The Flash – Season 2 Episode 16
The Flash comes back from hiatus by introducing a new speedster and delivering some revelations that further the conflict with Zoom.
In the early part of the episode I wondered if this was going to be a fairly disposable outing with a one shot villain to kill time before the buildup to the finale kicks in. In some ways it was but in many other ways it wasn’t. The introduction of Eliza Harmon AKA Trajectory (Allison Paige) serves as a one episode problem for Team Flash to deal with that ends up giving them information that will help them in the future.
Eliza was an interesting character and one of the deepest villains the show has had in a while. She is established as a capable scientist and a nice person who simply got overwhelmed by her desire to achieve and the frustration felt at her lack of progress. The answer to all of her problems seems to be Velocity-9 which grants her speed that is greater than Barry’s so she succumbs to her darker urges and goes on a crime spree. This was all well done and her motivation was believable though the idea that the public would start to believe that the Flash is now a criminal doesn’t quite work. Eliza using Velicty-9 also proves that my theory about Velocity-9 only working on Speedsters or potential Speedsters was wrong. Ah well, that’s why it was a theory.
The struggle that Eliza had also up the theme of addiction that has been running through this season for a while now. She is addicted to Velocity-9 and her addiction informs her reckless behaviour. There is tragedy in her inability to overcome it so as motivation goes I have absolutely no problem with it. I did find her literally arguing with her dark side to be a little too on the nose as there are definitely more sophisticated ways to show that. It’s a minor quibble but all the same it happened and was unnecessary. Allison Paige’s performance was really believable and made it easy to feel sympathetic towards her. I liked the contrast between her over the top villain persona as Trajectory as a contrast to Eliza’s more meek personality when not in the costume.
Trajectory’s existence feeds into Barry’s feelings of helplessness as he has been pushing himself harder than he ever has before with almost nothing to show for it. He isn’t faster than Zoom and clearly isn’t getting any faster. Trajectory’s appearance makes it even worse as he now sees that he isn’t even the second fastest person alive. He seems to be coming in third in this race and this frustrates him.
Added frustration comes when he learns that Velocity-9 could help him reach the speeds he needs to in order to be a match for Zoom. He is angry with Caitlin and Harry for hiding this from him and doesn’t immediately accept the wider consequences of using it. Jay wanted to increase his speed and the result was to become terminally ill, Eliza shows severe signs of instability because of her addiction so it’s clear that Caitlin and Harry were worried about the same happening to him. Is beating Zoom worth Barry going down a path of addiction?
Barry makes the argument that he should use it because everyone else is. If everyone else cheats then why shouldn’t he level that playing field by doing that himself? This is a common argument when steroids are used in sports and thankfully the episode doesn’t hang its entire premise on exploring that idea. It’s too big an issue to discuss in an episode and I don’t think it’s necessarily relevant to what’s going on here. It certainly isn’t something I’m going to analyse too heavily. Velocity-9 is a means to an end that provides the potential for increased speed with lethal consequences and doesn’t need to serve any greater function than that. The fact that Barry makes that point is enough but the issue of it being an addiction is more important than the idea of “cheating to win”.
The dangers of Velocity-9 are clearly shown when Eliza takes a dose and runs so fast that she dissolves completely leaving only her costume behind. Barry’s attempt to tell her that she doesn’t have to give into her addiction and can choose a better way was a great scene and I like the fact that Eliza was unable to beat the addiction which ultimately proved to be her downfall. It’s a powerful display of what could happen to Barry if he starts taking the drug and the fact that her lightning turns blue just before she dies gives an important clue to Zoom’s motivation as the blue lightning indicates that a speedster is sick.
This gives Team Flash enough information to figure out that Zoom needs more speed as he needs a cure for the fact that he is heading for a bad end. It is quickly identified that this is very similar to what is happening to Jay and the puzzle pieces are connected to them being one in the same. The argument of seeing Jay killed by Zoom is countered by their experience of seeing Speedsters in two places at once before. This is all confirmed by Cisco vibing on Jay’s helmet which allows him to see Zoom unmasking. Barry reacts by getting really angry and screaming into the sky which felt a bit hammy to me and suggests a closer relationship between Barry and Jay than we have seen. I would have expected Caitlin to have a stronger reaction.
