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 the huge reveal at the end of "King Shark," fans of The Flash were treated to an episode that brings the focus back to Zoom, Team Flash and Central City this week. We did get our weekly villain (or villainess!) in the form of female speedster Trajectory, but she's much more than just a bad guy of the week. Trajectory's story arc moves us closer to Zoom and the season finale — she's not just there for Barry to beat or comic book fans to enjoy.
This is definitely a conveyor-belt episode: the main objective is to move things along, wrap up a loose end or two, and set up some reveals. Still, it's plenty of fun in and of itself, and there were some fantastic moments for comic and casual fans this week.
1. Barry's Need For Speed
We open with Barry standing at the edge of a precipice... while Harrison Wells, Cisco and Caitlin are standing by with equipment and a tent. Remind you of anything? The scene, as well as being about Barry's desire to get faster and Cisco showing off his amazing drone-tech, is a call back to the first episodes of the show, when Barry was testing his speed for the very first time. It's a nice nod to the original Team Flash.
Barry's need to get faster is at the heart of this episode — he is determined to get faster in order to beat Zoom, even if that means using performance-enhancing drugs. Velocity 9 is the big star of the episode, starting when Cisco and Barry try to find out how someone could be a speedster with the breaches closed. On finding out that there is a drug, Barry is furious that Caitlin kept it from him, even though she explains that it's a drug that was killing Jay. Barry even goes so far as to steal the drug, but (being the wonderful hero that he is) decides not to take it.
2. Daddy's Girl
Meanwhile Jesse is trying to make a new life for herself in Central City, starting with going out clubbing with Team Flash. Harrison is (somewhat understandably) hesitant to let her out of his sight, but lets her go with his watch/recorder/metahuman detector-thing. When it keeps going off every time Barry gets too close to her, she decides to take it apart to turn it off — and ends up hearing her distraught father recording his willingness to kill to save her.
Jesse confronts her father about the recording, and he doesn't deny it. There is a major conflict throughout this episode between Jesse's unwillingness to have others put at risk for her safety and Wells's willingness to do anything to save her. From killing Turtle and risking Barry's life for her, Wells has always put Jesse's safety above all else. The thing is, Jesse isn't too happy about what her father has become in the name of saving her life. Unable to cope with her father's actions, Jesse uses the same watch recorder to tell Harrison that she is leaving to live her own life, and our final glimpse of her is as she gets on a bus, away from Central City.
While we could have watched Cisco's dancing all night, the Team Flash club night is quickly interrupted by a new speedster who uses their powers to rob the club and steal everyone's wallets. Not only is this new speedster unconcerned with the law, she's faster than Barry. Unfortunately, the good people of Central City believe that this is the Flash gone bad — and Barry isn't too happy about it.
Trajectory repeatedly beats Barry at him own game — being faster and more powerful. She has an advanced suit and is able to kick some Flash ass when he tries to intercept her. Caitlin, meanwhile, remembers asking for help from her fellow scientist Eliza Harmon when she was trying to perfect Velocity 9. Caitlin and Joe go down to the lab, but Eliza assures them that she destroyed all her notes after helping Caitlin.
Of course, we could all see it coming, but Eliza had reverse-engineered the formula for Velocity 9 and has been taking it to try and cope with being overworked and understaffed. One of the best scenes in the episode is a classic nod to every crazy comic book villain with a split personality — Eliza talks to a "friend," who is, of course, herself as Trajectory. We even get a look in the mirror at her two halves, a la Green Goblin and Gotham's Riddler.
4. Iris Is Back At Work
We are seeing more of Iris at work in recent episodes — reminding us that she's not just Barry's adoptive sister/potential wife/Joe's daughter. She's an incredible reporter, and it's nice to have a reminder that she's also in Flash's corner when it comes to public opinion of the Scarlet Speedster. This brings her into conflict with her boss, who has a much less optimistic view of the hero of Central City, and wants her to write about the Flash's fall from grace.
An interesting side-plot to this episode only gets a couple scenes - Iris is attempting to convince her boss (Scott Evans) that the Flash is a good guy when she unintentionally asks him out on what he thinks is a date. Inappropriateness of dating your boss aside, she's shocked when he reveals that he thought they were at Jitters for more than work, but our episode ends with the possibility of more to come on this front.
