The Flash is dead, long live The Flash! I mean, we all know that The Flash didn’t really just kill off its eponymous character, but that doesn’t mean the final moments of “Rupture” weren’t heart-stoppingly shocking. After what was another lackluster, water-treading episode last week, The Flash had one of its best episodes of the season. Going into the final three episodes of Season 2, the show has its viewers exactly where it should: hungry to see what happens next. Hopefully, now that we’re in network TV’s home stretch, we won’t have to spend any more time watching these characters run around in (slowish) circles…
Tonight’s episode was all about getting Barry to a place where he would entertain Harry’s stupid crazy idea to create another particle accelerator explosion in an effort to restore Barry’s speedster powers. And, unlike many of The Flash’s recent attempts to move its characters where they need for the next phase of the plot, Barry’s process felt organic and in-character. (It helped that, at first, pretty much everyone recognized that Harry’s idea of creating another particle accelerator explosion was a dangerous, irresponsible one.)
The Flash did something clever in exploring Barry’s thought process and his Flash identity through his three father figures. Each father figure represented a different option: driven, self-deprecating scientist Harry thinks Barry should do whatever he has to do to restore his speedster abilities. Harry never knew Barry before he was The Flash and, to him, Barry is at his most useful when he is a speedster.
Then, there is Henry, who is back in town (seemingly permanently?) from his ill-explained sojourn to a cabin in the woods. Henry, who has suffered enough because of the failures of institution and speedsters is fine with Barry never getting his speedster abilities back again if it means his son is safe. Finally, we have Joe, who is somewhere in the middle. He wants to keep Barry safe, but he also knows how much of a threat Zoom poses to Earth-1. Ultimately, he knows that Barry needs to make his own decision — a sentiment Barry echoes to his father figures when he catches them arguing about which path Barry should choose.
While Barry tries to make up his mind about whether or not to risk everything (including, possibly, the safety of Earth-1) in an attempt to regain his powers, Team Flash is doing the best they can to convince Central City that The Flash is still watching over them. They do this with a fun hologram trick that involves Barry running around with motion capture-like devices strapped to his body. Criminals see a hologram that looks like The Flash coming to stop them, and, generally, that dissuades them from trying to get away with anything.
Of course, the hologram tactic doesn’t work for Zoom, who knows for a fact that Barry has lost his powers. No, the only thing that stays Jay’s hand is his “love” for Caitlin, who he has handcuffed to a Central City P.D. desk while he causes trouble across the city. Zoom then co-opts Rupture, Dante Ramon’s Earth-2 metahuman doppelganger for the effort. Zoom has also lied and told Rupture that it as Cisco who killed his brother, Reverb (when, really, it was Zoom himself).
Rupture doesn’t get much character development past this “You killed my brother, prepare to die” point, but he doesn’t really need it because he has a sweet and scary scythe weapon. Also, actor Nicholas Gonzalez’ time is better spent playing his Earth-1 version, Cisco’s brother Dante. As we know from Dante’s previous appearance, he and Cisco aren’t the closest of siblings. They have never really gotten along. However, over the course of this episode, they recommit to trying when they see Zoom murder Rupture after he fails to take down Team Flash and the CCPD. It’s a moving subplot that was carried on the power of both Gonzalez’ and Carlos Valdes’ performances.
When Rupture can’t deliver on taking down the Team Flash-enhanced CCPD, Zoom comes in to finish the job, killing the random officers and news reporters who are at Jitters and broadcasting a message to the people of Central City: The Flash is gone. Zoom is their terrible future. He leaves Barry, Joe, and Captain Singh alive because he knows how Caitlin feels about them — but this is their last chance. It’s a bit of a cop out, Zoom only killing the nameless characters we don’t care about, but Zoom has demonstrated that he cares about Caitlin before, so I’m willing to let it go… especially on the strength of this episode’s ending.
Zoom’s demonstration of his power convinces Barry to try Harry’s crazy plan. Team Flash pumps him full of fingerprint identification chemicals (whatever), triggers a particle accelerator explosion, and hits him with a bolt of lightning. The result? Barry is seemingly disintegrated into nothingness before the eyes of the people who love him most. The episode ends with Iris, Joe, Henry, Cisco, and Harry looking at Barry’s destroyed Flash suit in horror, convinced that they just watched Barry die.
