“This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening again…”
Caitlin’s stunned and shaky words try to process what they all saw: Zoom killed Jay before them. Barry, wants to go back but Harry tells the speedster that the breaches, they’re closed for good. Later that evening, he corners Cisco and Barry, telling them to keep their experiences of Earth-2 to themselves. “Bury it,” he tells them, “move on.”
“So that’s what we did. We didn’t talk about Earth-2. We kept what happened there between the three of us and got on with our lives knowing there was nothing we could do now to stop Zoom. Instead we tried to just adjust with our new circumstances and cope with our losses…there are scars on all of us, some more than others…”
In the weeks that follow, Barry runs, looking for any sort of distraction, unaware that he’s about to get one; a King Shark-sized monstrosity long thought dead…But before King Shark arrives, let’s take a trip to the West casa where the fam—Wally included—have a game night, one where Barry’s showing out to be in his own world. After Wally leaves, Barry remarks that he believes Wally doesn’t like him but Joe and Iris have a point; they need to get to know one another.
Despite the time that’s passed, Caitlin’s having series trouble coping with Jay’s death. As Cisco remarks to Barry, “she’s been cold”, though his fears of her becoming her evil doppleganger may be a bit of a stretch. They don’t get much time to discuss it as Diggle and Lilah show up with news: King Shark’s out and he’s headed to Central City.
“We’re gonna need a bigger Flash.”
Getting a bit more into why Shark is alive; Amanda Waller, enterprising government agent that she is, thought it a good idea to try to exploit meta-human powers for her own ends. This particular Zoom puppet was once Shay Lamden, marine biologist. Though his Earth-1 counterpart is dead, Caitlin and Cisco do find and visit Dr. Lamden, Shay’s widow, and shark expert. Despite Caitlin’s cold demeanor, Cisco’s able to sweet talk Dr. Lamden into providing them with some of her shark research, their hopes that it will help them track the one-ton killing machine.
Barry teams with A.R.G.U.S. to patrol the waterway, searching for King Shark with no luck. As Barry takes a bit of a breather, he gets a chance to talk to with Diggle about the goings on in their separate worlds. “You’re starting to do that thing Oliver does,” he tells Barry at one point. And our weekly Tuesday hero is doing just that; carrying the weight of everything that goes wrong on himself. Shark shows up briefly, long enough to take down a pair of agents before retreating back to the waters. The element of surprise now gone, they really need Dr. Lamden’s work to provide them with direction.
Taking a break from the meta made of muscle and teeth, Barry agrees to help Wally on a project the newest West is using to get into Central City University’s engineering program. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go as well as everyone hoped, with Wally feeling a bit left out as Barry seems to all but rewrite Wally’s project. Barry asks what the issue is between them and Wally’s “You’re Barry, you’re perfect,” is a telling comment as to what Wally feels. But they don’t get any deeper into the chat as King Shark rips the front of the roof off, searching for the Flash.
Not wanting to show himself to Wally, Barry uses Joe’s distraction (uselessly shooting at the meta Shark) to get suited up and take on his newest adversary. It doesn’t go too well for Barry but before King Shark can move in for the kill, A.R.G.U.S. shows up, forcing the Earth-2 monstrosity to retreat. In the aftermath of the attack, Wally’s trying to process what he just saw. After Wally goes off on Barry for being nowhere to be found, Barry opens up about his adventures on Earth-2. “It’s all because of me,” he says about Joe-2 and Jay’s death, “and then I left an entire world at Zoom’s mercy.”
Despite Barry wallowing in hero’s guilt and Caitlin’s own forced emotionless state, thanks to Dr. Lamden’s research, the gang finally figures out a way to locate King Shark. They set up a Flash-sized trap at the docks where both Barry and Caitlin are there to face the pain of the recent past. “Ever since Zoom beat me here and on Earth-2,” Barry confides to Caitlin, “I’ve been running away from things instead of towards them. That needs to change.”
It starts with King Shark.
The lure sort of works, as in getting King Shark there, but he doesn’t eat the Flash-sized bait filled with tranqs. Instead he jumps onto the docks, brushing off the hail of bullets like gnats and telling the Flash how things are going to go down, starting with killing our hero. Barry meets the challenge head-on, leading King Shark out into the water, electrifying it before hitting the Shark with the Flash bolt, KOing the King.
King Shark in custody, Lila promises no more meta-human weapons and Caitlin suggest they tap Dr. Lamden in trying to cure the meta. Diggle shares his own experience with survivor’s guilt with Barry and tells Barry “you gotta get control of it, or it’ll rip you up inside.” Use it to prevent yourself from making the same mistakes.
Wally and Joe share time together where the elder statesman of the clan assures Wally he has nothing to fear. “He’s my son, just like you are.”
Speaking of gathering, Barry brings the team together to apologize for his choices, the ones that have gotten their friends killed. He admits that he has no idea how they are going to do it but Zoom will be stopped. “We will meet Zoom again, and the next time, I will beat him. Whoever that monster is…”
That monster dumps Jay’s body to the floor on Earth-2 and removes his mask to reveal…
“Well this,” he says, looking at the body of his doppleganger, “this is a complication.”
- This episode was both fun and poignant. First off, the King Shark CGI was as good as any television effects as I’ve seen. Not only did he have major screen time but the fluidity of movement was a joy to watch on the small screen.
- Usually it’s Supernatural that carries the CW load as far as meta humor (not the same as meta-humans, of course) but this episode contained a fair share pop references. From nods to Sharknado, the Kool-Aid man and Jaws (my personal favorite, “You know Quint dies, right?”), this episode was a whole lot of fun.
- But there were deeper aspects as well. Caitlin is trying to cope with losing another man in her life and, for most of the episode, she’s not doing too well with it. She tells Cisco the emotions of the loss are too raw and, should she let them out, she doesn’t know if she’d be able to truly deal. In the end, like Barry (more on him in a second), Caitlin stops running from the pain and faces it head-on.
- We hear about survivor’s guilt when we talk about war or accidents. Barry’s guilt, though similar, is its own animal. Hero’s guilt, the feeling of failure our modern day myths like Superman, Green Arrow, and Captain America express when despite their powers, they can’t save someone. Though some could look at this reaction as ego or over-inflation of self, a hero’s DNA is fused with hope and responsibility and the idea they can save everyone (or should be able to) is a foundational aspect of their character. It’s not something the hero can get rid of but, as Diggle tells Barry, it’s something they must learn to deal with, lest it tear him apart.
- And let’s not forget that final image of Zoom removing his cowl to reveal…Jay Garrick? Or is it his Earth-1 doppleganger, Hunter Zolomon. Maybe it’s both…or neither. And who is the man in the iron mask? One thing is certain, the internet will be rife with speculation over the next month as we wait for The Flash to return…