Addictions and Lies
There has been an interesting theme running through this season about different addictions and what people will do to feed them. Francine was introduced as an ex-drug addict and died early due to it. Jay was portrayed as a Velocity user, and as a result he was dying. Zoom was clearly shown as an addict in need of a fix when Harry gave him some of Barry’s speed several episodes ago. Wally loves speed, though I wouldn’t call him an addict. Harry is not officially addicted to his daughter but his love for her is so all-consuming that he will go to any length to protect her, even harming other people. Trajectory reverse engineered Velocity 9 so she could get more done and get ahead, and became addicted.
Welcome to the next episode of The Flash, where things are turned on their head. Again.
We open on a familiar scene. Barry is attempting to get faster in order to take on the faster big bad (Zoom this time), and today it involves leaping a huge canyon and going fast enough to make it to the other side. He fails, (You looked down, Barry!) and Cisco’s forward thinking keeps him from falling to a grisly death. Excellent use of drones, Cisco.
Barry’s obsessed drive to get faster has worn everyone out so they decide to actually go out and be young adults for a change. They head for a club, and Jesse convinces Harry to let her go too, though he insists she take “protection” in the form of his metahuman detecting watch. That was a funny moment, since Jesse thought he was talking about an entirely different form of protection.
The club scene was a gift in so many ways. The group reminisced about Jay, Barry went all father mode on Jesse by not letting her drink since she is underage, and Cisco’s dancing was GOLD. Solid Gold!
I also appreciated the small exchange between Barry and Wally. Wally called the club interesting with a touch of censure, and Barry initially tried to pin it on Cisco but then admitted that he doesn’t get out much and relied on a yelp rating to choose. Wally accepted the honesty and softened his approach. Both men are circling each other and trying to figure out their relationship, but both are finding that honesty and communication can go a long way. Barry and Wally will be a slower progression to mutual respect and caring about each other, and I am here for the journey. Also of note is the fact that after bumbling through several confusing ideas of how he and Wally are actually related, Barry settles for his “new friend”. I really love this, because however he and Wally are ever related, the most important thing right now is that Barry wants to view Wally as a friend more than anything else. I think this will go a long way in helping Wally feel accepted by Barry and in turn view Barry as his friend too and not just the odd usurper who got everything he should have had.
Wally and Jesse are introduced and it’s clear they are both interested in each other. I’m here for it. But Jesse’s metahuman watch goes off multiple times and she excuses herself to permanently silence it. She accidentally triggers a replay ofone of Harry’s journal recordings instead. In a touching gesture, Cisco offers to escort Caitlin onto the dance floor and proceeds to dance like a maniac. (I love it! Go Cisco!)
And THEN we got the scene that I wish had been much longer. Iris asks that they never never dance like Cisco at their wedding should it ever happen, and Barry agrees but quickly amends his reply to include the dancing, not the wedding. Iris brings up the fact that they are married in the future and on Earth 2. Barry wonders what their married doppelgangers are doing right now and Iris responds with the E2 equivalent of “netflix and chill”.
This is the first time Iris has actually said things and made overtures to Barry that make it clear she is starting to recognize her stronger than best friend feelings for Barry and entertain the notion of them actually being together. It was a beautiful moment and as always so well portrayed by Grant Gustin and Candice Patton. Their body language, the shy glances and smiles, everything points to their relationship subtly changing from platonic best friends to something more. Now we just sit back and watch. Bring it. I’m ready!
But for now, sadly we are interrupted by a speedster thief who robs the club and many patrons. Barry pursues but is quickly left behind.
The problem is that the picture one of the patrons managed to take looks a lot like the Flash, and Iris’s new boss is quick to believe that the Flash has turned into a thief. Iris is assigned the story, which puts her in a bit of a tough place considering she knows very well the Flash is not the perpetrator.
Meanwhile Jesse confronts her father about his voice journal in which he confesses to killing a man to save her. He admits that it’s true. Jesse’s heroic childlike vision of her dad has been eroding away for a while, and now it is completely broken. A nice parallel to what comes at the end of the ep regarding another heroic figure.
