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THE FLASH Review: “King Shark”

THE FLASH Review: “King Shark”

When the villainous King Shark first appeared on The Flash earlier this season, he debuted in grand style as a surprise guest at the end of a distinct story, and was quickly dispatched by the Harrison Wells of Earth-2. But the aquatic metahuman—rendered in full CG animation—looked great, and the character screamed for a return appearance. Thankfully, this week’s two-part episode gives us just that in a story focusing on the aftermath of Team Flash’s trip to the parallel world.

Caitlin is understandably in shock, having witnessed Jay’s apparent death at the hands of Zoom a mere second before the final transdimensional breach in STAR Labs was closed (forever, as we’re told by Wells). Then the show does something I wish it would do more often: it jumps slightly forward in time, with Cisco and Barry having agreed with Wells not to mention anything of what they saw on Earth-2 to their friends and family, for fear that it might affect the natural evolution of their own Earth. Unfortunately, their silence doesn’t last all that long.

Cisco grows increasingly terrified of watching his best friend Caitlin turn into her doppelganger Killer Frost, while Barry is slowly overcome with guilt, blaming himself not only for the death of Joe West-2 but for all the havoc that Zoom has wreaked in his crusade to steal his speed. It’s enough to justify the appearance of Diggle in this week’s episode, since the Green Arrow’s right-hand man has, many times, prevented Oliver Queen from destroying himself with guilt. The presence of Diggle and his wife Lyla—currently the leader of A.R.G.U.S. (who winds up sharing her husband’s incredulousness over the speedster’s powers), and from whose imprisonment King Shark escapes—lays the foundation for the clandestine government organization to play an even bigger role in the Flash’s world moving forward.

The animation of the Shark is just as impressive as that of Grodd, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, since I’m guessing it’s a lot easier to render the smooth skin of a fish than the deep fur of a primate. I’m just worried about how much of this year’s effects budget has now been blown; we’re treated to such sights as the Shark pulling a Jurassic Park on his captors, ripping the roof off the West household in search of the Flash, and dueling Barry not once but twice, including in an ambitious sea battle (satisfyingly resolved by real science instead of technobabble). It’s pretty impressive stuff, even to someone who’s grown used to the abundance of first-rate effects on The Flash‘s sister show, Supergirl. Of course we’re also treated to a non-stop barrage of fishing jokes and Jaws references, courtesy of Cisco and Wells. But it’s hard to complain when The Flash continues to do this sort of thing with such glee.

It’s also impressive how well The Flash balances high-stakes drama with humor, and without making most of it appear forced. It’s like Buffy the Vampire Slayer minus the Whedony dialogue. However, the number of times Grant Gustin is called upon to cry is increasingly ridiculous. (We get it—Barry’s sensitive!) And I’m hoping the tension between Barry and Wally over the former’s position as Joe favorite son is done with, at least for the time being. One dose of West waterworks per episode is more than enough for me, thanks.

The Flash -- "King Shark" -- Image FLA215a_0089b -- Pictured: Grant Gustin as Barry Allen / The Flash -- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

ACCELERATED PARTICLES

— “I promise you, Killer Frost will never exist on this Earth.” Never say never! Caitlin’s words are tailor-made for a recap montage preceding an episode in which the ice queen returns. I’m hoping she does, since she was a tad too sympathetic in her debut story.

— “There’s nobody faster than me.” Enough with the foreshadowing; just make Wally Kid Flash already!

— “We’re gonna need a bigger Flash.” Ouch.

— Cisco says he’ll make some improvements to Dig’s helmet. Thank God. His second-rate Magneto look has been a disappointment on this season of Arrow.

— Is it just me or does Jessie seem charmed by Cisco? Does this mean they could become a thing? I’m all for some even more awkward comedy with the STAR scientist and Wells.

— “I don’t suppose my homeowner’s insurance covers a Sharknado attack.”

— This week’s big reveal wasn’t entirely unexpected, since it was already established that Earth-1’s Jay has the same name (Hunter Zolomon) as that of Zoom’s alter ego in the comic books. The bigger question remains: Who is the man in the iron mask?

— “Caitlin, I don’t understand why I can’t be the one playing Quint in this scenario.” “You know Quint dies, right?”

Next week: A female speedster! And Barry wants her phone number! Let the “fast women” jokes commence…

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).

IMAGES: The CW

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