When a man from a parallel world appears to let Barry know that interdimensional space in Central City is riddled with breaches through which enemies are coming, Barry once again has to decide who to trust, and how much.
While I occasionally get rumors and other information about what may be planned for the show, I haven't read many of the Flash comics and don't know much about the Silver Age or alternate versions. In a way, this makes it a much more fun ride for me–I get to enjoy the novelty of a completely different world. In other ways it's frustrating, because the show will begin playing chords of stirring music and I know, I absolutely know, that they're trying to highlight something from the comics. On the other hand, this also helps me judge episodes on their own merits. I want to see show and story, not just allusions. I'm happy to say I think Flash delivers in that respect, and while it does indeed likely have a ton of easter egg-y comic book references, it also works as a standalone without the background. Teddy Sears is also incredibly easy on the eyes, even if he has shaggy Scott Baio hair.
The episode primarily grapples with two storylines. The first concerns ongoing problems resulting from the black hole which apparently killed Firestorm. Jay Garrick, our mysterious visitor at the end of the previous episode, is one of many from another world who seem to be coming through very Fringe-reminiscent breaches between worlds. In his world, he was a speedster eternally fighting a man named Zoom, another user of the Speed Force–who in a parallel of Barry and Wells have been playing out their own version of good-force bad-force. Garrick has somehow lost his speed but Zoom, Garrick claims, has set his sights on all speedsters, and jealously wishes to keep power for himself. In order to do so he's set metahumans from other worlds to come in and attack Barry, allowing the show a reason to continue the monster-of-the-week format. The glimpses of Zoom throughout are chilling, but the idea of him being, basically, Rita Repulsa from Power Rangers, sending scary metahumans down on our team of heroes, is kind of boring. I'm hoping they take it to a higher level than that.
This week's monster is the Sand Demon, and just Wells once did, Jay informs Barry that he needs to up his speed in new ways to beat the bad guy. Barry isn't listening; he seems to like Jay, then come over all hostile and distrustful. Not surprising; recent events have left him with a bunch of daddy issues. Essentially, Barry needs to learn to trust Jay Garrick and get over his lingering fears about harmful father figures. His hostility to Jay is fairly short-lived, however, and they get to the point fairly quickly: that Barry needs to channel the lightning produced by his speed, as Jay once did, in order to turn Sand Demon into glass. Jay trains him between full-body tests from Caitlin, who appears fairly taken with the alterna-hottie, especially when she stumbles onto his geeky side. I guess she's ready to move on–but in the previous episode she thought she was responsible for Firestorm's death, and this seems sort of awkwardly quick.
During all this, one of my favorite storylines starts to simmer. Cisco is learning to get "a vibe" from things, giving him a new role as Jay and Martin take over naming duties. So far, he's been able to see alternate universes, and events from the past (possibly concurrent events in the present?) Tonight, he was able to focus his ability intentionally. I liked that Martin was the one to confront Cisco about his secrets; Martin's become a sort of replacement for Caitlin in the sense of being Cisco's support network.
The secondary plot focuses on Patty Spivot, a detective in the Central City force who wants to join Joe's metahuman task force. Patty is an organized, fit cop who was the best marksman in her class, but Joe's reluctant to let her join (despite her repeatedly proving her skills) and thinks that he's justified in his opinions when she's abducted by Sand Demon. Barry finds her with Cisco's help (and badly concealed knowledge of a concussion bomb); Jay proves his heroism by volunteering to take on Sand Demon defenseless. Barry's able to easily pulverize Sandy on the first go with a bright old lightning bolt, and we have yet another metahuman taken care of. Conveniently, this one shatters–no worries about housing and bathroom opportunities in the High-Speed Prison. It feels as if this and the previous episode mark a shift, however. What happened to the whole "protecting the metahumans in a padded prison" thing? One of the more unique features of the Flash is how he's into saving everyone. Is he going the opposite direction of the Arrow?
Joe finally takes Spivot on the task force when she confesses her father's murder at the hands of Mark Mardon and uses this to explain the depth of her motivation and her repeated efforts to convince him. I thought this was done very well. How many have died at the hands of metahuman criminals in Central City? There are going to be other people and metahumans who want to set things right. It remains to be seen whether this is a healthy or destructive obsession on Patty's part; it certainly led to her abduction at the hands of the Demon.
Three final things: Alterna-Wells. Is this Earth-2, where Flash came from? I thought he'd be back somehow, and am hoping this is the real thing. If so, the fact that he's the Savior of Central City - a good guy - might be something to improve Barry's mood. Second: the collapse of Martin Stein. Does this mean Ronnie Raymond's coming back? Third: Joe's wife finally makes an appearance! Where is this going to go?
Bits and Pieces
Sand Demon and the Atom Smasher are two weeks' worth of entirely forgettable foes. I think this show needs to step up how it deals with the villains.
Garrick has been Flash for two years, but apparently this is long enough for him to take on a very Big Brother role.
Loved when Patty expertly caught the wrong guy!
Zoom has a dark suit, in contrast to the colorful Barry and Wells suits. I thought it was funny because color was an issue throughout the show - Cisco hates it when superheroes add color to their names, and at the end the Flashes were introducing themselves as the Scarlet Speedster and the Crimson Comet.
There was a very cheesy moment when Patty called for both Flashes and they ran over; apparently this was a recreation of a scene originally found in the comics. It was cute, but OMG cheesy.
I liked Jay's costume.
Jay: I was at my lab trying to purify heavy water without any residual radiation when there was a blinding light. I fell into a coma. When I woke up, I could run almost as fast as the speed of light.
Caitlin: Sorry. Did you say lab?
Barry: How's it going with Joe? You any closer to cracking his no-code?
Patty: Are you kidding me? He's like the permission Sphinx.
Three and a half out of four speedy lightning bolts. A great episode which I think the writers made very accessible.
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