SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't yet watched this week's episode of 'The Flash,' then turn back now! This contains spoilers and key plot points.
After spending the last two weeks exploring Earth-2 in The Flash , we arrive back in Earth-1 Central City for an episode with a fan-favorite villain, and a clear super vs. meta storyline. Last week left us with some big questions about the identity of Zoom's masked captive, the extend of Cisco's powers — and most of all — did Zoom really kill Jay?
This week, some of those questions were answered, more came up, and we returned to a Flash vs. villain format. Overall, it was a little lighter on the humor than many episodes, with Barry and Cisco struggling to cope with what happened on Earth-2. And of course, the big moment: we finally found out who Zoom is, and it's left fans' heads spinning!
"The breaches are closed. All the breaches are closed." Despite everything that has happened (Zoom, Jay's death, the masked prisoner), Harrison Wells gets the episode rolling by telling us all that the breaches to Earth-2 can never be opened again. Courtesy of a comic-science explanation (quark matter!), the breaches are done, and everyone simply has to let it go. More than that, even, Wells tells Cisco and Barry not to tell the others about what happened. With Zoom trapped in the other universe and it closed off, there's just no point.
However, it's not that easy to leave everything behind. Barry and Cisco were deeply affected by what happened, and spend most of the episode clearly upset by it. It's a deeply sad episode for Barry, because despite trying to just forget it, he can't. He's taking the weight of the world on his shoulders (just like Oliver, as Diggle points out). There's also a new member of Team Flash courtesy of Earth-2: Jesse. Wells's brilliant daughter is stuck here, and isn't thrilled about it.
Caitlin opens the episode the way that fans finished the last one — hoping, desperately, that that didn't just happen. That Jay Garrick isn't dead. But we know, just as well as she does, that Zoom killed him. Caitlin spends most of the episode attempting to deal with this incredible loss — just as she was starting to open up and love again after losing Ronnie (twice!), Jay is murdered in front of her eyes.
As the episode builds, we see Caitlin becoming more brusque, cold, and even rude to Cisco. When she and Cisco head to Nautilus Labs on King Shark business, Caitlin is so rude to the researcher they have come to see, that they barely get the info they want. Having seen Killer Frost on Earth-2, Cisco is terrified that this latest blow to Caitlin's spirit may turn her evil... and it looks like he might even have a point.
Wally and Barry
At home with the Wests, Barry is clearly miserable, struggling to cope with what he knows happened to his Earth-2 family. He has more than that on his plate, though, as Wally is part of the family now, and the two boys are not playing nice. Literally, as Barry doesn't want to play a game called Stack Attack with Wally, and Barry reveals the he doesn't think Wally likes him.
The two try to connect over Wally's admissions essay about a turbine-powered car. However, it's not easy. Both men are prickly, with Barry attempting to "fix" Wally's work (and not being too subtle about it), while Wally is clearly defensive. The two manage to work together for a while, but when Barry starts to take over the project, Wally lets loose. He's angry that Barry is the prefect son to Joe, and there's obviously a little jealousy there. This jealousy rears its ugly head a short while later, when he gleefully accuses Barry of being a coward.
The Truth Comes Out
Despite promising not to tell the others about their Earth-2 experiences, both Cisco and Barry crack. Cisco lets slip his fears that Caitlin is acting "like her," before spilling the Killer Frost beans. Caitlin, however, reminds Cisco that she isn't a metahuman. She's just a woman who is grieving, and who needs to be a little shut off for a while.
After Wally calls Barry a coward and walks out, Iris and Joe demand to know what is going on with Barry, and he tells them everything. That he was married to Iris, that Joe hated him, that Joe-2 died because he was there. In a heartbreaking scene, Barry breaks down as Joe attempts to console him. It's incredibly sad, but hopefully, it can be cathartic for Barry. Now that he isn't keeping his grief to himself, he can move forward.
Wells and Jesse
The newest addition to the show's main cast, Jesse, makes only a brief appearance in this episode. Initially miserable at her new home, she starts to come around and help Harrison Wells.
The two work on a way to find King Shark, and to use his abilities against him. They develop a Barry lure and a way to track the shark, but otherwise, we don't see a lot of them.
ARGUS, in its infinite wisdom, has apparently been keeping King Shark (a half-shark metahuman that Barry has battled in the past) in a tank closed off with lasers. At feeding time, they decide to just... turn those lasers off because he isn't moving. Smart. Unsurprisingly, King Shark was faking. He leaps from the tank, slaughters everyone in sight, and runs off to kill Barry.
Guest starring this episode are Diggle and Lyla, as Lyla has taken command of ARGUS, and is responsible for bringing King Shark to justice. Once they see King Shark fleeing, they head to Central City to warn Team Barry. It turns out that ARGUS was attempting to weaponize King Shark, and although Lyla expects ARGUS to deal with it on their own, Barry is determined to go after him.
Barry and ARGUS are patrolling the waterfront in search of King Shark, but miss him, and he kills two ARGUS personnel. Barry gives up for the time being and heads home to try and help Wally with his project. The two aren't doing too well when King Shark rips the roof off the building in the search of Barry. Although Barry tells him that the breaches are closed, Shark is still after him, and manages to knock him down before running away from the ARGUS convoy.
