TV Recap: The Flash, ‘Back to Normal’

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Back to Normal Plot Summary: A meta human with super strength named Griffin Grey mistakes Harry for Earth-1 Harrison Wells and kidnaps him, demanding that wells cure him from his current condition. Realizing another brilliant Wells could Track Griffins Location, Barry asks Jesse to help. Meanwhile, Wally corners Joe About the Flash.

Oh boy.

For the third time in two seasons, Barry has lost his speed and the team has to figure out how to defeat a minor villain who is angry at Wells. This is the first time that episode didn’t end with Barry believing in himself enough to will his speed back into existence, but otherwise it followed the formula and that was about it.

The Flash -- "Back to Normal" -- Pictured (L-R): Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West, Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon and Grant Gustin as Barry Allen-- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
The Flash — “Back to Normal” — Pictured (L-R): Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West, Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon and Grant Gustin as Barry Allen– Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

This week’s meta may have been the lamest one the show has come up with yet, a young man named Griffin Grey (thanks, comic books) with the power to throw enough barrels to kill Jumpman but the unfortunate side effect of advanced aging. Now I know the character has some more comic significance than the show gives him credit for. He is originally Bart Allen’s roommate who gets superpowers and uses them to fight crime before kind of becoming evil. I don’t think we necessarily need to go through all of that backstory but maybe a little more character than “I’m mad at you and need you to cure me” would have been nice, especially since the plot feels so much like that of the Blackout episode with a differently powered villain.

One the topic of powers, the show makes it very clear that Griffin only really ages when he is using his strength and since Griffin’s goal is to stop aging, you think he wouldn’t use his powers all that much. I understand you need them to capture Wells but then just tell him you have super strength. Is destroying that big wheel thing worth your twenties? Anyway, the team comes up with a plan wherein they trick Grey into using his powers so much that he ages into the triple digits and dies. And with the assistance of a suit reinforced with *sigh* dwarf star alloy, the plan goes off without a hitch. Another villain who was clearly not an evil character savagely murdered by the Flash.

The Flash -- "Back to Normal" -- Pictured Grant Gustin as The Flash -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
The Flash — “Back to Normal” — Pictured Grant Gustin as The Flash — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

It surprises me that with all of the villains we have seen on The Flash up until now, none of them have just been ‘big strong guy’ (and, no, I’m not referring to the X-Man). Usually that is square one for your standard superhero show. You do strong guy, electricity guy, shapeshifter, and then you start messing around with psychic gorillas. The genius of The Flash is that they just threw in whichever fun comic book characters they thought they could get away with and they were successful because we really hadn’t seen them before. I am worried that Griffin Grey may be an admission that Flash is out of ideas and is trying to get Zoom out of the way before they introduce any one of the remaining Rogues who will end up being the Season 3 villain (Top, Mirror Master, Abra Kadabra, or most likely some other speedster).

This episode is about…I really don’t know. Family? Trust? It really only seemed to exist for a couple of reasons. The first is to show how capable Jessie was and all things considered, I do like her on the team. She fits in well. Her attitude is somehow more down to Earth than the rest of the crew and her presence seems to level everyone. She also has a different enough skill set that she could fill in some gaps if…say…Wells sacrifices himself to kill Zoom in the season finale like he will 100% do.

The other reason the episode the episode exists is to check in on Caitlin. Oh did I forget to mention that Caitlin and Killer Frost had their parent trap moment and it ended with Killer Frost getting stabbed to death? Well it did. Caitlin demonstrated a Bambi-esque level of naivety that nearly ended with Killer Frost turning her into a Snow angel but at that last minute the heroic (?) Zoom dove through Caitlin’s body and executed Frost.

The Flash -- "Escape From Earth-2" -- Pictured (L-R): Candice Patton as Earth 2 Iris West and Danielle Panabaker as Killer Frost -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
The Flash — “Escape From Earth-2” — Pictured (L-R): Candice Patton as Earth 2 Iris West and Danielle Panabaker as Killer Frost — Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Now I wasn’t a huge fan of Panabaker’s Killer Frost. I think there is a fine line between camp and bad acting that Flash is constantly crossing and uncrossing. The distinguishing factor seems to have something to do with context. Cesar Romero’s Joker wouldn’t make sense surfing into the Nolan movies, and that’s the problem I keep having with Flash. In one scene, Wells and Jesse will be having a legitimately sweet and emotional father daughter moment and in the next scene, Killer Frost will channel her inner Uma Thurman Poison Ivy for a monologue about how cold she is. It just doesn’t fit. Flash can either be campy or serious but it can’t do both in the same episode. At least everyone in the show realizes how much of a weirdo Captain Cold is. They even frequently don’t take him seriously because of it. Flash needs to strike more of a tonal balance otherwise it risks confusing the audience and deflating all future drama. Whichever direction they decide to go in is fine. I would prefer a campy Flash show, but that’s just me.

Oh and if another character walks by the man in the mask without making even an effort to learn anything about him, I am going to lose my mind. “Who’s that mysterious prisoner clearly tapping some sort of code that Zoom thought it was necessary to imprison in both a powerproof cell and an iron helmet? Could he be a heroic figure who could help me mount an escape and even potentially defeat Zoom? Nahh. I should probably make a deal with the evil metahuman who speaks in nothing but puns and was partially responsible for murdering this universe’s Joe.” If anything can save this season, it’s next week’s episode. Besides all of the new speedsters it will inevitably create, the episode seems like it will be all about Cisco which I am surprised to admit might be exactly what we need more of right now.


Matthew Nando Kelly is an incredibly cool and handsome Senior Staff Writer for Pop-Break who was allowed to write his own bio. Besides weekly Flash recaps, he focuses on film, television, music, and video games. Matthew also has a podcast called Mad Bracket Status where he discusses pop culture related brackets with fellow Pop-Break writer DJ Chapman. He has an unshakable love for U2, cats, and the New Orleans Saints. His twitter handle is @NationofNando. Did we mention how handsome he was?

Matthew Nando Kelly is a cool and tough Senior Staff Writer for Pop-Break who was allowed to write his own bio. Besides weekly Flash recaps, he has a podcast called Mad Bracket Status where he makes pop culture brackets with fellow writer DJ Chapman.