The Flash 3×03: Magenta

Or: Find your solid footing.

So I say I’m done writing reviews until I have something good to say, and they give me this. It feels like old times again! So here I am, giving time I can’t spare to writing a review. On the plus side, I have good things to say!

Pretty much every love interest Barry has had so far shows him getting ready for a date with said girl. There have been the usual antics, like flowers and changing clothes and on one occasion being completely blind. But now they have the opportunity to show us how Barry Allen prepares for a date with Iris West. FINALLY. Not only is he so excited that his Olympic-level leg twitching annoys Julian, but time is passing soooooo slowly since he’s been dreaming about this his whole life and being a speedster makes it worse. Thus, he overcompensates a little. Or a giant amount. I must admit, as flower arrangments go, Barry is quite the talented florist. Not only did he speedily take and pay for every flower the street vendor had, he arranged them into a heart for Iris. And when that seemed too cheesy and over the top, he spelled out her name. Because that is so much more subtle. No one can ever fault Barry for how much effort he will put in when Iris is involved. It will always be above and beyond. He’s trying so hard, lol. Calm down Barry it’s okay!

Iris is touched and wants to spemd the evening with just Barry and not the Flash. But when they both agree to leave out any Flash-related conversation they find they have very little to talk about. The date is interrupted by a robbery across the street, and Iris encourages him to go handle it. Immediately after they are both summoned to S.T.A.R. Labs and the date is over.

Before we continue, I’ve seen many differing opinions on this date and its inherent awkwardness, and I just want to put my take on it out there. I really think it was written that way to highlight the different place they are now in. They have been best friends for years, even before Barry had speed powers, and they could talk about any and everything even way back then. So it’s not that they only have the Flash in common now. Also, they had easy and relevant discussions about all sorts of things up to now, even with speed. But before now there has been a barrier that allowed for comfortable talking. One or the other wasn’t aware or expressing their true feelings, it was safely tucked away and left alone. Now it’s out there and in the open for both of them, and with it comes the worry that they could screw up their new and old relationship past repair. They are on an actual date now, romance is front and center. That final barrier coming down leaves them both a little worried and cautious. Barry handles it by overcompensating with flowers and an expensive restaurant, trying to show Iris the sheer magnitude of his love for her. Iris does it by trying to express to Barry that she loves him for who he is and not because he’s a superhero. Both of them trying to alleviate fear and doubt in the other led to a really awkward date because they are tiptoeing instead of embracing. Then the reality that Barry IS a superhero intruded to cut it short. The universe is trying to tell them something I think. It’s telling that Barry makes no move on the robbery until Iris tells him to. He respects the limit they set for the night but she also understands that the city needs him. I also think it is telling that they are both disappointed it was cut short. Despite the awkwardness neither of them was looking for an excuse to leave. They are just trying to find their footing.

Anyway, Barry and Iris arrive in their finery to find a breach open and the team on high alert with guns drawn. Harry Wells pops in, fresh from earth 2 and a with major new development on his hands. Jesse is a speedster now. Also, the team now has a speed lab too which is a new thing for Harry and Barry. Wally is disturbed that Jesse has powers now and excuses himself. Barry is fine with Wally not having them since he may not get skewered this way. Even unaware of flashpoint events, Joe is of the same mind.

I’ve also seen discussion about Wally in this ep. I don’t think he was written as petty so much as severely disappointed. When you’re that let down it’s hard to immediately muster gladness for someone else who got what you wanted. Considering Wally has already had to deal with the fact that Barry got the home and childhood he should have had, I don’t view him unfavorably here. He was unable to fake excitement so he gracefully excused himself to deal with his feelings without ruining Jesse’s happiness. I also don’t think he is necessarily wrong to want speed so badly. He’s been all about speed most of his life, and he has a huge desire to help people. It’s only natural for him to want it with so much fervor. It’s kind of cute and reminds me of comic Wally to have him dream about it and want to be like Barry so badly. When he finally becomes a speedster he is going to be one adorable excited cupcake and I honestly can’t wait for that day.

Speaking of petty downright awful, we cut to a man called John coming home and promptly verbally abusing his wife and foster daughter Frankie. His awful demeanor pushes Frankie over the edge. When Frankie’s eyes go (ahem) magenta colored and Magenta takes over, a streetlamp crashes through the window and severely injures him. I found myself shedding no tears over it.

The next day Iris and Barry discuss their underwhelming date. Barry worries that it’s a sign that they shouldn’t be trying to see where this goes, but Iris vehemently disagrees. Good for you Iris, be honest and direct. Go for what you want! Their slightly awkward and cute sidestepping around each other and Barry’s kiss on her cheek was just so cute. Still trying to find their footing.

Joe interviews Frankie about her foster father’s freak accident and finds that she blacked out during the incident. Barry and Julian spar over forensic evidence and what it could mean, and Julian zeroes in on Frankie. He offers to get her some more water and swabs a DNA sample from her glass.

Meanwhile, Jesse shows off her skills for Caitlin and Cisco, and both of whom are impressed and encouraging. Harry wants “more tests” and when the others call him on his stalling, he reveals that he is very worried about Jesse wanting to be a hero and brought Jesse here so the team could talk her out of that idea. After Caitlin gets very squirrelly when he suggests that she, a non-powered human, talk to Jesse, we all start to wonder how long she can keep her powers secret if she’s that bad a liar.

Joe also approaches Wally and tries to help him understand that being exposed to dark matter is not a guarantee for powers, and using his superior intellect to help build a better world is just as good. He actually has a very good point, but Wally still can’t let go of the desire for speed.

Julian isolates an unknown element in Frankie’s DNA that is also found in the five husks. He immediately rushes downstairs and confronts Frankie, pushing with questions and accusations until Magenta takes over. Since Magenta can control metal, she breaks the wall-sized metal CCPD mural from the wall and attempts to crush Julian with it. Barry speeds in as the Flash and saves him, then rushes after Frankie and confronts her in the parking lot. He mentions Alchemy and she recognizes it, but in the end she refuses Barry’s offer of help and chucks an occupied police vehicle, forcing Barry to save the officer inside so she can escape.

The team discusses Frankie’s dissociative mental health, and how she seems to be a split personality. Iris flexes her journalist muscles and offers to talk to the foster father for more  information. (Yay!) When Jesse offers to load up on carbs and help track Magenta, Harry begs Caitlin to talk to her. Caitlin reluctantly agrees. Barry and Joe discuss Wally and Joe’s own personality disorders, which include good cop, bad cop, and dad cop. And I think he may have called Barry a little girl somewhere in there.

Caitlin is doing about as well talking to Jesse, leading Jesse to think Caitlin is against her being a hero because she’s a girl. (Ouch! Girls have to stick together!) Once she figures out (and it was a pretty easy assumption) that Harry doesn’t want her to have powers, she lets him have it. Harry gently tucks his foot into his mouth when he tells her she’s not Barry, proving that both he and Caitlin need sensitivity training classes. (I get what you meant Harry but man that was the worst way to say it.) Jesse speeds off in a huff. (I would do that every day if I had powers!) So Wally offers to track her down. Now Wally and Jesse have been quietly interested in each other for a long time now (I detect the next will-they-won’t-they after Barry and Iris, and they are cute. But where’s Linda?) and I don’t think Wally was working on purely selfish motives going after her. However, in the course of their conversation Jesse tells him she was almost hit by an car and that was when she realized she had speed. So Wally, in his ultimate youthful wisdom, steps into oncoming traffic hoping for the same result. We all screech at our screens. Thankfully, Jesse saves him. Then yells at him. Then Barry yells at him. We’re yelling at him! Joe figures the message has been recieved. Wally we love you, please don’t get yourself killed. Patience!

Also, Magenta hangs with Alchemy in his lair and they discuss how to get rid of Frankie all together. Kill your foster dad, and Frankie is toast. Also I think Alchemy needs a throat lozenge. Or a big chill pill. Magenta is nothing but solid anger and pain, but I feel bad for Frankie the most.

Harry and Jesse go rounds again. Cisco is quiely judging behind his computer, which I love. When Harry goes after Caitlin and implies she made things worse, Caitlin nails him with and ice cold observation. (YUP, that was a pun.) If Harry would spend time helping Jesse navigate her powers instead of assuming they will destroy her, maybe Jesse would stop shutting him out. Wow Caitlin bit back! But she’s right and I think she’s referring to herself as well. Right now there has to be a lot of worry in Caitlin, wondering if this means she will turn evil without a choice in the matter or if she can still manage to keep her own identity along with her new powers.

Barry and Harry discuss making mistakes despite their desire to help. It’s a vicious repetitive cyle. Please learn guys, break the cycle. Harry says that he was always too good at forgiving himself, and Barry was never good enough. There is something to be said for this but at the same time I do feel that this show shies away from truly exploring the idea of guilt and forgiving oneself. But that’s par for the course.

Iris goes to the hospital and questions foster dad of the year John. Her suspicions are quickly confirmed. John is an abuser and Frankie/Magenta was trying to get back at him with the lamp post. She won’t stop trying to get at him until she manages to kill him. Quick on the heels of that deduction (nicely done Iris) a boat appears outside the hospital windows…wait WHAT? It’s just Frankie looking to crush the entire hospital and everyone in it to get at her foster dad. Can’t make an omlet…you know.

Iris triggers her panic button. (That’s a lovely addition!) Barry quickly moves to intercede and creats a helicopter effect to keep the tanker aloft but once he manages that he’s stuck there and can’t do anything about Frankie. Meanwhile the building doors are locked shut with all the people inside (GUYS THERE IS MORE THAN ONE EXIT IN A HOSPITAL!) so they are at an impasse. Harry has to realize it’s do or die time. He gets over himself and sends Jesse to help. She’s majorly excited and takes over tanker duty so Barry can appeal to the bit of Frankie still inside Magenta.

Considering the villain this week is in reality a scared and abused teenage girl, it was nice to see Barry avoid violence and appeal to the part of her that was still good. He does break through, and Frankie overpowers Magenta enough to gain control. I’m really glad Frankie didn’t take over abuuptly enough to lose control of the tanker, that could have been bad. But it was the lovely image of Barry holding her as she cried with Iris watchig that gave me warm fuzzies. Being a hero isn’t always about power and speed, it has to be about seeing the good in people and helping them see it too. This is why Iris says Barry is perfect with or without his powers. It wasn’t his speed that won this one.

The team helps Frankie get settled into a new foster home and ensures John will now face charges. They give her support and comfort, and she describes the process Alchemy used to get to her. Wally alert! Don’t do anything rash Wally!

Jesse and Harry make peace, and he gives her a Cisco-designed speed suit and an offer to stay for awhile and learn to be a hero. She happily accepts. It’s a nice moment, even if it arrived so soon. Jesse will make a good hero, she’s just finding her footing as a speedster.

Barry and Iris meet for another date. This time Barry has been doing some thinking, and he thinks they should stop trying to pretend they are people that they no longer are. So this time he brings a single rose, (red and yellow, naturally) and takes Iris for a brisk run up the shoreline to a private and beautifully lit dinner by the waterfront. Iris agrees, they can’t pretend that everything that has happened hasn’t. In other words, they do talk about Flash-related stuff a lot. That’s okay, it’s a big part of their lives. They have much in common, and a big one is that they both want to do good and help people. They can do it together now. In addition, trying to pretend that they went to a relationship status straight from best friends is denying all the past declarations of love and desire to be together, all the new awareness of each other as something more than friend, and all the romantic tension they have felt along the way. They didn’t get to this point before Barry had powers, they did a lot of growing after. So they have to finally stop tiptoeing and start embracing each other for all of who they are. That’s what is going to make this couple a power couple. Unified, they are a formidable force.

Once they relax, their radiance lights up the screen. I am so ready for more! In a suitable parallel to their very first forgotten moment, they kiss beautifully with the waterfront and epic westallen kiss music behind them, but with a noticable lack of tsunami. I accept the trade. Candice and Grant have an easy and palpable chemistry, and when they turn it on they are beautiful to watch. In fact, I was disappointed we didn’t get a few more minutes of the episode so Barry could run back to Iris and finish their date because you know he did. I’ll always want more of that than this show will give me. Character building moments and scenes are ok guys! And because Iris knows everything about who Barry is, when Joe texts and needs him she tells him to go. Being a city’s hero is demanding. We’ll see how that wears over time but I don’t doubt they can handle it as long as the writers don’t feel the need to add unneccessary angst and stress to the relationship. I am going to give Joe the benefit of the doubt and figure he had no idea Barry and Iris were on a date, otherwise that was really rude considering prison footage isn’t a life or death emergency. Joe West, the buzziest of all buzz kills.

As it was, the episode ended with Joe showing Barry and Julian footage of the Rival killed by an invisible Alchemy in his cell. Barry is suitably bothered, but Julian also looks very… rattled? disturbed? intense? He questions Barry on hearing the name Alchemy and whether he believes in ghosts. Man, are we going to have another bad guy on our hands so soon? I have theories forming.

Flashpoint is really messing with everything.

All in all, the show seems to have found its footing again and I am glad. Let’s hope they keep their stride.

*Gratefully puts soapbox away.* Finally! Thank you Barry. Hope I don’t need it anytime soon.

Tidbits:

    • “Thinking aboout…well…what I always think about.” In case anyone had doubts that Barry Allen is all about Iris West.
    • Viewing Iris through a heart of yellow and red flowers is a perfect camera shot. Thanks, guys.
    • “Oh, I’m sure. Not!” LOL. Harry is funny. And seems to be stuck in the 90’s.
    • “You don’t think that it’s a sign that we shouldn’t…” “NO!” Lol Iris, thanks for saying what we were all thinking.
    • “Repressing memories is a coping mechanism for lots of foster kids.” “Is it?” Julian, I see you. “It is.” Awesome sass Barry.
    • “He honed that brilliant mind of his.” Joe, you gave a good talk and I know you believed it, but it would be nice if the writers would actually show Barry’s brilliant mind a bit more because he really gets dumbed down for drama a lot.
    • If Barry keeps popping in as the Flash to save Julian I think it’s not going to take long for him to put it together.
    • “She’s calling herself Magenta” “Meh.” LOL Cisco, she named herself and it has a color. Your ultimate pet peeves.
    • “Wally’s different than you Barry, you’re like a second daughter you overshare your feelings.” LOLOLOLOL Joe that’s really good messing you had us all going.
    • Barry’s uncle-like concern for Wally was actually kind of endearing. Wally will do what he wants, but it’s nice that Barry cares so much. He’s definitely trying to avoid Wally getting killed like in Flashpoint.
    • Panic buttons for the team are a good idea!
    • “As much as it pains me to help an abusive dick like you, I can’t let you die.” Iris for the win!!!!
    • Harry reversing his opinion of Jesse’s heroism almost immediately is a conflict resolved too quick, but that is pretty typical for the show. I won’t quibble about it much this week since I got some good stuff this ep.
    • Magenta’s color scheme and Caitlin’s raspberry colored skirt might be a bit heavy handed, but it did the job. Frankie’s powers manifested as Magenta, the darkest part of her. Similarly, Caitlin fears that her powers will lead to a dark side takeover, which is why she’s ignoring them for now.
    • The team believing in Frankie and helping her find a better home situation (and promising help if needed) was actually a really beautiful aspect of the story. Frankie didn’t need prison or condemnation, she needed help. “We have faith in you Frankie.” Oh! That was beautiful.
    • Wally looked weird when Frankie talked about dreams. I think he’s already been having dreams and I think it’s a matter of time before Alchemy approaches him.
    • The Iris and Barry scenes were just too short, but otherwise lovely.

 

Possibilities:

  • Julian acting odd and memory repression mentions, plus dissociative disorder and Frankie as an example lead me to wonder if Julian is Alchemy but doesn’t know it. The way he zeroed in on Frankie right away and provoked her, possibly to get Magenta to take over is also interesting. But to purposely do that he’d have to know what he was doing. Possibilities! I’m probably looking too close, this show often provides clues and signs and then ignores or changes them later. I think I expect too much. But it’s a thought to hold onto for now.
  • Wally and speed. He’s been dreaming about it. I think that’s Alchemy at work. Wally wants it and he’s already risked his life to try to jump start it. I worry about how this will go down. I hope they don’t write Wally making a Barry-level of bad choice in trying to get it. Don’t trust Alchemy Wally,and  don’t underestimate him.
  • Dark matter spread through the entire city. Interesting how they spelled that out. It may have been just to make a point to Wally but still….. fic ideas are starting to formulate. Oh crap!

What did you think of the ep? Feel free to hit the comments!

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The Flash 2×23:The Race of His Life

Or: Don’t Time Travel Angry Barry!

Well. That was expected. And also unexpected. We’re going to have to break this puppy down. It’s going to be long. Apologies.

The episode picks up right where the last one left off, with Henry murdered right before Barry’s eyes. All I’m going to say is that Grant’s acting was top notch, and the scene specifically pointed to the fact that Barry feels 11 years old and helpless once more. He looks younger than he has in a long time and specifically babbles the phrase “don’t leave, not again” over his father’s dead body. Last ep I pointed out Barry just standing there as a weak point in the writing, but with this scene as well I can go with the idea that Barry was paralyzed with fear because he’s already been here once before. Having that trauma play out again brings back everything about the first time, and it can make you feel as hopeless and powerless as it did then. For all his speed and heroism, Barry right here is just that 11 year old boy again. I can accept that idea now. It’s possible I’m just trying to make myself feel better, but with the writing choices there I can run with it and feel it is justified.

Either way, the acting was stellar.

Zoom is feeling pretty satisfied at the emotional damage he’s caused and does some good Emperor Palpatine channeling, encouraging Luke Barry to feel the anger and use it. Barry is feeling justifiably angry, of course, and a chase ensues. While Barry takes a shortcut, Zoom splits into two and Barry picks up the chase with only one of them. I think watching a speedster trip another speedster is one of my favorites moves, it’s so simple and effective. Suck it, Zoom. Their speed force battle is well done with effects and choreography, and compared to last season’s finale fight with the Reverse Flash you can see that Barry has improved quite a bit. Remnant Zoom is good with being caught though, and encourages Barry to kill him. Barry hesitates, so Zoom kills himself…again. Really, Zoom. You need help. But the time remnant idea seeds the idea for later in the episode and that’s a good thing.

Henry’s funeral…hurt. He’s buried next to Nora now, and Barry is a biological orphan. Team Flash is all there, but it’s Iris Barry looks to when he attempts to speak about his dad, and her he moves to when he can’t do it and needs support. That moment was very real, and speaks volumes about their relationship and how they lean on each other. It also speaks about Barry’s mindset. True to the stages of grief, he’s in denial. He doesn’t want it to be true, and speaking about Henry at his funeral makes it too real. So he can’t. Kudos to Joe for being strong for Barry and speaking for him. Joe’s words about how Henry was proof that love can get you through the darkest of days is similar to Iris’ line last episode about never being alone no matter how dark it gets. The universe is trying to tell Barry this but he’s lost in a fog and can’t recognize it. I can understand that, sometimes the universe has to hit me on the head to get me to listen. Barry does have a support system, but it doesn’t remove the pain of Henry’s loss and the fact that they will now never be able to make up for lost time. Barry instead is angry and emotional, promising his father’s coffin that he will take from Zoom what was taken from Henry. That’s a bit of a warning sign, and Joe is vigilant in noticing it.

That night at the West home, Wally melts my heart when he brings Barry a plate of food and tries to express how much it means to him that Barry is the Flash and how sorry he is for what he has gone through. Wally needs cookies. I love him to death. While Barry and Wally were doing fine growing closer, this gave both of them but particularly Wally a large push forward. Suddenly this explains a lot to Wally, and he can see Barry in a whole new light because he has the whole picture finally. Wally’s self-protection wall is down completely now and his focus changes to protecting or helping Barry. He’s a true West. While I don’t completely love that the story telling is so Barry-centric that others feel less fleshed out and everything is often all about Barry, that’s a writing issue and I can always appreciate Wally and his growth. Wally is a good person inside and his walls have always been there to protect himself, not harm others. Two dozen cookies!

Barry is already thinking about capturing Zoom and what the baddie’s plan is. Cisco is worried about his vibing earth 2 destruction. It’s basically a reminder to the audience that we need to think about Zoom’s ultimate plans before he shows up in 2.2 minutes. Barry heads to the porch to get some air and Iris follows. Barry mentions that he finally felt he had obtained some peace regarding his mother and not saving her, but now that his father is gone too he doesn’t know how he’s supposed to deal with it. Iris tells him he’s going to have to find a way or it’s going to tear him apart. Sound familiar? Speed force Nora told him the same thing. Barry, the universe is trying to tell you something!

Oops, never mind Zoom shows up and ruins the moment. Barry, true to impulsive emotional fashion, pursues. Zoom challenges him to a race, which seems simple enough. Zoom just wants to know who’s fastest. Race him or he’ll kill more people Barry loves. Sure. It could be that simple.

No it can’t. The team quickly puts together that Zoom stole a magnetar from Mercury Labs (Hey that did come back! I hoped it would.) and can transform it into a pulsar. By doing so he could weaponize it and destroy earth 2 or even more with the power source of two speedsters. Barry decides he’s got no choice, he’ll just have to race Zoom and win. Um, Barry? That’s a big gamble.

Seems simple enough, but Barry isn’t thinking clearly. Barry wants to beat him so bad, (of course he does!) and he also is desperate to protect the remaining people he loves, not to mention the rest of the multiverse. These are all good motivations, they have purely good intent. But when Joe tries to talk to Barry about it you see that he has no real plan, he’s overly emotional, and Joe makes the valid point that running into this without a plan and further knowledge is a bad play. Joe is right. When it becomes clear that Barry is working solely off of anger about his father, he is simply obsessed with killing Zoom and doing “whatever it takes” and Joe cannot talk to him rationally, he and Harry tranquilize Barry and lock him in the pipeline.

When Barry comes to, the team tells Barry that he’s too angry and can’t race Zoom without a plan. He’ll lose. The team unanimously made the decision that for Barry’s own good he needs to be removed from the equation. Despite his pleas, they lock him away and work on their own plan to stop Zoom.

*record scratch* Enter Kuzco the Llama.

Ok. I need to point out a few things. Yes, at first it’s really upsetting that the team unanimously decided to lock Barry up and remove his agency about this decision. But, in retrospect, it clearly shows several things.