Again, we all know that Barry is going to be OK (even if you didn’t watch the preview for next week’s episode), but The Flash is actually pretty good about not using the Main Character Seemingly Dies plot device that its predecessor show is so problematically fond of. I’m a sucker for a well-executed Characters Comes Back From the Seeming Dead plot, and I am trusting The Flash to see this through in a sentimental, character-driven manner — it’s kind of this show’s specialty. Presumably, Barry is stuck somewhere in the speedforce. And, presumably, Team Flash is going to figure this out pretty quickly, but we’ll have to wait until next week to find out.
Another big development in tonight’s episode was in Iris admitting that she has romantic feelings for Barry. For me, The Flash has really dropped the ball on this WestAllen thing. I am rooting for these two to get together, but the way the show has portrayed it has been uneven and often inorganic. Rather than building their romantic relationship slowly and with small, sweet moments, the show didn’t mention it for most of Season 2, before giving Iris these weird, forced moments of revelation.
Grant Gustin and Candice Patton acted their butts off in the scene in which Iris tells Barry that she wants to see if they will work together, which saved this scene for me (not to mention the fact that it was a long time coming), but Iris’ reasoning that destiny is telling them they should be together isn’t a very romantic one. Rather than base this romantic progression in character-driven feelings or moments, they’re just having people tell Iris that she and Barry should be together (i.e. the writers room). It feels like Iris is just surrendering to a pre-determined destiny rather than falling in love with Barry, and it’s lazy writing. This relationship deserves better.
Again, though, both Patton and Gustin were amazing in Iris’ revelation scene. Patton isn’t always given much to do, but — when she is — she always nails it. If only The Flash gave her character more to do on a consistent basis…
Finally, we have Team Kid Flash to discuss! After locking Wally and Jesse into Harrison Wells’ secret Gideon chamber for most of the episode to keep them safe, the two escape moments before the big particle accelerator explosion. They’re caught in the blast. Do we have two new baby speedsters on our hands? My money is on yes. (And this is what happens when you lock your kids in a room instead of keeping them in the loop, Harry and Joe. When will you learn?)
Rating: ★★★★ Very good
“Garrick” is Henry Allen’s mother’s maiden name? Is this relevant to the plot or just a fun throwaway line? Discuss in the comments below.
“Your subterfuge is not gonna last. More importantly, it’s not gonna bring your Caitlin back.” Seriously. For the second week in a row, no one seems overly concerned about Caitlin. I know that Jay “loves” her or whatever, but maybe her rescue should be a bit higher on the priority list — or Team Flash should at least mention her from time to time.
Henry’s been chopping wood this whole time? Still mad that he just took off. But, now that he’s back “for good,” I’m really worried that he is going to be killed before the season’s end.
“It just feels like everytime something good happens in my life, it’s taken away.” Oh, Barry.
There’s no Fringe on Earth-Two? Another point for Earth-One, then.
“They kidnapped both of us.” “Yeah, well you’re not the one who almost had his hands freezed off.” The Cisco/Dante interaction in this entire episode was so great. Not enough shows attempt adult sibling plotlines.
“Sports. That’s my cue.” – Cisco
Wally and Jesse are probably going to fall in love, right?
“Barry, you’ve always had someone to come home to: me.” – Iris
“Barry, I need you to know that it doesn’t matter to me if you’re The Flash or not. You, Barry, that’s who I want to see if I have a future with.” I love that several people emphasized that Barry is a hero even without his speedster abilities. Pragmatically, they are useful, but this show is all about compassion, empathy, and teamwork as the source of heroism, rather than any specific abilities.
“What up, fam. I went off to another Earth. If I’m not back for dinner, it probably didn’t go so well.” – Cisco
“Next, he’ll recruit every metahuman we can find and force them to do what he wants.” Why are so many metahumans evil? The number of metahuman villains vs. the number of metahuman heroes seems improbably disproportionate.
“Expecto patronum.” I LOVE how much a shameless nerd Cisco is.
“No, what did you do to my son?” I’m just gonna leave this here.