We thought Barry had vanquished his season one nemesis months ago, but now we know that Reverse-Flash is returning to The Flash this season!
At the end of season one, Barry and Team Flash at S.T.A.R. Labs gave their all to stop Eobard Thawne from returning to his time. The Reverse-Flash had proven too dangerous to let go, so his distant ancestor Eddie Thawne made the ultimate choice to erase the Thawne family from history. Eobard was taken completely out of existence.
But now we know that actor, Matt Letcher, will return to the series as Reverse-Flash again. While in season one Eobard Thawne took the appearance of Harrison Wells to become Reverse-Flash, this time around it appears Matt Letcher will be handling that responsibility himself.
Then How is He Back?
Eddie’s sacrifice was beyond bravery. Even though he was a supporting character, his action in the season one finale gave an emotional and narratively satisfying end to his character arc. I say this here because simply undoing Eddie’s actions by having Reverse-Flash return from death/erasure (or anti-life as the DC Universe might call it in this situation) would take away from the value of the narrative season one created.
So if Eobard is returning to The Flash, it must be under new circumstances. The most obvious answer is that Letcher will be playing the Eobard Thawne of Earth 2. We know we will soon see the Caitlin Snow and (based on the recent trailer) both Barry Allen and Iris West of Earth 2 as well. It would be no surprise if we saw a version of Eobard from the different universe as well. But based on the patterns we have so far, the Thawne of Earth 2 would not be like the one from Earth Prime. It’s hard to know how he would be different, especially considering that we do know Eobard is still the Reverse-Flash.
Besides, the trailer for the rest of season two features Cisco saying, “He’s back,” in the context of Reverse-Flash. Of course, there are always editing tricks that mislead during trailers, but the implication is that this is the same character come back to haunt them. Dr. Wells’s Earth 2 doppelganger was never considered “back” in this context. Team Flash was surprised to see him and then easily accepted the Earth 2 explanation, so it doesn’t follow that Cisco would refer to Eobard as “back” if this is a version from a separate universe.
“S.T.A.R. Labs team in unexpected danger”?
A producer for The Flash said, in reference to the news that Eobard would return, “[Thawn’s] impossible return to Central City puts a member of the S.T.A.R. Labs team in unexpected danger, forcing Barry to make a life-changing decision.” That’s serious. The first question we have to ask is, which member of the team is in danger?
Cisco, of course, has a major grief with Eobard, considering he still remembers the alternate timeline in which Reverse-Flash killed him. Now that Eobard doesn’t have a secret identity to protect, he doesn’t actually have a reason to harm Cisco and actually feels quite fond of the young man (in a sociopathic sorta way). It’s hard to picture Cisco being singled out or endangered by Thawne’s return.
Similarly, Iris still holds the grief in her heart over the loss of her fiancé, Eddie. While Eobard has no particular reason to target Iris, she might just find it in herself to confront him on her own.
Since it’s hard to know who Eobard might be placing in unexpected danger, it’s also hard to know how Barry’s life will change. Obviously, Reverse-Flash has made himself an agent of change in Barry’s past (killing his mother) and his present (training him to become The Flash), so it wouldn’t be a surprise that the same man would continue to influence Barry through force or manipulation. But how? We’ll have to wait and see because we don’t even know…
What does Reverse-Flash want this time?
In season one, Eobard hoped to return home to his own time period, but could not without the power Barry would one day unlock. Despite complex time/space shenanigans, this was a pretty straightforward motivation. But now that plan has failed. So when Reverse-Flash returns, what does he want?
If this is the Earth 2 version of the character his motivations might be completely different. (In fact, they have to be.) And if this is the same Eobard from season one, he is likely looking for revenge. But so much has happened since Reverse-Flash’s apparent defeat, why is he returning now?
Does Reverse-Flash fit into Zoom’s plan?
Season two has been about Barry fighting Zoom. Most of the villains he and Team Flash have faced this season are agents of Zoom’s will, so including a major villain like Reverse-Flash doesn’t seem like it can be simply a one-off face off. So that raises the question, will Reverse-Flash and Zoom be in cahoots?
Of course, in the comic book origin Eobard Thawne is both Zoom and Reverse-Flash, they are not separate villains, but two names for the same man. Is it possible that Zoom is really the ultimate form (if you will) of Reverse-Flash? The return of Reverse-Flash could usher in the reign of Zoom, as Eobard of Earth 2 absorbs more of the Speed Force. Alternately, Eobard of Earth 2 could be a pawn of Zoom’s, now in the villain’s service rather than plying his own agenda. Or, in what might be the most interesting (if least likely) scenario, Reverse-Flash and Zoom are at odds to take over Barry’s power for their own gain. That could mean The Flash and Reverse-Flash join forces for a time to stop Zoom.
Keep Counting Down
One thing is clear from the news that Reverse-Flash is returning: The Flash publicity department knows how to do their jobs. We know just enough to get excited, but not enough to know what is coming in the rest of season two.
Whatever does happen, the producers have assured us Reverse-Flash will not leave Team Flash is the same state.