*begins writing on the screen*

  1. The team was entirely correct. Barry was focused on racing and winning against Zoom and in his overly emotional thinking made the huge assumption that winning would thus stop the multiverse being affected in any way. Later in the ep, we find that once the magnetar is fully powered there is no stopping it. Barry would have arrived thinking he had it all figured out and by the time he put it all together it would have been much too late and he would have helped cause disaster on a catastrophic scale. Then there’s the assumption that Barry could beat Zoom, which thus far he has not. Zoom’s ultimate goal was not the race, and the team was rational enough to see that. Barry was not. By locking him up and attempting their own way, the team averted the destruction of countless worlds.
  2. It sets up Barry for the huge decision later in the episode and reminds the audience that Barry is susceptible to making bad decisions based entirely on his emotional state. He has always been this way, remember him turning off his comm after discovering Cisco built a cold gun? Not a practical decision, an emotional one. This reminds us of that precedent already set and that Barry is at his worst with it after a huge emotional toll. It also sets up the reason why Barry doesn’t talk to anyone about his later decision before he does it.
  3. It shows that the team views him as a leader much of the time but does not blindly follow him. It recognizes that each member has agency and makes their own choice and that they work well as a team.They aren’t blind sheep. This is basically a team intervention because Barry is out of control. He’s not an addict, but he is in an emotional fog. He’s not reliable right now.
  4. It gives the opportunity for several team members to display some great character moments, which I always applaud because they all need and deserve them, and their varied reactions give lovely insight into who they are. Cisco vacillated the most because he really wants to believe Barry is right but even he acknowledged that it was for the best. Joe questioned whether they had made the right decision only because it was so emotionally difficult to see the look of betrayal on Barry’s face, not because he doubted it rationally. And Iris, Iris!

*draws a quick sketch of Iris and circles it many times in red marker*

  • Iris had an incredible moment of character. Barry’s heartbroken look when he realizes she was in on the decision and agreed to it, her own look of sorrow but her refusal to back down from it, and her clear “Yes, we did.”  when Joe asks her if they did the right thing was a beautiful moment of character growth. She may be a love interest, but that’s not all she is. She thinks for herself, and her love for a man doesn’t blind her to his flaws or what needs to be done. Yes she loves Barry, but she also sees him for who he is and gets how he works. That is so important, because we can’t truly love someone unless we accept their flaws too. Iris doesn’t buckle under the pressure of a right decision even when it hurts like hell. This is not the girl we saw in the pilot episode who didn’t become a cop because her father refused to speak to her until she withdrew her application. Iris West has grown so much and become so strong over two seasons and I love it. Candice Patton has said that often audiences don’t want to see a woman character evolve, they want a full blown character who has all the answers right now, and I agree that is a problem. I also think often we as women viewers are afraid we will never get the full evolution so we’ll take a finished product in lieu of a flat one-dimensional character, simply out of fear that our hopes might remain unfulfilled. Writing for women as a whole is lacking that way. But in spite of some issues with the writing for her, Iris has grown and changed and strengthened, and this moment clearly defines that. *draws little hearts around Iris West* I can see the character evolution, and I love it. Please keep up the forward momentum, writers. Iris West deserves it and so does Candice Patton. Don’t move her to the sidelines again, please.

*holds up llama hooves* Ok, moving on, sorry to slow you down….

*scribbles out Barry’s bad choice at the end of this ep* eh heh heh heh…..

It was a beautifully acted scene on all parts, and while I now understand that the team was in the right, my heart broke a bit for Barry because he’s hurting so badly already and now feels betrayed and alone.

Before they move into the plan Jessie tells Harry that she sees how emotionally invested he is with the team here and while she wants to go back to earth 2, she supports the idea of Harry staying on earth 1 if that’s what makes him happy. Harry, understandably, is a bit torn.

The team’s plan to capture Zoom was mostly a good one, but the logical part of my brain was screaming about the fact that it makes no sense whatsoever to push Zoom through a breach if he’s able to open another and come right back again. The whole breach idea and Zoom being able to do it himself is a really weak point in this plot and has been for  a while. I do laugh at how they are good with leaving earth 2 at Zoom’s mercy again, lol. But I guess they were dealing with what they had, no matter how flawed.

It starts pretty well. Caitlin distracts Hunter and tells him she wants to be with him and accepts the darkness inside of her. Iris is coaching her in the van, which is really nice. Three ladies in the van! I want this all the time. Hunter is tempted but decides it’s too late and moves to kill Caitlin, but she was really just a projection from the van. This effectively shows Zoom is way too far gone and even the human part of him that Caitlin once could reach is now gone. He’s a full blown monster now. The rest of the team moves in.

Harry hits Zoom with the boot, and Joe attempts to tranquilize him. But as fate (or necessary writing) would have it, Joe’s weapon malfunctions and he races down to Zoom himself to inject him with the darts. (Why do they need the darts? Never mind, keep going.) This enables Zoom to grab Joe as he goes through the breach Cisco created and take him with him. Joe, having made everyone promise to go with the plan no matter what and stick with it, has no expectation of being rescued.

But he didn’t count on Wally. Wally wasn’t in on any of the plan and he’s not too happy when he is finally informed that Barry is locked up, Joe is on earth 2, and the team plans to leave him there. Bless my rebellious cinnamon roll, he heads straight to Barry’s cell to let him out. Wally is not ready to call it quits on another parent, and Barry is still his hero. Hotheads, unite!

Meanwhile Joe gets his turn on earth 2 and Zoom’s prison. We are treated to a bit of backstory on Zoom, which basically (I think) is only there to make sure the audience knows what his motivation has been all this time since it’s so murky. We also see that Zoom is fully aware of the time wraiths too, he broke the speed force rules and they have been after him ever since. (Funny, I haven’t seen any pursuing him.)

We also get story on the man in the metal mask, and how he was a speedster from another earth that Zoom originally brought to his lair to steal speed from, but it wouldn’t take. So he masqueraded as a hero and stole the speedster’s name. Jay Garrick. I yell “Called it!” I think a lot of us did, really. We all wait to find out what his face looks like now but I’m sure a lot of us already knew that too. Zoom brags about how Barry became the new target and he did manage to steal Barry’s speed and thus feels he has beaten the system the speed force put in place.

Meanwhile back at the lab…

Barry, now understandably upset (lol), is now even more angry. They tried to beat Zoom, and now Joe is gone. The team doesn’t have a lot of room to argue with him now, but they really try. Cisco makes a good point that Barry is not okay. Caitlin appeals as well. It’s all true. Barry’s not okay. But the one thing locking him up did was force him to stop and think instead of acting immediately, and now that can be used to everyone’s benefit. The team and Barry come up with a plan, and that’s really all the team wanted from Barry in the first place. I don’t think they had a problem with him racing Zoom as much as they had a problem with him not considering all angles and having a plan.

Cisco pulls another trick out of his hat and enables Barry to contact Zoom on earth 2. They negotiate for Joe’s life and agree to race. Joe must be rolling his eyes, no one ever listens to him. Did he really think they would? How long was Barry supposed to be locked up, until he died? The minute he got out he’d be all over getting Joe back. Sorry Joe, that’s what happens when people care about you.

The team is a unified front when Zoom arrives for the race. He won’t release Joe until after the race, because who on earth would give up their extra leverage before they get what they want? That’s fair. The team confronts Zoom on his plan to destroy the multiverse and he pretty much owns up to it. Then he can reign supreme on this earth. It could seem lame that Barry is willing to race and help Zoom commit multiverse genocide, ending billions of lives to save one man. But in retrospect Barry was willing to give up his speed to save Wally, thus endangering his city and possibly earth 1 for one person, so it’s reasonable for Zoom to expect that Barry would do that again. I argued for Barry’s decision last time, while my husband was frustrated that Barry wasn’t considering the good of many over the good of one. It’s a legitimate point, I’ll concede, but I was interested in Barry’s growth through it. Here we see evidence of that growth again. Barry almost killed himself to fix the problem last time, and now he knows he needs to go in with a better plan because conceding to a monster even if it will save one life will only endanger others farther down the road. Barry has grown and is growing, but he still isn’t infallible, as we all can see later.

I appreciate the team verbally and physically putting their faith in Barry at this moment and believing in him, it’s necessary after the imprisonment, lol. They refuse to leave and decide if it goes bad they’ll all go out together. When Barry reassures Iris and Wally he’ll get their father back, Wally replies with “No. You’ll get our dad back.” Wally is doing some growing too, and right here is where he lets Barry know he is still part of a family even though both of his parents are dead. I think Wally needs brownies too. Iris tells Barry to kick Zoom’s ass. Ok they both need brownies.

The race starts, and it looks like Barry is losing. He can’t stop Zoom and he can’t stop racing or Joe dies. Oh dear, it looks like all hope is lost. (Can you detect my sarcasm through the internet?) No wait. Barry, finally adapting his enemy’s trick for himself, creates a time remnant and performs double duty. He races, frees Joe, engages Zoom in hand to hand combat, and the double gives his life to create another pulse to cancel out the first one. Nifty.

The final fight goes down and finally Barry has learned some new tricks and can kick a season big bad guy’s ass. It is so overdue, we’ve been waiting for a while. It’s very satisfying. But here again a dilemma. Barry’s a good guy, isn’t he supposed to not kill?  Oh right, he doesn’t have to because the time wraiths have been looking for Zoom (apparently) for a while and now they’ve found him. If making a time remnant annoys them so badly where were they the last thirty times Zoom did it?

Nevertheless, they descend on Zoom and quickly emaciate him, turning him into a version of themselves. His symbols change from black to red (don’t think we didn’t see that!) and they head off to the speed force with him, I’m assuming. I’m just glad he’s gone. Good riddance.

Poor Wally. Even explained, this time remnant thing makes very little sense. Wally, I feel you. Joe, we all look like that when this show explains science.

Meanwhile, Harry and Cisco have been working hard to free metal mask man from his head prison. They finally manage to get the mask off, and even while the speedster is speaking different members of the team start to react to him. But none more than Barry. Yep. The real Jay Garrick is the spitting image of Henry Allen with a whole lot of mustache and beard.

It’s a bittersweet thing for Barry and for me. I loved Henry Allen and I was frustrated to see him treated as he was this season and then killed off for angst and shock value. At the same time, I was glad John Wesley Shipp has now had a chance to play two speedster heroes in his lifetime and might still appear on the show. If anyone can do justice to the name Jay Garrick it’s him, especially after it has been dragged through the mud all season. But it’s not Henry Allen, and the constant reminder is difficult. That’s exactly where Barry is, amplified to 100.

Barry, naturally, has a bit of a breakdown in the hallway and Joe helps him regain control. They agree Jay has no idea he’s a painful reminder of Henry and shouldn’t have to bear that burden. But man he looks good in a red Flash costume! It was nice to see John as a speedster again. The hat, originally Hunter’s, Jay adopts as a casual way to steal back from Hunter after so much had been stolen from him. Especially because the hat stood for hope on earth 2. Go for it, Jay.

Harry agrees to go back to earth 2 with Jessie and help Jay return to his earth 3. Goodbyes are said and yes its lovely but I can’t help wondering if Jessie and Harry will reappear again next season. I really want Jay to. Jessie will miss Wally, awwwww. Harry called Cisco by his first name! AWWWWWWW.

And Barry is left to dwell on his recent loss.

In a scene that bookends the one at the beginning of the episode, Barry and Iris sit on the porch again.

This scene is beautiful in so many ways. Again, Iris notices that Barry has left and comes out to show her support. Again, Barry opens up and shares a little of how he’s feeling. Iris is right there for him and wants to help. So she offers the only thing that might be a bit of brightness in these dark days. She and Barry moving forward in their relationship. It’s a beautiful thing, but Barry is now so far into depression that the one thing he would have given anything for can’t make it all better anymore. He has nothing to give her. He’s a hollowed out version of himself and she deserves better.

I had hoped this might happen and I was so proud of Iris when it did. Iris fully understood and told Barry she was willing to wait. She of all people knows that it takes time to process grief and loss. So she tells Barry to do what he needs to do to find some peace, and she’ll wait for him. It’s the kind of selfless gesture I would expect from them, and I wasn’t disappointed. And Iris follows up with the words we’ve all been waiting to hear her say out loud. She loves him. FINALLY! The kiss that follows is a beautiful thing, filmed with light and silhouettes, and it’s a soft perfect kiss between two best friends who grew to love each other more. Also the music was gorgeous. Barry tells her he loves her too, and always will. We wonder if this is the bittersweet moment the season will end on.

But no.

Barry waits until Iris goes back inside and apologizes. He uses the “I have to do this” phrase and I wail in agony. Oh no, he’s about to pull a masterpiece of a mistake. He’s still in the denial stage of grief, remember? Just when you think he can’t mess the past up any more, he saves his mother. The Barry that came back in time last season and didn’t save her fades away from his hiding place behind the door. Barry reassures Nora that she’s safe.

Uh oh.

I’ll admit to feeling some satisfaction watching him pound the Reverse Flash. I would love Nora to live. On the surface, this seems like something that would bring Barry peace. But time wants to happen, and certain things have to go a certain way. I have no doubt there will be unseen consequences for this choice.

And now we have to wait months to see what they are.

Where’s my soapbox? I’m gonna have to name it Barry because it’s always him I have to get up here for.

Soapbox Time!: 

Ok. Yes, Barry has made a crazy choice. One that we kind of expected last season. After all his growth in the speed force and coming to terms with his mother’s death, it seems quite a regression to have him suddenly pull a move like this. It throws everything into question and waiting over hiatus is stressful and sucks. We’re all a bit frustrated. But at the same time, this is one time where I get Barry’s “I have to do this” line.

For him, he does have to.

He has to try. The what-ifs and what could have happened thoughts have been eating at Barry all season, and his attempts to get over it and be happy have largely failed. He had a shot and he didn’t take it. Now he has to actually take it and learn for himself, by difficult real experience, that it can’t happen that way and it won’t fix everything. Which of us, if we had the power to change it, would be able to resist the temptation to rearrange our lives and remove some of the tragedy and loss? The temptation would be unbearable. Some people seem unable to learn from the experience of others and insist on going on to make those mistakes themselves before they can learn from it. Barry is one of those people. It’s very frustrating to watch, but I know real people like this so it’s not out of the realm of reality.

It scored points for me as well that Barry realizes he is broken and hollow and has little to give to Iris. This is his attempt to find peace and make himself whole so he can be the person Iris deserves. He’s aware that he shouldn’t be depending on her for all of his emotional well-being and coping. She can’t carry both of them and she shouldn’t have to. Part of a real relationship is leaning on each other. Barry needs to make peace with this for good and fix himself.

As for the speed force episode and then this decision, yeah I blame the writers for that a bit. It’s too choppy and inconsistent to pretend he made such great strides only to take it away two episodes later. But I will say that the speed force made Barry think he had it managed finally, but he didn’t. He had a nice moment with his mom. He still hadn’t “found a way”, and the first major trauma tore him apart again.

There’s a reason Zoom took Barry back to his childhood home to kill Henry, symbolically. By making the narrative take this path, they are returning Barry to his original 11 year-old state after the tragedy of his parents. All growth is undone. But that speed force ep! Yeah. But it did happen after 16 years of pain and finally Barry thought he had made peace with it. Time helps a lot. Henry’s death was like two day ago, and any growth Barry thought he achieved was destroyed in the trauma.

This episode has taken pains to point out that Barry isn’t thinking rationally at all, and winning against the bad guy doesn’t bring his father back or make it all better. Even the woman of his dreams doesn’t make it all better, and I appreciate that the point is made because it’s the same in real life. Iris will be instrumental to his happiness in the future, but relying on her to make his life feel perfect is the wrong way to view the relationship.

I’m not saying I agree with his impulsive and thoughtless choice to go save his mother, but I am saying I can see where Barry thought it would fix things and ultimately undo everything the Reverse Flash messed up in the first place. But things don’t usually work out that simply. Barry’s going to have to learn the hard way.

My hope for next season is that Barry actually learns this time and finds a way to handle tragedy and loss. A real way, a healthy way. I have no doubt it will involve a happy life with Iris, because he needs her in every aspect of his life. This is no different. So I hope when he finally fixes the mess he just caused he returns a better man who has found some peace and that it plays into his relationship with Iris.

Some would call this a selfish choice. It totally was! But I can understand the mindset Barry was in. It was a selfish choice borne of pain and loss and it wasn’t thought through at all. Barry will learn that. And he’ll learn that he still has so much in his life even in the face of loss, and he needs to actually embrace it. Wally, Joe, the S.T.A.R. Labs team and especially Iris.  And once he figures it out I have no doubt he’ll have to struggle to get back to what he gave up so cavalierly. Nothing worth having comes easy.

This is my wish for him next season. I hope we get it. I don’t want to have to get up here again, Barry. Honestly. I’m hanging up the soapbox for a while.

 

Stuff I Wanna Complain About:

  • I am going to point out that Francine didn’t get a funeral. That’s annoying. I do not ever begrudge Henry getting one, but Francine was brushed off to the side for much of her story line, and it was frustrating. Francine deserved a funeral.
  • Also, it was a bit of a cop-out to have the magnetar so mystifying to the team that they didn’t dare touch it or move it for fear of destroying the planet. Awfully convenient, and very similar to last season’s particle accelerator future battery. I’ll stop complaining now. Maybe. I mean, I know the lack of a simple off switch heightens the drama and complicates the plot, but at least make it believable!
  • Why does it matter if Barry kills Zoom or not when he already killed 2 metahumans at the beginning of the season and it didn’t seem to phase anyone?
  • Well that’s the most convenient arrival of time wraiths ever. I know Barry said making a time remnant called them, but Zoom doing it thousands of times must have gone to voicemail.

Tidbits:

  • “You have to find a way or it’s going to tear you apart.” This theme has been prominent in the last part of the season. It’s clear Barry understands he has to find a way, but understanding that and doing it are two different things. He doesn’t know how to find a way yet, and his ideas on how to do that are disastrous mistakes. I really hope part of next season is focused on him actually finding the right way to deal with tragedy, because we need some growth in that area and we need it to stick. Fingers crossed.
  • “One pulse to destroy them all.” Cisco, I can always count on you to make me laugh at inopportune moments.
  • “Wait, Barry… kick his ass.” LOL! Iris makes a motion to tell Barry one last thing and everyone expects it to be something mushy. Nope. Have I mentioned how much I love her? She knows he can do it.
  • I appreciated the time remnant idea at the end and especially the point it made that even a remnant of Barry is willing to die for the people he loves, but if this show ever uses that trick again I am going to scream. It’s been done to death. Kill all the remnants!
  • “Hey don’t be surprised if I project myself over to earth 2 every once in a while just to throw your stuff across the office.” Cisco the poltergeist.

Possibilities:

  • Zoom’s symbols changing from black to red indicate that he may return as the Black Flash, basically a grim reaper for speedsters who appears to one before their death. This explains why Tony Todd, who voices Zoom, said he’d be back but Teddy Sears most likely won’t. It leaves room for very interesting possibilities next season or whenever they decide to pick that thread up again.
  • Everyone is thinking Flashpoint Paradox now, after Barry has finally succeeded in saving his mother. The question is how long will the altered timeline last and how badly is it messed up? I am honestly hoping for a few eps and then back to normal, just because going to the mid-season finale or longer would get terribly wearing. But it wouldn’t shock me if they made it a crossover event somehow.
  • I wonder who Tom Cavanaugh will be playing next season and if Jessie will return. I hope she will.
  • Still waiting on Wally and Jessie’s speedster status!
  • Are you telling me Black Siren is still cooling her heels in the pipeline prison?! That’s where they left her last week.
  • I want more REAL Jay Garrick in season 3!!!! Gimme!!!!!!! Five minutes of a real Jay Garrick hero isn’t enough after all the damage the Hunter Zolomon plot did to him.
  • Okay writers, I meant it a few reviews ago when I said I’d come back if you cliff-hangered westallen. But I’m telling you right now if you delay it any further after we get back to season 3, I’m probably going to have to check out. I’m not here for years of angst. It gets old, and you’ve delayed it long enough. We’d like to see Barry and Iris actually in a relationship, and that kiss better not be forgotten when everything is said and done. Don’t be afraid of commitment!!

 

I’m sure I’ll have something to say about the Flash before the next season starts, but for now we are on hiatus. What did you think? Hit the comments! 🙂

Beautiful above gif by stevenrogered on tumblr.

The Flash 2×22:Invincible

Or: Ten steps forward, twenty back.

I have mixed feelings on this episode. On one hand I enjoyed some of it very much, and on the other continual repetitive writing and shock value writing lost their appeal a long time ago, and this ep is full of that. Please ditch the formula, guys. Last week was amazing, and this felt like a step backwards.

Honestly the metahumans attacking Central City was great. I only wish it was longer. Joe and Singh out in the thick of it, all sorts of metahuman craziness, the police trapped in the car until Barry saves them, good stuff.  Gone too soon!

It has been a long time since we’ve heard Iris do a voice over or update her blog, and I have missed it. Iris needs more inclusion on her journalism angle/Flash champion status anyway, but this one was particularly beautiful in that she is doing her best to give hope to the city in her own way, and that is so Iris. Plus I loved the emphasis on regular people fighting back not just people with super powers. It’s also a nice encapsulation of the entire episode, emphasizing the idea that even in our darkest hour we aren’t truly alone, we need to remember our own ability to fight back, and that hope can still be found. Even starting this ep I was pretty sure what was coming, so that message is fitting. I’ll save my grumbling about certain things until later…grr.

So, Barry is now taking out multiple metahumans at a time and seems perfectly able to do so. And Caitlin is back, Zoom let her go and she’s terrified of his next plans. Barry feels they have the universe on their side and can’t lose. Everyone else trades looks.

Barry’s trip through the speed force seems to have had quite an affect on him, and he’s veering into stupidly overconfident mode. Everyone sees it, and they all agree it’s an issue. Very nice scene after Barry leads Caitlin out and the team discusses the change in him. They are on the same page and so easy with discussion that they are finishing each other’s sentences. It was a tiny moment but one I really loved. They decide someone needs to speak to Barry, and each one takes it as their job as we see throughout the episode.

Cisco tries to talk to Barry about his over confidence that they will beat Zoom, but gets interrupted by a vibe. Glass building and a dead bird. Interesting. But there’s no time to dwell on that because part of Central City is under attack again.

Mercury Labs seems to be doing well and Tina McGee is giving encouragement, right up until a mysterious figure in black unloads a sonic scream and brings the whole thing tumbling down. Barry makes it just in time to save Tina as the floor gives way under her. That was a pretty cool special effects sequence, it’s been a while since we’ve seen Barry slow motion navigate his way through something like that. It was very nice. Tina thanks him by name. YES! Tina McGee is smart!

Barry brings Tina McGee to S.T.A.R. Labs and introduces her to everyone else, including Henry Allen (90’s Flash reunion! AWESOME!!) and the new Harry Wells, lol. Harry I think you enjoy throwing earth 1 people off too much. They get busy figuring out what happened to Mercury Labs.