As the team tries to figure out where another speedster came from and how they got speed, Caitlin pulls out the Velocity 9. Barry is really disturbed by the idea that everyone around him is faster than him because they are basically cheating, and he might have lost people because he didn’t know about it. Cisco touches Caitlin, who is touching Jay’s memorial case holding his hat, and vibes. He sees Zoom. But before he can tell the others what he saw, the “bad Flash” reappears and Barry races to intercept her. She is still much faster than him and basically humiliates him then disappears again.
Once Barry gets patched up and answers Cisco’s comments about an actual lady speedster “for science” the discussion turns to the suit she was wearing. It was well constructed, suited for the needs of a speedster, and would require access to both a lab and tech. Caitlin has a thought.
As she was working to develop it she had some troubles and conferred with a friend who worked at Mercury Labs. Eliza Harmon. Caitlin didn’t fully share the V-9 recipe of course, but they realize it is possible that her friend has reverse engineered the formula. Barry lifts the final vial of V-9 and leaves to “train.”
Caitlin and Joe go to Mercury Labs and visit with Eliza Harmon, who is cute as a button and very sweet. For now they decide to believe her. For now.
At CCPN Iris attempts to convince her boss that she has proof of the Flash’s innocence, but without being able to reveal her source she doesn’t get very far. She invites him to coffee to further dicuss the article in the hopes that she can stall long enough for something to break in the case and give her something to work with.
The scene shifts back to Eliza at her lab, in conversation with herself. Her reasons for making the Velocity 9 were fairly harmless, wanting to get ahead in her career and her research. But now she’s an addict, and the speedster that she is when she takes the drug is echoing in her head, urging her to take it again, and that she knows where they can find more. Eliza gives in and injects herself with her last vial of V-9, then sees the reflection of Trajectory in the mirror.
Sci-fi aspects aside, this is actually an insightful depiction of addiction. Addiction is a powerful thing, and once it takes hold you become two different people: The person you typically are, and the one who will do anything to get that next fix you need so badly. Addiction can make people do things they never thought they would. Suddenly they’ll lie, steal, hurt people, and even kill to make sure that next fix is there. They’ll compromise values and morals they always felt were important because the desire for the next fix is that strong. It’s the only thing that matters. It’s very telling that Eliza argues with Trajectory and is aware that Trajectory is using manipulative methods to get her way, but in the end she still buckles under the pressure of the addiction. It’s also really interesting that Trajectory is quick to blame Caitlin for their problems and choices. Classic addiction behavior. Trajectory is much more in love with chaos and “blowing off steam” than her brilliant counterpart Eliza, further underscoring the change that happens when someone becomes addicted.
Immediately following this scene we find Barry, still holding his vial of V-9 and struggling with the decision on whether or not to take it. Harry follows Barry and tells him not to. Barry is frustrated that he has lost people because he’s not fast enough and wants to level the playing field. He wants to protect the people he loves. It’s a legitimate desire. But Harry tells him that taking a shortcut will make him compromise his values, and doing that will make him lose a chunk of humanity every time he does it. They are wise words, but coming from the man who was willing to go to any lengths to save his daughter causes Barry to doubt them and he says as much. Harry admits he is not a good role model and instead encourages Barry to follow in Jay’s footsteps. Barry considers his words and drops the vial on the floor, where it shatters.
It may seem a bit trite to some but I was really happy to see this point made. Not only is it dangerous and addicting to take this shortcut, it’s also not what a hero should do. Way back when season 2 started the producers said that now that Barry has decided to be a hero this season would be an exploration of what kind of hero he wanted to be. It’s nice to see this starting to pay off finally. Barry needs to be the sort of hero others can look up to, and that hero wouldn’t take a harmful shortcut to win. That is not the Barry I watch this show to see, and it was nice to see it displayed so clearly. Barry has spent a lot of this season feeling down and discouraged, and I am happy to see him begin to move out of that and take control of himself and his journey.
The group gathered in the main cortex is taken by surprise when Trajectory arrives and locks Barry in the pipeline before he can do anything. (Woohoo I called it!) She knocks poor Joe through a window and takes him out, then demands more V-9 from Caitlin at gunpoint. When the group is reluctant to comply she fires a shot at Cisco, who was attempting to let Barry out of his cell. Cisco ducks behind the glass case holding Jay’s helmet and vibes Zoom again. When Trajectory threatens Jesse next, Harry offers to make more with Caitlin. Once they do, she tests some on Jesse to make sure it’s not contaminated and leaves her convulsing on the floor. Harry quickly volunteers to give Jesse a blood transfusion in order to save her.
