Series 2, Episode 20
Okay, so as things very publicly go from bad to worse in this episode, I do have a few questions - first and foremost among them being 'where's Team Arrow in all of this?' We know it's all taking place before Laurel's funeral, so are they in the middle of funeral preparations? Because if so, they're probably not too busy to stop by and making a brave but ultimately doomed attempt to take down Zoom. For that matter, where's Vixen? Mightn't she want to come and stop this would-be ruler of Earth-1?
In this week's episode, with Team Flash attempting to use a hologram to cover up for the Flash's absence, Wells, insisting that the city and Caitlin need the real Flash, urges Barry to take him up on his offer of recreating the particle accelerator explosion - a plan that draws the ire of Henry Allen. Before long, Zoom arrives on Earth-1, announcing himself to the police, and bringing with him Rupture, a metahuman criminal who is the Earth-2 version of Cisco's brother, Dante. As Rupture pursues both Cisco and the police, the pressure mounts on Barry: Will he take a risk and use Wells' particle accelerator, or leave the city in danger?
(He'll use Wells' particle accelerator, it was in the preview.)
|Rupture, a kind of demonic hockey player.|
So, despite this episode having some pretty predictable turns - of course Barry will decide to use the particle accelerator, of course if Wally and Jesse are trapped in the time vault to keep them safe they'll get out just as something bad happens, of course Cisco will start to patch things up with his brother - it still manages to be a genuinely gripping episode, and a large part of that is because of Zoom.
In an episode that could have otherwise been a rehash of all of the 'Barry has a choice to make and everyone has a view' episodes we've had thus far, and there are a lot, Zoom's presence gives the story an edge and unpredictability that it sorely needs, and despite the fact that we all know how Zoom works by now, there were moments when he genuinely surprised me. I was, actually, surprised when his reaction to seeing Rupture fail to kill the police was to speed to Jitters to finish the job himself. I was surprised by the brutality of him snapping the necks of most of the police force in the blink of an eye. I was surprised when he just cheerfully told all of Central City that the Flash was actually gone.
Part of what makes Zoom work as a villain is that he's so dissonant to the rest of the series. In a show that's characteristically lighter and fluffier than Arrow, Zoom comes across as someone gave one of the better Arrow villains (okay, who am I kidding, he reminds me of Slade Wilson, who remains Arrow's best villain) superspeed and let him loose on Central City.
That hint of unpredictability to the episode allows the other elements in it to shine. The conflict between Barry's three dads feels much more vital and interesting when there's a genuine and immediate danger of something awful happening. Wells fervently pushing for Barry to expose himself and the city to danger feels more understandable and sympathetic when Zoom is a present danger on Earth-1, Joe's ambivalence and indecision over the whole thing makes a lot more sense despite him usually being a decisive character, and Henry comes off as a lot less self-absorbed than he otherwise would when he's looking at the possibility of Barry having to face the man that broke his back again.
(That said, the character that really shined in that whole plotline was Iris - which, of course, harks back to when Barry had to make a similarly difficult choice at the end of the first series, and Iris ended up being instrumental in helping him make it. Series 2 has, at times, played down Iris and Barry's relationship, for whatever reason, but they brought their A-game in writing it in this episode, giving the two of them several very sweet, very touching scenes.)
Which leads me on to Caitlin, and to be honest, I can't decide if I like or hate her storyline. Her insisting that Jay promised not to kill the police felt naive at first, but upon thinking about it more, I kind of realised that she's not saying that because she's shocked and appalled that actual-serial-killer Jay Garrick would go back on his word, but because she's trying to leverage his obsession with her against him. Which is nice, as is her stealing a phone and warning the team, but doesn't change the fact that she's been a damsel in distress for two episodes now, and that bothers me a bit.
Speaking of, Jay, how do you do that thing with your eyes going black and your voice turning deep? Is that just a secondary metahuman power you have? You're a speedster and also you can effect a minor cosmetic change to yourself?
Anyway, I really, really liked this episode, and it looks like the next episode - given the wonderful title of 'The Runaway Dinosaur' - will be a good one as well, so I'm really looking forward to that.
Also yes, show, I saw your little reference to Garrick being Henry's mother's maiden name, yes I know this is eventually going to lead into introducing an actual Jay Garrick, very clever, well done you.