Meanwhile Wally has decided to go out and do what he can to fight the problems in Central City, and he bites off a bit more than he can chew when he takes down a purse snatcher who happens to be a metahuman too. Joe and a well-placed boot intercede, and then father and son argue about Wally placing himself in real danger in his desire to help. (Hey, what happened to the couple and the woman’s purse? I’m going to assume they were a plant by the police to lure out said metahuman and enable the police to capture him. That’s the only explanation that works here. Joe just didn’t expect his son to come into a police sting cowboy style. Sure. I’ll go with that.)

Sidenote: The entire West family wants to help in spite of not having super powers. Iris and Wally are so alike that way, and they both take after Joe. I love this family trait.

In the course of their argument Wally sticks a knife in my heart when he tells his father that he has a lot to make up for and needs to prove to the Flash that he’s worth saving. Wally stop, I can’t hug the TV any harder! It’s a well acted moment between Keiynan Lonsdale and Jesse L. Martin, and it really shows the heroic path Wally is starting on. Just like Barry, he has a great desire to help before he ever has powers. He’ll make a great hero one day. Wally you are SO worth saving!

Speaking of heroes, Jessie is worried she has been affected by the dark matter and asks Caitlin to see if anything in her genetic structure has changed. Harry tells his daughter she’s not a metahuman and wants her to use her brain to help Central City. Jessie goes with it, but considering all we know about dark matter and accelerator explosions, Harry’s words sound like classic parental denial. Kind of like “No, you did NOT just empty that whole box of cereal onto the floor!” as you stare at a pile of cereal on the floor and the child is stomping on it because they like the crunching sound. We shall see. As of now, Caitlin hasn’t found much on Jessie, but she does find a lovely terrifying hallucination of Zoom that scares her good. Caitlin’s trauma is starting to take its toll on her.

Once Barry returns with the building black box (do all building have those, or just scientific labs that could have an accident/disaster/spawn a supervillain?) Team Flash divides up duties to figure out how to handle the metapocolypse and whatever happened to Mercury Labs. (Don’t think I didn’t notice Henry and Tina were paired together. I see you.) But Barry’s insane level of optimism leads Henry to pursue his son out into the hallway and express concern.

Barry tells his dad the speed force changed him, and he is now full of optimism and just not afraid any more. Henry is supportive of that but he’s still a parent and he still worries. He’s always going to. It’s why I tell my husband to drive safe every single time he leaves the house. I know he’ll drive safe, and it does nothing to make all the other drivers in the world drive safe, but it’s a tiny reassuring phrase put out into the world that makes me  feel my husband might be safe while he’s gone. Because I worry. That’s what I do. Henry worries too, and he tells Barry that he still needs to be careful. Barry takes it badly and there is a small disagreement.

At the very least, I’m glad the argument is resolved right then and there. Too often an argument is left hanging to further torment the survivor when a death happens, and these writers love to infuse extra angst. Considering how dirty they play later I appreciate this small thing. Hey, I have to find positive where I can find it. Barry’s comment about Henry not being around long enough to know everything he’s been through hurts his dad, but Henry counters with the fact that while he was gone for much of Barry’s life and missed certain events and experiences, he has made it his sole purpose to know who his son is. Henry is one hell of a good dad and I will personally smack anyone who wants to argue with me on this.  He makes sure Barry understands that it’s not that Henry doesn’t believe in him because he does, completely. He’s not trying to take Barry’s newfound confidence and optimism, but he is trying to express how dangerous the word still is. Barry accepts it and his father’s concern and even tells Henry he loves him. He reasserts that he is fine. Barry, you are going to have to put your money where your mouth is very soon. I hope you are up to the task.

The moment is over and the team is diverted when Zoom leaves a burning Flash symbol on the CCPD building. He is so over-dramatic. Seriously Zoom, pick up the telephone. No need to broadcast your meeting schedule to the world. Get a datebook! Barry goes to the “meeting” so Zoom can fuss about how he never saw his mother’s crime scene photos. He got a first hand view though, while Barry was safely whisked away.

(Zoom, are you SERIOUSLY whining about how someone had a sightly better version of the same trauma than you did? Time out! Go sit in the corner.)

The most fascinating part of the exchange is how Hunter stares at Barry and sees something new. Maybe it’s that Barry isn’t afraid of him anymore. Maybe it’s the speed force experience. Or all of it. But Zoom can see the difference in Barry too.

Zoom sends time monologuing and seems fixated on the idea that he and Barry are the same, for obvious reasons (parent murdered, same reason for running, wants to the the best and fastest). He also knows what makes Barry tick, and he does make in interesting comment about Barry thinking his anger is somehow dirty and wants to be seen as pure and heroic, which he feels is exhausting. (Zoom has basically embraced his anger.) But he knows how to distract Barry because Barry cannot let innocents suffer. So when another building threatens to collapse, Barry can’t help himself and leaves to go help. Of course he does. Not sure what that little meeting accomplished except some exposition. But okay.

So Barry is certain they need to take Zoom and the metahumans down right now, which is a great goal. The team gets busy working on a sound wave solution that uses vibrational tech against all the Earth 2 people who vibrate on a different frequency. Sounds fair. Cisco vibes the same building again and now sees several birds fly into it and die. All right then. Weird looking birds though, gotta say. Their coloring is unusual. Earth 2 birds!

Caitlin is having her own visions and sees Zoom in the room with her again, leading her to panic. Cisco quickly reassures her and they discuss how Caitlin doesn’t feel that she will ever be normal again. Cisco and Caitlin have been working together forever and their friendship is really a lovely thing, it’s nice to see Cisco get a chance to reassure Caitlin and be there for her.

Joe asks Barry to talk to Wally as the Flash again because Wally is going to get himself killed if he’s not careful, which Barry does. It’s fun to watch Wally and the Flash interact because Wally obviously has some hero worship going on but he also remains his little snarky self and the dialogue is great. Barry does his best to dissuade Wally of his desire to help but Wally counters with he fact that this is his fight too. It’s the city’s fight. I love how Wally sees it because having no powers should never mean that people just sit back and let all the powered people take the hard hits protecting them, even if they are able to bounce back quicker. Its clear Wally strikes a chord in the Flash with his words. Barry gets called to an intersection and repeats the address on his way out, and you know Wally is going to start his car and follow. I wouldn’t really expect any less, lol. Drive Wally, drive.

We get the most fabulous showdown between the Black Siren and the Flash. Loved it. Katie Cassidy makes a great villain, and her costume and makeup were perfect. So was the AMAZING sonic scream we get that clobbers Barry, ringing his ears and throwing him to the pavement. This is the sonic scream I always heard about! Yesssssss. And then we get the perfect villain-monologues-too-long moment, cut short by Wally clipping her with his car and some fancy driving as he comes to the Flash’s rescue. That’s my boy! It was perfect, especially with Wally’s giant grin through it all. He was having the time of his life.

Joe is decidedly unhappy to hear about Wally’s involvement in saving Barry to say the least. Barry is glad Wally was there to save his bacon and says so, and his overconfidence now spurs Iris to speak with him about it since Cisco, Henry and Joe (to a degree) have not had the correct results. Going into this I knew it was going to be Iris who could actually get through to Barry, it always is. He gives her advice more weight and she speaks to him on a level he gets. It’s part of their amazing relationship. She makes the really good point that fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it helps us decide what risks are worth taking. This is Iris at her rational best. Somewhere in the past season I read an interview with Candice Patton where she and the interviewer agreed that Iris was always the sanest person in any relationship, and it’s so true. Iris helps bring Barry down from the clouds and ground him without crushing him in a way no one else really can. She’s a good counterbalance for him. Everyone would do well to listen to Iris. And of course, Barry finally acknowledges the point many have been trying to make to him so far. But he’s still feeling pretty sure of their win.

Zoom and the Black Siren have a small discussion indicating that Zoom has a secret agenda that he is putting into play, and the metahuman army from earth 2 is merely a distraction so Barry and the team don’t realize. But I have to say Zoom, you pretty much already told Barry this earlier and that’s really not how to keep a secret agenda secret. But anyway…

Cisco has worked out a sound wave that will incapacitate the earth 2 people while leaving the earth 1 population unharmed. He has a great time testing it on Harry and finds it a small source of joy, lol. They are ready to put their plan into action and take out the metahuman army and Zoom in one fell swoop, but Black Canary decides right then it would be fun to attack and decimate a highly populated area. Cisco gets a very bad idea…

Cisco and Caitlin masquerading as Reverb and Killer Frost was hilarious. Cisco continually recycled lines he had heard Reverb use and it was brilliant to watch them play themselves playing their doppelgangers, another fun twist for the actors. Great scene. But the jig is up when Black Siren starts to suspect and tosses Cisco an object that he catches with the wrong hand. Oops.Cisco and Caitlin go full retreat mode but find themselves trapped with a really deadly Siren right behind them, and in complete protect-and-preserve mode, CISCO DOES THE THING! HoooRAh!! We’ve been waiting for this! But yeah, it only seems to work when he’s not actually trying to. Crap. It’s a good thing Barry is out putting the other plan into motion.

Barry was right in that working as a team they could do more than he could alone, since Cisco and Caitlin distract Black Siren long enough to prevent her from killing innocent civilians.  He runs around the city to create a barrier that will help project the signal all through Central City and take care of any earth 2 metahumans inside it once Harry turns on the signal beacon. Sounds legit. Works pretty good too, except for the minor detail that Jessie’s protective earphones don’t work as planned and Harry immediately sacrifices his own to protect her and takes the hit with the rest of the earth 2 citizens. Harry’s continual default to loving protective father no matter the cost is actually his one redeeming factor that keeps me liking him, and this was a beautiful moment. Granted, in the end the consequences are minimal so it was probably not needed dramatically to serve the story other than some quick melodrama, but I will maintain that it fits well with the continuing theme of parents being more concerned for their children than themselves in this ep. You know what I’m talking about…

Oh, and Zoom escapes to earth 2. If he can create breeches and travel back and forth why did he want for Cisco to do it last time? Details like this bother me…

So all is well and the Black Siren is in the pipeline and Caitlin is feeling better after impersonating Killer Frost (that is a wild therapy, Caitlin) and the Flash talks to Singh and Joe and then quick-changes to himself which is adorable and Barry tells Joe Wally is his father’s son through and through and they should let him become the hero he’s going to become and Joe says he’s going to laugh when Barry has kids that torture him and everything is great. Where’s that other shoe I know is coming?

Oh. Right.

It’s another welcome home party for Henry. Oh god here we go. Even going in the first time I knew we were screwed. I’ll rant later…

The entire crowd is at the West home minus Harry who must be still be recuperating. Iris has arranged a party, mirroring the one in the premier of this season where we get Henry out of prison and lost him just as fast. You remember that right? Yeah. Tina is there, and she and Henry are obviously in the first steps of infatuation with each other. That was a low blow, writers, and I didn’t appreciate it on the first watch either.

Barry and Iris discuss his invincibility and he has the extra courage and self confidence to ask Iris about giving their relationship a shot, and Iris is brave enough to agree. Heart eyes and smiles, and I am SO glad to see it but know what’s coming next.

Wally gets congratulated on saving the Flash and Joe tells him he’s proud of him and I’m proud of Joe and Jessie is proud of Wally too. (I see you Jessie!) A toast is proposed. I consider pushing stop on the DVR because if I don’t see it it didn’t happen right? RIGHT?!

To further delay the thing I don’t want to see, Cisco has one more vibe of earth 2 splitting and shaking apart, and while everyone is wondering if that’s the future the thing we all new was coming finally happened.

Zoom arrives and kidnaps Henry. Barry leaves in pursuit, and Wally is in on the secret now. Zoom takes Henry to Barry’s childhood home and figures if he makes Barry witness the murder of a parent the way he did they’ll be the same and Barry will embrace his anger and darkness. I swear, villains drive me nuts.

But Barry does too because he just stands there. And the writers do because they make Henry a sacrificial canon fodder to fuel Barry’s hero pain. I really dislike that trope, and it’s too common. If Henry had chosen to sacrifice himself to save Barry or someone close to him (say Iris, etc.) it would have been a better death. And as much as all parties involved tried to make the scene strong, it was a far weaker choice to have Barry simply stand and try to talk to Zoom. When has the man ever listened to reason? I know they are both speedsters and if Barry tried to take Henry away Zoom could counter it, but even that would give the scene some more juice. It was a weak writing choice and that’s not Grant’s fault, he did a great job with what he had. But the scene was lacking because Barry was free to move and did not.

But I will concede the acting for all three characters was stellar, and Henry gave everything he had in his last moments to tell his son he loved him and was proud of him. Henry was far more okay with dying than the idea of Barry dying, he vehemently did not want to trade places when Barry offered. John Wesley Shipp crushed it and just like Grant, did a top notch job with what he had. Teddy Sears has made me officially hate his guts, so I guess he’s done  great job too!

Thoughts:

  • I think I see what they are trying to do with optimistic happy Barry, but they need to be careful and man they go to extremes. Did Barry really have to be this far over the line to get the point made? That said, I like an optimistic and more positive Barry and I hope after being dealt this blow that he can level out some. He needs to be more happy and positive, he just doesn’t need to be this overblown. He also needs to be able to maintain it in the face of personal loss, not an emo broody hero. I feel in its usual (non)subtle way the show is trying to make a point but went really far doing it.
  • I’m miffed that the team “loved” Laurel Lance so much and we never got to see any of that. So much happens off screen and it’s usually the stuff that I would find emotionally interesting. It’s very frustrating. Trotting out lines like “we didn’t just know her, we loved her” don’t hold very much weight when it has never had a moment onscreen. There is no emotional payoff. I know that TV has limited budget and time etc, but lines like this always feel frustrating because they feel tacked on after the fact. If you want the team to be affected so much please give us something before the line is ever warranted. Just sayin’.
  • Missed Iris this ep, gotta say. After last week and having so much of her I was kind of hoping that was the new normal. I never say no to more Iris, she’s awesome. More Iris!!
  • Henry’s death did not feel earned. I knew it was coming and it hurt, but it also made me very angry because it didn’t feel like the writers put in the effort it would take to make this death an earned and appropriate one. It felt forced and for shock value, a lazy choice. There was no build up character-wise or emotionally. Henry was booted to the mountains after he got out of jail in the premier and aside from one episode of return stayed that way until episode 2o. He has been ignored and underdeveloped, and now brought back just to be killed. If he had been around the whole season it would have felt earned. Instead it felt convenient and contrived.
  • Does no one live in Barry’s old house anymore?!

Tidbits:

  • Loved the Tina McGee inclusion, the fact that she knew Barry was the Flash, her and Henry digging each other, and John Wesley Shipp and Amanda Pays together for the first time on this particular show made me scream a little. That was just cool. I’m trying not to focus on the cheap manipulative idea that she and Henry were into each other only so it could hurt more when he died, but the writers seem to like doing that and I’m pretty sure that was their intent. Cheap, guys.
  • “Boom.” Black Siren was great. I loved her metahuman sonic scream, and Katie slayed as an evil version of Laurel Lance. Loved her, glad she survived and I hope she returns.
  • “Thank you Mr. Allen.” He stares at her in shock. “I’m not stupid.” LOL I like watching smart people put things together.
  • “Barry, don’t do it.” Barry does it. Welcome to the team Henry, you are now an official member. Hugs for you. And a You Deserve So Much More jacket. We have lots of these. Have a seat next to Francine West on the I Will Make This Right If I Have To Fic It Myself bench. Sorry for the wait, I’m getting there.
  • “Birds! Why? It’s like a Hitchcock movie in my head.” Perfect Cisco.
  • Hahahaha Harry’s technobabble while Joe rolls his eyes and Henry admits he is baffled is lovely.
  • “What the what?” “I don’t know.” “Well do it again!”
  • Somebody cover Harry’s ears while he’s covering Jessie’s! Have a heart!
  • “What’s that? I can’t quite hear you through the double-paned soundproof glass.”
  • “Paw Paw. My grandkids are going to call me Paw Paw.” Joe, that is so adorable I am melting.
  • I have no idea if it was intentional foreshadowing but Barry approaching the front door for the party and Henry showing up in the glass reflected behind him seemed…ghostly. I might be overthinking things. I’m going to say it was a nice bit of symbolism that even in death Henry is always there backing his son. Yes, I’m cheesy. It’s how I deal with grief.

Possibilities:

  • The recurring mentions of grandkids this season is clearly westallen foreshadowing for their future (YAY!!), but I also wonder if it is a small indicator that Bart Allen/Impulse will be making an appearance? That could be neat for season 3.
  • Speaking of westallen, WESTALLEN! ‘Nuff said. No really, their casual touching and the way Barry tracks where Iris moves is such a strong subtle way to show their changing relationship. Loved it. Nice job, Grant and Candice. I am loving the progression of their relationship.
  • Barry putting out Zoom’s fires was a nice touch, especially with Iris’ voice over.
  • Did anyone notice that after Barry found the building black box no further mention of it was ever made? I’m hoping there is a cut scene somewhere, otherwise that was a lost thread. Maybe it was Henry and Tina working together and starting to like each other..omg I just made myself sad. Moving on…  Perhaps it will come into play next episode and be part of Zoom’s greater game, the team discussed how every time Mercury Labs was attacked somebody wanted something. Wait and see…
  • Why did Jessie’s earphones not work? Cheap drama? Or she’s a speedster? We shall see.
  • Word has it that someone surprise double crosses Barry next episode. Any guesses? At this point in time all I can think is Caitlin because no one else seems there but events of the next episode might change that.
  • Next week is the final episode for season 2, and its time to see what kind of hero Barry decides to be. Even after his overconfidence and on learning that he will never truly be invincible because he can always lose people he loves, the lessons Barry learned in the speed force still hold true. He has to find a way to deal with the tragedies because they won’t stop coming. Next week will be where we finally see if Barry has actually figured this out or not. For his sake and my continued watching I hope he does, because it would be a very needed bit of growth and it would allow Barry to be the optimistic positive person he is supposed to be, not mired in tragic loss and feels. Barry is maturing and I want to see it continue and take hold. And then, even when tragedy strikes, Barry will be unbreakable rather than invincible. That’s the mature hero he needs to be. With Iris by his side, they could be an amazing duo in season 3 and I hope we get it.
  • I’ve had this theory for a few weeks but I was hoping Henry wouldn’t die (I live in denial) but now that he has, I’m pretty sure of it. I think the man in the metal mask is the real Jay Garrick and he will be played by John Wesley Shipp. I don’t think he’s earth 2 Henry because Nora would have mentioned her husband was missing on the phone with Barry in episode 13, but with Henry’s mother’s maiden name being Garrick I’m willing to bet Jay is related to the Allens in some way as an uncle/cousin or even grandfather if they aged him or went with a time travel explanation. I’m sticking with that theory until we get a real answer next week.

What did you think of Henry’s death the episode? Hit the comments! 🙂

The Flash 2×21: The Runaway Dinosaur

Or: All As It Should Be.

Speed force and WestAllen and Zombies, oh my!

Sometimes in the course of a story the action slows and a character spends a good amount of time wrestling with their own demons. Aspects of their journey are clarified, and the story reaches a turning point. Some would call that filler. I call it necessary. If the action never stops beyond a few “deep thoughts” throwaway lines, if the characters continually roll around in the same mud pit of their own bad choices and tragedies, I find it harder and harder to emotionally engage with the story and eventually I disconnect altogether. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Arrow.)

So The Runaway Dinosaur was like a breath of fresh air. I enjoyed every minute of it. I feel like I might be spending too much time on recap so I’m going to apologize because this is long. But I love looking at the nitty gritty bits of a story, so if you’re looking for a broad sweeping overview that ignores the delightful small details, you are on the wrong website friend. Sorry.

We start in the immediate moments after Barry disappeared last episode. Most are sure he’s dead, but Cisco is desperate to prove that Barry is still somehow alive. It really gave my heart a squeeze to see Cisco trying so hard. He doesn’t give up.

Once Harry calls Jessie to come down with Wally, (How did you think they were going to get out, Harry? Last you knew they were locked in. Though to be fair,  I guess blowing up the guy you were trying to help will mess up your common sense a little. Moving on.) Joe and Harry realize that something is wrong and rush upstairs. Parental panic ensues, complete with a fantastic slide on Tom Cavanaugh’s part, though it’s completely warranted. Wally wakes up easily, but Jessie’s heart stopped and after some CPR and name-yelling (That’s a bonafied medical technique, people, haven’t you heard of it?) Jessie revives enough to have a pulse and breathe on her own, but remains in a coma. Iris rushes Wally home after telling Wally that Barry is “gone” and quickly brushing off his questions. This is only going to last so long guys, Wally is going to have to be in the know soon, especially after that little dark matter/speed force mishap. But for now, Jessie looks to be on the fast track to speedsterhood and they are going to make us wait for Wally. Gah! Waiting sucks.

I love the different responses of everyone to the events that have just happened. Henry is so turned inward and devastated about losing Barry that it takes him a moment to respond when Joe asks him to evaluate Jessie. But he does, because he’s Henry and a good man. Cisco, who still can’t accept that Barry is dead (but it’s only been like 20 minutes max so that’s fair) reaches out to touch the piece of Barry’s suit and vibes. He sees Barry standing in a whirling vortex, alive. We all yell Speed Force!! Called it! Comics! Or some variation of that.

Barry wakes in his old bedroom, just as it was before his mother was killed. Right down to the fish in the tank, the posters on the walls and the plastic dinosaurs scattered around next to a book called The Runaway Dinosaur. Subtle The Flash has never been.

He wanders the house, enjoying it, until he finds Joe kneeling at the site of his mother’s murder, complete with caution tape. Oh but it’s not Joe, it’s the speed force taking the shape of Joe and making the environment seem like the house because they thought he’d be more comfortable. Joe I can understand, the house I can go with too. But the site of his mother’s murder?! What were you thinking, speed force? However I will concede that it’s possible since the speed force is drawing from Barry’s memories and emotions that it’s impossible to have the house without the murder scene. Barry’s memories of his childhood home will forever be tainted by what occurred his last night there. Ok speed force, you’re off the hook. Also, Barry you are killing me with your reaction to the setting, you look physically ill and disturbed. Stop making your eyes all teary I wanna hug you. Top notch acting, Grant.

The speed force explains that they have always been there since the beginning of the universe and will be there until the end. That’s all well and good Barry says, but he needs to get back to his earth, his friends and his city are in danger. Speed Force Joe informs him that he’s not going back. Not until he catches that speeding dark blur that is circling the house and moving away. The chase is on.

Harry confirms that Barry must be in the speed force (Really Harry? You’ve studied this have you? I would think not many would know a thing about it but I’ll let that slide…for now.) Henry is only thinking about Barry, Barry is all he has left. Joe manages to convince him that they will find Barry if he looks after Jessie. Everyone is going in three different directions at the same time in this ep and I appreciate it. When things like this go down it’s very difficult to decide what is priority at that moment and everyone is going to have that one thing that matters most to them. Watching the group take care of each other and work as a team to put out all the current fires was a delight. Henry confirms that Jessie is doing very well in every physical way but still not waking up. Just like Barry in his coma before he woke up with powers. (In case we’d forgotten.)

