This week’s episode of ‘The Flash’ practically begs for a “jump the shark” joke, but then defies that by actually being surprisingly good. Who saw that coming?
Jay Garrick is dead. At least, it appears so. Zoom thrust his arm through Jay’s chest and dragged him through the portal to Earth-2 just as the breach closed behind them. Caitlin is in shock. She can’t believe that a second boyfriend would die on her. Barry wants to go back to Earth-2 to rescue Jay if he’s still alive, but sadly all the breaches have been closed permanently. He has no way to get there. When asked how to reopen them or create a new one, Wells is unhelpful. It’s in his interest that the breaches stay closed so that Zoom has no way to come for him. Wells’ daughter Jesse is upset when she realizes that she’ll never be able to return to her old life.
Wells also advises Barry and Cisco that it would be best if they didn’t tell Caitlin, Joe or Iris about their respective doppelgangers on Earth-2. In fact, he tells them not to talk about Earth-2 at all so they can just put everything that happened there behind them and move on with their lives. Barry has a really hard time with this. In a montage of him running around the city, we see him sinking into a depression about both losing Jay and allowing Zoom free reign to destroy Earth-2 unopposed. This affects his ability to interact with Joe’s son Wally, who doesn’t know what he’s been through and thinks that Barry is just being a dick.
Caitlin turns emotionally cold and tries to distract herself with work. Cisco worries that this loss may be an inciting incident that causes her to turn evil like her Earth-2 doppelganger, but he can’t talk to her about that.
Hey, remember the giant shark monster that appeared and was quickly dispatched by Dr. Wells earlier this season? It turns out he’s not dead. He was scooped up by the A.R.G.U.S. organization from ‘Arrow’ and has been held over in Star City in a big pool with a laser grid. No surprise, he eats some guards and escapes.
‘Arrow’ characters John Diggle (David Ramsey) and his wife Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson from ‘The Unit’) are apparently now in charge of A.R.G.U.S. (Sorry, I still don’t watch that show.) They make a trip to Central City to warn Barry that King Shark is alive and wants to kill him. Cisco quips, “We’re gonna need a bigger Flash!”
Or, you know, they could just use that big-ass gun that Wells brought with him from Earth-2 and shot King Shark with the last time. For some reason, nobody thinks of this.
Wells gets to work developing a way to track the shark. Because Wells knows King Shark’s identity on Earth-2 before he became a meta-human, Cisco and Caitlin look up his Earth-1 doppelganger, only to discover that he died two years ago. His widow is still alive, however, and happens to be a marine biologist expert on sharks. In a storyline that doesn’t really go anywhere, Cisco and Caitlin question the woman and ask to look at her shark research.
Later, still concerned about Caitlin, Cisco slips up and tells her about Killer Frost. Caitlin is annoyed that he’d ever think she could become evil.
Barry agrees to help Wally with an engineering project for school (he’s designing a turbine engine supercar), but his aloofness only drives a bigger wedge between them. Just as Wally gets ready to walk out the door, King Shark tears the roof right off Joe’s house! He says he smells The Flash and has come to kill him. This presents a problem for Barry (beyond the obvious), because he can’t reveal that he’s The Flash in front of Wally. He has to slip away while Wally is distracted. This will later lead Wally to accuse him of running and hiding like a coward.
Barry puts on his Flash costume and confronts King Shark in the street. He tells the meta that all the breaches have been closed and there’s no way to get back to Earth-2. They fight a little and King Shark swats Barry like a fly, but then runs away when he hears A.R.G.U.S. vehicles coming. (Why?)
Barry decides that he can’t keep his secret anymore, so he tells Joe and Iris about their Earth-2 counterparts, and has a good cry about being responsible for Joe-2’s death.
Presumably using the shark expert lady’s research, Wells and Cisco develop a way to both track and attract King Shark. Hoping to lure him into a trap, they rig up a dummy loaded with tranquilizers, dress it in a Flash costume, and strap it to a buoy. This seems like a pretty lame and obvious trap, but I suppose sharks don’t have very large brains.
Although King Shark swims right into the trap, he either doesn’t eat the tranqs or they have no effect on him. He attacks Barry and the others on the docks. A.R.G.U.S. soldiers try to shoot him but their guns are useless. Barry uses his speed to run on water and lure King Shark away from the shore. A safe distance away, he runs in circles around the shark, builds up an electrical charge, and zaps the meta.
The villain defeated, the A.R.G.U.S. guys haul him away. Diggle and Lyla promise that, unlike the former A.R.G.U.S. director, they will not try to weaponize any meta-human’s power.
The next day, Caitlin pulls a prank on Cisco to make him think she’s turned into Killer Frost. This is a good sign that she’s starting to come around to her old self again. Barry apologizes to the group for his recent behavior, and announces that he’s still determined to return to Earth-2 and stop Zoom.
On Earth-2, the masked guy is still in his cell when Zoom returns carrying Jay Garrick’s lifeless body, which he throws on the floor. Zoom pulls off his own mask to reveal that he is… Jay Garrick! WTF?!
The final plot twist leaves us with a lot of questions. Is Zoom the Earth-1 doppelganger for Jay Garrick (named Hunter Zoloman here) that Jay thought wasn’t a meta-human? If so, how did he get to Earth-2? Is he a third Jay from yet another Earth? Could they be clones, or something else entirely? Was Jay ever really a speedster, or did he just get his powers by doping with Velocity-6? I don’t entirely trust this show to provide satisfactory answers, but I’m certainly interested.
I’m pretty amazed that the episode makes a goofy creation like King Shark into a credible threat. While the way I’ve described the plot here may sound kind of dumb in writing, a lot of the imagery in the episode looks like it leapt directly out of comic book panels and is pretty cool. There’s one great slo-mo shot of King Shark leaping out the water that could have been goofy as hell but instead looks totally badass.
I also think that the character building and emotional stuff works really well, though the strife between Barry and Wally feels like filler. All in all, this is one of the better episodes of the season.