Series 2, Episode 22
No relation to the comics character of the same name, obviously.
You know, I was a bit reluctant to make this particular judgement call, but I think The Flash might have outdone its first series with its second. That's no easy task: The first series had a lot going for it, including a great villain and the advantage of feeling relatively new and fresh. But the second series has managed to outstrip it, and a lot of that is down to Zoom, Wally, and Earth-2 Wells. Two out of the three have pretty important roles in this week's episode, too, so that's nice.
Picking up shortly after the end of episode twenty-one, episode twenty-two sees Central City in the grip of 'the Metapocalypse', as an army of metahumans under Zoom's control rampages through the city. With Barry acting noticeably overconfident, Wally putting himself in danger to try to prove that his life was worth saving, Caitlin traumatised and Cisco haunted by visions of birds dropping dead, the situation goes from bad to worse when Black Siren, Earth-2's Laurel Lance and the last of Zoom's lieutenants, begins tearing down buildings with her sonic cry.
|How has Singh not realised that Barry's the Flash yet?|
So, evil Laurel, only a few weeks after she died on Arrow. It's nice to see Katie Cassidy back, although she doesn't have a tremendously huge role in this episode - she's mostly a standard villain of the week, and the fact that this is an Earth-2 version of someone the team knows and presumably is grieving is actually barely touched upon, in a slightly odd turn. Even odder is Barry just casually brushing off the possibility of telling Quentin and Sara about her, because - really, Barry? That seems like it's definitely not your call to make.
In fact, this episode seems stretched pretty thinly. The Metapocalypse doesn't cause the heroes much strife, nor does Black Siren (that's evil Laurel, in case you hadn't caught that), and more time is spent on Barry's overconfidence, which is a plotline that never really gets resolved.
While he doesn't get many scenes either, Wally (who remains a literal ray of sunshine) was my favourite part of the episode. That's partly because I have a soft spot for characters who act in a stupidly reckless manner, but also because he and Joe are really the emotional heart of this episode. Barry's overconfidence made him seem quite distant to me as a viewer, so I wasn't really all that emotionally attached to what was happening to him (in fact, I found him a little bit grating), but Wally's gnawing self-esteem issues and Joe's panicked concern were both pretty understandable.
|The obvious evil duo.|
(Although I did tilt my head a bit at Joe phrasing Wally's actions as 'using himself as bait' - no, Joe, he wasn't expecting you to turn up, remember? He was getting ready to go up against metahumans with pretty much just his fists.)
Again, it's a storyline that doesn't get all that much resolution, apart from Barry telling Joe that there isn't any way to stop Wally - but it is clearly leading into Wally joining Team Flash, and the end of the episode, which sees him discovering that Barry is the Flash, probably only cements that.
Zoom was also a lot of fun this episode. He doesn't show up very much (that's turning into a recurring theme in this review), but the scenes he has are great. Teddy Sears is very good at being menacing, and the scenes where he gives Laurel her orders and where he pulls a 'we're not so different, you and I' speech on Barry (with, to be fair, a reasonable point that they're both driven by their mothers having died - and killed by either a father or a father figure, to boot!) come across as deeply tense and sinister. It certainly doesn't hurt, either, that Zoom's tendency towards showing up out of the blue and inflicting ultraviolence on people means that any and every scene carries a risk of him abruptly appearing and doing something horrible.
Which actually comes into play late in the episode, when Zoom interrupts a dinner party to grab Henry Allen, drag him back to Barry's childhood home, and then murder him in front of Barry, reasoning that if he actually sees a parent die, then that should make him realise just how similar they are. It's a pretty shocking, unexpected moment, but then 'shocking, unexpected moments of extreme violence' has always been Zoom's schtick, to the point where it probably shouldn't be shocking or unexpected anymore (but it still is).
Next week is the finale, and there's a lot of plot threads to wrap up. Zoom, just to start, but also the identity of the Man in the Iron Mask, as well as the apparent apocalypse coming to Earth-2 for reasons unknown. Next week also apparently has Zoom challenging Barry to a race, which seems like a slightly weird turn, but okay, fine, sure.