Wow, they coulda had a V8 and saved themselves a lot of trouble in this week’s recap of CW’s The Flash.
This episode of The Flash is about deception, whether it’s self-deception or deceiving others.
Spoilers under the cut.
The main plot of “Trajectory” involves a new metahuman who’s not really a metahuman. Seems Caitlin, in her desperation to find a working V-9 serum, sent some of her theories to a colleague for verification. That colleague, Eliza Harmon, then went and reverse-engineered those theories to create V-9 herself and use it for petty thefts. Problem is, V-9 is apparently as addictive as heroin or tobacco or speed…I’m sorry.
Eliza wants to stop, but V-9 gives her a split personality similar to Two-Face’s, which talks her into trying it out one more time, always one more time. Meanwhile, Iris’ new editor is in a deception inception, wherein he continues to think that the Flash has gone rogue…I’m sorry. He’s absolutely convinced that every person who has power will abuse that power and that he might be the only one who can wake people up. The problem with that line of thinking is that he is actually the one abusing his power in an effort to find the truth.
In the other plotline, Jesse finally learns just how far her dad will go to save her. He’s deceived himself into thinking it’s justified, but in reality it goes to prove just how far he’s fallen. When Jesse leaves at the end, completely disgusted, he finally realizes his decisions have the worst personal cost to him – the loss of his daughter’s trust, and possibly her love.
The end of the episode is the real kicker, though, as Team Flash finally puts together Zoom’s identity. It’s one of my favorite moments of the whole season, taking Eliza’s final run and extrapolating all the dropped hints to their final, logical conclusion. Next episode, we see the return of Harrison Wells. No, the other one. See you next time.
We open the episode with Barry cliff-jumping to work on his speed, and inevitably falling into a canyon. They reveal Barry’s been working non-stop on his speed for the week since last episode’s events. It’s agreed everyone needs a night off, so Barry, Caitlin, Cisco, and Jesse opt to go clubbing. It’s about time we got a chance to get a sense of Jesse as a character rather than a plot device for man-pain.
Wally and Iris join them at the club, where Jesse’s metahuman detector – which has been pinging every time she gets near Barry (but not Cisco?) – immediately goes off in response to Wally. Wally’s the third Flash in comics, but has yet to show any hint of being one on the TV show. Wally and Jesse flirt adorably and then Barry and Iris sort of flirt extremely awkwardly due to their married doppelgängers on Earth-2 and the reveal of a future in this universe where they’re married. I can’t blame them; that’s a lot of pressure.
The fun night out is interrupted when a female speedster shows up and robs the bar. She leaves Barry in her dust. Iris’ new boss is jumping at the chance to go full J. Jonah Jameson and paint the Flash as a petty criminal the public can’t trust and, of course, assigns Iris to write an article on it.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlin and Harry reveal the existence of the speed drug Velocity-9, and cite it as the likely source of Central City’s newest speedster. Barry’s irritated they didn’t tell him about the shortcut for increased speed, until they explain the drug was killing Jay. Which means it’s probably killing our mystery speedster.
Cisco hangs a lampshade on the point that it took the show two years to finally get around to having a lady speedster, which the fans have been complaining about since Jesse came on the scene because Jesse Quick is one of the most prominent female speedsters in DC Comics. This isn’t her, though.
Caitlin identifies her as Eliza Harmon, a scientist she went to for help when working on the Velocity-9 drug. In the comics, Eliza Harmon was a hero-worshipping teenager-turned-speedster named Trajectory, who was only granted speed using a drug provided by Lex Luthor’s Everyman Project in the 52 series. She was an extremely short-lived character who was killed off after only eight issues.
The episode reveals that Eliza took the drug as a focus enhancer, trying to get ahead in her career, and as a side effect now seems to be dealing with the Hollywood concept of a multiple personality disorder. It’s an old plot device, but as society becomes more educated about mental illness, it’s one that we really need our media to stop using so casually. Rather than just acting as the super caffeine injection Eliza intended V-9 to be, the drug has brought out her kleptomaniac, chaos-loving alter ego who calls herself Trajectory.
Barry is having to fight the temptation to take the dangerous speed drug to enhance his speed via shortcuts. Since he knows what it did to Jay, I don’t see why this is such a huge temptation for the Barry we’ve had built up over the past seasons, but it all feeds back into the general messages of this episode: A) recreational drug use is bad, and B) cheating and taking shortcuts to your goal – especially a heroic goal like Barry’s which requires fighting other human beings – compromises your principles and will eventually compromise who you are in the long term. The real you is what you do when you think no one is looking.
That second theme recurs through every plot this episode, from Eliza to Barry to Harry and even Iris’ boss, who reveals he’s so willing to paint the Flash as a villain because he’s seen too many purported “heroes” who compromise everything they stand for to achieve one goal while they think no one is going to catch them.
As the sidebar plot this episode, Jesse found a recording of one of Harry’s dark side monologues, and confronts her dad about it.
After Trajectory injects Jesse with an undiluted dose of Velocity-9, Jesse and Harry have a talk about how to protect her. Harry is willing to compromise every principle he has, and it started with what he did when he thought no one, especially Jesse, would find out. It’s driving a wedge between them, and at the end of the episode, Jesse runs away because of it. She leaves without ever using Velocity-9-powered speed or getting much character development beyond just being a way to manipulate Harry, which is supremely frustrating speaking as someone who’s been waiting to get the speedster Jesse Quick ever since she was introduced.
This episode also introduces blue speedster lightning in opposition to the familiar yellow or red. We see it on Trajectory when she overdoses and disappears into her speed (into the Speed Force?) and we see it when Cisco vibes Zoom on Earth-2 when he approaches Jay’s helmet. It seems to be an indicator of corrupted speed and Velocity-9, and Team Flash puts the clues together that Zoom is Jay – or at least a version of him – to finish the episode.
Things are ramping up for an emotional showdown between Team Flash and Jay/Zoom.
George Hatch can be found on Twitter @Raeseti, if you would like to veer along that trajectory…I’m sorry.
Becky Shire is everyone’s favorite Flash Guru, cosplayer and all-around badass. You can find her on Twitter at @ElfGrove.
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