Barry will NEVER be the same after this!
SPOILERS ahead for The Flash Episode 22, "Invincible"!
Wow, I may or may not still be crying after tonight's episode of The Flash, so bear with me here. The Flash just blew our minds in so many ways; we won some, and we lost some, but no one lost more than Barry Allen. Tonight's major death will change The Flash forever, and even though we are one episode from the finale, there is no doubt the repercussions will last far beyond into the next few seasons. It was an unexpected death, and an all too effective one. I wish I could take this episode back, for Barry Allen's sake, but I can't. Barry's father Henry became another casualty of Zoom, as he was murdered in front of Barry's eyes while he stood there helpless to save him. Barry now has lost both of his parents in front of his eyes, and this will no doubt send him into a dark and questionable place.
Barry had just begun to settle into his new positive self after being inside the speed force, but the ones around him, namely Iris, were skeptical and worried about his new cheery outlook on Zoom. Turns out Iris was right to be, because it's possible Barry's blissful state may have made him blissfully ignorant to the true extent to which Zoom would go to break him. Could Barry have saved his father, and will The Flash ever be the same? Let's break it down.
New Powers And New Friends?
Laurel Lance was brought back to life, well sort of, tonight thanks to her evil Earth-2 doppelgänger, the Black Siren. Zoom recruits the deadly songstress to help destroy Central City alongside the other metahumans running wild under Zoom's command. Iris dubs it the "Metapocalypse" as she and team Flash try to control the stampede. Black Siren is tasked with bringing down as many buildings as possible with her Canary Cry, starting with Mercury Labs, which puts her on Team Flash's radar. Together, with Barry's cheery new disposition at the head, they develop a plan to defeat the new girl in town, but Caitlin Snow is understandably weary.
Having just returned from Zoom's capture, Caitlin (dealing with a PTSD of sorts) has seen the madness Zoom is capable of firsthand, and its clearly damaged her. Barry, however, is still reluctant to believe Zoom is as unbeatable as Caitlin claims. This is one of the first mistakes Barry makes — not only is he being overly confident, but he is ignoring the people who love him most, trusting the speed force above them. Caitlin was warning Barry, but he didn't heed it, and Zoom's plan to distract them all while he carries on with his evil plans is working.
Still, with Cisco at her side, Caitlin dresses as her Earth-2 doppelgänger Killer Frost, and Cisco as Reverb, to trick Black Siren into turning against Zoom. It NEARLY works, until right-handed Cisco alerts Black Siren to their charade. She knows Reverb, and she knows he's left-handed, so things quickly turn against them. As Black Siren goes in for the kill, out of instinct Cisco raises his hand in front of him and Caitlin with some surprising results. Seismic waves burst from Cisco's hand, much like his Earth-2 twin did when they met, sending Black Siren flying across the room, and revealing more of Vibe's powerful and useful abilities.
About this time, Team Flash's "tuning fork" effect designed to knock Earth-2 metas out goes into effect. Black Siren goes down, and Zoom begins to feel the effects as well. However, Zoom is able to open a portal and escapes. As the dust settles, Barry feels satisfied with their victory, and the team begins to share his sense of confidence in their fight against Zoom. Only, they are all about to lose it for good.
Love Won, And Love Lost: A Hero's Demise
As Barry arrives home after his victory, he finds his family and team Flash all together getting ready for a family dinner for Barry. Joe finally gives his support to Wally who's been desperately trying to find his place in saving the city and becoming a hero, Caitlin's PTSD is subsiding a bit, and Barry asks Iris if she would like to give their relationship a real shot. This is very telling of where Barry is in his life, as The Flash and as Barry. He's never felt confident enough or stable enough to be with Iris, and his newfound trust in the powers that be have allowed him to relax enough to let Iris in for good. The audience is beginning to see things from Barry's new positive perspective, and think that things might actually be OK.
Suddenly, Cisco vibes Earth-2, where Zoom escaped to, falling apart and being split in half. Almost immediately, Zoom appears in Barry's home and takes off with Barry's father. Barry wastes no time in going after him, revealing himself as The Flash to Wally West. Zoom takes Henry and Barry to Barry's childhood home, where he watched his mother die so long ago. Zoom tells Barry that he wants to make Barry be just like him: broken, angry, resentful and alone. Barry begs for his father's life, but Zoom shows himself for what he is — a desperate crazed man with no limits — and kills Henry right in front of Barry's eyes. Barry screams in agony as he loses the only living parent he has. The Flash is that little boy again, watching the one he loves most being ripped from him. Changing Barry Allen forever.
We knew Zoom was desperate, but we have yet to see just how lost and evil he is until tonight. He's always been a merciless killer, but for the most part has kept Barry and the ones he cares about safe in order to use them against him. Now, he sees that loss of a loved one is what pushes Barry into a dark place, and loss is what it will take for Barry to see through Zoom's eyes. The biggest problem with this whole thing is that Barry's visit to the speed force had the opposite effect of what he thought it did. Barry put his trust and confidence in the force, believing he was part of a larger purpose that would allow him never to fail. But his ignorance to Zoom's disparity and the warnings from the people who care about him caused him to miss the chance he could have had to perhaps protect or save his father. He wasn't prepared and fell into Zoom's trap of being distracted by the Black Siren, believing that Zoom's escape into Earth-2 was a victory that set Zoom back, when it only refueled him.
So what will happen to Barry now? He is changed forever, and more at risk to falling into Zoom's plan than before. Team Flash is fractured, as Caitlin recovers from PTSD, Barry will withdraw from Iris to keep her safe, and Joe will desperately try to contain Wally from getting too deep into dangerous team Flash business. How, in one episode, will they defeat Zoom when they themselves are all defeated?
Barry will have to fight against the darkness of grief and find his confidence and trust in his loved ones — not the speed force — to give him the strength to defeat a loveless and empty Zoom. In the promo for the final, Barry promises to take from Zoom what Zoom took from his father — his life — but Barry can't go down that path. Even without his father, Barry still has a family: a father, a lover, and friends. These are things Zoom can never have, and it's what makes him weak, as we saw in his interactions with Caitlin, whom he believes he loves. Barry must do the opposite of Zoom, and not rely on his speed force, but on his team, and his love for his family and friends. There he will find the motivation, and together combined, they will bring Zoom down.
But one question, what will happen to Earth-2?