The Flash – Season 2 Episode 15
The Flash brings back the CGI monstrosity King Shark to deliver something of a third act to the Earth-2.
By CGI monstrosity I don’t mean that Killer Shark looked bad. I think that he looked amazing and really shows how talented the visual effects artists who work on this show are. Between this and Grodd they have a lot to be proud of. Also, how great is it that he is voiced by Solid Snake himself, David Hayter?
King Shark was used liberally in the episode but that made his appearance more effective. The budget constraints mean that he can’t carry the episode by himself but he didn’t need to as he was used as a broadly physical threat without much depth to him. His backstory was rounded up really quickly but didn’t supply any useful information about him. I would say that revealing his real name and what caused him to become a shark/human hybrid was completely unnecessary.
When King Shark did appear he was everything he needed to be. The presence was an imposing one and the randomness of some of the encounters really added to his threat level. Defeating him allowed a really impressive showcase of Barry’s abilities. It’s just a shame that Cisco’s Jaws references didn’t seem to fit.
In general this was quite a grim episode as many of the characters are dealing with the fallout of the events that happened during the trip to Earth-2. Jay’s death has deeply affected Barry as it represents the latest in a long line of consequences caused by Barry’s decision to travel back in time to save his mother. That single event led to the singularity opening that created the link with Earth-2 in the first place and this whole season has been built on the link between these two worlds.
Harry suggests that their experiences on Earth-2 are kept between them and initially Barry and Cisco agree to this but the experience has affected them in ways that they can’t really deal with on their own. Barry is really deflated at the start of the episode and closes himself off because he can’t take to anyone about what he has experiences. This is easily noticed by Joe and Iris who see this as being more than mourning for the loss of Jay. It takes a while for Barry to decide to talk about it but when he does there’s a powerful release of raw emotion that is wonderfully acted by Grant Gustin.
Barry blames himself for everything that has happened since the singularity. This includes the death of anyone caused by Zoom or an Earth-2 metahuman, the death of Joe on Earth-2, the death of Jay and a multitude of other things. Even though the Joe that died wasn’t “his” Joe the feeling of loss was real to him as he was briefly involved in that life. I like that the idea of the consequences of Barry traveling through time are still an important plot point and will likely take an entire season to resolve.
Barry carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders this week makes it the perfect time for characters from Arrow to be around since this is something typically associated with Oliver Queen. Diggle and Lyla show up to handle the King Shark problem as he escapes from an A.R.G.U.S. facility so lend some assistance to Barry. They don’t have a huge impact on the story and their appearances are pretty brief but it’s nice to have the crossover potential used now and again and Diggle is on hand to give Barry a much needed pep talk about blaming himself for everything. It does encourage him to work on his issues and involve those around him in taking the next steps. This is something that Oliver has historically been reluctant to do so it highlights the differences in the approaches of the two heroes.
Caitlin is as affected by Jay’s death as Barry is for different reasons. She lost Ronnie in a similar way so having this happen to someone she let herself care about for the second time in a matter of months really badly hits her and she falls back on standard coping mechanisms. Her solution is to retreat into herself and throw herself into her work which makes a lot of sense and is consistent with Caitlin’s character.
This causes Cisco to worry that this is the start of the Earth-1 Killer Frost origin story as Caitlin is acting as detached as her Earth-2 counterpart. It turns out that Cisco is overreacting but it’s interesting to see that Earth-1 Caitlin is capable of that level of emotional detachment. It reinforces that the Earth’s aren’t so different and also builds in a potential redemption arc for Killer Frost should she appear again.
Harry spends most of the episode coming up with a way to track Killer Shark but I’m surprised that the gun he used last time isn’t mentioned. Surely that would be the first thing that someone would suggest given how effective it was last time.
Despite that his role in the episode is fairly passive but what to do with Jesse now that she’s on Earth-1 is somewhat addressed. She is a little lost considering she has no friends or family outside of Harry so needs to find a role on this new Earth. She chooses to use her scientific knowledge to help Harry with tracking Killer Shark so maybe this is the planned use for this character in the future. I would like to see her interact with Team Flash more but I suspect that this will come in time.
Barry and Wally have their first interaction since that character was introduced and their relationship is off to a rocky start. Wally clearly doesn’t like Barry much from the beginning and it turns out that it’s a reaction to all of the gushing over him that Joe and Iris do. He sees Barry as the favourite son where he’s the outcast but Joe reassures him that it’s not the case and the over-protectiveness he feels for Barry is a result of how difficult a childhood he had after the loss of his mother and his father being wrongfully imprisoned.
Wally’s reaction is a fairly understandable one as being inserted into an established family dynamic is bound to be a complex process emotionally speaking. Wally’s feelings are irrational for sure but also valid. Barry doesn’t really help the situation by acting distant towards him though I did think he was giving valid feedback when Wally asked for his help with his engineering project. There was an element of Barry controlling the project eventually but the initial feedback was really constructive.
Inevitably Wally starts to accept Barry and is going to make an effort to get along with them. I hope there’s an element of tension to their relationship that will continue into the coming episodes as it makes things more interesting.
The question of Earth-2 is looming over the show. Closing the breach was definitely a bad idea and it’s not specifically addressed here but it is made clear that they will need to get back there. How they get back is still in doubt but my money is on Barry learning how to use the Speed Force to vibrate between universes. This is something he can do in the comics so it seems like the most logical solution. Maybe Velocity 9 will help him enhance his abilities to make this possible.
Since the show is going off on hiatus for several weeks we are left with a shocking cliffhanger to chew on. The reveal of Zoom’s identity as being Jay Garrick was –in theory- a shock though signs have been pointing that way for a while. There are more questions on the back of this though since we see two Jays in the same scene. Is Zoom the real Earth-2 Jay Garrick or the Earth-1 Hunter Zolomon? Is Zoom from Earth-3? It the Man in the Iron Mask a Jay Garrick from another Earth or is time travel somehow involved? The reveal leaves more questions than answers as all good reveals do but the possibilities are exciting to contemplate.
A really good episode that boasts impressive CGI for Killer Shark and impressively uses Barry’s abilities. I have some issues with the attempt to flesh out Killer Shark’s backstory but it didn’t hamper my enjoyment at all. The emotional fallout from the events of Earth-2 is handled really well and Diggle’s appearance was welcome if brief. Zoom’s identity has now been revealed and poses more questions than answers, it’s a shame that The Flash is off the air for a few weeks.
Join me for more reviews when The Flash returns on March 22nd.
• the excellent visual effects work on King Shark
• an impressive showing of Barry’s abilities
• excellently handled emotional fallout of the Earth-2 events
• the pointless attempt to flesh out King Shark’s backstory