5. The Final Battle
Trajectory heads to Star Labs to try and steal more V9, and starts by flinging an unsuspecting Flash into the pipeline. Unfortunately, before Team Flash can let him out, Trajectory gets to the lab and holds the team at gunpoint until they make her some more V. Caitlin and Harrison agree to, but Trajectory tests the shot on Jesse first, causing her to collapse from the pure Velocity. Although Harrison gives her a blood transfusion to save her life, Jesse is furious that he would give Velocity to a crazy thief and potential killer just to save her.
Meanwhile, Caitlin has put a tracker in the velocity serum, and uses it to track Trajectory to a bridge nearby where she is racing back and forth — apparently for no better reason than to bring the bridge down and kill everyone on it. The Velocity has driven her completely insane, and she is entirely addicted. Barry manages to pull all the people on the bridge to safety in time for the final showdown with Trajectory — where he manages to reach Mach 3.3 in order to jump the fallen bridge, and briefly take her down. Sadly, he isn't able to persuade Eliza to give up, and she shoots up more V9 before speeding off into... well, nothingness. She disintegrates under the influence of the drug, but not before her lightning turns from yellow to blue... just like Zoom.
6. Bad Vibes
Cisco's vibe powers come out a couple of times during this episode; when Caitlin talks about Velocity 9, he touches her in an attempt to comfort her, and vibes scenes of Zoom. Later, when Cisco touches the pedestal where Jay's helmet rests, he vibes Zoom again, but he can't figure out why.
However, when Barry sees Eliza's lightning turn blue before she disappears, he starts to put two and two together. The team work out that it may be the Velocity serum that causes Zoom's blue lightning (when running at high speeds), and that Zoom may be so desperate for Barry's speed because the Velocity is killing him - just like it was Jay. After reminding us that it's easily possible for a speedster to appear in two places at once, Cisco reveals his earlier vibes, and Barry violently smashes the glass around Jay's helmet and hands it over. Cisco sees the same thing we saw at the end of the last episode — as Zoom removes his mask to reveal Jay Garrick's face.
What's Next? Flash Back
After Barry learns about Zoom's identity, he becomes even more desperate to get fast enough to beat Zoom. His plan? To travel back in time, pose as Season 1 Barry, and get Eobard Thawne to teach him how to run faster. Of course, as we know by now, time travel is tricky — and from this promo, it seems that it comes along with a creature called a Time Wraith when the traveller doesn't know what they are doing!
It seems that we will have a few episodes focusing on Barry and his speed - which makes sense. There is little more frustrating than seeing a hero make a sudden, unprecedented leap from their normal abilities to nemesis-defeating abilities in a single episode. We'll get to see the Pied Piper again, and Barry is sure to learn something in the process.
Of course, the big question is how Barry will eventually get back to Earth-2, and when we will learn why Zoom was carrying Jay Garrick's body with him at the end of King Shark? Surely if Zoom and Jay were the same person, as Team Flash now believe, he wouldn't need to carry a fake body around with him in his own lair. The man in the iron mask also remains a mystery — suggesting that there is still more to the Zoom/Jay question than we might think...
Things You Might Have Missed
- Cisco's Shirts: As always, Cisco is wearing his fandoms on his sleeve, with a collection of three different shirts this week. First up, we see a T-shirt featuring a toy army man... doing a kick-flip with his base. Then, he wears a shirt emblazoned with a green cat. Finally, he shows Nintendo some love with a cartoon NES controller using a walker. Aw, NES...
- Harrison's Pun: Slow clap for Harrison Wells in the first scene when he says "oh, damn"... when Barry doesn't make a jump across a dam.
- Senator Knowles: Queen Bey was well-represented this week. When Jesse is in the lab watching tv and catching up on Earth-1, she is listening to an announcer talk about Beyonce's latest album and her departure from Destiny's Child. Confused, she asks herself "Do they mean Senator Knowles?" Beyonce is a big figure in Earth-2 politics, apparently.
- Mercury Labs: Mercury Labs is where Eliza worked, but this isn't the first time that it has appeared on the show. Caitlin worked here briefly after the particle accelerator exploded, and this is also where we have met Tina McGee. In the show, she is a friend to Harrison Wells, but in the comics, Christina McGee was a love interest for Wally West.
- Midway Bus Lines: When Jesse gets on a bus to leave Central City, the bus is from Midway bus lines - a reference to Midway City, where Hawkman and Hawkgirl call home.
- Opal City: Jesse's destination is Opal City, better known as home to Starman, a DC character with the power to channel cosmic radiation.
'The Flash' Episode 17 "Flashback" airs March 29th.