“Metapocalypse” is the best portmanteau I’ve heard since they invented beer monsters called “Alementals” in World Of Warcraft. Anyway, here’s this week’s all-Becky recap of CW’s The Flash.
Episode 22 opens on absolute chaos. The city is a literal war zone between the CCPD and an army of unidentified metahumans, although longtime DC Comics fans might be able to identify a few. The Flash is running everywhere, fighting back against the “metapocalypse” and Caitlin is back with Team Flash.
Spoilers under the cut.
Barry’s trip to the Speed Force has left him strangely Zen about the impending doom situation in an “everything’s going to work out in the end” way, and while we as the viewers know that to be true, Barry needs a little more urgency and planning to actually achieve that end.
Mercury Labs explodes, revealing our minor villain of the week: Black Siren, a.k.a. Earth-2’s Laurel Lance. Barry manages to get Dr. Christina McGee out, and we learn that, as a reasonably intelligent and observant scientist, Dr. Christina McGee has put two and two together to figure out that Barry Allen is the Flash. She goes to S.T.A.R. Labs with Barry to meet for the first time ever Dr. Henry Allen. This is a hilarious Easter egg since she’s reprising her role from the 1990s Flash TV show, and the actor playing Henry Allen was her Barry Allen. She gets a significantly less-than-empathetic introduction to Harry and the “multiple Wells” phenomenon, considering Eobard as Wells nearly killed her before. I maintain, however, that all versions of Harrison Wells are asshats who need to be punched.
Wally’s out on the streets playing hero, but he has no powers, so it’s incredibly dangerous. He’s got all of the heroic tendencies that made him a wonderful Flash in the comics, and we see the beginning of the traditional Wally West arc where he grows from brash and selfish kid into a true hero. I’m just so ready to see him get his speed and a suit. He’s going to be great. Joe is understandably worried, and focuses on making sure Wally understands he’s a worthwhile person and he doesn’t have to risk his life to prove it, because Wally needs to hear that right now. Wally later gives Barry a great speech about how this isn’t just the Flash’s fight, but the fight of everyone who lives in Central City. It shows Wally’s growth and where he’s heading as well as reiterating the themes of the Flash as a hero with a family backing him up, and who works in and among the people of his city rather than protecting them from far above (Superman) or in the shadows (Batman).
Meanwhile, Harry is in hard denial about even the potential of Jesse being a metahuman. It’s not that he’s worried about Jesse’s emotional state or growth; it’s presented as “My little girl cannot be anything but this role I have accepted as hers and must be kept in this narrow cage.” It’s frustrating when most of her arc so far has been as a recipient of punishment for the sake of Harry’s manpain, while as a comics fan I know she has the potential to be a speedster. Harry seems incapable of growth except by irritatingly slow inches in how he perceives and treats others.
Rounding out our parental heart-to-hearts, we have Henry talking to Barry, making sure his confidence is still grounded in reality and self-preservation. They touch on the rift that has come out of Henry’s long absence. Similar to Joe’s feelings about Wally, Henry’s concern is about Barry’s emotional state and making sure Barry is acting in a way so that he keeps growing and being himself. Henry doesn’t try to stop Barry. The difference between “supportive, but concerned about being on the right path” and just acting as a flat stonewall to someone else’s personal growth is blatant. There’s a lot of father-and-child focus this episode, all the dads asking their children to stop and be more careful, but the difference in the focus being between concern for going about moving forward the right way versus permitting moving forward at all is a vital shade which is slightly different for each.
A quick check-in with Zoom reiterates that Hunter sees Barry’s altruism as a weakness which will lead to his defeat. It’s a superhero show; when has that ever worked out in the villain’s favor? But the fact is, Zoom does have a point. He has an army and trying to fight them one by one is ineffective, so Team Flash has to come up with a plan. They decide to combine tech from Cisco and Hartley to use vibrational resonance in order to disable the Earth-2 metahumans’ powers the same way Cisco couldn’t initially vibe on Earth-2 because he was slightly out of sync with the dimension. It’s a solid comic-book-logic plan, and my ongoing complaint is that it would have been a great excuse to bring Hartley Rathaway back for a cameo and they didn’t. Again. (Piper’s my favorite Flash Rogue and I will harp on every missed opportunity to use him, especially when they’re actively referencing him without bringing the character back.)
Caitlin is dealing with severe PTSD and flashbacks as a result of her time as Zoom’s captive, and I’m actually really glad to see the narrative focusing on her emotional process in spite of how much I hated how she was used. The lack of attention to Jesse’s emotional arc makes it important that the women on this show aren’t put through the wringer and then assumed to just be fine after the guys rescue them. I love the familial bond she has with Cisco which helps both of them deal with everything that’s happened.
Cisco and Caitlin pretend to be their Earth-2 doppelgängers in order to distract Black Siren while Barry sets off the MacGuffin which puts all the Earth-2 metas to sleep. Jesse turns out to be extra sensitive to the pulse, which basically confirms she is a metahuman now. Barry talks to Joe about how Wally is growing into a hero and says it’s because Wally is a lot like Joe. I’m so beyond ready for multiple good guy speedsters and Waid-era style Flash Family.
The episode ends with Zoom kidnapping Henry and killing him in front of Barry, hoping to make Barry just like Zoom – because as I’ve been pointing out, this season has focused heavily on the parallel paths so many of our characters are going through, especially Hunter and Barry. (This moment also finally reveals to Wally that Barry is the Flash.) Next episode should be interesting.
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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