At Jitters, Iris questions her boss and he tells her about the mayor everyone loved that he investigated and found to be dirty. It was a bit helpful to see his perspective and why he is so quick to turn on a hero, but it still shows him as quite jaded. The course of their conversation shows that Scott thought this was a date and Iris clearly did not mean it to be. Cringe! Second hand embarrassment. He leaves quickly. Run Scott, run. Bet you wish you had superspeed now, right? I really love how much Iris defends Barry and calls him a hero. Scott raises a legitimate point that even heroes need to be held accountable for their actions, and this is something I wish was shown a bit more on the show. But Iris knows Barry and she knows his heart. I love how far she is willing to go to defend him.
When Jesse regains consciousness she and Harry have a difficult conversation about the dark things he will do to protect her. Jesse is very bothered by the the fact that Harry will do these dark things with such a single minded purpose that excludes thought about anyone else and how they might be affected. Jesse’s safety is the drug her father craves, and when he needs that fix he is an entirely different person. She doesn’t recognize that man.
Caitlin had put a microtracker in the drug they gave Trajectory, and now they can find out where she is. (Plus they also could track Jesse for a short time! Score.) They find her on a bridge, racing back and forth to create friction and collapse it. Apparently Caitlin makes a purer form of V-9 and Eliza is not handling her high well at all. Barry rushes to the bridge and saves all the civilians. (Of course, because that’s what a hero does.) Trajectory hits him hard and makes it to the other side of the bridge as a large section falls.
Dun dun dun! Hero moment! The only way Barry can apprehend the other speedster is to leap the gap, which I’m sure is really close to the same as the canyon he failed to leap in the beginning of the ep. Because, set up and pay off. So Barry leaps, and he makes it. He takes down Trajectory, and she whips out another vial of V-9. Barry does what Barry does best and appeals to her better nature, telling her that he knows what it’s like to want to be the best, that the drug is making her do bad things and the addiction is killing her. Eliza rejects his words and takes the V-9. For a moment, she feels better.
Pause for a moment, before we hit the really big reveal. I appreciate that Barry appealed to Eliza on a personal level, and that he tried to help her. That’s what you do with a person in the grips of addiction. But I also found it very realistic that Eliza, however much she may or may not have recognized the truth in his words, still took the drug. Sometimes the addiction is so great that interventions don’t help, and no one can help the addict steer off their path of destruction. It’s a sad reality. If Eliza had listened to Barry and suddenly decided not to inject I would have called trite shenanigans. Because real addiction doesn’t work that way. And if Eliza had, shortly later from her cell she would have been screaming for a fix. Addiction is a harsh and unmerciful thing. It’s not easy to overcome.
Eliza flaunts her faster speed and races away, and as she does her lightning turns blue. We all gasp! Blue lightning! Trajectory goes faster and faster until she turns into dust and leaves nothing but her empty suit behind.Whoa. Cautionary tale!
Iris writes her article clearing the Flash, complete with photographic eveidence, and it got the front page. She shows it to Scott, and he admits she was right. She tells him that not all heroes are frauds. (Go Iris!) Then she admits that even brilliant journalists can misread a situation. She apologizes for the night before, and tells him that being anti-the Flash is not a deal breaker for her.
I’m not going to go on and on about this, but I will say that I find it a bit out of character for Iris to actually say this. I find it impossible that if anyone were against the Flash Iris would be okay with entering a relationship with them. She’s pro her best friend and pro the Flash and always will be. I’m perfectly aware that Scott is a stepping stone to Iris moving on from Eddie and embracing a future with Barry, but the line itself struck me as odd. Maybe it’s just me. I guess she’s not viewing Scott as anything serious by saying that, because there’s no way it would stick.
I’m also not going to rant about the writers continually having to introduce a third romantic interest to get things going. Repetitive, much? Moving on…
Harry looks for Jesse and finds her recording, explaining that she is leaving. (Maybe she’s just sick of being threatened constantly. Really, being Harry’s daughter and in his vicinity seems to be the major reason she’s always in danger. But…) She boards a bus going to Opal City. Jesse come back soon I like you! I wonder how Harry will handle this in coming eps. This could be an opportunity for growth for him.