Did I say three directions? I meant four. Because of course the lightning happened to reanimate Tony Woodward aka Girder, and of course he’s zombified now and really angry. Because of course! Iris and Cisco take turns protecting each other in the morgue. (Yeah it’s a real morgue, not morgue-ish.) Tony is initially interested in Iris but after a flashlight and his own zombified looks assault his eyes, Tony breaks out to have a zombie night on the town.

Meanwhile Barry has run himself ragged after the shadow in the speed force and gone absolutely nowhere. There’s hidden meaning to that. He ends up at the waterfront where he and Iris first kissed, and the speed force has now taken the form of Iris.

WAIT WHOA WOW. That memory was so important that it was the second one the speed force used in its attempt to put Barry at ease. Many of us knew this, but it’s nice to see it confirmed. Barry is initially glad to see Iris until he puts it together, and then becomes more hostile. He does not appreciate the speed force impersonating this particular person at all. He sits a mile away on the bench and even Speed Force Iris comments that he seems more upset than they would have anticipated.

It’s also interesting that the speed force utilizes the form of Iris to give Barry some uncomfortable truths. Iris doesn’t usually hold back when Barry needs to hear something he may not like. While Speed Force Joe was fairly informative and reassuring, Speed Force Iris is far more direct, and she and Barry even argue a bit. She tells him that he was given a rare gift and rejected it. Barry counters with the argument that no he gave up his powers to save Wally and that in itself is heroic. But that’s not what Speed Force Iris was taking about. This scene is also a nice call back to references early in the show about Barry being chosen to be the Flash. The speed force knew what it was doing it seems.

So what was Speed Force Iris taking about, if not Barry’s powers? Stay tuned.

Cisco and Iris inform the others about Tony’s pseudo-ressurrection and Harry is deep in philosophical condemnation about history repeating itself. I’m pretty sure that Harry blew off Henry when he pointed out that Harry was messing with things he didn’t fully understand last episode. He was too focused on his own goals. And now again, his shortsightedness has caused hurt to the one he loves most and landed him in a world of pain. Harry, you need to learn bud. Needless to say, he’s drowning in a sea of guilt. Joe rallies him and gets him to focus on getting Barry back while Henry tends to Jessie. It is quite a nice thing too that Henry agrees to do his best for Harry’s child while Harry was responsible for what happened to his own child. The dynamics of the team were very interesting this ep and I enjoyed them. No one descended into unreasoning stubbornness and persecution. Why, they all acted like adults!

Iris and Joe tackle the Girder Zombie problem. Said zombie is currently wandering Central City and sees a yellow Humvee, bringing back memories of his last joy ride. He yanks the door off (again!) and leaves a basement-dwelling mama’s boy yelling at Big Belly burger.

Harry and Cisco have rigged a way to vibe Cisco into the speed force so he can be the beacon to guide Barry home. (Spoiler alert, it’s not you Cisco sorry. Barry needs an anchor instead.) As they activate, Barry senses it on the other side. Cisco calls to him. Barry is free to go, but if he does it will be without his powers. Barry chooses to chase the black shadow. It’s heartbreaking to see Cisco’s face as he realizes Barry is rejecting his help.

What’s not heartbreaking is Iris entering the room and realizing that again Harry is pushing someone too far in his zeal. She makes Harry stop and checks on Cisco.

OKAY WHERE IS MY PHONE? WE NEED TO HOLD IT AGAIN.

This episode, #21 of season 2, that’s the 44th episode ever made, has FINALLY delivered on writing for Iris’ character. I’m not saying there haven’t been moments before, because there have, and I have loved Iris since the pilot so this never defined my love for her. She’s a wonderful strong endearing character. But it has been noted by many over and over that the writing for Iris West has consistently moved her to the sidelines, denied her agency, and/or removed her point of view and expression of her feelings as a character. There are problems like this for other characters as well, but it has been a troubling standard for Iris for a long time. This episode is everything I always knew writing for Iris West could be, but rarely got to see. Not a weak moment in the episode, writing-wise. She is an able and included member of the team, takes charge when she needs to and isn’t afraid to get involved. She’s actively exercising her agency and showing us why she’s not just a love interest. From telling Cisco to get behind her, stepping in when she feels he’s being exploited, volunteering to be bait for Girder and choosing to enter the speed force to bring Barry back, Iris West is a force to be reckoned with in this episode and I applaud it. This is the real Iris West, and this is how she should be shown to us always. No more sidelining or removing her POV, please. This is the Iris West who shows off best why Barry has been in love with her for most of his life. This is Iris West. It’s time she take her proper place in this show, and it seems to me that she’s doing so. I am so happy to see it, Candice is more than up to the task. Barry and Iris are the beating hearts of this show. I’d like to see both well represented.

WRITERS, I’M HANDING THE PHONE TO YOU. PLEASE DON’T FAIL US.

Cisco tells the group he saw Barry but he lost him. Iris’ tiny sob does things to my feels. Can I hug Iris and Cisco too please?

The team tracks Tony’s movements and realizes he is retracing his last steps before he was captured the the Flash. Henry’s input is valuable and adorable, btw. Iris realizes Tony is after her. Again. (The delivery is hilarious, lol. Poor Iris.) Iris volunteers as bait to lure Tony back to S.T.A.R. Labs so Cisco and Harry can kill him. Again. LOL! Seriously, all the writing in this ep is great and the actors really got the comic beats down. Kudos to director Kevin Smith, directing can make all the difference in that.

Also, after all my chatter about death on this show it’s clear here that Zombie Girder is not truly alive or even Tony any more, so I can forgive the team’s efforts to truly put him to rest this time. There is a nice running theme in this episode about putting things or people to rest in the right way.

Joe and Iris stake out the house waiting for Zombie Girder to arrive and Joe asks Wally if he’s been experiencing any…physical changes. Oh dear. When Wally thinks he’s talking about puberty, Joe takes the tried and true approach of dropping his mug, which Wally does not catch. Joe, really. Stop dropping mugs! Though it is somewhat ironic that it says “World’s Best Dad” on it, lol. Iris is quite perturbed because she gave him that mug. This mug thing is getting to be a running joke and I laughed all the way through. Iris’ faces alone and Wally’s look of shock at the dropped and shattered mug were priceless indeed. Did I mention that Kevin’s directing was awesome? But the moment is interrupted when Girder arrives. Joe sends Wally to his room, and Wally reluctantly complies. Oh Wally, you need to be in on this secret my friend. I hope it happens in the next two episodes. There’s way too much going on around him that is related, and he’s going to start putting it together. Plus he could end up with the trademark speedster hand-fwapping any time now.

Iris heads out to lead Girder back to S.T.A.R. Labs. Good thing she’s in shape! She has running shoes and a jacket with a hood on. If I didn’t know better I’d say she was standing in for Barry….hmm…

But it’s her flippant “what the hell” line as she heads out the door that concerns me. It very much seems like Iris is trying to keep herself occupied and busy and making choices that keep her from dwelling on Barry’s loss too much, because at this point they failed to retrieve him and I think she’s worried they never will. I request to hug Iris West again, please.

Barry ends up out of breath and at the graveyard, and talking to the speed force in the form of his father this time. Turns out he has never visited his mother’s grave. Not once. He has never come to terms with her death or his decision not to save her at the end of last season. And this is the “rare gift” the speed force was talking about. Barry had that opportunity to say goodbye to his mother when he didn’t save her, but he rejected the closure that could have come from it. Instead he allowed the fact that he chose to let her die keep the wound open, punishing himself with guilt and the feeling that he didn’t deserve happiness. He ignored the fact that his mother never would have wished for him to die in her place, and that countless people have been saved as a direct result of that childhood experience. How can he truly be a hero with that guilt?

This season was supposed to be about what kind of hero Barry wanted to be, remember? That’s why this episode is important and necessary, rather than just filler. Barry doesn’t know who he is, he’s been floundering most of his life and definitely all season, and getting his powers back won’t solve that. The speed force knows it and takes steps to help him get there before granting him his speed. This is as close to a divine intervention as we will see on this show I think, and it’s really fascinating to see the speed force portrayed as a living entity to such a degree. It’s a turning point for Barry’s growth as a hero and a man. He returns with a far better grasp on priorities, dealing with tragedies positively and how they shape us into who we are. We need to let them shape us into a better version of ourselves, not let them drag us down. I can only hope this turning point sticks in the writing of season 3 and Barry finds ways to deal with his future tragedies in a healthier way than he has in his past. (Because oh yes, it looks like one will be coming very soon.)  If he does, Barry will get closer to the lighter and more positive hero that we all want him to be, instead of the classic emo brooding type. That’s just not Barry Allen. The writing has set us up for a perfect shift in dynamics and I am glad to see it. Keep it going in a forward direction, writers.

Back in the graveyard, Barry chases the black shadow again, which is looking more and more man-shaped. But it’s becoming obvious that as much as he might not want to, Barry is going to have to stop running to catch it.

Iris and Joe successfully lead Zombie Tony back to the S.T.A.R. Labs but the giant magnets Cisco rigged to deactivate (i.e. non-Zombie and kill) him fail. Everyone including the still-comatose Jessie ends up in the breach room with only a heavy door to keep Tony out. Plans A-G have failed and they really need Barry. As Tony pounds on the door, the team is trapped. Ideas are thrown around and Cisco realizes that perhaps Barry couldn’t come back last time because he didn’t want to. This is most appropriately realized after Joe notes to Iris that if Tony died and came back still wanting her he’s not going to let her go now. A subtle and lovely note on how Tony and Barry are fixated on the same woman and always have been, just in two different ways. One is unhealthy and the other healthy. Nice.

Barry has chased the shadow to his home, and he’s clearly aware that he needs to go inside and face whatever is there. It’s Nora. Of course it is. His mother has been the ghost that has haunted him since she died. Every single time there is a scene with Barry and his mother I weep copious tears, and this episode is no different. These actors are so talented, and this scene was perfect.

I really appreciated how Speed Force Nora made the point that Barry has to be able to make peace with the tragedies in his life, because there will be more. This is so true. None of us can avoid it. Nora and the Speed Force both tell Barry they are so proud of him, and I think it’s something Barry needs to hear from his mother, to know that her death was worth something in how it shaped her son into the hero and man that he is.

When the episode returns to Nora and Barry after a break to another scene they have moved from the table to the couch and Nora has a book that we last saw upstairs. I think it’s very possible that Barry’s memories and thoughts were controlling this last scene between mother and son, guiding this moment in the direction it needed to go for Barry to finally obtain closure. It comes in the form of a book, The Runaway Dinosaur, and details how mother and son are perfect for one another. In a subtle and nuanced way, it shows how Barry has accepted that his mother was perfect for him in his youth because she taught him important values and ways to see the world, and even with her death is perfect for him now because she continues to shape who he chooses to be, and the lives of many people are saved even when she wasn’t. And she will always love him. By now, I’m in floods of tears.

Barry is ready but instead of chasing the dark shadow summons it to him. It’s himself in his suit and they become one. Perfect hero moment captured as Barry stands in his suit. This time when the team tries to reach him it’s Iris calling to him. Cisco gets her into the speed force but it’s her that draws Barry out, because the moment her voice asks him to come home to her his face changes, and he cannot possibly refuse her.

The scene in the speed force is one of the most epic moments I have seen on the show and it is beautiful. Grant and Candice display all their acting chops (originally against a blank green screen) and they reach for each other as we get visual representation of what Iris is to Barry. His anchor, his lightning rod, his home. It was moving and truly captured the deep connection they share. And of course it is Iris who is able to bring Barry back to their world. I wept at the beauty of it, and I think I always will.

And then, as if that wasn’t enough awesome sauce, the minute Barry returns Cisco kills me with a hilarious line, and we get to see the perfect synchronized teamwork as Barry moves Iris and she calls to Tony to lure him into place. Barry powers the magnets with speed circles and Zombie Girder is now deceased Girder. Again.

After Barry brings Jessie out of her coma with the speed force (nice one Barry!) and Henry decides he’s going to stay permanently (it’s about time hon), Barry and Iris go to the graveyard to finally visit Nora’s grave. Barry leaves flowers and a copy of The Runaway Dinosaur, which Iris remarks she never liked that much.

Their conversation at the grave is beautiful and honest, especially when Barry challenges Iris’ notion that they never had anyone that was just right for them. He’s honest in that he doesn’t know what lies ahead in their relationship but he does know that she is everything to him and always has been. Iris’ reaction is truly beautiful, and their hug and his quick kiss on her temple is perfect. The episode ends on the most hopeful note I think we have ever seen from this show.

Well, until we see Zoom give Catlin a choice on whether to leave or not and then go rally his army/horde of earth 2 metahumans. It was nice while it lasted. Caitlin, why are you not running?!

And next ep I’m sure the pain will be excruciating, so I’m going to watch this one again and stay in denial for now. I’m going to watch it right up to next Tuesday, in fact.

Favorite Moments:

  • All the Iris! This is the Iris West I know and love! I want Iris like this forever more, in every episode!
  • Westallen! This episode was beautiful progression and did justice to the beautiful relationship these two have. It was everything I had hoped for and wanted. I know many were disappointed there was no kiss but I’m actually okay with the slow progression now that I can see we’re going somewhere. It’s been a heck of a wait considering they were set up from the pilot on. Plus kissing over his mom’s grave seems…disrespectful and kissing in the speed force is the wrong time they are all about to die and she’s holding on to Cisco with her other hand. It just didn’t fit. Both know they want this to last and they want to be cautious in moving forward and not ruin it. Jumping straight to kissing and sex cheapens the deep relationship Barry and Iris have, and their beautiful love story deserves more than that. I’m more worried that the “grand gesture” Iris has in the finale will be their next epic kiss and then the writers will time jump and make us miss all the first date and initial relationship stuff, would would really leave me unhappy. Don’t do it guys!! Keep going slow, just don’t suddenly reverse or anything stupid like that. I’ll show up next season for them and the show. But then I admit I want a kiss and first date and all the other relationship wonderfulness amid the crazy metahuman and villain adventures. I want to see Iris and Barry tackle life and its problems as a team and a committed couple that doesn’t let hardship split them apart. These are my requests. Ok I’m done now.
  • “Sit Barry, sit. You’re always on your feet.” “You’re just so tired. Sit Barry, sit.” It’s a beautiful point that the speed force is trying to make, that Barry has been running from the pain in his life so long that he is wearing himself out and going in circles. He has to stop, he has to take the time to deal with it and make peace with it for good. Only then can he run free and be the hero he’s supposed to be. So of course it’s fitting for Speed Force Nora’s final words to be “Run, Barry, run.”  I’m not crying…
  • I cannot express how important it is that this episode focused on the two most important women in Barry’s life. Much has been made of Barry’s different fathers, and rightly so, but the women in his life deserve focus too. This episode was great at that. Nora’s position as the murdered parent means that she often gets referred to as Barry’s source of childhood pain but very little else. It speaks volumes that she was instrumental in helping Barry get to the point where he was actually ready to return with powers. And Iris, of course, is Barry’s anchor/lightning rod and the love of his life. She was the other instrumental part of bringing Barry back home, no one else could have done it. She is a continual source of light and hope and home for him, just as he is for her and this episode exemplified that so well. The contribution of both Iris and Nora to Barry’s continuing story is important and it matters and I was so glad to see it given its due.

Tidbits:

  • I cannot say enough about the acting in this episode. Grant’s was incredible. His varied reactions to each form the speed force took, the moving scenes with his mother, and every single interaction with Iris was just the height of his game. And Candice always consistently brings it, but she was flat-out amazing in this ep.I can’t stress enough how talented she is, and how she makes me love Iris week after week. A plus acting all around this ep.
  • “I’m not going alone.” (Looks to Iris) Iris sighs. “Thank you.” LOL. Also “Get behind me.” “You get behind me!” Love it! The Cisco/Iris duo of teamwork and looking out for each other is so wonderful in this episode, I loved every second of it. I’ve been dreaming of a great Iris/Cisco friendship since last season and it has been a delight to see it finally happen. We need this to continue!
  • “A zombie? For real?” That’s exactly what I would have said Cisco.
  • “That’s my mom’s car!!” I laughed out loud. I admit it.
  • “How we know this is safe?” “Define safe.” The Harry/Cisco dynamics are so much fun.
  • This ep was directed by Kevin Smith and boy did he deliver! Excellent job Kevin, this episode had it all. Comedy, feels, suspense, and I loved every minute. In addition his enthusiasm and warm praise of the cast, his excitement as a fan, and his awesome directing makes me hope he’ll be back very soon and often. Great job, Kevin!
  • This episode was written by Zach Stentz. Mr. Stentz, you have not been on my radar before, but you definitely are now! Your screenplay was fabulous and I want more Flash screenplays from you! Excellent work!
  • “I gave you that mug!”
  • Once Barry and Iris make contact in the speed force, the lightning really gets crazy and there is gold light everywhere. Symbolism!! Beautiful tear-inducing heart-swelling symbolism!!
  • “I’m so glad you’re back, cuz we’re about to die.” Cisco, never ever change you beautiful man. Plus his magic hyperspeed speech and synchronized moments with Harry were fabulous. “Plan H.”
  • “Sorry. I got lost.” “That’s okay, we found you.” My westallen feels hurt so good guys.
  • “We never had anyone that was just right for us.” “Didn’t we?” SOOOO GOOD.
  • The music in the graveyard was the same westallen music used in the last episode (a mix of the Flash/Iris theme and the Best Friends Since Childhood theme plus something more mixed in) and it perfectly captures the place these two are in now. Friendship and larger feelings and the promise of something more. Gorgeous new westallen theme!
  • “You’re everything to me and you always have been, and the sound of your voice will always bring me home.” Iris puts her hand on her heart, Barry kisses her temple and they hug so tight! Waaaahhhhhh!!!! Pure epic westallen!

Possibilities:

  • Was the fact that Jessie was injected with V-9 at all responsible for her progressing to speedster state faster than Wally? Time will tell. Also, could someone with speed force access have revived Barry from his coma faster like he did Jessie? If that’s true, Eobard Thawne you fail. I’m of the opinion that Wally has powers but they aren’t activated yet. Others noted that Wally watched the mug fall in slow motion and that is either a director stylistic choice or subtle hint. And when Jessie woke up, the golden light on her was so strong it almost looked like it was coming off of her. Sweet.
  • Henry’s gonna die!!! After Speed Force Nora told Barry he had to find a way to deal with tragedy because the universe was just going to throw more his way, Barry’s conversation with Henry about his ideas on fate and how everything happens for a reason, everything that happened good or bad made us who we are, etc. AND THEN Henry announces he is staying, the writing on the wall looks pretty neon. It’s been a possibility for a while now but I think unfortunately it’s true. And I admit I hate it. Henry was written off for much of the season, his leaving was so out of character, and now they bring him back just to kill him. I’m pretty worn out on character deaths for shock value as it is, and Henry has been very under-served. I don’t like it, and I love Henry so I call bull crap. I do hope that he gets a good death (not the crap kind I’m looking at you Arrow writers and how you killed Laurel) and that Barry’s experiences this ep hold and influence how he handles this loss. If he pushes Iris away “for her safety” (I hate that trope) I am going to kill someone. I really hope Barry’s growth is maintained, it’s necessary. If he never learns and grows I’ll be checking out sooner or later.
  • Also, with Henry’s family connection to the name Garrick and the looming death of Henry (most likely, I’d LOVE to be wrong) it seems pretty clear to me that the man in mask is the real Jay Garrick from earth 2, who is the spitting image of Henry Allen and also played by John Wesley Shipp. I’m going to make that my main theory. We shall see. If this comes to pass I hope they keep him for next season and let John Wesley Shipp do justice to the name Jay Garrick. Plus then he’ll have played two Flashes in his life and that’s just awesome. Keep him for season 3!
  • Speaking of Laurel Lance, next week we get to see the Black Siren from earth 2 complete with metahuman canary cry, and Katie Cassidy gets to be a villain. I’m excited I think she’ll do great! Also, if Wally is going to help I think it should be in a car. Cars and speed are Wally’s thing and he’s not a speedster yet soo it follows.

What did you think? Hit the comments! 🙂

Gif used above is by the talented supagirl on tumblr.

 

The Flash 2×20: Rupture

Or: What Makes and Breaks a Hero?

I could really only express two words when this episode was over. Wow and More. It has been a while since I’ve enjoyed an hour of television this much. The writing was great, the directing was spot on, and the acting was stellar. I called some things and was happy to see them occur. A few others surprised me but fit so well and that is always a good thing. Also, WestAllen! This episode rocks.

Let’s do this.

Since Barry is still without his speed, the team has been using a hologram of the Flash to help the police apprehend criminals. The level of teamwork synchronicity in Barry, Cisco and Iris here is just wonderful. They worked seamlessly and without hiccups. True teamwork goals and I loved it. Also, watching Barry run regular speed on the treadmill is kind of adorable and Cisco yelling “Heroy!” was a delight. Hologram Flash is working pretty well, but it won’t last forever, as Harry the wet blanket so helpfully points out.

Harry is still convinced that he can get Barry his speed back, and that it is the best an only option. It is gratifying to see that Barry, Iris and Cisco aren’t so sure. There is a lot of risk and possibility for error in something like this, and they all have to consider what happened to the city last time. Harry points out that there’s no way to defeat Zoom or rescue Caitlin without Barry’s speed, and he’s right. But Barry isn’t sold on Harry’s wild idea yet.

Barry heads into the woods to visit his dad, who is living in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere. Anyone who knows me knows I am deeply unhappy with Henry’s writing this season, and that’s putting it lightly. It makes no sense and is completely out of character to have Henry bail on his son and leave town after fifteen years in prison away from him. That did not ring true at all. I’m very glad to see Henry back, he should never have left. Welcome back, John Wesley Shipp, we missed you! If anything happens to Henry in the near future I’m going to be so severely ticked it won’t be pretty. For now, Henry is back and I’m glad.

Barry fills in his dad on everything that has happened in Central City recently, and Henry decides it’s time to return to city life and spend time with Barry. Henry is not a fan of the particle accelerator plan because he’s worried about the danger to his son, as any parent would. During the course of their conversation Henry mentions that his mother’s maiden name is Garrick. I’m sure we all sat up straight hearing that!

I have to say, Barry mentioning that it feels like every time something good happens in his life it gets taken away gave me feels. It is so true, and Barry has come to expect that good things will be taken sooner or later. I appreciated that Henry acknowledged his own responsibility for one of those points and decided it was time to return to his son’s life. I love me some Henry Allen.

