Barry's doing his best to help Central City, even without powers; when Zoom begins his war of conquest and starts bringing more metahumans through the breach, endangering Cisco, Barry has to decide if he should risk everything to be a hero.
At the core of our selves, what is our identity? What should we choose to do, when confronted with difficult choices? How do we know what we do is because of us and not because of someone else? I think identity and choice were the central themes for this riveting episode.
For Cisco tonight, the core of his relationship with Dante is brotherhood–all evidence to the contrary. This is a case of words versus actions, however. When Cisco vibes, he runs to his brother. He didn't have to. Almost all Cisco's vibes so far have connected somehow to metahumans, and Cisco's already an experienced dimensional traveller. When Rupture appears, intent on revenge for the death of Reverb, Cisco's first act is to try to protect his brother. Later, when Cisco sees Dante-2 killed, his first act is to run to shore up that brotherhood. Sharing his status as a metahuman is a huge part of that. Will Dante also develop powers? The way this episode is structured felt like the writers were giving us huge hints about the future–and not just for Dante either (did anyone else feel a thrill when Zoom tried to push Caitlin into letting loose her dark side?) It kind of sucked that Rupture was a one-off and died so quickly, but I was glad to see Cisco grow as a result.
For Wally and Jesse, who were terribly unfairly locked in a room which probably wouldn't prove Zoom-immune, the process of finding their core was a lot more simple but also meaningful. Engineer and problem-solver; they may love speed and other things, but at their heart Jesse and Wally have a lot in common, and they don't give up. The two seem sorta attracted to each other. Maybe I'm shipping Jessally.
For Iris, tonight was the culmination of a lot of thinking. She's been revisiting her ambiguous feelings about Barry. I loved how she really opened up, sharing that she needed time after Eddie's death. I've been worried about how this show would deal with the Iris/Barry relationship for a while. I guess this was one of the less cloying, painful routes the show could have taken - an almost natural development. Unfortunately, it seems like every time these two express love for one another, some sort of catastrophe ensues (is this a trope? Or am I just watching too much Agents of SHIELD? Because Fitz and Simmons have a similar problem.)
Barry's storyline, ultimately, holds all the others together. The choice to bring his father back is a welcome one, and fits in more than one way; after all, Joe is spending a lot more time with Wally lately, and this episode shows there's more than a little distance growing between Joe and Barry. All three of Barry's fathers are fighting over Barry's future: one sees him as an independent person fully capable within himself, one sees him as both the person and the hero, and the third sees Barry as all that stands between a world and... whatever makes Zoom's eyes go black.
Zoom was particularly terrifying during this episode. His effortless killing of an entire police squad–except for Captain Singh–freaked me the heck out, especially with Barry essentially helpless to do anything about it. No wonder Barry gives in to Wells' pressure. And what a decision that is! Poor Barry. Wells' experiment winds up with our hero following the same route the villain Trajectory took a few episodes ago, when she was overpowered by Velocity-9. Barry literally dissolves, disappearing into the ether. Does that mean Wells' experiment worked, just too well? I'm really curious about what will happen over the next few episodes, because it looked like Jesse and Wally got some kind of powers (comics spoiler: in the books, both are speedsters.) Will Jesse and Wally actually take over for Barry? Were they the only two affected by the particle accelerator re-explosion? And I had a scary thought. What if Zoom is inspired by what Wells did tonight, and tries to make Caitlin over into Killer Frost? They might need Supergirl to get out of this one.
Bits and Pieces
Barry's a lot more attractive when he's trying to solve problems, even without powers, than he is when he's whining.
Caitlin was effective throughout, although I much prefer her finding solutions than begging for salvation. It looks like she's run out of leverage, however.
Cisco: "It looks like the Vacuum."
Jesse: "Uh, what's the Vacuum?"
Cisco: "No Fringe on Earth-2. Noted." (Possible hint here? The Vacuum was a machine which existed but paradoxically could not exist on the TV series Fringe. It was supposed to be used to save or destroy a universe.)
Rupture: "You killed my brother, so, now, you die."
Cisco: "Oh, my God. You are Princess Bride-ing me right now! You must have me mixed up with somebody else, Inigo."
Joe: "Well, I'm sure there's something out there that'll satisfy your need for speed and helping people, but, until then, you should stick with engineering. It's much safer."
!!!!!!! It's times like these that I see the benefits of the Netflix dump-em-all-at-once model: I can't bear waiting till next week. I guess there's something to be said for delayed gratification, though. Five out of five Rupture scythes.
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