This week’s episode of The Flash is pretty hard to discuss without getting into spoilers, so rather than being overly-ambiguous I’ll start things off with a SPOILER WARNING.
Getting an appearance from “Black Siren,” AKA Earth-2 Laurel Lance might have been more of a treat if they’d waited a little longer for the body to cool off. She hasn’t been dead all that long, and the Flash crew didn’t seem to know her all that well, so the trauma of having to fight her doppelganger struck me as unearned. I wasn’t particularly fond of Arrow’s version of Laurel Lance, so I can’t say I cared much about this one, but I can imagine some people who grew fond of Black Canary enjoyed seeing Katie Cassidy portray a very different version of the character. If nothing else, Cisco and Caitlin’s confrontation served to tease one more step toward us getting a proper version of the Vibe character, and given Cisco’s character arc, I can get excited for that.
The whole subplot of Barry trying to talk Wally down at Joe’s request didn’t add up. Joe seemed upset at Barry’s failure to convince Wally to stand down, and I can’t imagine why Joe would feel that way. I know why he’d want his son to play it safe, but why be mad at Barry? You can’t talk him down, why would you assume Barry could? Barry’s chip-off-the-old-block line, saying Wally has too much of Joe in him to talk the kid out of being a hero was also problematic. Some people would call nature over nurture, but Joe has only just formed a relationship with the kid. How much influence could he really have over him? If one good thing came of the Wally subplot, at least Wally now knows Barry is The Flash. As with Iris learning the truth, It seemed like an inevitability that was best to get done with.
Zoom’s confrontation with Barry should have been more dynamic, and it would have had Zoom not been unmasked as the lovelorn Jay. I also couldn’t buy into Jay’s insistence on making Barry “just like” him. Where did that come from? When did Zoom become “Single White Female”? Google that reference, young people.
Zoom killing Barry’s dad served to end the episode on a serious note, but I don’t think the show needed that, and I don’t think it upped the stakes the way the writers assumed it would. Barry is out of parents to kill now, so unless Gorilla Grodd is going to start hunting down Barry’s cousins, they’re going to have to find something else to trouble him with in season 3.
This season really did go awry when Zoom was unmasked, and they’re losing the chance to right the ship. I don’t know that this season will finish strong, but they have set up some future storylines that could have a pretty satisfying payoff.
Most of The Flash’s problems this season—and there are too many problems to name—stem from the inclusion of Earth-2 so soon in the series. Jim and I have repeatedly said that Earth-2 provides a spare of each character and that deflates tension and the threat of true death, but the biggest issue Earth-2 presents is another basic writing issue. Flash had scratched the surface of what it meant to be a citizen of Central City on Earth-1 before it introduced Earth-2. If we don’t know enough about Earth-1 and its citizens, how could we learn enough about Earth-2 and its citizens in four or five episodes to know what makes them tick or make us care about them? The Flash could only paint Earth-2 characters in broad strokes. Cisco is just like his counterpart, only reverse. Or every Earth-2 metahuman is psycho because Hunter/Jay’s mom died. That last one should only explain Jay/Hunter, but we haven’t been given any other character motivations, so the only line to draw is Jay/Hunter’s mom’s death affected everyone on that Earth.
I don’t believe—or can’t believe—that there are no super powered Earth-2 heroes. Atlantis exists (Earth-2 Barry and Iris are there), so Aquaman has to exist. The Flash has teased the Justice Society, so there has to be at least a handful of other heroes. And now all the evil Earth-2 metahumans are imprisoned on Earth-1. That should cause a power vacuum that should make beating Zoom easy. This same power vacuum might be what we’re seeing in Cisco’s visions. I’m not sure. I’m not sure about this season of The Flash.
I’m also not sure if The Flash was going for the heartstrings by killing Henry Allen as much as pruning the cast. After being locked up most of Barry’s life, Pa went fishin’ for a year. He wasn’t a present father, even when freed. Detective West is Barry’s real dad, and now, Henry’s out of the way.
Henry wasn’t even the one who brought Barry back from the Speed Force. That’d be Iris, and Baris begins in earnest. Unfortunately, Iris only like-likes Barry because of their Earth-2 counterparts. If they’re married, why aren’t we? I’m going to need more on-screen development to believe that romance.
Speaking of off-screen development, Wally West has developed off-screen all year. There might have been some kind of bond formed between him and his father, but we missed it, and I agree with the nurture versus nature argument Jim presented. If we’re to believe Wally West will act like his father after just meeting him, we have to be militantly in the nature camp.
Black Siren didn’t work for me. At least we had to wait a year for Sara to come back from the dead, and I’m not a big Laurel Lance fan either.
There’s not much else to say about “Invincible” except that I agree with Jim that this might be a lost season. But I’m hopeful for the future. About the only free Flash villain left is Gorilla Grodd.
Thanks for reading.