This review contains spoilers.
Well that’s one way to end an episode of your most popular superhero show! Apparently we won’t be watching The Flash from next week onwards, but rather Vibe and Friends: The New Adventures. Barry Allen is no more, he disintegrated, and there’s absolutely no way out of this particular predicament.
Except of course that Barry’s not really dead, but that doesn’t really take away from the impact of those final ten minutes. After weeks of really doubting that this is a show that can surprise me anymore, it delivered a really good episode with a solid cliff-hanger that’s not even close to the finale. Last year that wouldn’t have been a particular surprise but, this year? It kinda is.
So Wells’ plan to get Barry his powers back backfired considerably, and now it looks as though the gang are on their own against a pretty pissed off Zoom.
We start with them making do with what they have, fighting crime with a hologram controlled from STAR Labs. It’s fine, but it’s nowhere near as good as the real thing. Wells wants to cut the nonsense and put them back on a level playing field but, due to his face being similar to last year’s big bad and the ramifications of the last particle accelerator explosion, Barry and co. are less than willing to go along with his plan.
To get some clarity, Barry visits his absentee father in the middle of the woods and, after catching up with him as if they haven’t spoken since the last time Henry Allen was on screen (bad parenting, that), brings him back to the Labs so he can argue with Joe and Wells about what’s best for him.
So Henry’s there, delivering platitudes like there’s no tomorrow and being generally ineffective. God, I hate Henry – what right does he have to offer any advice, when he apparently hasn’t spoken to his child since said child risked everything to free him from prison?
Anyway, he’s nothing compared to Zoom, who surpassed himself in stupidity by following the exact same evil plan that he did on Earth-2. Not only does this mean that Barry and the others know his every move, but we’ve also got the added element of him sparing main characters from murder sprees just because he’s apparently in love with Caitlin. That doesn’t explain the police captain, but ah well.
He wants to make Caitlin his evil queen, or something, because he sees darkness in her. In actuality he sees darkness in Killer Frost, who bears no resemblance at all to our Caitlin and, if the last episode is to be believed, is really just a Caitlin that learned to be less uptight and wear low-cut outfits. Urgh.
Back to the positive, I can’t deny that Zoom’s massacre of the police red shirts was pretty brutal, and is the first time he’s been threatening since the Jay reveal.
Ignoring for a second my intense reservations about Barry and Iris being a romantic thing again, I also really liked their conversation. It felt honest and emotional in a way I didn’t get from their interactions last year and maybe – just maybe – I might be on board for the show exploring this further. On the other hand, screw the future, Iris, and go get yourself a life.
People have commented a lot on Barry’s mood this season, which has been decidedly gloomier than in season one. That comes to a head this week when he decides that being The Flash is what makes him a hero, and he can’t be one without his powers. This doesn’t jibe with his character for me, but it does make sense as a low point for him planted at the right point in the story. You can’t get much lower than being ‘dead’, and there’s three whole episodes for him to make a grand comeback.
Until then, it’s likely that we’ll have two more speedsters in the mix. In one of the most satisfying moments of the episode, Wally and Jessie are hit by the particle accelerator blast, most likely imbuing them with metahuman powers. Judging by their namesakes in the comics, those powers will be speed-related.
In other words, things just got interesting. For a show that’s been creaking a bit under the weight of high audience expectations, that’s a really great place to be.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Back To Normal, here.
UK viewers: The Flash season 2B airs on Tuesdays at 8pm on Sky One.