Of course there are still plenty of questions about Zoom. The fact that he is dying is an interesting reveal as it further adds to the motivation for Jay becoming him. My thinking is that the Jay we know takes Velocity-9 in order to fight Zoom and this ends up creating him in the first place. Zoom could be the future Jay completely consumed by his addiction and desperate to survive. As for the Man in the Iron Mask, I am still drawing a blank on that one.
There was still time for this episode to have some fun and let the cast bounce off each other in a setting that isn’t fraught with tension. Having everyone go out to a club was a great opportunity to see the cast simply work together. They bounce off each other so well so it’s great to see them do that. It’s been so long since there was any real socialising done that it felt refreshing to hit the brakes and focus on the characters. Also, Cisco’s bad dancing gives this uncoordinated writer someone in fiction who represents him. It’s good to see that these people exist in fiction.
Another highlight was Barry attempting to explain his familial connection to Wally and failing as well as Iris’ discussion with Barry over their potential to be married. She has evidence that they are married in the future as well as on an alternate Earth so the fact that it is in her mind hints that this can of worms might open again. I’m not sure I’m strong enough for that considering how badly it went last time.
This night out also provided an opportunity for Jesse to be seen outside S.T.A.R. Labs and develop her connection to the rest of the cast. She does work really well with them and there seems to be an attraction between her and Wally. Speaking of which the dialogue between her and Wally was awful. The way he asks her if she comes from “far away” so that she could react with a little wink showing that he has no idea just how far feels really contrived and sticks out. Still, this creates the potential for a future speedster romance that definitely won’t pay off for a while since she ends up leaving at the end of the episode.
I’ll come back to that as I want to briefly talk about her watch with the metahuman detection app given to her as a condition of Harry letting her out. It kept going off around Cisco and Barry which makes sense but I wonder if it was also reacting to Wally. It could be a coincidence as Barry and Cisco were nearby too but if Wally is already a metahuman then that raises interesting questions. Maybe it detects potential metahumans with powers that haven’t emerged yet or I could be imagining the whole thing.
The watch does allow Jesse to hear Harry’s confession of the murder of Turtle and this horrifies her to no end. She doesn’t want to believe that her father is capable of something so terrible and finds it impossible to be around him at this point. She decides to leave to explore Earth-1 for herself as she needs that distance from her father to figure things out. It’s worth noting that she heads to Opal City which has also been mentioned in Supergirl. Isn’t the multiverse grand?
Iris’ subplot involving her boss Scott Evans (Tone Bell) getting the wrong idea about them going out for coffee didn’t work for me at all. Scott seems to be on a crusade against the Flash in the same way J.Jonah Jameson hates Spider-Man but Tone Bell lacks the charisma and presence to sell this as well as he should. Iris having yet another love interest is definitely the wrong way for her character to go. Earth-2 proved that she is much better when she has real agency that allows her to propel stories forward on her own so the Earth-1 version needs to start doing the same.
We have two helpings of Barry Allen next week when he shows up in the next episode of Supergirl and they apparently race. Who will win? My prediction is that Kara will win because it’s her show but I guess we’ll have to watch and find out.
A solid episode that brings in one of the most engaging villains the show has had in a while. Trajectory is both over the top and tragic in a believable way so proves to be a fun antagonist. Her presence also lends more clues about Zoom and Team Flash catch up to who he really is. The cast also get a chance to blow off steam in a fun night out scene but Iris’ romantic subplot could have been done without.
- the best one-shot villain the show has had in a while
- seeing the characters blow off some steam and Cisco’s bad dancing
- the exploration of the theme of addiction
- Barry’s over the top reaction to Zoom’s identity
- the romantic subplot involving Iris