cisco continues his search for a mysterious metahuman thief he believes has the power to slow down time.


Influences

The Flash #213 (Geoff Johns wrote the story which gave The Turtle a natural ability to slow other people down), the New 52 run of The Flash (Wally West's background as a juvenile delinquent), the Batman: The Animated Series episode Cold Comfort (the idea of a thief who targets items of emotional value rather than financial worth) and numerous classic The Flash comics where Barry wondered about the consequences of telling his current love interest about his life as The Fastest Man Alive.


Goofs

Presuming that Patty could be accepted to a prestigious forensics program mid-semester, she would have to have been planning to quit her job and leave Central City far before any of the recent issues with Barry that caused her to break things off with him at episode's end.  It's also nonsensical given the fact that she gives him an ultimatum about figuring out where they stand before announcing that she's moving and dumping him anyway.

There's also the issue of her not having figured out Barry's secret identity by now despite being a fairly skilled detective.  See The Fridge Factor for the details.


Performances


Candice Patton doesn't get much to do in this episode but she does nail the scene where Iris tells Barry that he should be honest with Patty regarding his secret.

Danielle Panabaker and Bart Sears are wonderful together as Caitlin and Jay. Such a shame that their subplot is the fourth of fifth most important in this episode and most of the developments relating to them occur off camera.

Once again, Tom Cavanagh steals the show - this time with the speech about how Zoom was given his name on Earth 2.


Artistry


The special effects used to indicate time slowing down are nicely differentiated from the effects used to show Barry moving faster than everyone else.

There's a nice resonance in Iris West being the one to tell Barry that he can't lie to Patty about who he is while pointing out all the trouble lying to her about his secret caused.


Flash Facts


Barry's nickname among The Wests growing up was The White Shadow. This was the also the name of a 1978 TV show about a white professional basketball player who, forced to retire due to injuries, becomes the basketball coach of a predominantly black high school in a rough neighborhood.

Shockingly, there are two villains in the comics who utilized the name of The Turtle. Neither of them was ever given a proper secret identity and they both mistakenly thought that their natural slowness would somehow allow them to counter the speed of The Flash.

The DCTVU version of The Turtle is given the name Russell Glosson. This seems to be a tribute to the two hosts of the Geek Out Loud podcast - Steve Glosson and Derek Russell.

The first Turtle appeared in All-Flash Quarterly #21 as an enemy of the Jay Garrick Flash. He was an ordinary slow-talking, slow-walking man who somehow thought The Flash would be unable to slow down enough to stop him.

The second Turtle made his debut, along with the Barry Allen Flash, in Showcase #4. This Turtle (who originally called himself The Turtle Man) was a brilliant inventor. He utilized bullet-proof force-fields, an armored exo-skeleton, a ray-gun that could slow the movement of the target and another ray gun that manipulated the target's optic censors so that they would perceive everything around them to be moving at super-speed.

Both Turtles joined forces in the post-Crisis The Flash comic,  Their plot to take over Keystone City from underground ended with the first Turtle's apparent death and the second Turtle being crippled.

The second Turtle gained an actual superpower during the Geoff Johns run of The Flash in The Flash #213. It was here that The Turtle, observing Superman and The Flash running a race against each other for charity, determined a way to absorb the potential energy from an object and limit its ability to become kinetic energy. He also learned how to take the energy he stole and give it to a target, causing it to move at suddenly uncontrollable speeds.

The DCTVU version of The Turtle is a petty thief who disappeared shortly after the Particle Accelerator Explosion. Like the Geoff Johns reimagining, he has the ability to absorb the kinetic energy of objects around him, slowing them down while seeming - from their perspective - to be moving at super-speed. He seems to be able to emit a field that slows all motion within a radius around him or can focus on a specific target, as he seems to focus on slowing down The Flash as he races to get Patty out of the path of a falling chandelier.

The Turtle is referred to as Cisco's "white whale". This is a reference to the novel Moby Dick, which centered upon an obsessed captain's hunt for the titular white whale.

Cisco's line - "From Hell's heart I stab at thee!" - is a direct quote from Moby Dick. It's also quoted in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which - knowing Cisco - is probably where he heard it first.

The first item we see The Turtle steal in this episode is The Vandervoort Diamonds. This may be a reference to actress Laura Vandervoort who played Supergirl on Smallville and was recently cast as Indigo on Supergirl.

The Turtle's motivation - stealing the things people value the most emotionally rather than items that possess financial value - mirrors that of Mister Freeze in the Batman: The Animated Series episode Cold Comfort.

Cisco's nickname around the GCPD is Cisco de la Macha. This is a reference to the classic literary hero Don Quixote de la Macha - an idealistic old man, who dreamed of being a knight and chased after windmills thinking them to be monsters.

Reference is made to the painting The Crystal Ball having been recovered from the country of Markovia. Markovia is a country in the DC Comics Universe and has been referenced frequently on Arrow. It is located between France, Belgium and Luxembourg and is home to the superheroes Geo-Force and Terra. Members of the Markovian royal family seem to have a common metagene that give them earth-manipulation powers.

The idea of Wally West being a juvenile delinquent comes from The New 52 version of the character.

At the end of the episode, Patty quits her job to return to college at Midway City University. Midway City is a fictional city in the DC Comics Universe and has been likened to being the DCU equivalent of Chicago. Opinions differ as to whether Midway City is located in Illinois or Michigan. What is agreed upon, however, is that the Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl made their homes there as did one incarnation of the superhero team The Doom Patrol.


Technobabble


The episode title comes from a physics term for the energy residing within an object with mass, due to its position within a system.  Potential Energy is converted to Kinetic Energy once the object is put into motion.

Indeed, Harry describes The Turtle's powers by saying he "transfers all the surrounding kinetic energy into himself, leaving everyone else in a temporary state of potential energy."

Barry is able to use The Speed Force to convert his own potential energy back to kinetic energy.

One common example of potential energy that is particularly relevant in the DCTVU is when an archer draws back an arrow and holds the shot before releasing it.  As they hold the shot, the arrow contains its maximum amount of potential energy. Once the archer releases the arrow, all the potential energy is converted to kinetic energy as the arrow begins to move.

There's 2/10ths of a second between each of The Turtle's energy-draining bursts.


Dialogue Triumphs


(In frustration, Harry knocks over the items on a work-station)
Cisco: (entering the room upon hearing the crash)
Hey! No! Absolutely not! You don't get to throw somebody else's stuff when you're pissed off!
(Wordlessly, Harry moves over to a different workstation and sweeps everything off of it onto the floor)
Cisco:
Thank you.

Iris: Look, I know that things have been moving pretty fast between you two. But you realize you can't keep things from her forever, right? One day you're going to have to tell her the truth.
Barry: That I'm The Flash?  I can't do that.
Iris: Barry - I wish a year ago you had told me the truth.
Barry: So what? Do you think I should just tell her?
Iris: I think that if you are serious about being with her... you have to.
Barry: All right. Then that's what I'll do. I'll tell Patty I'm The Flash.

Barry: I'm going to tell Patty that I'm The Flash.
(Everyone just stares at him)
Barry: Is that a bad idea?  What do we think?
Cisco: ... I will say that she put bullets in King Shark and Harry, so as far as I'm concerned that's Team Flash material to me!

Harry: (muttering) Turtle. Why do you insist on giving them ridiculous nicknames?
Cisco: Me? Who's the genius who came up with "Zoom"?
Harry: Yeah, well... I'll tell you. About two years ago - this on Earth 2, now - the CCPD there?  They got a 911 call, about a hostage situation. But when the SWAT team got there, there were no hostages. It was a trap. Zoom set a trap in order to show the police that they could not stop him. And he killed 14 officers. Men and women. Slaughtered them. Left one alive to tell what happened. That officer described... blue lightning, zooming all about... as his comrades, brother and sisters in arms, were murdered. That officer considered himself to be the lucky one. Spared in order to tell the tale. Until Zoom went to his house that night and killed him. (pauses) Anyway, that's how he got the nickname Zoom.

Patty: I can't figure you out, Barry Allen.
Barry: That is because I work hard to hide who I really am.

The Turtle: This is a trap? (scoffs) I'm slow, not stupid.

Wally: What? You got someone tailing me now?
Joe: Why didn't you show up for dinner last night?
Wally: Couldn't make it.
Joe: You tell someone you're going to be somewhere, you show up.
Wally: Guess I didn't have my dad to teach me that, huh?
Joe: Is this why you came to Central City?  Not to get to know me or your sister but... this nonsense?
Wally: No one in Keystone will race me anymore. But I don't actually have to explain myself to you.
Joe: Actually, you do. This is illegal. I'm a cop, remember?
Wally: Oh yeah!  Yes.  The detective who didn't know he had a son. And who doesn't know anything about me.
Joe: I am -trying- to get to know you, Wally.
Wally: These races? That car that I won? That's the only way that I can pay for my mom's hospital bills. Get her the help that she needs.
Joe: You don't have to do this! I have money saved. I can dip into my pension!
Wally; I don't need your money! I can take care of myself and my mom, okay?  I'm the man of our house. That position has been filled. Go home to your family, Joe.

