After a climactic, if predictable cliffhanger the question the Flash would have to answer is how to carry on after. The answer following throughout the entire episode is fairly simple: move on. While it’s very, very easy for the show to navel gaze following a devastating loss, especially a last minute one like Jay, the show makes the right decision in moving forward to where the pain is still fresh, but everyone is finding their own ways in coping. After the very near out-of-character narrative arc for Barry and Cisco, it’s nice to see the things they saw in their doppelgangers wreck havoc with how they perceive their friends and family. For Barry, it’s his guilt over causing Joe-2’s death, as well as the possibility of what could be with Iris. For Cisco, it’s the fear that a now withdrawn Caitlin could end up becoming like the rampaging Killer Frost he saw on Earth-2. However, as the episode goes out of it’s way to show, that hurt is all negatively affecting them at the worst time possible.
This episode features the return of King Shark. While he’s not that much more shaded than he was in his previous appearance where he got tased, the undeniable appeal of the Flash fighting a human shark, and the litany of new Jaws references can’t be denied. The episode also features an excuse for Diggle and Lyla to return, which isn’t unwelcome, although they don’t have much to add beyond being a reminder of a status quo for a show not everyone watches, and how Flash has gotten a bit too mopey of late in a pretty on-the-nose exchange with Barry and Dig. That said though, a breather after such an intense bout of trans-dimensional travel and heartbreak is what the show needed. The time needed for everyone to heal, reconnect, and draw new lines on the ground helped. In the case of Barry and Wally, this was necessary. Barry has only met Wally once (Tarpit incident notwithstanding), but they’ve never really connected, which as this episode shows was sorely necessary since they’re brothers now. The Wally plotline has been one of the show’s better ideas, and it helped give Iris and Joe a nuanced story while also giving them things to do outside of Barry’s shadow.
Those converging plots give Barry some time with Wally, while it inevitably leads to initial brittleness in their relationship, it makes sense that there would be sibling rivalry between the two, a negative draw that couldn’t have come at a worse time. Joe while his views in wanting his two sons to like each other are good, it doesn’t necessarily gel when one has been the only man in the family for some time, and the other is just discovering he has one. While Barry’s attitude, and the way the Wests foist him on Wally don’t necessarily lend themselves to introspection on Wally’s part, it takes two to tango, and eventually they do warm up at each other. The decision to make Wally the adoptive brother to Barry, as opposed to his nephew/fanboy works a lot better here, and the setup with Wally’s engineering being a counterpoint to Barry’s focus on forensics is an interesting choice. One that might lend itself to a certain superhero identity being foisted upon him.
That theme of family that doesn’t necessarily always come together is also exemplified in Wells’ time with his daughter. Now that he and Jesse are back together, there’s very little tenderness between them since Harry as always is consumed with work, which says a lot about what life back on Earth-2 was for them, and yet again it’s a pretty stark decision to have them be a bit more distant given the executive decisions made for them to evacuate to Earth-1. But it’s all understandably presented given that Jessie spent time in a torture chamber, only to be forced to leave everything she knows, while Harry isn’t always equipped for the emotional solution or to let him in, it’s nice to see a different side to him having her around. The same can be said for Cisco, who as we all know isn’t the king of stable emotional reactions. While it’s hard not to want to fault him for being worried about Caitlin, they both suffered a loss there, and yet again it’s glad to see people live and learn on this show.
That said though, where Flash excels is in the ability of these people to build their new family units. Despite the loss of Jay, and the things they saw on Earth-2, Barry and Cisco both have the honesty to reflect on it despite Harry’s wishes for it to remain secret but also not let these events define them. While I can be rough on the show, it’s only because I expect more. While the episode isn’t totally free of flaw, the actors all came together today and gave what’s one of the more emotionally triumphant performances of the series. The episode is a celebration of the show’s history. Good and bad, silly and serious. I wouldn’t expect less from a series like this.
4 out of 5 Turbines
- Correct me if I’m wrong, but that project Wally was working on sure looked like Hot Pursuit from Geoff Johns’ second Flash run. While I hope Wally does become the Flash too, it’s a pragmatic way at not stuffing the show with people who have the same powers. Though, I must confess: I’m pretty sure a forensic scientist isn’t a Tony Stark type engineer either, eh?
- So… how about that reveal eh? I’m calling dibs on the Earth-1 version.
- Caitlin tormenting Cisco for treating her like a supervillian for mourning is perhaps one of the best gags I’ve seen on the show. And much deserved revenge.