This review contains spoilers.
Alarm bells started ringing within seconds of “Invincible” kicking off. For one thing, the “metapocalypse” (which is an inexcusable word) didn’t look all that intimidating. It looked less like Central City was under siege than it did a block or so in Vancouver. It was all downhill from there.
“Invincible” was so poorly written as to be completely baffling. What in the world was the point of “healing” Barry in “The Runaway Dinosaur” only to take everything away from him again an episode later? I was certain that Barry’s bizarre, almost zen-like overconfidence was a mask for something deeper. When other characters started commenting on it, I figured it had to be a “Barry knows something we don’t” situation. Instead, it was exactly what it appeared to be, an astoundingly arrogant display that was completely out of line with his journey over the last two seasons.
The Barry problem (and to a slightly lesser extent, the Henry problem, although really they’re essentially the same thing) is really the root of all of this. Without it, this was just another muddled episode of The Flash Season 2, something I’ve sadly become accustomed to. A little overstuffed in terms of plot and character, with a guest star/villain of the week in the form of a formerly heroic character sneering their way through a performance, and some meaningless chess piece movements by our useless big baddie.
“Invincible” managed to indulge all of this season’s worst instincts in the space of its (far too long) running time. We got more “eeeevil doppleganger” nonsense complete with dialogue that wouldn’t have made the cut on an episode of Gotham, more of Zoom’s incomprehensible supervillain nonsense, and the sacrificing of a beloved character for no discernible reason other than to torment our main character, exactly one week after he had found some measure of closure. It was all tied together with some really dreadful special effects, especially during the Mercury Labs collapse.
But the completely unnecessary death of Henry Allen was the final straw. Henry’s return in recent episodes felt a little too convenient, and I had a sinking feeling they were fitting him for a coffin. But to do it like this, under these circumstances wasn’t just pointless, it was cruel. Barry has now had to relive his mother’s death countless times, and “The Runaway Dinosaur” was a beautiful way (whether you choose to read his journey into the Speed Force literally or metaphorically) for Barry to come to terms with all of the demons surrounding that. To give those back to him, particularly in a manner that appears to have been designed by people who come from the Batman “my parents are deaaaaaaaad” school of superhero storytelling, was a meaningless gesture, and given Barry’s behavior for the previous hour, is so profoundly damaging to his actual character that I wonder if the show can ever truly recover.
I’m out of ideas, folks. I can’t imagine anything next week’s episode could possibly do to redeem this season. The Flash has been the very best of superhero shows for much of its run, but something has gone very wrong during this season’s second half, and I’m not sure it can be fixed. This doesn’t even feel like the same show from the first half of this season. It’s like somewhere right before the midseason break they ran out of ideas and have been improvising, in increasingly desperate fashion, ever since. It’s the only possible explanation for this needlessly mean-spirited and dumb hour of television this week.
– Black Siren first appeared in the first season of the Justice League animated series in 2002, with that world’s equivalent of the Earth-2 Justice Society, the Justice Guild.
On the one hand, it’s kind of cool to see a character dreamed up for the DC Animated Universe make the jump to live action, as it continues to illustrate the commitment this show has to the wider DCU. On the other hand, Black Siren is kind of a dopey excuse to bring Katie Cassidy back so soon after her death. I’m not sure what the impact here was supposed to be. Fans of these shows have barely had time to process the fact
– Are we supposed to be excited about Wally’s nascent vigilantism? Didn’t we see almost exactly the same thing during Roy Harper’s pre-costumed days on Arrow? I’ve been a fan of how they haven’t tried to rush Wally for most of the season, but this doesn’t seem like the right place or the right time for any of it.
– During the (ahem) “metapocalypse” there’s a metahuman wielding green fire energy. I kinda feel like this is a nod to Earth 2 Green Lantern, Alan Scott, whose mystical green energy often had a smokier, flamier (is that a word?) look than the usual cosmic Green Lantern stuff. Maybe it was just straight up “Harold Jordan” the Power Ring/eeeeeevil Green Lantern.
– Someone in a metal mask kinda looked like minor DC Comics vigilante, Wild Dog.
– Was that…Wesley Dodds/Sandman in the fedora hanging with Zoom at the Central City police station? God, I hope not. That character deserves much better than this.
– There are also some winged folks, and I wonder if they’re Thanagarians rather than just eeeeeeevil versions of Carter and Kendra. I’m not sure I care, to be honest.
– Anyone have any ideas who the metahuman purse snatcher is supposed to be? And for real, you have metahuman powers and you’re snatching purses? Get the hell out of here with this hack ass nonsense.
– The “dimensional tuning fork” was something that appeared in Crisis On Infinite Earths, although they had a much different function there.
– The Henry/Tina meeting would have been fun/cute if it wasn’t just a set-up for misery and murder. Was Zack Snyder consulting on this episode?
– Barry tells the cops, “We’re all part of the same team,” which is what Superman tells the warden after he drops off Lex and Otis at the end of Superman: The Movie, which I am long overdue for another viewing of, despite the fact that I can recite that movie backwards on command.
– Iris, who might not be the greatest writer in the world (but is certainly better than the folks who scripted this week’s disaster), refers to “the blackest of nights” to describe the (snort) “metapocalypse.” The phrase “in blackest night” is part of the Green Lantern oath, and “Blackest Night” was the name of a DC Universe crossover where everyone who ever died rose from the dead and ummmm…yeah. Comics, everybody!
– Okay, so this episode sucked, but Cisco’s “last supper” t-shirt with the dinosaurs and a meteor in the background while he’s having end of the world visions was on point.
Mike Cecchini is now convinced that he’s watching the eeeeeevil Earth-2 version of The Flash TV series, and that the real one, the good one, will return soon enough. Sync your higher vibrations with his on Twitter. Caroline Preece is away.
UK viewers: The Flash season 2 currently airs on Tuesdays on Sky 1.