I didn’t realize that this was the Flash episode I needed until I had it. I didn’t realize that we needed a light-hearted opening with a crazy club scene. I didn’t realize that we needed yet another speedster in a show that has too many already. I didn’t realize that we needed to give so much weight to Jay being Zoom until that final scene really took off.
But this season of The Flash, and I as a viewer, needed this episode to prepare for the end. And it succeeded in doing so.
The first 15 minutes were a joy as The Flash took an extended period of time to give us that trademark lighthearted flavor it does so well. Barry continually wants to get faster, especially as Jay’s death weighs on him, and trains by trying to jump over a canyon and waterfall. This entire event is enhanced with some of the funniest and fastest wit we’ve seen from the characters on the show yet (Wells quoting Kanye West, for example!). But, of course, Barry fails, and the entire team decides they need a fun break. Barry, with the help of Yelp, chooses a dance club that no one is quite ready for. It’s a strong directorial choice to show us these characters in a fun, colorful, new element that offers us some necessary levity.
Things turn, however, when a new speedster appears and robs everyone. Not only is she faster than Barry, but the citizens of Central City think that the new speedster is the Flash turned evil. This concept never really lands with any sort of weight outside of directly influencing Iris’s B-plot. It had the potential to be something more, and it would be fun at some point to have Central City turn against Barry in a more fully realized capacity, but this season of The Flash already has a trajectory to follow (see what I did there?!).
Speaking of Iris and her B-plot, it ended up falling flat as so many of Iris’ plots do. The show has displayed to us that Candice Patton can give some solid performances and that she excels when given something new or unique to do. However, this plot simply gave her yet another love interest (because that never gets old), and gave a bit more clarity to her new editor and his distrust of the Flash, though that’s never been given enough weight either. The levity in the beginning is important to the formula of The Flash, but sometimes this levity can seep into the foundation of the week’s plots, and things that should matter more sometimes lose their importance.
That being said, there are always a lot of things that The Flash gets right. Allison Paige offered up a solid performance as Trajectory this week. Her sassy quips with Caitlyn in the lab landed well, and her portrayal of drug addiction was resonant with something deep and serious. In her final scene, as she held the V-9 over her leg, it was obvious that the only way her drug addiction, and the importance of V-9, would be felt would be if she followed through and injected herself again. Which she did, to negative effect. Not only is this a powerful statement to addiction, but it finally gave serious weight to V-9 as an object of importance this season.
Which was all the more timely as the team finally discovered that Jay was Zoom. The final scene in the lab was well done by the directorial team and the cast members. The music was spot on as they all dealt with the realization of what was truly going on, and the moment when Barry smashed the glass around Jay’s helmet built nicely to his waterfall-side scream in the end. While I’ve commented in the past that Jay’s character was underutilized (and perhaps suffered from a bit too much plot levity as well), it’s nice to see the core cast earn their anguish over the truth.
So the stage has finally been set for The Flash to speed towards its final episodes of the season. They not only know Jay is Zoom, but they also know his weakness. Wells has been given a reality check from his daughter, Barry is getting faster, and Iris has a new thing going with her boss. Sounds like a solid finale set-up to me!
Now if only Jesse would bring Starman back with her from Opal City!
The Flash Airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW