The Flash managed to bring forth several of my favorite elements of the show, including heart, Arrow crossovers, and a post-credits scene that was a game changer in every sense of the word.
While I’ve been critical of The Flash early on this season – only because it failed to match the hype and storytelling of a spectacular first season – I feel like this was the episode that has changed everything in the best possible way. It’s set up the remainder of this second season to one hell of a ride.
Barry’s Got the Weight of the World on His Shoulders
Remember when we considered Barry Allen to be a lighter superhero? While he’s nowhere near the darkness level of Oliver Queen, Barry has moved away from that bright, cheery hero and more towards a darker hero this season as he’s feeling the guilt of an entire city, multiple deaths, and a big bad named Zoom.
Barry has witnessed his share of loss in his life, but none more so than the season one finale up to this point. His mother (again), Eddie, Ronnie, and now Jay and Earth-2 Joe. Barry has taken the blame upon himself for each of those deaths when that couldn’t be the furthest thing from the truth. All of those were by choice – by the choice of the characters not named Barry.
You could see it in this episode how the guilt of Jay’s and Joe’s deaths was physically affecting Barry – he couldn’t think, he couldn’t focus, he couldn’t allow himself to feel anything good at all because why does he deserve it? He literally couldn’t think about anything else to the point where he was begging for a metahuman to distract him. One of the most beautiful scenes in the episode came when Barry finally opened up to Joe and Iris about his time on Earth-2, and how essentially he was sick to his stomach that he was responsible for the death of Joe on Earth-2, as well as subjecting an entire world to Zoom’s wrath now that they’ve closed the breaches.
Like Diggle said, Barry is getting an Oliver Queen complex with the whole carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders with everything that happens to those that he knows and cares about. But Barry cannot control every force in the universe – whether that’s people or the events that happen around them. I understand that Barry feels guilty about certain aspects of his relationship with some of those people, but their deaths are not on Barry’s shoulders. That’s a struggle that Barry has dealt with continuously this season, and that’s something I feel like will always be a part of him. It comes with being a self-sacrificial hero.
The thing that’s so great about this shared universe is that we get crossovers between shows, and this episode featured two of Arrow’s fan-favorites: John Diggle and Lyla Michaels-Diggle, who paid Barry and Team Flash a visit after King Shark escaped from ARGUS and headed towards the Flash in Central City.
While it’s always nice to see the Diggles kicking ass and taking names – and getting a focus – something that I really honed in on was that this universe continues to prove that John Diggle is a Superhero Whisperer. On Arrow we’ve seen him be Oliver’s right hand man and voice of reason, along with guiding others like Felicity, Thea, and Laurel, and it was great to see that Diggle will always exist in that role no matter what city he’s in or what hero he’s mentoring.
As Barry was busy carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders – much like his mentor in Star City – Diggle was there to remind him that he can’t put all of this on himself. It’s going to slow him down.
Side note: It was great to see Barry ask Diggle about how Felicity is doing and show that he’s worried about her and cares for her. Their friendship always makes me feel something inside – and one line is enough to do it. Barry and Felicity’s friendship is something that’s grown to be so beautiful on its own – and a lot of that credit goes to Grant Gustin and Emily Bett Rickards, who still manage to keep that friendship strong spanning two shows.
Caitlin Struggles with Grief
One has to wonder: how many times can a heart break before it cannot be mended again? Poor Caitlin Snow has endured tragedy after tragedy and lost loved one after loved one, and yet she is still standing. But make no mistake, just because Caitlin is able to stand on her own feet that doesn’t mean that she’s not suffering.
After losing Ronnie the first time, then the second time, and now losing Jay, Caitlin is a woman whose heart has been stomped upon too many times. And in this episode we saw how Caitlin struggled with that grief once more…she became bitter. Just like the first time we met her in the pilot when she was handling Ronnie’s death the first time in an unhealthy way.
Something that was interesting about this episode was how the show chose to connect Caitlin’s anger with Cisco’s concerns that Caitlin might become her Earth-2 counterpart Killer Frost. It was evident that this show’s producers want us to believe that this repeated loss could be the driving force that pushes Caitlin to becoming Killer Frost in this world.
But in the same instance it showed why she most likely won’t become that villainous, chilly metahuman. Caitlin Snow on Earth-1 is a loving, caring, intelligent, and brave woman who has endured and overcome multiple tragedies that would’ve broken countless others. But you know what, Caitlin hasn’t given into that darkness. Because that’s not who she is on this show.
These parallel Earths represent different versions of the characters that we know. While Caitlin Snow on Earth-2 might be evil, the Caitlin Snow on Earth-1 is good. And I pray that the show continues to abide by that.
Wally’s Jealously Over Barry
With Wally’s arrival on The Flash, a bulk of the focus has been on Wally and his relationship with Joe and Iris, rightfully so, and we got a nice development on both of those fronts. But something I’ve been curious about from the start has been what the relationship between Wally and Barry is like. Here you have two members of this West family – one that was not blood-related and brought into this family at a young age and one by blood that never grew up with this family.
So obviously there’s going to be some tension on Wally’s front, which we saw front and center in this episode. Wally is jealous of Barry because Barry got to live the life that was meant for him, well that’s what Wally believes. From the start, Wally has heard Joe and Iris say nothing but great things about Barry, seen Barry in every picture in the house, and experienced a pang of jealously at a life that could’ve been his.
Wally hasn’t been one of my favorite characters this season because essentially he’s been an angsty teenager who is bitter about everything. I’m not taking away from what Wally went through – losing his mother and learning that he has a father and sister he didn’t know about – but Wally needs to put forth more effort and not approach certain situations with a predetermined attitude.
Luckily Joe addressed this situation at episode’s end – per the request of Barry, to tell Wally that he’s not perfect and that he makes mistakes – and he told Wally the story of how Barry came to be a part of this family. How Barry is his son, but Wally is also his son. And Joe has plenty of love to give.
The Game Changer
With a three-week hiatus on the way, you just knew that The Flash was going to go out with a bang and make us sit on a huge cliffhanger until March. This show has always thrived off the anonymity and subsequent reveal of its big bads – with Reverse Flash last season and Zoom this year. As Zoom’s true Earth-2 identity has remained a secret for the entire season it spurned a lot of theories as to who could be behind that mask. But it was perhaps last week’s episode that served as a lead-in to Tuesday’s big reveal: Zoom is Jay Garrick of Earth-2. Not the Jay Garrick that was working with Team Flash on Earth-1 but another doppleganger. HOLY. SHIT.
Following last week’s episode where a certain man in an iron mask tapped out “Jay” as in “Jay Garrick” when Barry was imprisoned by Zoom, Jay Garrick was the popular theory. And would you look at that – we were right.
Zoom’s identity reveal is a game changer for this show as it now shows that following Zoom’s murder of that Jay that was on our Earth that Zoom has the upper hand. But the breaches are closed so everything should be okay, right? Yeah, I didn’t believe what I just wrote either. Now I can’t help but think Zoom is going to find a way back to Earth-1 and pose as the Jay Garrick we all know and love. Then Caitlin is going to get sucked back in and her heart shattered once more. It makes you think: How many times can a heart be broken before it can’t be mended?