Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of The Flash! Proceed with caution, speedsters. For reals, if you haven’t yet watched this week’s episode, “Invincible,” we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.
Well, now we know why The Flash was so eager to make Henry a part of the STAR Labs team… This week’s episode marks a turning point for the show, and a far greater one I dare say than any that next week’s season finale could bring. I’m just not entirely sure it’s the right kind of turning point.
But more on that later. After returning from the Speed Force with his powers restored, and becoming convinced that a spiritual power greater than Zoom is on his side (a feeling only reinforced by the hundreds of metahumans he’s rounding up from Zoom’s army), Barry is acting cocky. Really cocky. Like, Walking Dead season six Rick Grimes cocky. Which, of course, means he’s due for some comeuppance. The show does a pretty good job of making us forget that when it introduces the late Black Canary’s Earth-2 doppelganger, Black Siren, one of Zoom’s lieutenants. Why doesn’t Zoom just destroy the city himself? He tells Barry he wants to prove they’re the same person, but that Barry is weaker because he insists on being a hero, and so creates a series of “random” tragedies to toy with him. When Barry and Cisco finally come up with a means of taking down all the evil metahumans, their victory is sadly short-lived. Zoom escapes to Earth-2 and returns to exact a far more personal revenge on the Scarlet Speedster.
The Black Siren element this week isn’t all that necessary beyond its use as a distraction. Though it does give Carlos Valdes and Danielle Panabaker the opportunity to play Cisco and Caitlin to play Reverb and Killer Frost. Needless to say, they give much better performances than their in-way-over-their-heads scientists; with Panabaker a great deal more entertaining as Caitlin playing Frost than she was playing Frost herself. Strangely, Katie Cassidy, who has endured criticism for her work as lawyer-turned-superhero Laurel Lance on Arrow, does a much better job here, and appears to have a lot more fun, playing an evil version of the same character. She also gets a much more badass outfit than the Canary’s boring jumpsuit.
I’ll say one thing for Barry’s cockiness: I’m all in favor of anything that helps him come up with the science-based solution to the problem of the week, as he does in “Invincible,” more often. Unfortunately, it may be quite some time before we see him this confident again. Yet it’s just one of the reasons Zoom’s murder of Henry is disappointing.
The decision to off Barry’s dad is reminiscent of the climactic moment of Arrow‘s second season in which Slade Wilson killed Oliver Queen’s mother. That worked fine for Arrow, but The Flash was always intended to be a brighter, more hopeful show. (Or so we’ve been told.) And if we accept Arrow and Flash as analogs to Batman and Superman, well, while it’s understandable that Oliver Queen would be made to suffer the murder of both his parents, it’s less so that Barry would be similarly orphaned. It’s like having Lex Luthor kill Ma or Pa Kent, and it’s just a little too downbeat for an aspirational hero who’s a source of light to be constantly defined by his losses instead of victories.
I’m still hopeful the show will find a way to incorporate John Wesley Shipp as it moves forward. Should he wind up playing whoever is wearing the iron mask in Zoom’s lair (whom I’m praying could be an alternate, benevolent Jay Garrick, if only in order to salvage this beloved comic-book character’s legacy on this show), The Flash could even make him a recurring character again next season.
But first I’m afraid we’ll have to endure a more self-pitying, guilt-stricken, tearful Barry Allen than we’ve ever seen before. No matter the outcome of next week’s season finale.
— They even brought back Dr. Tina McGee and had her meet and strike sparks with Henry for the first reunion of the two stars of the ’90s Flash since this show launched! Argh!!!
— While Zoom is reminding me of Slade Wilson this week, Wally is just as reminiscent of Arrow‘s Roy Harper, who also listened in on police-band radio in an effort to fight crime like his mentor, shortly before becoming a superhero himself.
— With Jesse worrying she’s become a metahuman from her encounter with the dark matter, it’s really just a question of whether she or Wally will become a speedster first.
— There’s also allusions to DC movies this week. The flaming Flash symbol on the CCPD building recalls The Dark Knight Rises while Barry’s “We’re all just part of the same team” is a direct quote from Superman: The Movie.
— “Why do so many villains we go up against use sound as a weapon?” Probably because it’s a lot cheaper to depict on screen than missiles and laser blasts, Caitlin.
— Cisco and Wells continue to give good squabble. I love the look of satisfaction on the younger scientist’s face as he’s testing his electroshock device on the STAR founder.
— “What’s that? I can’t hear you through the double-pane soundproof glass. It’s kind of hard to make out what you’re saying.”
— Could Cisco’s vibe of Earth-Two crumbling foreshadow the DC TV Universe’s eventual take on Crisis on Infinite Earths? With Supergirl migrating to CW next season, an adaptation of the fan-favorite miniseries appears more likely than ever. Or am I getting ahead of myself?
Next week: A final showdown between Zoom and the Flash to determine who’s the fastest.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).
Images: The CW