During what is probably the millionth argument about whether Barry should try to regain his speed, Cisco abruptly vibes and sees his brother Dante, who we haven’t seen since the middle of last season. He immediately leaves. Henry and Barry arrive and I get happy feels when Iris greets Henry with enthusiasm and a big hug. I just really like it when Iris interacts positively and hugs people, okay? Harry looks less than enthused, and I’m sure it’s because he knows Henry isn’t going to jump on his Barry-and-city-endangering bandwagon.

The CCPD is business as usual as Wally and Joe prepare to head out for the day. Wally is starting to reconsider what he should do with his life since the Flash saved him. The West I Need To Help People Gene is a real thing, people! Joe encourages Wally to stay in engineering, it’s safer.

Speaking of safe, everyone in the CCPD is suddenly in danger as Zoom arrives and declares himself honorary Police Chief and Head Honcho. Joe gets all the dad points for putting Wally behind him immediately. When it looks like Zoom might kill everyone there, Caitlin implores him to spare them. Zoom relents, and the police force recognizes it is wiser to retreat and fight another day. Singh gets good Chief points for valuing his officers’ lives over trying to show Zoom who’s boss, especially after the last time Zoom was in their building.

Harry knows the Zoom playbook by now and is sure Zoom will kill police, recruit metahumans, and rule the city with a black claw fist. Joe and Barry discuss the police relocating to Jitters for the time being (well, at least they’ll have caffeine to keep them going) but Harry is more concerned about what happens after that. He argues that they can’t rely on Caitlin being able to talk Zoom out of things, and Barry needs his powers back now. Barry is still not sold.

Caitlin is handcuffed in the CCPD and tries to talk some sense into Zoom. He in turn tries to convince her there is darkness inside her and she should let it out. Manipulative much, Hunter? I think he could see darkness in a rainbow. Once he leaves, Caitlin spots an evidence box under a desk and inches closer to it.

Cisco meets up with Dante, and from their first words it’s clear that their relationship has not changed one bit after their kidnapping adventure last year. Dante inserts a caustic comment every chance he gets, and Cisco realizes nothing has changed at all. They are brothers but they are not close and probably never will be. Sidenote, I loved that Cisco got a plot arc all to himself this episode, it’s so rare that they don’t somehow revolve around Barry in some way. Cisco is a wonderful and under-utilized character, and it’s nice to see him get a story all his own.

Meanwhile, Joe and Harry decide it’s safest for Jessie and Wally to be locked in the time vault while the threat of Zoom is so great. Overprotective fathers, unite! So glad Joe is over trying to protect Iris every step of the way. But both Wally and Jessie have been kidnapped by Zoom so I can understand the thought process here. Wally, of course, wants to help but Jessie is more concerned about bathroom access. Jessie, you speak my language. Wally wants wi-fi. Ok Wally I speak your language too.

As Harry continues to perfect his device to regain Barry’s speed, Joe and Henry arrive and there is dissension regarding what Barry should do. True to form, Harry feels for the good of the city Barry has no choice. Henry makes an excellent point when he says that Harry is messing with things out of his control and that Barry could pay the price, plus even if it worked Barry was no match for Zoom the first time. Joe is unsure what the right thing is in this case, but he has dealt with Barry long enough to know that whatever Barry decides is what Barry is going to do. They stop arguing once they realize Barry is standing in the doorway and heard everything. Barry tells them that he knows they all care for him in their own way, but this decision is his to make.

This is such a wonderful moment of growth for Barry here. Compare it to last year’s season finale, when he asked everyone except maybe the postman whether he should go back in time to save his mother or not. Last season he was relying on what others told him to do, and this time he knows he needs to make the decision himself. He’s not sure what it is yet, but it needs to come from him. Look at my little hero growing up! Loved it.

Once Dante brings up sports Cisco recognizes his cue to leave, but before he makes it out the door he catches the news report about Zoom taking over the CCPD. He’s highly distressed naturally and rushes out, but Dante follows. Their arguing is interrupted by a metahuman who resembles a red grim reaper, complete with glowing red scythe that blows things up. So you know, the usual. He addresses Cisco as Vibe and attacks. After some initial witty banter and threats of revenge, the metahuman unmasks and reveals himself as earth 2 Dante, who thinks Cisco killed Reverb and is here for revenge. Cisco’s quick thinking and use of reverse in the van clobbers Rupture for the moment, and he and Dante escape. Harry confirms the next step in Zoom’s play by play and as they try to work up a game plan tells Barry that the next action is an obvious one. Barry excuses himself to think and Iris follows. (Best friend Iris for the win.)

Iris provides the thing Barry needs right now and listens to him. They discuss why this choice isn’t as simple as it should be, and how Henry just wants his son to stay safe. Iris is feeling much the same. Barry asks her what she thinks, and she admits she doesn’t know if she can handle it if he got hurt like he did last time. I am so glad to see her express her true feelings about it, because the last time she was more selfless and told Barry to think about what he wanted. I’m always happy to see selfless love in her, but I am also glad to see her acknowledge her very real fear and how bad it was while Barry was comatose. She should never bury her true feelings and only tell him what she thinks he wants to hear, they both need to be honest and they are. This is a wonderful thing for a healthy relationship. The coma was a horrific thing to go through and no one would want to repeat it, but Barry is in tune enough to know that something else is on her mind. So he asks her what’s up. And we all lean forward a bit more in suspense.

Iris finally tells Barry about how she’s feeling lately, and that it doesn’t matter to her if he is the Flash or not, because it’s Barry Allen she wants to see if she has a future with. It’s a beautiful honest scene, and much like Barry’s initial confession of love last year, she lays it out but doesn’t expect anything back. Candice Patton always brings a strong acting game, but here she brought it and then some. Grant Gustin wasn’t far behind, and between the two of them the tension and chemistry was palpable. The only thing that made it less than perfect was how Barry didn’t immediately jump on her declaration and reciprocate, but I can understand why. Just like Barry’s confession, where he told Iris how he felt and left her to process it, Iris has done the same for Barry now. It’s a lot to take in, and Barry has the added weight of his decision regarding his powers to consider. This is not the time for hormones and making out. It’s not even really the time for endless “I love yous.” Iris needed to express herself and now that it’s out there they are both on the same page for the first time in a very long while. But both are mature enough to realize that other issues still take precedence over a love affair that can’t really start until the next hurdle is cleared: Is Barry going to try to regain his powers and what will happen when he does? I can understand it and I can wait, because if the small step they each took toward each other, the look on Barry’s face and sparks flying are any indication, we’re headed in the right direction. Both Barry and Iris are looking at this relationship with long term views, the last thing either wants to do is rush it and ruin it. I fully support that.

This scene though, WOW. Fabulous acting and direction. And the music is the same as what played on the rooftop of Jitters so long ago. A hint of mystery and tension among the comfortable friendship theme. Perfect. I don’t say it enough but the music is really well done and meaningful most of the time. Also, as Barry Allen Grant Gustin fidgets a fair amount, but he is at his absolute peak when he is nervous around Iris. Beautiful acting choice. Gorgeous scene.

Caitlin manages to pull the evidence box close enough to open it and finds a cell phone. Hearing Zoom and Rupture approach, she pushes the box back and hides the phone. Zoom has clearly lied to Rupture and sent him after Cisco, and now gives orders for him to attack the new Jitters police station and kill the officers there. Hunter has definitely embraced the dark monster inside of him, it seems., in spite of his claims otherwise. Caitlin secretly texts a warning to the team at S.T.A.R. Labs.

By now, Jessie and Wally probably really need a restroom, but they are told to stay in the vault. Caitlin’s warning arrives and everyone looks to Barry for his decision. He decides it’s still too risky for the city and innocent people, so they need a plan without the Flash. The CCPD sets up an ambush for Rupture using the Flash hologram and a lot of well-hidden officers.

As Cisco preps to assist with the plan, Dante has found the letter he once gave to Caitlin and realizes his brother went to another earth. That’ll make you realize you don’t know your bother at all. Cisco is pretty stressed and lays out why he never said anything. Once he lets slip the word vibe (and clearly regrets it) Dante makes the connection. Cisco acknowledges his powers and that he’s a metahuman. Dante is stunned but I am impressed. For the first time Cisco acknowledged it without fighting it or resisting first. It’s a nice and subtle moment because up to now Cisco has not felt comfortable with them and Harry had to force it out of him for the others on the team to find out. Cisco is growing into himself and I’m glad to see it, I hope it continues. Dante is at first scoffing and then shocked and curious. It’s interesting to watch Dante’s change in character as he asks questions and realizes how much he doesn’t know about his own brother. Cisco points out that Dante is right. They aren’t close, they haven’t been for a long time and it’s not going to change. Cisco heads to Jitters and leaves Dante behind.

The sting goes as planned and Rupture is distracted fighting the hologram Flash (Barry and Cisco in a van outside) long enough for the police to tase and cuff him. Rupture’s mask is knocked off and an opportunistic news camera arrives, unintentionally tipping off Zoom that Caitlin warned them and Rupture is captured. Zoom arrives at the precinct and, with news camera rolling, kills every officer there except Joe and attacks Singh. Barry rushes in from the van but can’t really do much except try to persuade Zoom he made his point. Zoom drops Singh but stabs Rupture and kills him. Cisco sees it all from the van and it’s like watching his brother die. Zoom picks up the camera, still rolling live, and outs the Flash hologram as a fake. He then tells Barry and Joe they are only alive because he cares for Caitlin but that will only go so far. Caitlin gets to watch it all, but sure she’ll love you in time Zoom, you psycho.

Cisco rushes back to S.T.A.R. Labs, and Dante realizes what his brother was just doing. Cisco cuts off his words by rushing to embrace his Dante and tells him he wants things to be different and he wants things to change. Dante is equally moved, and watching the two siblings cling to each other is a beautiful bonding moment. It was very moving. Ramon brothers forever!

Jessie and Wally are bored and restless, and Wally wants to be out helping. He talks Jessie into attempting to open the vault, and she commits her formidable brain to the task.

The team is realizing how bad things are. Zoom will recruit metahumans next, and the list is big from earth 2 but should be even bigger on this earth. The only reason they haven’t seen more is due to the Flash, but now everyone knows he’s out of the picture they will be making an appearance. Barry decides to try the accelerator experiment for the good of the city. He notes that one of the police officers killed by Zoom has a son the same age Barry was when he lost his mother, and now another child has to grow up without a parent because Barry wasn’t there to stop him. I have to say, that hit me right in the feels. As dangerous as it is, I can see why Barry would make that choice and I appreciate that he didn’t make the decision lightly. Again, Barry decides to take responsibility for a choice he made, this time the choice of giving up his powers to Zoom and enabling him to take over the city. He’s maturing a lot all of a sudden and I’m here for it.

The experiment to get Barry’s powers back is about five minutes of the episode but it feels like way more. Harry has his contraption built, and sends Cisco with the weather wand to the roof to conjure lightning. Cisco, as always, provides a lighter feel and we need it because things are getting very serious. Barry gets clamped into the device and I don’t know about him but being restrained would really really bug me.

The last moments Barry has with certain people were well done and moving. Joe is nervous but holds it in, and Barry tells him he’ll be fine. Iris tells him that no matter what happens it will never change how she feels about him. His smile and her look in return cement their progress to me. It’s just a matter of time…and the next few minutes.

And Henry, ah Henry, a caring dad who just wants to make sure his son isn’t feeling pressured into anything he doesn’t want to do. The moment is so well done I almost forgive Barry using the “I have to do this” last line. Of course Henry acquiesces after that.

There’s something to be said for Henry and Iris both expressing in this episode that Barry can be someone and something without his powers, because it’s true we can be heroes without them and I’m so glad they see value in him as he is. (Others do too, it’s just that Iris and Henry actually said it this ep.) But I also understand Barry’s choice because he definitely can’t beat Zoom without his speed. Damn you and your good acting Grant, when you cry I cry.

Jessie and Wally working together is my new favorite thing. They are really adorable together as they hot wire the door and trick it into opening the time vault. They exit just in time for the big finale. Kids, they never listen.

Sometimes I think the writers just want to torture us. I totally get the reason they injected chemicals into Barry (and thank you for explaining it on the show too, writers, it made good sense) but watching Iris get more and more upset as Barry exhibited more and more pain just messed me up. It was heart wrenching, especially when he was only worried about reassuring her. Chemicals in the system can cause a variety of symptoms, but they all suck. It’s not just pain, it’s also convulsing and trembling, nausea and shortness of breath and feeling like your heart is palpitating. Barry, you are not okay but I love you more for worrying about how Iris was feeling. Also your dad was monitoring your vitals and he knew you weren’t. I need to find a weeping corner now…

Cisco brings the lightning, and it’s a nice touch how they show Zoom at Barry’s lab, looking out the window at S.T.A.R. Labs and realizing what they’re trying to do. Same music as the pilot and everything. But this time when the lightning and dark matter hit Barry, he vaporizes before their eyes. The explosion knocks the rest down and the cloud of dark matter rushes down the hallway, colliding with Wally and Jesse and knocking them unconscious. Pretty sure I mumbled “holy crap!”

Zoom arrives ready to take out a newly metahuman-ed Barry, but finds only a piece of his suit instead. He gloats that they killed him for him and leaves them in shock and agony. Really Zoom, you have no class. And you wonder why Caitlin is not impressed.

This episode brought so much. I admit I wondered if the attempt was going to go badly and I hoped Barry would end up in the speed force. I’m fairly certain Barry is in the speed force but he could be stuck somewhere else. I called that. But I so did NOT call Wally or Jessie, I thought it would be longer before they got speed powers and I put it together two seconds before it happened. Yesss good stuff! Nice one, writers. I also had no idea that Cisco’s story would be so wonderful and moving. The Flash was at the top of its game with this ep, and everyone was in top form.  I hope the next three are just as awesome.

Also, when Candice cries I also cry too. I was a mess. Poor Iris.

So by the time it was over, all I did was whisper “wow”, and “more.” And I’m sure it was the same for tons of viewers.

Is it Tuesday yet? Bring on The Runaway Dinosaur, we’re dying here! Maybe that’s a bad choice of words…

Tidbits:

  • Armen Kevorkian is the head of special effects on The Flash, and he also directed this episode. I have to say, he did a really wonderful job with both. The direction on this ep was stellar. Nice job, Armen!
  • “I’m sure there is something out there that will satisfy your need for speed and helping people.” LOL. Subtle, writers. We all know what that is! It just came in sooner than I thought it would, not that I’m complaining.  Speedster Wally and Jessie!
  • Great character writing in this ep, Kai Yu Wu and Lauren Certo  were on point and fabulous. I want more screenplays from them!
  • Dante notes his brother’s distress leaving the bar and follows for that reason but once outside he asks/demands a ride home. Expressing emotion obviously doesn’t come easy to Dante, and it’s easier to rely on a practical reason to follow Cisco than admit he is concerned about him. I would really like to see more of Dante and Cisco working on their relationship, and I’d like to see it written this well all the time, please.
  • “You’re Princess Bride-ing me right now! You must have me mixed up with somebody else, Inigo!” AHAHAHAHA! I love that this is becoming a thing.
  • “It wasn’t just because of Patty.” Boom, proof that Iris was thinking about Barry that way before he went to Earth 2 and found out their doppelgangers were married. These feelings have been there probably forever. Add that to “I wasn’t available in that way, but I am now.” etc.,and Iris has clearly realized she had those feelings for a long time, but has not acted on them until now.
  • All the WestAllen!
  • “You betrayed me!” Hunter, Caitlin has regularly told you she wasn’t on your side and didn’t want to be anywhere near you. Where is the betrayal? Things like this just highlight Zoom as a classic abuser, blaming their bad behavior and actions on someone who is truly just another victim. I’m glad he’s not being portrayed as a sympathetic character, because this kind of abuser tendency should not be seen as romantic, it should be seen as unhealthy and wrong. Not to mention Zoom went back on his word before Caitlin warned the police anyway. Liar!
  • All of the Cisco and Dante. Cisco made me cry. It was beautiful acting, and seeing their final scene together, where they commit to improve their relationship as brothers is just a wonderful moment and a gift for Cisco’s character and Carlos’ acting. It was excellent and I loved it. I want more brothers Ramon growth and relationship, for sure.
  • Harry Potter. As a huge fan, every reference gave me giggles and made me love Cisco more, if that’s even possible. The Harry Potter convention and Expecto Patronum put me away.
  • “I’m okay Iris.” That did more damage to me than what I knew was coming.

Possibilities:

  • Your mother’s maiden name is GARRICK, Henry?! I am really hoping this points to the metal mask man being the actual Jay Garrick. It would be a good move after besmirching his hero status with Hunter’s villainous duplicity.
  • “Barry you’ve always had someone to come home to…me.” Iris is and always has been Barry’s home. Since episode 13 this season if not before this has been a recurring theme. (Go win Barry, and come home. Where are we going? Home.) I think it’s very possible that Iris being his home, his love for her, will be the thing that helps Barry return home. I don’t know if he’s in the speed force (though it seems likely)  or if they’ll actually use the term lightning rod, but Iris will be what gets him home. (Other possible contender, Nora Allen. I’ll take either but I’d love to see them really show why Iris is so crucial to Barry as the Flash since it is so clear in the comics.)
  • Tiny wondering, but for the briefest of moments when Iris tells him how she feels, after his smile and the look in his eyes, there is the smallest look of worry when she moves to leave. I can’t help but wonder if Barry’s feeling of how everything good that happens gets taken away will be seen in the future regarding Iris, or if he was having a worried inkling that something might go wrong if he tries to regain his powers. The last time Iris told him she had feelings for him they kissed and then he ran back in time and undid all of it. I can understand his worry that somehow this will be taken away again, this is the first time Iris has reciprocated his feelings with words since then. Heck all the fans worry about it too, when they kiss next we just want both of them to remember it! We hear you, Barry.
  • “Good. The last thing we need is more metahumans running around Central City.” Famous last words, Joe.

Thoughts? Hit the comments!

The Flash 2×19: Back To Normal

Or: How do we treat the ones we love?

Westallen is moving at a greater speed than Barry is now. I’m okay with this.

The last episode implied that Barry and Zoom both had a similar trauma and that they each took a separate road to become the men they are today. They are now almost exact opposites. One is a villain the other is a hero, one kills the other doesn’t. One is all for himself and the second cares about others. That’s pretty basic hero/villain set up, we’ve seen it before in stories and we will again. The one thing we are seeing that these two have in common are that they both love.

That said, there’s an interesting theme in this episode about the different approaches to love as it explores love for family, romantic love, and even hero worship. And in that exploration another question is presented. Should we blame the ones we love for the things they do, the way they are, and how their actions affect us? Love and blame are intertwined so tight in this ep you don’t get one without the other.

Starting off, we get a nice intro contrasting the start of a usual day for Barry with powers and without. A day with powers involves getting ready quickly and zipping through work like it’s nothing. I have to say I’d prefer that one myself. The other is slow trudging complete with interaction with strangers on a bus (ugh) and most likely being late to everything. Barry’s reality is now the latter, since he gave up his speed to save Wally the episode before. Barry’s back to normal and he’s not enjoying it.

At S.T.A.R. Labs Cisco is vibing Jay’s helmet to locate Caitlin. She’s in Zoom’s lair unharmed at the moment. Barry’s trying to figure out a way to get her back but gets interrupted by the Harry Wells man-child tantrum. Wells lays the blame for Caitlin and Zoom’s renewed threat that now looms over all of them at Barry’s feet. Then he packs to go find his daughter. Again. But this time he knows where she is, since people from Earth 2 vibrate at a different frequency and create cellular dead zones. With a few more juvenile digs at Barry about giving up his speed, he’s out the door. Didn’t know toddlers could walk that fast or carry a gun that big. Diaper power.

Barry is clearly despondent over recent events, and both Joe and Iris try to be there for him. I am totally here for that, Joe and Iris are both awesome.  It’s clear they all love each other. It’s really telling what they deem important in how they all treat each other and try their best to be supportive and caring. They stick together.

Meanwhile in Zoom’s lair, Caitlin is on a hunger strike. Zoom (after changing out of his evil suit so she’ll actually talk to him) tells Caitlin that she’s in no danger from him, she’s here because he loves her. I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone that his idea of love and how to show it/handle it is VERY unhealthy and a whole lot creepy. I think my favorite line was when he said that in time Caitlin would eventually love him back again. I puked in my mouth a little, I admit it. Hunter has clearly ascribed to his father’s methods of romance and how to treat women. Forbid them to leave and be sure to put them at ease with declarations of creepy love. The icky thing is that Hunter actually seems to believe it, which is quite disturbing and directly contrasts Barry’s ideas of love and how to care for someone. Barry gave up his speed for Wally, after all, because Wally is a member of his family and someone he and Joe and Iris care about. Selfless vs selfish. Barry’ decision, while derided by many on and off screen, purposely reflects the selfless side of love. Ok moving on.

Zoom releases Caitlin from her manacles (Hunter that’s better than roses!) and Caitlin explores a bit. She quickly runs into metal mask man doing his classic tappety tap and her doppelgänger Killer Frost.

Wally arrives at the police station to visit Joe. (And calls him Dad! I will squeak with happiness every time he does it, and I’m not sorry.) Wally, being an intelligent and not moronic child, has put together that Joe must know the Flash. Wally wants to meet him. Joe isn’t sure, considering how much is going on right now. He says maybe later.

Harry tracks down Jesse and her amazingly cool room mate, but Jessie refuses to go with him. She lays all the blame for their predicament at his feet and reminds him he killed a man, which is kind of fair. (How’s it feel Harry? Sucks, right?) Harry is forced to leave without her and on his way back runs into a small problem—or a really strong man. The villain of the week crushes the front end of the van and yoinks Harry out of the driver’s seat. Dun dun dun!

Since there is a lot of focus on a lot of different things this episode, the team quickly puts together what happened to Harry. Iris and Barry head out to the van to investigate. Barry tracks down some blood samples and Iris makes sure to grab Harry’s big gun. Teamwork.

HOLD THE PHONE.

I’m pretty sure this is the very first time Iris and Barry have actively investigated a case together. Ever. They’ve each investigated and had the other one on the sidelines observing or helping occasionally, they’ve collaborated on Flash activities. But Barry has to lose his speed entirely before we get to see them both in the field, working together and being a cohesive team. Why are we only getting this now, at the end of season 2?! This needs to be a lead-in to this happening a whole lot in season 3. Iris and Barry need to truly be a unified team as a general rule and be any other way as an exception. Please keep building on this, writers, and keep going. Iris has been terribly underutilized as a reporter since day one.

GIVE THE PHONE TO THE WRITERS AND TELL THEM TO DO MORE OF THIS.

