Few things frustrate longtime superhero comic fans as the tendency for live-action superheroes to reveal their identity to anyone and everyone they possibly can. It’s understandable why it’s done in so many big-budget movies — because studios want expensive stars’ faces on camera, just as those stars want their faces to be seen — and why it’s done less on TV, because there are many more opportunities for those faces to appear over the course of a season. So after The Flash‘s Barry Allen has taken steps to guard his identity from Linda Park, one of his very few friends who did not know his secret, it’s more than a little annoying to see him whip his mask off just to give her a pep talk in “Enter Zoom.” Moreover it’s all for naught, since said pep talk is intended solely to help Linda boost her confidence in impersonating Doctor Light (her Earth-Two doppelganger), so that Barry and his friends can trick Light’s employer, Zoom, into traveling to their world. But their plan goes nowhere, and the exercise proves pointless, except as an opportunity for Joe to Barry to butt heads.
Detective West feels his surrogate son is pushing his friends too hard to prove he can defeat Zoom, because he didn’t wind up defeating the Reverse-Flash. He’s convinced that Barry’s being foolhardy by insisting on playing offense, and taking the fight to the speed demon. Lo and behold, he’s proven right. When Zoom finally does appear, he almost kills Linda and puts Barry into a coma.
Where “Enter Zoom” works better is in its development of Earth-Two’s Harrison Wells. It was assumed the S.T.A.R. Labs founder’s motivation in helping Barry and co. was to save his daughter from Zoom; and here we learn of his relationship with Jesse. Though he adores her, he’s defensive when she confronts him about Jay Garrick’s accusations regarding his particle accelerator, and his responsibility for its metahuman-making explosion. Since their final conversation ends in an argument, he feels doubly guilty when Jesse is kidnapped by Zoom. Kudos to the writers for finding a way for Tom Cavanagh to once more demonstrate his ability to go from warm and friendly to cold and intimidating in a heartbeat, even without the benefit of last season’s Reverse-Flash story arc. Since Wells 2 learns this week that his daughter is still alive, his performance should grow increasingly complex in the weeks ahead. Even if he still doesn’t get Cisco’s name right.
As this year’s Big Bad, Zoom is a bit more problematic. Though monstrous and frightening, he has thus far been presented as a pretty one-dimensional villain. His only motivation, we’ve been told, is that he’s “obsessed with speed.” He works as a kind of pre-Empire Strikes Back Darth Vader. And he’s going to need greater depth if he’s to become a truly worth adversary for Team Flash, rather than just the menacing man in the shadows. Even if that man is someone who can beat Barry senseless than parade him around Picture News and CCPD headquarters like a victory trophy.
- Next week sees Barry operating without his legs. So it looks like we’re in for an hour of Barry learning that his most valuable asset is his mind, and that he’s not just a tool for S.T.A.R. Labs’ bigger brains. I’m hoping, however, that I’m proven wrong.
- “You known it took a lot of work to make that emblem, right?”
- After’s Barry’s “blind date” with Patty last week, it’s nice to see the show try for another extended comedic sequence. Here, we get a video montage of Linda learning to act like Doctor Light and wield her powers via some Cisco-modified gloves. But since the entire Linda-as-Light plot winds up going nowhere, this sequence also proves pointless.
- Or am I wrong and this plot could still lead somewhere? Might Linda’s lessons come in handy in a future episode? After all, the real Doctor Light is still at large.
- This week we learn that on Earth-Two it was Robert Queen who became the Arrow of Starling City when his son Oliver died on their ill-fated boat trip.
- Wells 2 refers to his daughter as “Jesse Quick.” As presented in comics, Jesse Quick was a speedster who was the daughter of the Golden Age heroes Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle. Does this mean Earth-Two’s Wells could have a background, or a destiny, as a superhero?
- “Holy crap. I’ve made out with the Flash!”
- While Barry has proven he’s a fine singer, his acting skills leave something to be desired. As fearful as Linda might be, she’s actually a better performer in their faux confrontation.
- “Next time we’re doing this, I’m writing better dialogue.”
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).
IMAGES: The CW