Our boy is back! After a month-long break, Barry Allen and his buds come racing back for more supersonic adventures in Central City, and confront one of the best new villains we’ve seen in some time. “Trajectory” introduces Eliza Harmon, a brilliant Mercury Labs scientist who aided Caitlin in developing the Velocity 9 serum. Introduced in August 2006’s 52 #17 (credited to a small army of writers and artists), she was originally given her powers by Lex Luthor, though I prefer the approach taken with the character here.
Allison Paige (of Days of Our Lives) takes someone who, in lesser hands, could have functioned as a mere walking anti-drugs metaphor and shapes her into a sympathetic villain with a psychological disorder reminiscent of Willem Dafoe’s Norman Osborn in the first Spider-Man film (if not Andy Serkis’ Gollum in Lord of the Rings). In still photos, she appears an awful lot like Arrow‘s Speedy, but Trajectory looks good in action, and brings a much-needed subtle sense of humor to some otherwise dour proceedings.
Team Flash is still trying to up Barry’s speed, in the wake of what they initially believe is Jay’s death, so he can take the fight to Zoom. But Cisco’s constant vibing of Zoom every time he stands near Jay’s helmet finally reveals to them that their departed friend is in fact a foe. At least so far as we know. I’m hoping against hope that the truth will prove a little more interesting, because otherwise we have Barry’s second mentor/father figure in as many seasons secretly working against him as his archenemy. The Flash deserves better than to be saddled with a recycled season-long storyline this early in its run. And we deserve better than to be forced to think it might do that. Red herrings have their place, but don’t try faking us out with false lameness. It’s enough that we have to endure Barry’s cliched “tortured scream to the heavens” in this episode. Done at the exact same spot in which “Trajectory” opens, no less. Because location costs.
The other thing that doesn’t quite work here is the climactic bridge jump that Barry performs in order to tackle Trajectory to the ground. Why does she stand there waiting while he pauses before sprinting after her? And why does he need to jump the bridge at all? We’ve seen him race across the city in a heartbeat, so can’t he just run through town in the opposite direction and stop her from behind on the other side of the bridge? Such contrivances, and the fact that she’s killed off by episode’s end, do Trajectory a disservice. Especially since she’s by far the most interesting female villain the show has had since Lisa Snart last appeared. (Sorry, Killer Frost.)
And speaking of The Flash‘s new female characters… This week’s episode give Jesse more screen time than ever, even if it’s ultimately an excuse to have her leave town (the fate of all the show’s recurring characters), as she goes off to see more of Earth-One. But has the blood transfusion that Wells gave her to save her life completely removed all of the Velocity 9 from her system? Of course not. It can’t be mere coincidence that Wells’ nickname for his daughter (“Jesse Quick”) is that of another DC comic book lady speedster.
Iris also gets a new storyline this week. Unfortunately, it just lays the foundation for her to have a relationship with her creepy boss. Who should really know better than to imply that 1) his employee is taking him out on a date when she told him she just wants to grab coffee and talk, and 2) express his romantic interest in said employee. Does Picture News have an HR department? Because somebody needs to give those folks a call.
— “Why’d you have to bring those drones along, Cisco? Oh, I don’t know. You’re welcome, everyone!”
— Why are underage girls allowed into night clubs that serve drinks in Central City? And why are a group of professional scientists okay with this?
— So Beyonce is a U.S. senator on Earth-Two? Nice.
— And who knew Wells was a Kanye fan?
— Trajectory’s demise is rendered almost exactly like that of Barry’s own in the famed issue of DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series in which he was first killed off, right down to the crumpled costume she leaves behind.
— “A lady speedster! It only took us two years, but we finally got one!”
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).