Harry, meanwhile, is trying to use his watch but quickly stops when his kidnapper introduces himself. Griffin Grey was a high school senior when the accelerator gifted him with incredible strength. But that strength comes with a cost. Griffin is aging at an accelerated speed and wants Harry to fix him, since he’s sure he’s talking to earth 1 Harrison Wells. Does he not get the paper at his abandoned amusement park? He doesn’t even question why Harrison Wells is suddenly alive or ask about him being revealed as a murderer a while ago. Okay then. Griffin does not watch the news, and he’s pretty bitter and ready to kill Harry if he doesn’t fix him. Harry wisely decides to play along. Man-child, meet an actual real man-child.

Armed with forensic evidence from the van and a hastily located and recalled Jessie, the team starts to put together the  identity and motive of the kidnapper. Jessie has five majors and one is Biochem, so she is able to fill gaps that Caitlin typically would.

Meanwhile Killer Frost and Caitlin work out a deal. Caitlin frees Killer Frost and she’ll help Caitlin get down and out of Zoom’s lair. As Caitlin works, they talk about frigid narcissist mothers and an Earth 2 dead brother named Charlie. (Keep that in mind for next season, or the finale as a teaser for next season.)

Wally isn’t Joe’s son for nothing and returns to ask Joe again for a meeting with the Flash. Wally expresses to Joe why it’s so important to him, how he has lived most of his life in a reckless manner, until Zoom took him and he thought he was going to die. Then the Flash saved his life by sacrificing his powers for someone he didn’t even know. It’s a really nice character moment, it’s enough to convince Joe and it should be, because Keiynan Lonsdale did a wonderful job with that monologue and really showed how much Wally wants to thank the Flash for what he did for him. I smell budding hero worship! Joe agrees to see what he can do.

The team heads out to a chemical plant, leaving Jesse behind, who is not impressed. I see some Harry in her. As expected, they run into Griffin Grey. Aaaand he starts chucking barrels. OMG!!! LIVE ACTION DONKEY KONG GAME! Barry tries to ambush him and is too slow (of course!) so he gets hit with a barrel. Grey ages before his eyes.

Iris patches Barry up and the team comes up with a new plan. (I absolutely did not squeal at Iris binding up Barry’s wounds…you can’t prove a thing.) The more Grey exerts himself the faster he ages. They need to push him to exert and make him old and weak.

As the team heads out, Barry and Iris have a really awesome moment looking at his suit. He tells Iris she was the first person he saved. (The pilot, when they were nearly hit by a police car in a high speed chase.) He had just barely realized he had powers and didn’t know half of what he could do, but he knew he could save her, and he did. Barry is wistful and fondly reminiscing at the same time.

I don’t think I can accurately express how important this moment is. Barry mentions that they were talking about how Eddie and Iris were together, and how at the time he was thinking about how he had missed so much in his coma, i.e. his chance with Iris, but he’s not trying to guilt or manipulate her. He has yet to lock anyone up until they return his love or forbid them to leave him. (Hunter, your dad was such a baaaad example.) Contrasting Hunter’s brand of affection, Barry’s love is simply present without expectation now, which is an improvement over even last season. Iris as usual has incredible micro-expression, Candice Patton is so good at it. Her looks say a thousand words.

Barry then expresses that he doesn’t know who he is anymore now that he’s not the Flash. And Iris proves why she’s his best friend and best supporter. She tells him he’s supposed to be who he’s always been, because suit or no suit, that guy is a hero. This is just one reason why Iris is so essential to Barry’s journey as a hero. She’s seen him that way since they were children, and she still does. She has always been his number one cheerleader and she always will be. This scene was truly beautiful, great acting guys.

Harry doesn’t get a nice moment like this, instead he gets a serious guilt trip from Griffin Grey about irresponsible actions that hurt others, and while Harry didn’t perform that act on this earth he was responsible for the same thing on earth 2 and has to confront his own culpability in Zoom and everything that resulted.

Caitlin manages to break Killer Frost out of her cell, who promptly repays the favor by trying to kill Caitlin. I’m so refraining from making a temperature pun right now, I’m actually in pain. Seems Ms. Frost (Killer? KF?) hasn’t had too much of a change in heart. Her attempt to kill Caitlin backfires badly as Zoom turns up and kills Killer Frost instead, right in front of Caitlin. Aw yes, How to Woo a Woman #325—Kill someone savagely and callously in her defense. For some reason it puts Caitlin off, though. Women. However, the metal mask man gets serious points for alerting Caitlin to the danger behind her and really really wishing he could help out. Zoom threatens to kill him if Caitlin dares to break him out. (How to Woo a Woman #326.)

Jesse makes the connection to the signal her father’s watch is sending and they manage to locate him. Jesse insists on going along and with Iris stepping in quickly Barry is overruled before he even gets a word out. I like the dynamics here, lol. Cisco and Jessie have rigged Barry’s suit to protect him from a super powered punch, but only in the chest area and only for one punch. Of course.

The abandoned amusement park is so like a Scooby Doo episode I refrain from yelling “Jeepers!” It was a near thing. Grey has figured out that Harry is simply stalling for time and has no idea how to fix him. Harry nearly becomes a punching bag but the team arrives and distracts Grey. (Iris and Jessie running point in the van is actually pretty cool!) After throwing a clown car around and almost hitting Joe and Cisco, Grey is distracted by Barry who…is so slow I just don’t get why Grey didn’t wonder about it. But he doesn’t and Barry gets clobbered. That’s one hit. But oh wait Grey is aging and still very strong. Ruh roh Raggy! Oh and then Barry gets another punch. We all worry he’s been trashed. (Iris especially, I see you Iris!)

That finally does it and Grey dies. Jessie gets to untie her father this time and rescue him, and the two make peace in terms of their expectations for each other.  They love each other and they need to work through some things to get to a better place as father and daughter. Let’s hope they can do it. Amazing how people argue, one gets kidnapped and suddenly everything is better on TV shows. It’s almost like it’s a convenient trope! Innnteresting…. But I will concede the scene was well acted and lovely for Harry and Jessie. Well done, Violett and Tom.

Wally gets to meet his idol and thank him, and this scene too is really nice. Wally is nervous and grateful, and his adorable little smile after is too much, he has reached cinnamon roll status with me. Wally is a sweetheart and I love him. Barry too shows great maturity and growth as he accepts Wally’s thanks and reciprocates with a heartfelt “You’re welcome Wally.” For all the difficulties and hardship that the loss of his speed has brought, Barry doesn’t blame Wally for it. And it doesn’t even seem like he regrets it, even if he’d like it to be different. Barry cares about his family and he cares about Wally, so the sacrifice is worth it to him. Consider this as you think on Zoom’s idea of love and how very far from sacrifice or selflessness it is, especially in the next paragraph.

So, Zoom still can’t get Caitlin to see how much he loves her. Go figure. She asks to go home again, but what he hears is that she’ll love him if he conquers more worlds. So they head off to earth 1 to conquer it because every woman loves a conquering hero who controls through fear and is happy to kill her friends if they stand in his way. FOR REAL, HUNTER!? There are not enough capital letters to accurately describe how UNHEALTHY this kind of love is. If you date a guy who even remotely resembles Hunter or his father, RUN AWAY. Plus Hunter, you’re trying to sell your manhood as much larger than it is because you said you’ve already brought your world to its knees but I’m pretty sure it’s only Central City you meant the city right?! I can’t realistically accept the idea that Zoom has brought the entire world to its knees, it’s not possible. And this is coming from someone who bought the idea that Eddie erasing Eobard could result in the timeline still being the same as it is now. (I had to do a lot of hoop jumping to make it work in my mind, but I did it.) This I just can’t get on board with. Writing-wise, it’s a bit stupid to try to convince us of that. Central City is not the entire earth. Why not just make Zoom a jealous would-be boyfriend who feels that wiping out or conquering the rivals for Caitlin’s affection/attention is a good idea? I’d buy that a lot more.

And finally, in the episode where too many people are making bad decisions, Harry decides that he hasn’t made amends enough for his part in creating Zoom and so, he’s going to help Barry get his powers back. BY CREATING ANOTHER PARTICLE ACCELERATOR EXPLOSION. I give up on this character ever having common sense. Go sit in the corner Harry, you need a time out.

Soap Box Time (This is not a regular feature but things are getting wild lately.)

Okay. We need to talk about death on this show. I know illegally imprisoning meta-humans last season wasn’t the best idea, but I’m still a bit more worried about villains dying than being incarcerated. The first two episodes of this season were disturbing because Barry deliberately took action to stop two different meta-humans and in doing so killed them. Many viewers sat up and took notice and didn’t like it. Those events were never referred to again and it was never delved into in terms of how Barry felt about it, if it was a good thing, if there was any kind of consequence that should be had for it, nothing in psychological or legal consequences were ever explored. Iron Heights prison being able to handle meta-humans and the Boot were introduced in the first episode and yet those two deaths still happened. So many of us are a bit leery now, and rightfully so. When Barry electrocuted King Shark my first thought was did Barry just kill again? Thankfully no they made it clear he was alive and Lyla Diggle would be doing her best to help him. Ok cool.

Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention the first time I watched this episode, because I came out of it believing that the team, led by Barry and Iris, of all people, were totally cool with provoking Grey to use his powers in order to advance his age and thus kill him. Maybe I’m a bit gun shy now because that was how I remembered it and it was very upsetting. On re-watching the episode I realize their plan was only to age him further and that they thought it would weaken him. It didn’t and the more he fought them the more he aged until he didn’t grow weak at all, he just died. That removes the premeditation in terms of the death and I’m grateful. Several lines and a throwaway comment by Cisco (one more punch and we can give this guy a walker) helped me realize the entire team was working on this presumption. No one was trying to kill anyone, it was an unfortunate result. This is good. But I am still a little bothered by the less than stellar writing in terms of the team caring. They gave each other one tragic look and moved on without a thought. I don’t know. Maybe I’m over thinking this. But even the idea that the team I look to as good guys would purposely provoke someone into aging, essentially wasting his life and speeding him to death that much faster, still bugs me. Griffin Grey was 18 and his life was wasted by the accelerator accident. That is no one’s fault but Eobard Thawne’s. But where is the line in this? Did the team act with callous disregard for  human life, because he was a metahuman? Was he already toast so it doesn’t matter? Grey was over the line in his actions as well, he wasn’t blameless. But I feel the writers are skirting the edges of greater moral problems here and expecting us not to notice. But again, they’ve done that on plenty of other things. And maybe it’s possible I’m looking too far into it and expecting fiction to perfectly mirror life. Most of the time fiction can’t do that and I accept it. But I want my good guys to be good guys, not questionable anti-heroes. If I wanted that I’d be watching a different show. Thoughts?

Tidbits:

  • Bless Iris and her immediate defense of Barry. I love her emphasis on them making decisions as a team because she really adds so much to the team. She needs to be present more. I know it’s hard juggling her job and S.T.A.R. Labs duties, and heaven knows we need to see more of Iris as a reporter too, but it’s important she be included in Team Flash. Maybe we can mix both together? I know I’d like it.
  • “It’s easy.” If it’s that easy, Harry why haven’t you done it before now? Just sayin’. Also, don’t be such a toddler. You know if Jesse were the one in danger you’d tell Barry to give up his speed pronto.
  • Seriously, Hunter/Zoom and his idea of love is nauseating. After his first scene this episode the 12 year-old girl next to me turned and said “Well he’s just an idiot, isn’t he? She’ll never love him!” This child has been raised well. Hunter if a 12 year-old can see something wrong, you’re not doing it right.
  • The fear in Joe’s face when he asks if Wally wants him to tell who the Flash is was a really neat moment for me. It’s tiny, but the fear is real. Joe doesn’t want to lie, but he also needs to protect Barry’s identity. Joe doesn’t go straight to telling Wally he’s mistaken as he did for Iris and even Patty, so he’s learning. He doesn’t want to endanger his relationship with his son, but he also doesn’t want to give up information he has no right to give out without at least asking first. Very nice and telling bit of acting from Jesse L. Martin.
  • Jessie had the coolest room mate ever, lol. She puts things together and rolls with them so easily. She must have been a dream to live with.
  • Iris grabbed the big gun. Of course she did, she’s smart and savvy!
  • “How many majors do you have?” “Five.”{shocked silence} “Is that not common here?” “Girl, no, that is not common anywhere.” Hahaha that scene was beautiful. I’d like more scenes with Iris and Jessie please.
  • The symbolism of a rapidly aging teenager hiding in a decrepit and abandoned amusement park is not lost on me. It’s particularly appropriate.
  • “Okay, He-Man’s got some power!” CRASH “And accuracy.” LIVE ACTION DONKEY KONG! Cisco, I cannot believe you missed a chance to say that. I blame the writers.
  • “So he needs to up his blueberry intake?” Lol Joe.
  • “Any more than that and you’ll be like a pinata. Except it won’t be candy coming out it’ll be—” “Me.” “Yeah you.”  Bwahahahaha priceless Barry and Cisco.
  • Minor nit pik, but why sell the idea that Barry can only take one hit and then hit him twice without any major repercussions? It lessens his powerless heroics to see him get nailed hard and walk away. If Gray were really that strong there would be broken bones, come on guys keep it a smidge real. So unless Grey was pulling his punches Barry, Harry, and probably Joe should be wandering around needing serious painkillers.
  • Is anyone else slightly creeped out by Zoom phasing through Caitlin’s body? I know phasing is a thing and it’s not a violation per se, but I think combined with Zoom’s unhealthy ideas of love it felt very wrong. But that could just be me.

Possibilities:

  • Cisco gave so much emphasis to hating Jay’s hat that I’m wondering if he’ll be glad they kept it around by the end of the season. Just a thought.
  • Caitlin and Killer Frost discussing their cold removed mothers was interesting and the first we’ve heard about Caitlin’s family since a throwaway comment about her dad early in the season. It’s possible seeds are being planted for a season 3 Caitlin/family story. Really, that would be fine. For her sake please keep her away from romance, too much repetition. Break the curse first.
  • Harry are you kidding me?! Have you learned nothing?! “Oh I’ve felt guilt over what I’ve done now…LET’S DO IT AGAIN.” NOOOOO BAD HARRY. I’ve seen the trailer for the next ep and it’s clear that they work out a way to contain an accelerator explosion to the device Barry is in so the city is probably safe, but even considering it gives Harry the award for Best Stupid Idea Ever. Barry was in first place with his genius go-back-in-time-and-learn-from-the-Reverse Flash nonsense, but this blew him right out of the water. For smart people, these guys come up with some really idiotic ideas. Writing-wise, why oh why would you write a plot that helps someone truly face the consequences of what they’ve done just so they can turn around a second later and decide to repeat the same act?
  • Judging by the trailer and future episode descriptions, I’m willing to bet that Iris does not actually tell Barry about her feelings for him yet. She decides to in the next episode, but I don’t think she gets to. OR, if she does it happens seconds before they try to get his powers back and we’ll be left on a major cliffhanger. But I bet we get a cliffhanger either way because they probably won’t attempt it until the final few minutes of the episode. So the next episode promises to be a lot of Rupture/Cisco fun and Barry’s two fathers debating about whether he should actually do it. Plus everything about the episode description and filming  we’ve seen for episode 21 promises serious drama. So yeah. Cliffhanger.
  • Episode 21 is called The Runaway Dinosaur. The minute I read the description my mind went to Barry lost in the speed force and working his way through memories and different times to get back. But I shut my mouth and kept my cool and waited. Now I have no chill. Now I’m thinking if they don’t do it the writers are insane. It’s a perfect opportunity as a result of Barry’s attempt to get his powers back, and the filming snippets and different clues we’ve received all point to this idea. I’ll be severely disappointed if they don’t do it. It also leads in perfectly to Iris as Barry’s lightning rod and his way back, which I’m really hoping for. Fingers crossed and we shall see. Other reasons Barry is “gone” could be fishing with Henry (but I highly doubt it) or another coma. But I prefer the speed force above all. This is The Flash we’re talking about.
  • As for WestAllen, things are progressing beautifully. Iris is almost ready to acknowledge her feelings, and we all know Barry’s heart is still there. So I’m interested to see if we get any kind of solid canon relationship between the two this season or if they purposely hold back and leave it suggested but hanging at the end of the season. (As in Iris wants to tell him but Zoom craziness and finale-level events prevent her until the last second, or heaven forbid Barry pull the ridiculous stupid “I can’t be with be to keep you safe” BULL.) Seriously guys, please don’t. Writers often love their angst and seem very terrified of actually committing a couple together. Guys, it’s okay. We know Barry and Iris are meant for each other. We’d love to see a solid and committed couple handle life’s challenges and difficulties as a unified team and not an on-again off-again mess of angst and soapy emotions. Barry and Iris are meant to be a solid couple. If you are going to do it this season, let it stick. If you’re going to tease it to get viewers back next season follow through on the promise and don’t back out at the last second. You’ve come this far and there’s no changing it now. The two are iconic and any more angsty made up reasons to keep them apart are going to end in viewer fatigue, not higher ratings. Just my 2 cents… It’s time for WestAllen to actually take off and once it does, don’t ruin it please. There is a reason these two are iconic in the comics. Same applies in the show, Barry and Iris have been built to be iconic since the pilot. Let’s do this thing. We’ve heard there will be a “grand gesture” by a Barry-loving Iris, so it sounds like she’ll take the plunge before the end of the season and that’s what I want to see. Don’t end the finale right after that moment please, the summer’s wait would be horrible.

Thoughts? Hit the comments! 🙂

 

 

The Flash 2×18: Versus Zoom

Or: The Road Less Taken

This ep is a sea of feels, and I am happily drowning in them. There is a whole lot happening in this episode. It feels like an ep that simultaneously puts to bed and sets up a lot of things. So it’s a true crossroad ep, where things get settled and new things happen and where you started is not where you end up. On the plus side, WestAllen is truly on the way and I am SO HAPPY to see it. On the minus side…well…let’s dig onto the ep.

The episode begins with a Barry voice-over, mulling over the fact that sometimes terrible things happen to children. Sometimes that thing becomes the defining factor of your life and who you end up being. It was mentioned in a previous episode and is driven home again here that the reason Barry came through his mother’s murder and father’s false imprisonment as well as he did was solely due to the fact that Joe and Iris took him in and gave him love and support. The show runners took advantage of a perfect opportunity and used deleted footage from the pilot, originally a flashback, showing young Barry brought to live with Iris and Joe. Iris is in an elevated position on the stairs and reaches for his hand. He takes it. (I always loved that scene and it was perfectly used here. Kudos, guys.) Baby westallen flashbacks always give me feels I wish there were more just because those kids are so cute and the dynamics of the relationship shown are so nice. Alas, those child actors are probably twice their original size now.)

Zoom wasn’t nearly as lucky as a child. His father, newly returned from the war and now an angry and violent man, murders his mother in front of him for trying to leave him. When his father goes to prison for it he ends up in an orphanage. There is a line making a specific point that no family would take him. That kind of rejection is terrible and damaging. Interesting to contrast with Barry, who simply had no family available that we know of.

Cut to Earth 1, where Barry is about to see what tachyon enhancement can do for his speed. It makes him as fast or faster than Zoom, complete with enough speed to open a portal and accidentally travel to yet another Earth. (This is a nod to the Flash’s crossover to Supergirl a few weeks ago.) Barry is ready to take on Zoom, all he needs is a way to open a breach to Earth 2. No problem, heh. The team turns to Harry, but he’s not a fan of this plan and refuses to help. He’s such a wet blanket lately! It’s a nice character continuity that Harry will sacrifice others to keep the one he loves safe. And it’s a nice one on Barry’s part that he simply can’t let it go and refuses to let innocents on Earth 2 suffer under Zoom’s terror.

Cisco and Caitlin start working the problem, but there is a really nice exchange between Barry and Iris as she goes to leave and Barry wants her to stay. Seriously, just the line “Where are you going? We could use your help.” is so nice to hear from Barry. Even in on the secret Iris has felt on the outside of team Flash for too much of the season. It was nice to see her recognized as useful and necessary. And of course, Iris would stay except that she has a…date planned with Scott. Barry is supportive and glad to see her move on. She tells him that she couldn’t have done it with him and thanks him. He gets adorably awkward. She promises to be there the next day and Barry happily accepts that.

*RECORD SCRATCH* HOLY CRAP THE SUBTEXT IN THIS SCENE!

I love it. We’re going to break this down a bit. Iris is leaving. Barry would love her to stay. Iris would stay, except she has made plans. Why was she almost sneaking out without saying anything before Barry called her back? Because she already has doubts about this date with this guy. Excellent.

It’s clear Barry has made peace with the idea that he will always love Iris as more than a friend, but thinks she will never return his feelings that way. So he’s determined to be supportive and let her be happy even if it’s not with him. Contrast this with his annoyed faces on seeing Iris and Eddie be affectionate and his desperation to somehow make her recognize her feelings for him last season. Barry has matured quite a bit regarding his love for her and it’s nice to see. So his awkward acceptance of her thanks is him being supportive and modest, but also repressing the longing looks and strong feelings because he doesn’t want to make her uncomfortable. It’s so cute and makes me love him all the more.

And then Iris turns to leave. Only when her back is completely to Barry do we see her show disappointment in how the conversation went. Oh yeah. She is thinking about Barry in new ways and was let down he didn’t object or express interest in her moving on with him. Cue the evil laughter! It’s all going according to plan! You can’t see me, but I’m rubbing my hands together.

Okay back to business.

Barry and Joe have dinner and discuss opening the breaches. Joe would rather Barry left it alone too. It’s a scary thought to consider, taking on Zoom again. The natural temptation for most is to count your blessings and move on. But Barry wants to beat Zoom and he really thinks he has a shot now. Wally enters with laundry in tow and it comes out in conversation that college housing has become too expensive. Joe immediately offers to help Wally out financially but Wally refuses and there is some sudden awkwardness. I love Barry’s face in this exchange as he watches because it’s clear he’s tuned into the subtext of the conversation and can see what Wally really wants. Joe, bless him, has no idea. I am delighted with the progress we’re seeing in Wally and his relationships with the different West family members. Wally is a sweet cinnamon roll and I will defend him to my death.

Barry realizes that Cisco’s powers are like Reverb’s just untapped. Cisco is the way to reopen a breach between Earths. They try on the closed breach in S.T.A.R. Labs with no success. Harry takes himself immediately to Joe and asks him to talk Barry out of opening a portal to Earth 2. Joe agrees with Harry but recognizes that once Barry set his mind to something, Joe can’t talk him out of it. He convinces Harry to go with the plan because Barry has a much better shot of success if Harry is with him.

Barry tracks down the area with the highest level of residual trans-dimensional energy (say that 3 times fast!) and wants Cisco to give his powers a try. He promises to stop trying if this doesn’t work. (So obviously it’s going to somehow.) Cisco gets nothing. Not that it’s his fault, he has no idea what he’s doing. Just hold your hand out…yeah. Harry arrives with Reverb’s re-calibrated goggles and gives them to Cisco. Cisco is even more weirded out that he seems to be getting closer to being Reverb but gives it a shot. It starts to work, Zoom senses it on the other side and urges him on. Cisco immediately stops and leaves, begging Barry not to ask him to do it again.

