Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of The Flash. To catch up on previous coverage, click here.
And we’re back and everything has grown more stressful.
Barry’s confidence (more on this specifically in a second) didn’t spell out anything good for our hero as the episode began, as an atmosphere of dread began to infest the screen. As Barry imparts words of wisdom to Joe about Wally, has a genuine heart to heart with Cisco about always having his back so he doesn’t go to the “dark side”, to Iris voicing some potential feelings she might be harboring for her best friend, it began to feel that Barry was receiving similar treatment to characters who are usually about to be killed off. While the show doesn’t kill off their lead by the end of the episode (obviously), they have stripped him of his powers, reverting him back to his human self.
The meat of the episode is spent paralleling Zoom’s upbringing to Barry’s. Zoom too watched his mother be murdered but where Barry always knew for certain his father was wrongly accused, Zoom saw his father pull the trigger. Traumatized and isolated, he grows up to be a serial killer and while receiving electro-shock therapy the particle accelerator goes off in Earth Two, giving him his speed. Barry meanwhile grew up with the support of his surrogate family. Family is the strongest theme of the episode as we see Barry risk all to protect Wally, someone who has only recently entered his orbit but also someone Joe and Iris deeply care for, making him family in Barry’s eyes.
Jay says at one point that due to their similar circumstances, Barry could have turned out just as depraved as him but I have to agree with the latter on this one. Even if he hadn’t had Joe and Iris, he never would have turned into the murderer that Jay is. Lonelier perhaps, but what defines Barry is his inner sweetness not just in spite of the trauma he carried growing up with but because of it as well. Nurture may have had a great deal to do with how the two speedsters developed into who they are but their natures come into play as well.
It’s that natural warmth Barry exudes that makes his confidence both fantastic to watch but worrisome to behold. On the one hand, it’s quintessentially Flash for him to slyly smirk as he speeds out of Zooms grasp, finally getting the upper hand. Grant Gustin has really grown into the hero stature the Flash possesses, developing the faux cockiness while wearing his suit. Seeing the confidence get the better of him isn’t so much shocking as it is a foreboding of what’s to come. He gets his quippy hero moment, enjoys in it, then it’s stolen from him as Zoom’s innate evil takes ahold and frees him of the trap Barry had captured him in. Due to it, Wally is captured, brought back to Zoom’s earth through the breach Cisco created, and bargains with Barry that he’ll give Wally back alive if Barry gives him his speed. It’s a relative quick decision, but it’s nice to see Barry be the one who first truly reached it, never giving up the heroic mantle he’s been wearing so well.
It has to be the mark of a good show and terrific character development that even though I, like the rest of you, know that Barry isn’t going to go without his powers for long, it still is upsetting to watch him give them up, becoming slower and slower with each second. Despite the disruptive scheduling the show has had to endure, it hasn’t become any less engaging and Gustin’s The Flash is one of the best fleshed out characters in the current DC universe. So no, I can’t foresee the show having much fun with slow Flash for very long, buy it doesn’t make this pivotal sacrifice sting any less.
It’s exaggerated more when Zoom gloats gleefully afterwards, taking in Barry’s speed as if he were experiencing an euphoric high. Before he gets the chance to hurt Barry any further, Caitlin steps in and saves him but she is whisked away by Zoom in the process.
I have some logistic issues, such as why on earth the Star Lab crew doesn’t try and find a way to pull one over Zoom when transferring the speed, especially when Zoom is just sitting around and explaining his master plan. I know we have five episodes left and that would take away some of the momentum, but the script should have at least had Barry giving his speed away in less relaxed circumstances.
In relationship news…
Iris is apparently dealing with questions about her feelings toward Barry, believing that the universe is trying to tell her that they belong together. On the one hand, I’m thrilled, because if the characters need to be coupled up, they are the two that I’m most rooting for, but I don’t think the “I feel like we should” angle is the strongest one. However, the back and forth between the two as Iris tells Barry about her date was quite frankly adorable, and Gustin and Candice Patton’s chemistry really shined through.
We are finally entering the home stretch of the season and with only five episodes left, the show is making every moment count. Teddy Sears is easily more compelling as Zoom then he ever was as straight laced Jay and serves as a formidable threat, especially with the mysterious “darkness” aiding him. Zoom isn’t going to be an easy victory. With Cisco’s developing powers, Barry losing his and Caitlin’s kidnapping, the team is growing splintered as the mounting threat looms overhead of just what Zoom can accomplish and the chaos and death that trails along with him. I may not be worried about Barry getting his speed back, but I can’t help but feel a twinge of concern over how all our heroes will be holding up by the end of Zoom’s run.
And who the hell is in that steel mask!?