This review contains spoilers.
2.15 King Shark
Barry has always felt a lot of responsibility for the things that happen around him. He blames himself for the hurt his friends and family have been put through since he became The Flash, and he wants more than anything to fix it for them. This is both one of his most heroic traits and a major character flaw because, even if his instincts tell him to save the entire world, doing so can often just do more damage.
While Oliver Queen opts to endlessly brood and keep things to himself, Barry wears his heart very much on his sleeve. It’s the most endearing thing about him, and thus always feels authentic when episodes like King Shark bring those emotions to the surface. Plus, we all know that Grant Gustin cries really well, so there’s that.
Overall it’s smart for the show to carry over emotional consequences from the gang’s adventures on Earth-2, both for Barry and for Caitlin. Jay’s death predictably hits her hard due to the constant cloud of despair that seems to follow her around, but Cisco’s concern that she might be getting ‘cold’ and ‘frosty’ feels a bit off.
It might help if we’d witnessed Caitlin grieving for Ronnie even just a little bit this time around, or if she’d had any kind of storyline this year at all. The writers just generally need to figure out what they’re doing with her.
Barry is similarly downbeat, we think, about Jay’s death. Then it appears as if the show wants us to believe he’s sad that, after briefly feeling what it would be like to be married to Iris, reality is disappointing. But that’s just me selling the show short, because what his sadness really turns out to be is a reaction to watching Joe die on Earth-2, and the lasting effects witnessing that must have had.
This is a guy who watched his mother die, his father go to jail and yet another father figure uncovered as her killer. He’s got some issues, and the Wests have always been his safe place to land amidst all of that.
And Diggle and Lyla are in Central City! Two of the most underused characters on Arrow, it’s an absolute blast to have them cross over into this sunnier, more whimsical world. Diggle’s pragmatism juxtaposes perfectly with the abject silliness of a giant talking shark, and they both provide a foundation for the metahuman of the week while the STAR Labs team cope with their respective issues.
Side notes: the ‘improvements’ to Diggle’s helmet actually appeared to make things worse, judging by his headgear in this week’s Arrow. Also, the fact that Felicity isn’t returning Barry’s phone calls is more concerning to me than anything she’s going through with Oliver. Maybe her situation has been getting to her more than she’s admitting? It seems like Barry would be the first person to be cut if she was avoiding her honest emotions.
Wally is again responsible for the episode’s most tedious moments, as he throws a fit about Joe and Iris’ affection for Barry. To him, it doesn’t matter if Barry grew up with the Wests from the age of ten, or that he lost both his parents in tragic circumstances. Our sympathies are always going to be with Barry first and foremost, so watching this new kid blame him for stuff he has no control over is just annoying.
But the thing that we’re all going to be talking about during this long, Flash-less month, is that final reveal of Zoom’s identity. It’s Jay, apparently, leaving us all scratching our heads over how the heck that’s happened. Was the Earth-2 Jay Garrick we’ve gotten to know just an imposter? Or is Zoom’s face not his real face? Any theories in the comments please, because I’ve got absolutely no idea.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Escape From Earth-2, here.