Cisco wearing goggles, using his Vibe powers like this for the first time ever was AWESOME and we’ve been waiting so long for it. But we have also known for a long time that Cisco is afraid of his powers and meeting Reverb just made it worse. Cisco is used for comic relief so much that often his own pain and struggles are minimized if they get acknowledged at all. I am so glad Cisco gets a chance to really delve into his fear and worry about turning bad with such power. It’s a necessary thing and finally gives Cisco some seriousness and growth as a character. It’s long overdue and he deserves it.

Harry modifies the tachyon harness to be much smaller and fit into Barry’s suit emblem. Joe and Iris arrive to offer help. However, they end up on the receiving end as Barry counsels Joe on what to do with Wally, and Iris and Caitlin have a chat in the med bay.

It is such a delight to have non-emo Barry back! He freely offers Joe advice on Wally: Invite him to live with us, that’s what Wally really wants. Barry is willing to give up his one on one status living with Joe and welcome Wally because he knows how important it is to live with your father and he likes Wally. Watching Barry laugh and tell Joe there may be less pizza from Keystone is a balm after so much angst and emo this season. I love this Barry, he needs to stick around and not revert please. I haven’t seen him this good since season 1.

Sidenote: It is so true to form that Wally would want to live with his father but be afraid to ask for it and feel let down it wasn’t offered. He doesn’t want to be a burden and he’s afraid of being unwanted. He needs that freely offered, freely given acceptance and love to feel secure about his place in the family and Barry gets that. Barry becomes a very nice bridge between Joe—who  really wants to give but isn’t entirely sure what is wanted—and Wally, who deeply needs but is afraid to say so. I was really hoping this was how it would go. I’m so happy.

Meanwhile, Iris is looking at Barry from the med bay, and all I can say is she is echoing Wally right then. Deeply needing and wanting, but afraid to ask. Luckily, Caitlin clues in and asks about it. Iris fesses up that she had a date the night before, but she canceled at the last moment. When Caitlin asks if it was because of Barry or Eddie, it becomes clear that it was because of Barry. All the signs in the universe seem to be pointing to her and Barry being together, and Iris is starting to believe in destiny. Having lost the man of her dreams twice, not to mention the whole “Jay” nastiness and her Earth 2 identity as a frosty killer,  Caitlin concedes that there may be such a thing as destiny for Barry and Iris, but not for her. (My SnowStorm feels!)

Wally arrives at the West home and Joe has cleared out a room for him. Joe apologizes. It didn’t even occur to him that Wally might want to live with him and offers him a home. Wally accepts and calls Joe Dad for the first time. THE FEELS JUST.KEEP.COMING! This scene almost had me in tears. I’ve been rooting for Wally since day one and it made me so happy to see this scene unfold as it did.

I’ve been jonesing for a Barry and Cisco bond session for a long time, and it finally arrived this episode. Barry puts aside his own goals and listens as Cisco expresses his worry that this is a defining moment. One wrong move, and he’s Darth Vader. (Seriously, that is the most perfect analogy for Cisco and his Star Wars love. I was delighted.) Barry’s reassurance and support, his promise to be there for Cisco as a friend and family is what Cisco needs to hear. At this point, I’m a mess of happy feels and tears.

As they gear up to meet Zoom again, Caitlin mentions that “Jay” is probably not Zoom’s real name since his doppelganger here is Hunter Zoloman. Harry immediately recognizes the name and they finally know his true identity. Turns out Hunter was a serial killer on Earth 2 with 23 deaths on his record. He was in a mental hospital enduring electroshock therapy when the accelerator exploded and he became a speedster. Armed with the information about Hunter’s childhood, the team sets a trap. Cisco thanks Barry for always believing in him. I burst out weeping. Once Cisco opens the portal and Zoom comes through it, a chase ensues. The rest of the team is in the time vault, safely away from Zoom’s threat. Barry is finally faster than Zoom, but it’s  close. It’s a great speed chase and for once Barry is in the lead! Shock! They use Zoom’s parents against him and throw him off enough to immobilize him with Cisco’s boot. Cold, Barry. But I don’t like Zoom so I approve.

In the conversation that follows, it’s clear Zoom cares about nothing but himself. He wants a cure for his own life but he’s fine killing others to get it. What a charmer. He tries to convince Barry they aren’t much different but that doesn’t really fly with Barry. Or me. About the time Zoom says “Family such a weakness” we can all see what’s coming. Predictably, Zoom gets free and they lose him. But not before he kidnaps Wally and leaves a message demanding Barry’s speed for his return. (WALLY!!!!!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!)

Everyone is beside themselves, and no one more than Joe. They have no time, there are no options. Barry makes the grown up and mature call to give Zoom what he wants to get Wally back.

Cisco vibes on Zoom’s hat and tells him Barry agrees to the deal. Zoom arrives and the exchange is made. Wally, we love you, get out right now. Wally is escorted out but I’m hoping he’s putting some things together.

Zoom allows himself to relax enough to give some exposition and tie up some plot strings left hanging. This show is wrapping things up so it can head straight into season end conflict. I’m not saying I buy half of what Zoom said but it’s clear the writers are answering some questions and expecting the matter to be settled. Hunter is Zoom and he sucks. We have no idea if there is a Jay Garrick or if he was just a fabricated name. We’ll have to wait until the finale to find out who the man in the mask is I’m assuming. Harry rigs up the device he made to steal Barry’s speed the first time around and Barry runs on the treadmill until his speed is gone and he is human once more. Once he collapses Iris is the first one at his side. (Oh! My WestAllen heart!)

Zoom absorbs Barry’s speed and to add insult to injury grabs Barry by the neck and threatens to kill him. Rude, Zoom. Caitlin appeals to his better nature (if he has any), and after she called him a monster earlier it’s clear he has unresolved feelings regarding her. Zoom drops Barry but disappears with Caitlin. It’s like they took all the established normal going into this episode and threw it up in the air. Now it’s all out of whack.

Soapbox Time!

Barry gave up his speed willingly. Ok. I’ve seen a fair amount of debate concerning this plot development. I’ve seen criticism of Barry for doing it, criticism of the team for not pulling some kind of trick to prevent it after Wally was safe, and criticism for the move in the plot as a whole. I’m going to lay out my thoughts here.

  • If they pulled some kind of trick and Zoom caught them at it, what’s to stop him from killing them all? Yes Barry is as fast or faster now, but that’s no guarantee. I know Joe gave Wally his car keys and Wally is a drag racer, but cars can only go so fast. And Barry can’t keep everyone safe every second the rest of their lives. Not to mention I can totally see Zoom tracking Wally down later and killing him in retribution. Don’t forget he went back the next day to kill the cop who named him on E2. He’s not above it and I think it speaks of Barry’s growth that he realizes this and is unwilling to risk lives. Barry pulls some stupid moves yes, but he’s starting to realize he needs to be responsible for his choices. He wanted the breach open. He should accept the consequences and not let others pay.
  • Wally is a straight up innocent bystander in this mess and allowing Joe’s son and a member of his family be in danger because Zoom wants his speed is something Barry can’t allow. He made the call himself and I appreciate the rather calm but resigned way he did it. He wasn’t emo and he didn’t get whiny. He made the choice and he followed through. Don’t forget the singularity and much of the fall out from it were because of Barry’s selfish choice to go save his mother, even if he didn’t actually do it. Now Barry is starting to make selfless moves. It’s less about him and more about others. That’s a hero I can get behind.
  • The producers said early on this season was going to be all about Barry deciding what kind of hero he wanted to be. Is he a hero who can allow innocents to be hurt or killed because of his own headstrong choices? Is he a hero who makes a promise and then pulls a last minute trick, like many villains would do? Allowing Barry in this ep to make the decision, honor it, and willingly give over his speed to save another life is the hero I want him to be. He is maturing (finally) and becoming less emo and more capable of handling the weight and choices that come with being a hero. I feel this was a good move in that direction. To show Barry willingly give it up versus Zoom forcibly taking it is a huge thing in Barry’s journey to being a true hero.
  • In a good story, the best way to show the hero triumph is to bring him to his lowest point where all seems lost and bring him up from there. This is perfect.
  • This plot development leaves an opening for a perfect opportunity. Barry has figured out how to get fast with artificial means, and now he has none. We all know he’ll get his speed back it’s just a matter of when and how. Again, this season is the season he decides what kind of hero he wants to be. It would be fabulous if he fully realized his own natural potential finally, and if he did it in a comic canon way. For this season to be triumphant in my view, Barry is going to have to figure out how to get his speed back and how to get faster in an all natural way, and as far as I’m concerned it needs to revolve around Iris. She has been key to his powers for some time now (they activated in the pilot when she touched his chest, he time traveled for the first time after they kissed, only she has shared a blue spark with Barry, thoughts of her broke him out of Grodd’s mind control) and in the comics she is his lightning rod. I would be delighted if they actually finally showed that. If Barry got his powers back after kissing Iris for the second first time/ hearing she loved him/they shared a spark, I’d be so happy. I’ll take any one of the options, really. And if Iris is key to his speed, it only makes sense that having his dreams come true with her would naturally make Barry faster. The opportunity is there. It remains to be seen if the writers act on it. I’ll be seriously disappointed if they don’t.

Tidbits:

  • Seriously I cannot compliment the actors in this ep enough. Grant and Candice, Carlos, Jesse and Keiynan were all so amazing, they just kept pounding me with their amazing acting. They brought their game to this episode and knocked it out of the park.
  • All the callbacks in this ep! The boot, the blown up picture cut outs, is it that obvious, the device Harry used to steal Barry’s speed the first time, I know I’ve left some out. It’s nice because often things get dropped and never reappear especially earlier in the season. It brings some kind of order to the craziness of this particular arc even if it doesn’t perfectly resolve everything. I still have some issue with some of the writing but I appreciated these.
  • Gotta say, I’m seeing tons of lovely symbolism in this ep. Iris is wearing straight up red (and looking hot!) to go on a date with Scott while wondering if Barry is the one she should be with. That just screams that she’s climbing aboard the WestAllen train with the rest of us. She’s accepting her feelings for him. The console provides a barrier between them, a physical manifestation of their separation, still not quite on the same page yet. (Nice catch, D!) And Iris’ costume in the scene Barry loses his speed really seems to be pushing the idea that Iris will be his support through this coming trial. The maroon red, matching Barry’s suit, is on her legs now. She will be Barry’s legs, so to speak. She will be his main support. I think Scott is so far from her mind now she might forget his name.  Her black top indicates dark times, but her skirt shows hope coming through, black with white polka dots. I am really hoping that the next episodes show Iris as the true center of Barry’s inspiration to carry on and his north star in dark times. If not, the writers have blown a prime opportunity.
  • Less pizza from keystone. Poor Joe, lol.
  • “Well, the best plan we’ve come up with so far is to set off a nuclear warhead next to the city’s electrical grid. So…” “We’re not going to do that.” I love Cisco.
  • It’s a crime that I can count the number of conversations as women between Iris and Caitlin, in both seasons, on one hand. Iris needs to be integrated into the team more. By now she and Caitlin should be good friends but they still seem like acquaintances.
  • Cisco and Star Wars, Star Wars and Cisco. You can’t have one without the other. Thank goodness.
  • Caitlin ships WestAllen! I always pictured her doing that.
  • “Is it that obvious?” YES! YES IT IS!!!! LET’S DO THIS THING YOU TWO!!!!! Nice Barry/Iris parallel tho. 😉
  • Don’t think we didn’t notice that the electroshock leather mask was just like Zoom’s mask. We did.
  • “You aim it, and then you pull the trigger.” “Smartass.” Hee.
  • My husband was beside himself with cranky after this ep. The time travel remnant explanation was lacking to him. I’m inclined to agree because I’m sick of that being used over and over. Reverse Flash pulled the same last season with a speed mirage and I barely bought it then. And my husband is seriously annoyed that it appears Zoom could travel between worlds before Cisco opened the breach. He was sure having fun going back and forth after he got Wally so why would he wait until Cisco opened one to come over? I can see this argument but if I squint real hard I can concede that perhaps after Cisco opened it it remained open just not visible, which was the way the other breaches were before they were closed. It’s so confusing.
  • I admit I’m not very impressed with Zoom as a villain anymore, Teddy Sears doesn’t look menacing enough without his mask and fake voice. What do we expect? His first name is Teddy. He was much scarier before he was revealed to be “Jay”. The serial killer idea, and the crazy but suddenly sane and able to con people thing is a stretch for me to buy. I appreciate what they are trying to do paralleling Barry and Zoom to show how each took a different path but it doesn’t feel like enough. And the whole “I give hope to take it away” felt like them trying to write themselves out of  a corner they wrote themselves into. Why bring in Jay Garrick at all if he’s Zoom in disguise?  They’ve treated a beloved icon badly this season and it’s a real shame. Also, why did Zoom call killing his past self a complication if that was his plan all along? It feels like the writers did some emergency knitting to get their plot together this season and there are still a few loose strings they couldn’t make fit. Plus, shouldn’t any version of Zoom show he’s speedster? Caitlin ran tests on original “Jay” in ep 2 and found nothing and she’s been testing him all season looking for a cure. That doesn’t follow for me unless I’ve missed something. Did Hunter go back to before he was a speedster and get that version? If he gets killed doesn’t that screw everything up? Well, theoretically it should but they still haven’t adequately explained why Eobard being erased didn’t change absolutely everything. This is why my husband was beside himself with cranky. It makes no rational sense.
  • Seriously, Zoom phasing out of that boot ticked me off. No one else seemed to be able to do that. Because plot. Sigh.
  • However, I am enjoying the running theme of family in this season. Blood family, found family, as a weakness, as a strength, we’re getting all views and I like it.
  • Zoom declaring that it’s so much fun to pretend to be a hero is a nice foil to Barry’s journey to actually being a hero. Maybe that’s why the whole give hope to take it and desecrated icon thing is going on.
  • Totally self serving, but so much of what happened in this ep echoes some of my writings in fanfic. It feels good to be vindicated at least I’m not out in left field somewhere.

Possibilities:

  • I’m really interested to see how the next episodes go. The stakes have been majorly raised.
  • I’m here for Wally putting together that Barry is the Flash, he’s not a fool he’s a smart kid. The description for the next ep says he confronts Joe about it and I’m very curious to see if Joe confirms or denies it or tells him to go talk to Barry.
  • Joe wonders if Wally’s doppelganger is as complicated as he is. It’s a throwaway comment and helps Barry connect Reverb and Cisco in a way to move the plot forward, but I can’t help wondering if we will ever see E2 Wally. I so wanted him to be the man in the metal mask, and now with Wally being imprisoned and seeing metal mask man I just want it more. I could be crazy and the metal mask man is probably the real Jay Garrick which has been my thought since ep 14, but the lack of any twins running around Hunter Zoloman in both Earths makes me doubt it now. Many of us have sworn we saw blond hair inside that helmet, but the body type and hands always seemed more Wally to me. I’m very curious to know who it is and I acknowledge Wally is a long shot, but I’m ruling him back in and I’m not ruling him out again until we see who it is.
  • I love that Iris is starting to come to terms with her feelings for Barry, but there seems to be quite a lot of emphasis on destiny. I expect it to be made clear at some point that Iris is freely choosing Barry because he loves him, not because she feels she has no choice. Get on it, writers.
  • Does anyone think we may see “You can’t lock up the darkness” again? Or was that just added drama?
  • I do kind of hope that Harry gets the chance to knock that smug look off Zoom’s face. I’d like to see it.
  • How is it that Barry and Iris go a whole next episode before Iris decides to tell him how she feels? And that’s assuming she gets the chance in ep 20 after she decides to do it. Did she think he had too much on his plate being normal again? Really Iris, that could only make him feel better. Yes, yes Wells is missing and Caitlin too. But feelings, lol. Chop chop Tuesday get here quick!

The Flash 2×17: Flash Back

Or: Confronting the past. Literally.

Or: Time travel can haunt you. And maybe try to kill you a bit.

There is a nice running theme in this episode about confronting your past in order to gain closure with it. Only by doing that can we truly embrace our future.

In Barry’s case, he has now trusted two supposed mentors and discovered they were imposters who were using him. I’m still a bit annoyed about the repetition in the writing but I’ll go with this for now. Because of this Barry is now obsessed with getting faster so he can actually beat Zoom once and for all. It was a neat opening sequence that showed just the color and lightning associated with speed and the slow camera pull to reveal it’s Barry’s eyes super speed reading through books. Does this mean Barry’s mind was racing?

For motivation, “Jay’s” helmet is kept nearby, and it’s giving Cisco “daymares” as he vibes Zoom often off it. Barry, Caitlin and Cisco compare data and discover that Barry is 30% slower than Zoom and the Reverse Flash because while their legs move at the same speed, both of the evil speedsters spend less time with their feet on the ground. I feel like there is a symbolism we can find there if we imagine it hard enough. Something about Barry letting his past or his lack of confidence slow/drag him down. But that could be just me. Caitlin expresses the worry that maybe Barry hasn’t been able to get as fast as the others because he is simply unable to. Thanks, Caitlin. Always the voice of confidence. Barry doesn’t buy that thank goodness and is still putting everything he has into getting more speed.

The Wests are gathering for dinner and have a small discussion about how no one could see the “Jay” betrayal coming. Joe mentions that after last year he should have learned his lesson and dug deeper into “Jay.” But that’s kind of hard when you’d have to dig in Earth 2 for info, Joe. That was part of the reason “Jay” was actually able to trick them. They really had no choice but to accept his story, there was no way to confirm or disprove it.

Joe heads to the oven to check on dinner and Iris tells Barry that she had a “kind of” date. Barry, to his credit, does not freak out and lets her talk. Iris expresses her inability to really enjoy the date because all it did was make her think about Eddie and it felt wrong. Barry comes through as a true friend and tells her that only she is going to know when she’s ready to move on, but not to close herself off until she is because she could miss out on something great. This is truly a lovely moment because it’s clear that Barry isn’t talking about himself here. He’s probably thinking about possibilities between Iris and Scott. Barry’s concern is not for himself but for his best friend and her happiness. It’s selfless love at its best.

They are interrupted by Wally. Sidenote: Wally’s adorable laugh when Joe rushes in holding a hot pan with no hot pads and is scolded by Iris is one of the best things ever. It clearly shows that Wally is becoming more comfortable and open with his family, and is at the point where he laughs easily with them. What an awesome change! The entire dinner is relaxed and comfortable between all parties present, and when Wally mentions reading old journals of great car engineers to further his own car building efforts, Barry has a light bulb idea and quickly leaves. But not before earnestly thanking Wally for the inspiration, who pulls a “me?” look and comments on how weird Barry is every time he sees him. But the statement is made with no rancor or judgement, just fond confusion which is very much like the way Joe has viewed Barry for many years. Also, you can easily see Barry, caught up his thoughts about Zoom and speed, break out of his preoccupation to ask Wally about his schooling and show interest and support. It’s so nice to see Wally and Barry finding better footing in their relationship and the whole family settle in as a close unit. I’m loving it.

Barry’s light bulb but perhaps a bit insane plan involves time traveling back to around  year ago and getting Harrison Wells aka Eobard Thawne to teach him how to go faster. This would involve knocking out his past self, avoiding detection by Eobard while enlisting said help, and not screwing up the timeline. Oh boy. Cisco and Caitlin are wary of the plan. Harry Wells calls it asinine. Harry we don’t always agree, but I might have to go with you on this one. Harry has been searching for his daughter and come up empty. Again. So he’s cranky. He makes the valid point that Eobard has been studying Barry his entire life and will easily know Barry is an imposter. He also mentions how badly Barry could screw up the timeline and no one would know except for him. These are legit points. After Harry storms off Barry counters these valid arguments with “I have to do this” and Cisco and Caitlin promptly agree to the plan. Maybe it’s just the shows I’m watching, but there seems to be quite a bit of overuse going on lately when it comes to the line “I have to do this”. It’s starting to get to me slightly. That reasoning has never worked for me. Not with my parents, not with my boss, and certainly not with my husband. It seems to be more of the final word cue on television. Once a character utters those magic words, the others are not allowed to argue and must go with whatever insanity is being presented. Mental note: I will never use this line in any of my writings. Okay moving on.

The plan is formulated, and the team determines Barry will travel back to the time period right after Hartley Rathaway showed up. (Cisco’s description of him is spot on, btw.) Caitlin makes a tranquilizer dart to knock out past Barry for about 6 hours and they discuss the fact that Barry cannot tell past Cisco and Caitlin about Eobard or screw anything up timeline wise. Because Barry’s plans always go perfectly, Earth 2 anyone? *facepalm* I totally got Cisco’s Twelve Monkeys reference and laughed out loud. Cisco is the best. Harry, like the child-man he is, refuses to say goodbye.

Barry’s trip through the speed force is rife with references to the singularity, but there is a specific emphasis on Eddie and his death. It’s possible these events are on Barry’s mind since his conversation with Iris, but it’s also good writing to tie in that conversation with what follows later. Nice job there, writers. Past occurrences are interrupted by a corpse-like wraith that zeroes in on Barry. He pops out of the speed force and realizes he’s a bit too early. In fact, he’s just in time to see himself take on Pied Piper. He uses that opportunity to kidnap his past self and attempt to tranquilize him. Past Barry is not a fan and a small speed fight ensues. (Is this what they call being in conflict with yourself? I’ve got more. I could go all day.) Eventually Barry with the white emblem wins, puts his past self to sleep (hey at least he apologizes for it) and switches emblems. Then he heads back to finish the fight with Hartley.

*record scratch*

Barry! Did you just leave your past self knocked out in an alley??? You have to treat yourself better than that! Be good to yourself! Your self hatred has gone too far! AND you said “I have to do this” to your own self! Doesn’t that mean he has to go along with it now? Oop, too late he’s lying in an alley for anyone to stumble upon.

Once Barry returns to S.T.A.R. Labs and locks Hartley in the pipeline, he proceeds to immediately ignore all the advice he was given about not changes anything and tips off Cisco about Hartley’s explosive cochlear implants. Barry, come on, seriously? We can’t leave you alone time traveling or world hopping for five minutes! That and some comm feedback, added to Barry’s less-than-smooth questions about going faster clue in Harrison/Eobard. He starts paying attention to Barry closely. Harry did say Eobard would know, Barry.