The Final Showdown
The team figures out that King Shark uses his powers to track Barry by sensing the electricity generated by his body. They figure out not only how to use this as a lure, but how to track King Shark at the same time. Their little bait trick doesn't work when King Shark doesn't eat fake-Barry (who is stuffed with tranquilizers), but the Flash is up to the challenge.
He leads King Shark out into the open water, in an absolutely incredible scene where King Shark is speeding below the water as Barry races ahead of him on top of it. Once out in the water, Barry races around him in circles. He traps him in the current and electrifies the water (!) with his speed, electrocuting King Shark and knocking him out so that ARGUS can take him back. It's a much longer, more dramatic showdown than we have seen recently, and it's fantastic to see the show doing more hero/villain combat again this week. More than that, it's amazing to see Barry win! After so much time coming up against Zoom and failing, he needs this.
So much of this episode is about recovery. It's Barry and Cisco recovering from what happened on Earth-2, Barry recovering his confidence, Caitlin recovering from Jay's death, and Jesse recovering from... well, everything. In a small way, we are also seeing ARGUS recover from the damaging control of Amanda Waller, as Lyla attempts to clean up the organization. In the final scenes, we see Joe and Wally talking, and Joe attempting to help him in his relationship with Barry, Caitlin screwing with Cisco by pretending to be Killer Frost, and Barry making a rousing speech to his team that ends with a vow to return to Earth-2 and take out Zoom for good. 'King Shark' cleans up the mess left by previous episodes, collects the characters, and settles them back into a cohesive team, ready for the next threat.
When we think it's all over, and everyone has come to a happier ending... there's one scene left. Back on Earth-2, Zoom strides into his lair, the body of Jay Garrick cradled in his arms. His masked prisoner, on seeing the body, starts freaking out. We don't know why. Why was the prisoner attempting to tell Barry Jay's name? What is going on?!
It's this. Zoom, after 15 episodes, finally takes off his mask to reveal... that he is Jay Garrick. That is, he looks like Jay Garrick/Hunter Zoloman, and at this point, we're not sure what that means. Except, of course, that things are about to get awesome.
What's Next - 'Trajectory'
The next episode, 'Trajectory,' will come to us after a grueling month-long break. That gives us plenty of time to formulate all kinds of interesting theories about Jay Garrick, Zoom, and the man in the iron mask!
The focus of the next episode, however, is a new speedster in town: Trajectory. Making things more interesting is the fact that she's a female speedster - leading to a whole lot of speedster romance jokes! As Trajectory causes chaos in Central City, the people assume that it's The Flash causing problems, and it seems that he might be causing a few... or at least, he isn't capable of taking her down, as we see him locked in the pipeline in the teaser!
In terms of the bigger picture, we are going to see a few different things. Jesse will start building a life on Earth-1, and we are sure to see more of her in the coming episodes... including a potential Cisco romance! There were definitely some sparks between these two in the final showdown, and with Hawkgirl time traveling with the Legends, Cisco is ripe for a little romance. Barry and Wally are another pair that need to learn to get along — with Wally potentially getting his speed this season.
Of course, the events on Earth-2 have left us with some questions. Is Jay actually dead, or has Zoom imprisoned him in his lair? How can Zoom also be Jay? Given that all we saw of Earth-1 "Jay" was a doppelgänger named Hunter Zoloman (who is a Zoom in the comics), perhaps Zoom is actually from Earth-1, and it was the events surrounding the black hole that tossed him into Earth-2 and made him Zoom? Finally, the man in the mask is still a mystery. With Cisco pointedly mentioning Diggle's helmet in this episode, signs may be pointing back to an Earth-2 Diggle, but the glimpses of him we have seen are the wrong coloring. We've got eight episodes left to answer all these questions and see Barry defeat Zoom once and for all...
Things You Might Have Missed
- 'Finding Nemo': In a brief (but adorable) Disney reference, the ARGUS guards about to feed King Shark say "I think Bruce has gone belly-up," a reference to Bruce the shark in Finding Nemo, or the shark from Jaws, also affectionately named Bruce.
- Kid Flash: The episode is packed with not-so-subtle references to Wally West's love of speed. His first line of the episode is "there's nobody faster than me!" Reference piles on top of reference, all clearly pointing to Wally becoming his comic book alter ego, Kid Flash, any day now.
- Cisco's Shirt: As always, Cisco does not disappoint with the nerd-shirts. This week, he is sporting King Koopa and the Mario Brothers in a Godzilla homage.
- So many 'Jaws' jokes. Starting with "We're gonna need a bigger Flash," the episode is peppered with references to the most famous shark movie of all time. "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the suburbs" is a personal favorite!
- Nautilus: Although it's not a comic reference, it's still worth noting that the labs where Dr. Lamden works are called Nautilus Labs. It's a nod to Jules Verne's classic sci-fi novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, where the submarine is named the Nautilus.
- The Kool Aid Man: One for the non-North-American viewers. After King Shark busts into the West house, Wally likens him to "the Kool Aid Man," a reference to Kool-Aid's mascot — a giant, anthropomorphised jug of kool-aid with a penchant for breaking through walls.
- Prometheum metal: ARGUS has brought a shipping container with them to hold King Shark, and it is described as being made of "Prometheum Metal." This is a nod to Cyborg, whose bionic components are depleted prometheum. It could also be a reference to Terminator Deathstroke, who uses volatile prometheum in his armor.