So, this episode. Yeah. Where to begin?
In this television series, King Shark is not a shark (apologies to Gail Simone). He’s a man who, if his affliction is anything like his Earth-1 counterpart’s, has a mutation akin to cancer (oncologists across the world are shaking their heads in disbelief) that has made a man into a shark-like creature. What’s more, he’s escaped from the ARGUS containment aquarium where he’s been held since his last attack on The Flash, and he’s looking to finish the job.
It was good to see Lyla and Diggle make the trip to Central City. I like the way the characters from this shared television universe step in and out of one another’s stories without it being a big two-night crossover event. (Aside: I wonder if next season we’ll get a three-night mega crossover event between The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow.) Beyond the plot device of tracking King Shark for ARGUS, Diggle is here to be the one to tell Ollie–I mean Barry–to stop letting all of your survivor’s guilt weigh you down and use it to make sure that bad things no longer happen to good people on your watch. It’s a role Diggle has perfected in three and a half seasons on Arrow, and good to see him talk some sense into Barry now that he’s the one moping around.
Barry’s not the only one having issues. Wally is having a hard time getting comfortable around Barry. Barry is the golden boy, and even though Joe and Iris are accepting and loving Wally, Wally is still jealous of the years and the love that Joe and Iris gave Barry, before they ever knew that Wally existed. Wally uses King Shark’s attack on the West house to try and throw Barry under the bus in front of Joe and Iris, who know better than Wally about where Barry was and what Barry was doing during the attack. But Barry’s not exactly making things easy for Wally, either. This will be a relationship that requires watching. I’m sure we’ll eventually see them all become one big, happy family, but I’m hoping that it takes a long time to get there, not having Wally and Barry magically bond offscreen and become brothers over the upcoming break.
Caitlin, as you can imagine, is being distant after watching her latest boyfriend die. Cisco is concerned that Cait is becoming “cold” and sliding down the dark path toward becoming a villain like her Earth-2 doppelganger, Killer Frost. She’s not, of course. I mean, she’s not a metahuman, for one, and what she needs are friends who recognize that she needs to figure out how to deal with Jay’s death on her own and who will be there for her when she decides (on her own terms) that she’s ready to open up about what she’s going through.
Cisco’s concern for Cait is genuine, but, at its heart, Cisco’s concern is less about normal, non-meta Earth-1 Cait becoming a villain like her Earth-2 counterpart and more about himself. Earth-2 Cisco had all the same metahuman abilities as Earth-1 Cisco, only Earth-2 Cisco had dialed them up to eleven. Cisco is trying to do the same, to make himself more powerful, while resisting the temptation to use those enhanced powers for selfish reasons. It’s an age-old philosophical question: did the powers make Earth-2 Cisco evil, or was Earth-2 Cisco already a bad guy whose negative traits were magnified by his new powers?
Seriously, I think I remember reading Plato or Aristotle or someone pondering Cisco’s fate in Intro to Philosophy in college.
Then there’s the whole “you realize that your/his/her/mine/our Earth-2 doppelgangers are not the same people as their Earth-1 counterparts” thing. Imagine you had a twin. Imagine said twin was separated from the rest of the family and raised by another family. Let’s even say that the family who raised your twin were siblings (maybe even twins themselves) of your parents. Your twin is still not you. Your rhetorical sibling is his or her own person, making his or her own decisions based on the experiences he or she had in his or her own life, which is not your life.
I know, it’s a poor analogy, but the bottom line is that whatever choices a person on Earth-2 makes has no bearing on what their Earth-1 counterpart will choose. You know what does impact your Earth-1 friend’s choices? That friend’s life. Want to know how your Earth-1 friend will likely react in a given situation? Look at how he or she has reacted in the past. That’ll give you a better understanding of what your Earth-1 friend is going to do than by trying to compare them to a different person on a different world.
The one good thing that came out of our Earth-1/Earth-2 melodrama is that neither Cisco nor Barry could keep a secret from the people they care about for very long, even when they were told that telling Cait, Joe, and Iris about their Earth-2 doppelgangers could be disastrous. Maybe we’re done keeping secrets in order to “protect” the ones we love… at least on this program.
Everything comes to a head in an awesome water chase and fight sequence. There were so many ways this scene could have gone wrong. It would have been very easy for this to have come off as very cheesy, but it all came better than I had dared hope it would. Kudos to everyone involved in putting that action sequence together!
In the end, Barry apologizes to the team. It was Barry’s selfish decision to go back in time and try to save his mother (even though Barry didn’t try to save her once he got back there) that brought all of this down on the team. He’s right, of course. Barry doesn’t apologize specifically for a lot of the jerk moves he’s made in this season alone, but we’ll let it slide under the umbrella of this general apology. Barry’s determined that they will find a way to get back to Earth-2 and stop Zoom, somehow.
Meanwhile, back on Earth-2, the man we know as Jay Garrick, the Earth-2 Flash, is dead. The man in the iron mask is upset. So is Zoom. Whatever Zoom’s plan was, it just got a lot more complicated. Zoom unmasks for the first time. Hey, that guy sure looks a lot like Jay Garrick!
We’ve got a long time to mull over what’s going on before The Flash returns in late March. My gut reaction, just minutes after watching this episode? Jay Garrick is–was–the Earth-2 Flash. But he’s dead. Zoom is Jay’s Earth-1 doppelganger, Hunter Zolomon, who has always been Zoom in the comics. I’m guessing that Zolomon somehow obtained his speed at the same time as Barry, during the Earth-1 STAR Labs explosion. How Zolomon got to Earth-2 is beyond me at this point, but it is likely how Team Flash is going to get back to Earth-2 to stop Zoom and fulfill Barry’s promise to the man in the iron mask. With Jay dead, I expect we’ll see Zolomon playing a dual role, pretending to be Jay in order to help Barry get faster to “defeat” Zoom, while in actuality planning to take that speed for himself.
What say you all? What are your thoughts on Zoom, the man in the iron mask, Jay Garrick, and what we’ve seen so far? Join the discussion in the comments below!