Discussion of Eliza’s blue lightning and the V-9 leads the group to realize that Zoom has acquired his speed through Velocity and that he must be dying. Like Jay. The group is disturbed by this idea, but Cisco finally offers up that he has vibed Zoom and that it’s always when he is in the vicinity of Jay’s helmet. And the next scene is true symbolism poetry.
The group is upset by the idea, but none of them move to do anything. It’s Barry who moves to the glass case that he built in Jay’s memory and shatters it.
Let’s analyze this!
Barry was the first one to bring up the similarity and cast doubt on Jay’s name. Then Cisco shares his vibe and the rest of them doubt and worry. But they do nothing about it. Barry, who has already dealt with this once and suffered deeply for it, is now past the point of wanting to deny it and at a place where he wants to know what the truth is no matter how much it hurts. (Not that the others didn’t suffer too, but Caitlin would not make this move because she would never want it to be true and Cisco is still in denial mode. It’s telling that Barry does the action. He still has a lot of anger over the past and he is not in the mood for any more lies.) He takes the cylinder he’s holding and shatters the case. The case that he built as a shrine to keep Jay’s memory alive as the heroic mentor that they all thought he was. He shatters that glass just like his faith in Jay has been shattered. Then he picks up the hat out of the broken shards of glass/faith and hands it to Cisco. Cisco is reluctant because I think he knows exactly what he’ll find out, but he agrees with Barry. They need to know. He vibes with it. He sees Zoom remove his mask and reveal Jay’s face. And when Cisco sees this, he drops the hat. It lands upside down on the floor, a symbol of broken faith and the disillusionment in Jay as a hero.
That’s just good symbolism baby! With that revelation, the group is stunned and horrified. Barry fittingly races away, back to the canyon he couldn’t leap (always a failure when it comes to Zoom) and screams his frustration.
I’d like the next episode right now, please.
- The splitting of Trajectory’s identity into two separate personalities might be an artistic choice to show addiction, but it also gives birth the the idea that Zoom may have possibly managed to physically split into two people through his Velocity experiments, and could explain how Jay and the man behind Zoom’s mask have the same face. Just a thought.
- I still think there is more to the Jay is Zoom reveal than they are telling us. I stick to my conclusion that the man in the metal mask is the real E2 Jay Garrick/Flash, and that Zoom is his twin Hunter Zoloman. The Jay the team knew could be E1 Jay per my earlier theory or a split from Hunter Zoloman at this point. I await further plot developments to enlighten us more.
- I understand that Jesse Quick is from Opal City in the comics, but it’s also interesting that the metahuman the Arrow fought in Starling City on Arrow season 3 was in Opal City the night of the accelerator explosion and still ended up a metahuman. It might mean nothing, or it could tie in to Jesse eventually getting her speed powers. We shall see.
- Really interesting to see that Barry’s initial instinct not to trust Jay was verified, but his almost immediate trust in Harry was also correct. I called shenanigans at the time. Trust your instincts,
- WestAllen is on the way and I AM HERE FOR IT.
- Barry falls to his death. Harry: “Oh damn.” LOL Harry you have a talent for understatement.
- Jesse catching up on Earth 1 history and eating popcorn like a classic 16 year-old is really adorable. Senator Knowles?
- Harry’s idea of protection vs Jesse’s was hilarious.
- “Bad flash? I’m losing my touch.” “Help, Caitlin I can’t stop!” All the Cisco moments! Carlos adds so much to this show every week. I’d pay Carlos money to come dance like that at my wedding. Plus, that cat shirt rocks.
- All the Cisco/Caitlin development the last several episodes has been really lovely. I feel like it was ignored for a long time.
- The club! Wally and Barry, Wally and Jesse, IRIS AND BARRY!!!, Cisco’s dancing. I’d take a whole episode of the crew at the club without a single complaint.
- Nice with touch the watch going off between Barry and Wally so you get a nod to Wally’s future speed powers. Slick!
- As I’ve already said, really nice depiction of addiction.
- “How very Law and Order of you, Caitlin.” LOL Since that is where I know Jesse L. Martin from best, that got a legit snorting laugh out of me.