(The Turtle sits and an old-fashioned typewriter, hunting and pecking as he types. Patty is tied up in a chair nearby.)
Patty: What do you want from me?
The Turtle: I want you to stop moving. Forever.
Patty: What do you get out of killing me?
The Turtle: Oh, I'm not going to kill you. That's much too... fast and messy. I like to take things nice... and slow.
Patty: You don't have to hurt me to prove a point.
The Turtle: This isn't about hurting you. This is about hurting someone who values you.
Patty: Who, Barry?
The Turtle: No. The Flash.
Patty: What does he have to do with this?!
The Turtle: I saw the way he saved you.
Patty: Yes, that's what he does. He's a hero. He saves people who need saving!
The Turtle: That's a waste of time. Saving people. They take everything for granted.
Patty: So you take the things that matter most to them?
The Turtle: My wife Rosalyn took me for granted. She wanted to leave me. The thing I valued most...
Patty: So that's what this is about? You're hurt because your wife left you?
The Turtle: I couldn't let that happen. So I made her mine. Forever.
(The Turtle pulls aside a curtain to reveal a glass case with a woman's dead body inside it.  He then takes the card he's been typing on all this time and moves over to a second curtain, pulling it aside to reveal a second glass case. He then inserts the card into the holder on the front of the case, revealing it to read "Detective Patty Spivot".)
The Turtle: I do hope I've spelled your name right.

(The Turtle struggles inside his cell in The Pipeline under STAR Labs as Team Flash looks on)
The Flash: Hey TurtleSo you wanna know my new definition of irony? Now -you- our most prized possession.


Dialogue Disasters

Patty's speech telling off Barry, where she lists every odd thing he's done over the course of their relationship, while sounding clearly upset, which ends with her literally saying "I'm actually really upset." Because the rant right before this line didn't make that clear enough.


Continuity

Barry's nickname among The Wests growing up was The White Shadow.

Harry refers to the darts that failed to slow Zoom down in 206.

Cisco maintains a list of unidentified metahumans.

Midway City University's Department of Forensic Sciences is located in the 7401 zip code, at 3500 Broad Street. No state is given in the address.

Patty's address in Central City is 1016 Brookfield Road, Apt. 617 Her zip code is 7423. No state is given in her address either.

This is different from how zip codes were presented during the first season, with one zip code for Central City given in F122 being 74912.  Clearly Barry Allen's trip to the past changed how zip codes are presented on Earth 1.

Wally West got involved in illegal street races to pay for his mother's medical bills.

Caitlin determines that Jay is dying of an unnamed disease. She discovered this analyzing his DNA after taking a sample from the beaker full of champagne that he drank from. The only cure is for Jay to recover his speed... for some reason.

Wally doesn't like chow mein but does like kung pao chicken.

Patty dumps Barry and quits her job, moving to Midway City to go back to college and become a CSI.

Harry kills The Turtle while taking a blood sample from him. This makes his death look like an aneurysm.

The Reverse Flash - Eobard Thawne - somehow arrives in modern day Central City.


The Fridge Factor


Patty comes off as the biggest idiot ever for not having yet put two and two together regarding Barry's being secretive, suddenly appearing out of nowhere with roses that spontaneously combust, disappearing just before The Flash shows up at the art gallery and a super-villain kidnapping her because he thinks The Flash is in love with her - an idea that makes no sense for The Flash unless he is Barry Allen!  This is particularly annoying since The Turtle figured it out after encountering The Flash once!

What's worse is that her sudden decision to go back to college without consulting Barry about their relationship status reeks of hypocrisy given the riot act she reeds Barry about keeping secrets from her. Because there is no way she could have applied to university and been accepted in the few days, at most, that she would have had during which things went south with Barry.


The Bottom Line


Too much, too fast. There's a lot of good moments here but they're fighting for stage time and a lot of subplots (Jay and Caitlin's romance and the revelation that Jay is sick and Wally's secret life as a street racer) are given too little time to be developed. Much is made of Cisco's chasing after The Turtle but then he has nothing to do with the villain's eventually defeat. And the centerpiece of the episode - Barry's dithering over revealing his powers to Patty - turns out to be much ado about nothing as Patty is accepted to college and quits her job with speed that puts The Flash to shame! Everything seems rushed.

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