Meanwhile Eddie and Joe meet up at the police station, and we are treated to one more occurrence of Eddie placing his foot in his mouth by talking about his girlfriend to her father. Oh Eddie, you were always at your best with that. Olympic level skills. The wraith Barry saw in the speed force appears in Barry’s lab and scares the bejeebers out of some anonymous officer. Per the usual, the rest of the cops check to see if bullets affect it. Yeah, they don’t. Barry is reluctant to abandon his attempts to go faster but goes to help, arriving just in time to see not the time wraith, but Eddie alive and well. Barry is understandably shaken. I would think anyone would be. It’s not every day you see someone and understand that they are unaware that every day they live is a day closer to their death, and it’s coming up pretty quick. That’s just gotta suck. Though if you think about it, we are all doing that. Deep thoughts…like sands through the hourglass…someone stop me.

Barry returns to S.T.A.R. Labs and finds himself being stared at by a very intent wheelchair-bound Harrison Wells. That’s just never a good thing. Plus he’s taken off his glasses at least twice now, recognize the danger signs, Barry! Really nice moment where Barry is talking in the background and the camera pushes in close to see Harrison’s face. Right there is the moment he knows Barry isn’t who he’s pretending to be.

Harrison lures Barry away from Cisco and Caitlin and knocks Barry cold. I guess that’s payback for Barry’s treatment of Barry earlier. Barry comes to handcuffed in the time vault.

And thus commences one of the best scenes I’ve seen this season. Stripped of the action and speed that a typical confrontation would have, this one comes down to verbal exchanges and threats. Quick thinking and words define this scene and it is really well done. It’s all cerebral, there is no fist fight. Barry has consistently lost to Eobard in their altercations. Barry lost to Eobard all through season 1, he required help from the Arrow and Firestorm to bring him down, and in the finale Eddie was the one who truly dealt the last blow and beat the Reverse Flash. Barry bested Eobard physically earlier this season and “won” for the first time against his enemy, but it was soured when Barry had to let him go to save Cisco. For the first time since the show started, Barry is finally able to take on Eobard Thawne, who has always been superior, and master the situation. This is all the more impressive because he is in a seated and lower position and restrained. It’s a real statement on how far Barry has come since this time last year, and the acting is perfect from both Grant Gustin and Tom Cavanaugh.

This scene was tense and turned on a dime as each man tried to come out in control without losing their ultimate goal. It was excellent. Eobard standing up from his chair and Barry’s non surprise, Barry losing all pretense and looking so much older with his “let me outta here Thawne”, Eobard moving to kill him, Barry quickly blackmailing him by making up a letter and threatening to tell his younger self. This was a good scene, a true confrontation of enemies with shared hatred and anger and equal wits that finally ends in a tense stalemate. In the course of the scene we find out that a time wraith is focused on a time traveler who doesn’t know what he’s doing. It’s after Barry and only him.

After that intense scene, we need something to break the tension. Enter Cisco, Rickrolling Hartley by pumping that song into his cell. LOL! Heartless, Cisco. Hartley caves and tells Cisco how his gauntlets work. (It’s okay Hartley, you lasted longer than I would have.) They are interrupted by the time wraith chasing Caitlin into the pipeline. I think it’s now the fashionable thing for all TV shows everywhere to reference Harry Potter at least once in their show, and honestly I approve. I love Harry Potter. Cisco Caitlin and Hartley end up locked in his cell with a dementor time wraith outside. Harry Hartley uses his gauntlets to emit a frequency that drives it away for the time being. It was fun watching Barry and Eobard slowly reach an accord in order to help the others, but they show up after Hartley has saved them.

All worries about getting faster are put on hold while Wells and Barry focus on stopping the time wraith, since up until now speedsters just avoided them and there is no known way to stop one. Great…just great. Back at his lab, Barry approaches Eddie and asks him to record a message to Iris for her birthday. Yes yes it’s two months away, but he needs it now. Barry specifically asks Eddie to talk to her as if it were the last thing he could say to her. Oh gosh I have something in my eye…

Cisco, Caitlin and Wells are working on a way to stop the time wraith and Caitlin mentions that Hartley would be able to provide useful intel. The shift in the team’s view of him is beginning to be apparent. Barry shows up and demands to know where the other Flash is. Oh yeah, this is past Barry and he woke up. Some dog must have checked to see if he was alive or something. Future Barry presents himself and I brace for a cosmic explosion. Oh no wait, this isn’t Doctor Who and you’re allowed to chill with a past version of yourself without incurring catastrophic disaster. Ok then. Cisco’s doppelganger comment was perfect. I loved both Barrys attempting to prove they were the real one. Hilarious. Wells, as usual, looks annoyed and 4000% done. Great comedy scene.

Once the confusion is settled Eobard takes Barry to the time vault and gives him a chip with information about tachyon enhancement on it. Supposedly it will help Barry get faster. Then time is up and the time wraith is back. Barry gets ready to leave but ties a few things together, telling Cisco that Hartley knows where Ronnie is, and asking them to have a way to beat the wraith prepared when he returns in a year. Barry and Barry switch emblems.

Barry hits the accelerator with the wraith in pursuit, and past Barry gives him some help. Teamwork! With yourself! I wanna see Barry pat himself on the back… Barry disappears into the speed force an the wraith follows. Past Barry finds all this pretty cool.

Barry comes back to the present, pursued by the wraith. Cisco whips out his newly invented weapon and fires. Nothing. Oops. The time wraith attacks Barry and begins to drain the life out of him, but Hartley appears wearing his gauntlets and destroys it. What the… Hartley is nice and friendly and clearly in the know about most or all of the events happening in S.T.A.R. Labs, including fake Eobard. He offers help whenever they need him again and heads out to have dinner with his parents. Mind blown.  Now I’m going back over past episodes wondering where Hartley was and if he had a major part in how things went. What the heck writers you can’t just pull that!? Too many open-ended questions and concerns! I demand re-shoots! You just changed everything!!! Okay I’m done now. Time travel is a pain.

The chip Wells gave Barry doesn’t work at first, and he pounds the console in the time vault in frustration. That is EXACTLY how to make it work Barry! Equations and formulas appear and it looks like Barry is on his way to serious speed enhancement.

But Barry slows down to chat with Harry and ask how he’s doing. It was a very nice scene used to show supportive Barry and to highlight the difference between Harry Wells and Harrison/Eobard Wells. Harry talks about how his wife had to pressure him into having kids, and he thought he had everything he ever wanted until Jesse arrived. Then he only wanted her love. It was a nice moment. Harry is a pain sometimes but he has great love for his daughter. In his own way Harry is confronting his past choices to enable himself to build a better relationship with Jesse in his future. At least I hope that’s where it’s going.

Having now confronted his own past in a very real way, Barry goes home to give a gift to Iris and allow her the same opportunity. He shows her the video he recorded of Eddie, and he quietly slips away to allow her a private moment. It’s a moment of selfless love with no expectation of reward for it other than happiness for his best friend. Iris has a beautiful moment of closure as she hears Eddie wish her nothing more than a lifetime of happiness and essentially give her permission to move on without feeling guilty about it. Candice Patton, as usual, brings the heart and warmth to this episode and she nails it. Oh gosh something in my eye again… This was a solid and fun episode but it wouldn’t have meant as much or been as impressive without the small bit of Barry and Iris’ storyline here. It tied everything together.

This episode was a crossroads for various plotlines this season and the stage is now set for many to move forward. Barry will be getting faster speed and taking on Zoom. Westallen is well on the way. The last episodes of this season are shaping up to be really good and I hope they blow my mind. Glad hiatus is over this week!

What did you think of the ep? Feel free to hit the comments!

Tidbits:

  • I am here for any and all West family interactions. They are the heart of this show and I love each one.
  • I love how Jesse asks her dad not to look for her and the first thing he does is look for her. It’s so Harry.
  • “What is it with you guys? It’s like you think I gave ESP or something I can’t just magically sense where things are.” LOL Cisco never change. Plus re-configuring the S.T.A.R. Labs satellite is usually the answer. Always. It’s like reversing the polarity on Doctor Who.
  • “Good to know.” Eobard, this is becoming your catchphrase.
  • “Imposter! You impostor! What is going on here?!” Have I mentioned how much I adore Cisco?
  • “Dude! I’ve watched Wrath of Khan with you like five times.” I love nerdbros.
  • “The future?” “Yes.” The future?” “Yes.” “The fut—” “YES.” Wells, I feel you.
  • “Wait a second suppose we now change your emblem. Will that be because we we got the idea from this? Or, I mean…” “Stop talking.”
  • Two Barrys in almost identical Flash suits leaning over a computer is something I didn’t know I needed until I got it. Sweet.
  •  I’d like to know why and when it became unnecessary to release a particle to collide with Barry in order to enable time travel. It was necessary in the season 1 finale. Is it because Barry’s faster or just incontinuity?

Possibilities:

  • Don’t think I don’t see the correlation between Zoom and Barry and their similar drive to be the fastest speedster, writers. Are you going to do anything with that or just let it fade away? There is potential there but I worry we’ll never actually see it explored.
  • What is up with that time wraith and its clear resemblance to Barry, including his mask? I am so intrigued. I want answers. Please don’t ditch this and never give us more information on it, writers. Maybe Barry did find himself in some strange Twelve Monkeys scenario, destined to hunt down and kill his past self. The possibilities!
  • I kind of wish this was a two hour show because of all the great potential in showing Hartley’s reception by the others and how it might have changed his original plan to infiltrate S.T.A.R. Labs and ultimately kill Barry. Cisco was aware that Hartley being there saved himself and Caitlin from the wraith, and thus started treating Hartley differently and probably with less disgust and latent anger. Isn’t it true that how we treat people will directly affect their choices and actions in how they respond? I’d love to see this played out point by point but sadly we never get that view. The writers always said that Hartley was redeemable and that was why they never showed him kill anyone on the bridge but that never worked for me. He had clear intent to kill at least two people on the bridge and Barry rescued them, then he had clear intent to kill Barry and was prevented by Wells. Had he not been stopped he would have completed those actions. That makes him irredeemable in my eyes. So it’s interesting that the writers realized this too (hopefully) and retconned all the way back to before Hartley could put his plan into action. Now, his plans to kill are ones that he never even gets close to fulfilling, and he’s just guilty of destroying some property and being a massive prick. But it’s interesting to see how quickly that prick facade fades once he gets hit with the softened behavior of the others. Wells was too busy messing with Barry and time wraiths to antagonize Hartley or remind him of the injustices done him. Hartley, for all his jerk behavior in his first episode is still a boy with a giant protective facade in front of him who deeply wants approval and affection. He once was sneering but ultimately good, he was fired in the first place because he had concerns about the accelerator exploding and had the public interest in mind after all. It’s interesting to see where the point of no return is for people. I would love to see all this portrayed onscreen, because it felt very sudden and less authentic without it. But if anyone wants to fic this, I’d read it for sure. Considering that Hartley was originally written to be a part of the team at S.T.A.R. Labs in an early script for the pilot, it’s nice to see him being written as an ally now and not the murderous putz that we saw last season. I actually don’t mind if he shows up again.

The Flash 2×16 Trajectory

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”.

WHOA! WAIT!

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.

Possibilities:

  • 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, Luke Barry!
  • WestAllen is on the way and I AM HERE FOR IT.

Tidbits:

  • 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.
  • Symbolism!!!!!!

 

 

 

The Life and Death of “Jay Garrick”

Theories are flying everywhere about Zoom and Jay Garrick and who is really who. Everyone is Jay Garrick! At this point I think my neighbor is, and I’m really starting to side-eye my mail man. Here’s my preferred theory, until the next episodes come out and completely decimate it. I was hoping to write a fic about this, but I have no time and it’s not gonna happen so I’m just going to put it out here.

It’s clear from Jay pointing out Hunter Zolomon (who is Zoom in the comics) to Caitlin that Hunter is going to be somehow involved in the plot, and most fans are going with the idea that Zoom is E2 Hunter Zolomon and the man in the metal mask is E2 Jay Garrick, and the real E2 Flash. I’m thinking this is very possible, and that’s what I’m going with as well. Many of us have decided that the writers took the twins separated at birth plot device used in other Flash comics (originally Barry and Malcolm Thawne/Cobalt Blue) and gave it their own twist with Zoom and Jay Garrick.

But this begs the question: Who is the Jay who came to S.T.A.R. Labs and befriended the team? Some were speculating that he was Zoom pulling double duty, right until Zoom killed him with a hand through his heart and dumped his body on E2. Okay, clearly not Zoom. So who was he?

I think it was E1 Jay.

Wait wait I can explain! Yes, I know Jay said there was no E1 Jay Garrick and that there was only a Hunter Zoloman. But if there are twins in one world it’s highly likely there are twins in both. With the exception of Wally, just about everyone has had a counterpart represented on E2. So if Hunter grew up in foster care and was eventually adopted by the Zoloman family, it’s possible that twin boys were separated at a young age and grew up independent of each other and with different last names. So E1 Jay wouldn’t have the last name Garrick and no one would know about him. I’m going to call him Jay Peters, because Jay Garrick’s middle name is Peter and that works for me. Thanks for the suggestion D! 😀

It’s possible I’m wrong, but I’m thinking that Hunter Zoloman knows nothing about any of this. He’s probably unaware that he had a twin who is now dead. It will be interesting to see if he ever comes into play again as the season concludes.

Jay Peters would have grown up and become a scientist, I don’t think he was faking those skills. He wasn’t affiliated with S.T.A.R. Labs, might have been with Mercury Labs or was working independently. He’s aware of the Flash’s activities and the metahumans but has never really been affected by them. He’s living his life.

Then the singularity happens. Chaos. The Flash and some fiery guy close it, the city is reeling, but Jay Peters came through okay and everything is going to be fine for him.

He thinks. Zoom comes through the now open portals between worlds. What’s the first thing other breachers have done? Find their doppelganger. Zoom was looking for his. Zoom is aware he’s a twin, he’s already got his brother locked up. He wants his doppelganger for a reason. He finds no record of a Jay or Hunter Garrick (I’m assuming this is their last name on E2) and starts searching scientific places that scientists work at. He hits the jackpot and finds Jay. Jay is promptly kidnapped and taken back to Earth 2, probably days after the singularity.

This is when Jay finds out what’s been happening in the other world. When the accelerator accident happened on Earth 2, Jay Garrick became a speedster. Hunter did not. Jay got to work helping citizens and becoming Central City’s hero. Hunter became jealous. Being a scientist too, Hunter began working to replicate the process, wanting to have speed himself. As is typical for villainous scientists wanting to replicate something for their own power and gain, it goes wrong. Hunter gets speed, but not the same kind as his brother. This comes with blue lightning and the ability to manipulate time around him more than travel fast. He ends up faster than Jay. But it’s not enough. He wants more. He wants to be bigger and better than his twin, and bigger and better than anyone else with speed. He wants complete domination and control. He’s your basic super villain. He starts using his newfound powers to take whatever he wants and to inspire fear in the city so he can control it. Jay of course disagrees, and they become opposing forces battling for the fate of Central City. Zoom starts to collect other metas as followers and his threat grows.

Zoom and E2 Flash clash multiple times. Jay has several close calls, but around the time of the singularity Jay Garrick loses spectacularly. This may be where he lost his hat. He ends up locked in a glass case he can’t phase out of. The city only knows he’s disappeared. The singularity provides Zoom with a doorway to Earth 1 and he finds Jay Peters.

It’s possible Hunter is looking for a way to steal speed from Jay, it’s possible he has already tried, or maybe he has just enough soul left to shy away from actually torturing his own brother.  But that doesn’t extend to a doppleganger of his brother he found on E1. And one thing we do know is that Hunter wants more speed for himself.

So Jay Peters becomes the guinea pig for Velocity 1-6. He has the right DNA and genetic makeup to limit problems and difficulties, and Zoom can safely experiment on him without endangering himself. By the time Zoom is done, Jay Peters has had speed in his system but is not a speedster, and he’s a Velocity junkie constantly in need of a fix. He is also dying because of it.

By now Zoom has become aware that there is another speedster in E1 Central City. He’s pretty fast, and he has a connection to the speed force, something Zoom deeply wants and has been trying to replicate through Velocity without success. Now that Jay is useless for experimentation, Zoom has a new target and a new plan. Jay Peters is a dying man, so he has nothing to lose when he reluctantly agrees to return to Earth 1 and be a deep cover spy for Zoom. I think Zoom probably promised him a cure in exchange. And he’s got the perfect cover. Jay takes on E2 Jay Garrick’s identity.

Jay Peters returns to Earth 1 and starts tracking down the Flash’s true identity. Eventually he figures out it’s Barry Allen behind the mask and that he works out of S.T.A.R. Labs. He spies on the former members of Barry’s team and his family. All of this information is fed back to Zoom. But unbeknownst to Zoom, Jay Peters has also been quietly looking for his long-lost twin brother. He never even knew he had one until Zoom attempted to torture information out of him hoping to find another guinea pig, and he also realized the man in the other cell was Zoom’s twin brother. The mask went on shortly after that, to stop the two from talking to each other. Jay Peters was hoping to do exactly what he told Caitlin. He was hoping to find his twin and borrow healthy cells to replace his dying ones and thus stop his terminal disease. But his cells had been changed through Velocity treatments, and it doesn’t matter once Jay actually finds Zolomon. Jay continues to spy on Barry and when Zoom directs him to, presents himself to the team under the guise of Jay Garrick from Earth 2, and “your world is in danger.” Zoom has been and continues to send in other breachers to prime Barry for faster speed.

Having secured the team’s trust by teaching Barry to throw lightning (a skill Jay developed while on Velocity) and taking a major beating, he continued to spy for Zoom and is in turn fed information to make it sound as if he really was from Earth 2 instead of native to Earth 1.

What Jay didn’t plan on, and what no one ever seems to, is that he would grow to care about the members of the team, who are just good people trying to do good. Much like him before Zoom kidnapped him and his world became a “nightmare you can’t wake up from.” He used these very words about Zoom when he told Barry not to go up against him. Jay Peters didn’t plan on getting to know or caring about Caitlin, a fellow scientist that he was feeling very attracted to and who in turn was attracted to him. Nevertheless, he stays the course. Right now he either goes against Zoom’s wishes and dies, or he continues on hoping that somehow he’ll find a cure before he succumbs to his illness. He’s basically stuck.

A major wrench in the plan occurs when Harry Wells shows up from Earth 2. Harry and the actual Jay Garrick have a contentious history, Jay is sure Harry has ulterior motives, and Jay Peters is very afraid he’s going to be outed as a fraud. He probably also has some underlying anger about Harry’s irresponsibility in allowing the accelerator accident at all, creating metas and by extension Zoom and all the terrible events that have followed. Jay easily doesn’t trust Harry and lets his anger show, encouraging the others not to trust him either. But he does report back to Zoom. Zoom questions Jesse on why her father is now on Earth 2.

Then Harry says he wants to help take out Zoom and they should lay a trap. Jay objects because first of all he knows Barry isn’t fast enough to actually beat Zoom, nor is he fast enough for Zoom to be happy taking his speed yet. All Barry is in for is a world of pain, which Jay Peters has already experienced firsthand. After disagreements and a fist fight, he disavows helping at all and leaves. He’s already told Zoom a trap is being laid. Not that it was hard to figure out. Barry goes up against Zoom and loses. Badly. Jay is reminded of his own precarious position.

During the time before they try to trap Zoom Harry makes it clear that Barry is much faster than Jay is or was, and that Barry should be teaching Jay. I think this supports the idea that Jay has had speedster episodes due to Velocity but hasn’t ever actually been a true speedster.

Harry starts pushing for Velocity formulas, which Jay Peters is addicted to but has been off of for a while. He doesn’t want that poison anywhere near him as temptation, and the last thing he wants is for Barry to become like him. Plus Zoom is going to be really ticked if his prize is ruined before he can steal his speed. Jay is very outspoken against any Velocity at all.

However, when Patty shoots Harry and Caitlin begs him to take it, he does. He removes the bullet and swears he is done with it and tells them to keep that stuff away from Barry.

By now Zoom has decided Harry is a perfect way to get Barry’s speed, and since he already has Jesse captive he now has the perfect leverage. Harry agrees to steal Barry’s speed in exchange for his daughter. Zoom leaves Jay in place for extra information. Jay is actually not aware of this, but he still doesn’t trust Harry at all. Besides, if one of them is going to be distrusted, he’d rather it be Harry. He gets closer to Caitlin. She discovers his fatal disease. Jay sees all the good the team tries to do. By the time Harry confesses to stealing speed off Barry and they decide to help him save Jesse, Jay starts to wonder if maybe it would work. Then they could seal the portals for good and Jay and this world will be safe from Zoom. (Jay was trying to figure out how to close the portals back in episode 10, and while he spent the first two episodes attempting to stabilize the portal, it’s possible he was doing it at Zoom’s direction or to keep his cover. He also “said” he was going home but was convinced to change his mind very easily.

Harry, Cisco and Barry go through to Earth 2. The portal breaks. Jay is honestly torn. If he leaves it closed, he is safe from Zoom but he’s left the others trapped at Zoom’s mercy on the other side. If he opens it again, he runs the chance that Zoom will come through it. Geomancer shows up in Central City, Joe pressures Jay into helping. Jay caves and takes more Velocity. He defends Joe and almost gets killed, but the look in Caitlin’s eyes is  worth it. He’s feeling like a good person. He commits to reopening the portal. He gets it working again, but he’s also twitchy for another fix and a dose of feeling like a hero for once, which is just as addictive as Velocity it seems. Caitlin finishes Velocity 9 just in time for Jay to save people at the hospital and feel like a true hero for the first time. He goes down to “take a nap.”

Jay was gone for Geomancer’s arrival at S.T.A.R. Labs and it was mentioned afterward. There is a reason. He’s either reporting to Zoom and giving him any new information, having a serious attack after taking Velocity 9, standing by the portal trying to decide if he should break it or not, or telling Zoom he’s done being the double agent and he doesn’t care what happens to him. Something went down while he was absent.

Caitlin informs him that she has found a lead on curing him. For the first time, he is not doomed. He’s back on Earth 1, he feels like a hero, he cares for Caitlin and she cares for him. If only he could make sure Zoom never made it back to Earth 1 again.

Perfect timing, Geomancer broke the portal again. Jay Peters becomes the hero he always wanted to be for Caitlin when he commits to opening it again knowing full well Zoom could use it too. He and Joe work together to open it. The others show up. When Barry finally comes through with Harry and they close the breach, Jay must have been feeling pretty optimistic about his future.

But that was his downfall. He stood too close to the still closing portal, smiling at Caitlin. Really Jay? I’d be on the other side of the room. Zoom is ticked by now and aware that Jay has turned against him. Jay never said a word about the other portals being closed and now they are sealing off the last one. Zoom kills him and yanks him back to Earth 2. And thus Caitlin loses yet another man she cared about and Jay Peters ends on a heroic note after really enduring what was probably a year of absolute hell. If this really is the case I feel sorry for the guy. Maybe his twin can help the team avenge him.

What do you think? Feel free to hit the comments! 😀