Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of The Flash. To catch up on previous coverage, click here.
Okay. As I continue to collect my thoughts and bottle my frustration, let’s talk about the big reveal this week.
Jay is freaking Zoom…well, Earth 2 version of Jay is Zoom. Or so it appears and I am beyond agitated. Maybe I shouldn’t be because yes, this is just a television series but boy oh boy had I had my hopes up on it being Henry Allen especially with how little impact Jay has left on the season so far. So little in fact that his absence from this week’s episode made no difference other than allowing the other characters enough breathing room. Maybe there will be some other twist coming up along the way, there are quite a few episodes left before the season needs to tie everything up but I’m assuming there is going to be no change that causes me to rethink by annoyance. I don’t care for Jay and there is no reason why he being Zoom should add any extra angst or conflict for the Flash team aside from Caitlin who apparently had become close enough to almost love.
Which okay, cool I guess.
What makes it so monumentally disappointing beyond the sting of being wrong in my predictions is that the episode had been pretty terrific up until that big reveal. As the episode began it was hard not to think how absurd it was that the first villain out of the gate after the Earth 2 two parter was King Shark, a character who errs to the more strictly comic book nature of the series and while Grodd fared well there was no saying whether the metahuman shark would as well.
Add to that the very welcome appearance of Diggle and Lyla and there’s the potential for an episode that feels haphazard in tone, particularly since Diggle brings with him an air of maturity that tends to escape other characters on both Arrow and The Flash and much to my surprise, both elements worked and even better they worked together.
There was a lot about this episode to love but specifically it was the focus on the relationships amidst all this madness that helped ground the episode and bring everything home after the craziness of the last two episodes. Cisco and Barry have been warned from telling their loved ones about what happened on Earth 2 and it’s taking its toll in different ways. Cisco has begun to increasingly worry over Caitlin and whether the loss of Jay was a loss too far and that now with so much bottled grief she would begin to turn her pain outwards on those around her. This fear is soon remedied by a heart to heart between the two and their dynamic is greatly appreciated and utilized in this episode as Cisco dances around the truth and Caitlin tries to pick up the pieces of her life once again.
Barry meanwhile has a more introspective concern weighing on his mind, something that interferes with him developing a relationship with Wally and is immediately noticeable to both Joe and Iris. Firstly, I’m happy that Barry and Wally didn’t clear things up by the end of the episode because can you imagine how awkward that relationship would be? While I enjoyed their scenes together they make a much more interesting dynamic now that they have room to learn and grown rather than being forced to become close in one hour of television.
That being said it’s not just his relationship (or could be relationship) with Wally that suffers but it’s also his overall spirit which Joe calls him out on after King Shark attacks them at their home and Wally calls Barry a coward for hiding, not knowing of course that he’d run off to become the Flash and save the day. Poor, emotionally invested Barry comes clean to both Joe and Iris, tells them about their doppelgangers and about how he watched that version of Joe die and that even though he knew it wasn’t his Joe or his Iris he couldn’t help but grow attached. Greater still is his sense of guilt not just for Earth 2 Joe’s death but also Jay’s and the whole issue with the breaches in the first place, along with the idea that they left Zoom to terrorize an entire world while knowing how evil and corrupt he was. Grant Gustin does a fine bit of acting here, selling the vulnerability and hopelessness that the character is feeling so that despite Diggle’s comparison he never ends up seeming like a lesser glowering version of Oliver. He carries the weight of the world on his shoulders yes, but instead of letting this cripple him it instead by the end of the episode gives him a new sense of purpose-he’s going to stop Zoom.
Who’s Jay but whatever…
Diggle getting to make a solo appearance with Lyla was a welcome addition and if I could pick any of the Arrow main three to make continual visits I’d be happy if it was him, his character poised to be the biggest juxtaposition1 to Barry’s character, someone who’s lived a life, seen a lot of loss and has learned how to deal with it, something Barry is still grappling with. That and his utter amazement at Barry’s speed and anything meta-human continues to be massively charming.
The CGI was all well done, Killer Shark in particular as well as the last chase scene between him and the Flash but it was the cinematic direction of the episode that gave it it’s overall edge. A scene in particular that comes to mind is a simple one of Diggle and Barry standing on the coastline, the backdrop of Central City creating an overall scope for the world. The episode felt big and consequential.
Until the Zoom reveal happened.
I’ll try not to let it dampen my overall feelings too much and regardless I’m excited as always to see where the Star Labs crew bring us next.
What did everyone else think about the reveal? The Flash returns March 22nd.