Rupture – Despite Harrison Wells insisting upon creating another accelerator incident to give Barry back his powers, the team still refuse due to the colossal risks involved. Yet when Zoom comes back into town, along with the metahuman Rupture, looking to take it over they have no choice, Central City needs The Flash.
For anyone not up on their comics, the big event of this episode, having being teased last time, is from The Flashpoint Paradox. Don’t worry, no vast research is required. The important part to know is that its events (and schemes of The Reverse Flash) see The Flash losing his powers, like Zoom has drained Barry on the show, only to eventually get them back recreating the events that gave him his powers the first time, aka getting struck by lightning during a dark matter storm. It’s been excellently incorporated into the season’s story here but what really makes it work in this episode is the examination of the gravity and consequences that make it feel like a desperate last resort rather than having Barry strapping himself in faster than you can say, “Juice me up baby!”. Writers Kai Yu Wu & Lauren Certo use the show’s stellar cast to their maximum potential to convey both the moral and personal arguments of such an extreme action. In the pro-corner, we have Wells promising that the has the science involved down but more importantly bringing in the emotion of his Earth 2 experiences with Zoom taking over a city: he’s seen all this before and will do anything to prevent a sequel. Then from the social viewpoint, we have Joe bringing in the consequences of the original accelerator explosion: the potential for spilling hard water on Gizmo and creating a new batch of dangerous metahumans to threaten the city or even the straightforward collateral damage of a mass explosion in a venture this unstable. Then for the personal viewpoint of Barry’s own safety, we have none other than the returning John Wesley Shipp as Henry Allen…. And my God has he been missed!
There’s the understandable argument about benching him to avoid character overcrowding with all the new faces this season, but we really haven’t seen enough of him since getting out of prison. Yet here he demonstrates why he was such key part of season one’s success: his ability to put your heart in a sharpshooter at a moment’s notice (yes a sharpshooter…. The show is filmed in Canada). This episode allows him to become the conscience of the situation and more than anything else he really feels like a father fighting for the life of his son. The word on-and-off screen is that Henry Allen is staying for the rest of the season, which is nothing but good news. It must also be noted that despite everyone weighing in to the argument Barry is still adamant that the decision will be his own which again builds up the stakes. It’s no spoiler to say that things do go ahead but it still manages to pull out a few surprises, not to mention gorgeous visuals, incredible work from Gustin as he sells the pain and breathtaking results.
Making the episode 90% arguing about Flashpoint before doing would still have dragged despite the material, so despite being a lesser part of the episode, the Cisco’s brother and metahuman Rupture arc are a good inclusion and come with plenty of rewards. The relationship between Cisco and his older brother Dante had plenty of promise last season so it’s good to see the show picking it up again, and the metahuman doppelganger angle adds a fun twist to proceedings. Here, Rupture is Earth 2 Dante and a tad peeved at our Cisco for his brother’s death. In the comic,s Rupture is one of Cisco/Vibe’s brothers (Amando Ramon) but his usage has been rapidly changed here. His power usage is still very cool on screen as his scythe slices and blasts through the episode (Cisco’s WoW stab was on point). It’s interesting that a point is made to mention that his power is all in scythe, as if to leave the door open to someone else (like say Dante) taking up the mantle in the future.
The presence of Rupture also contributes well to the Flashpoint decision by presenting a situation that looks like it needs the Flash but gives Barry the chance to show that it could be done without his powers. A visualization of the dilemma rather than just verbal exchanges which is compounded even further when Zoom makes his presence felt leaving the need for The Flash unquestionable. It makes it a really well-structured episode by the way all the smaller elements contribute to the center piece. Even the least enjoyable, Iris dropping the feelings bomb on Barry, comes with meaning by giving Barry another reason not to risk his life.
It happens almost in passing but John Wesley Shipp is now officially the no. 1 candidate for being under the iron mask in the season finale unmasking. Building on the speculation that the masked man is the real Jay Garrick (Zoom/Hunter Zolomon was just using the identity), when Barry mentions Jay’s name Henry causally comments that his mother’s maiden name was Garrick. So this means that if his mother didn’t marry, he would have been born a Garrick rather than an Allen. When we combine that with the journey to Earth 2 multi-verse image of what looked like Flash suited Shipp, it is entirely possible that Henry Allen’s Earth 2 doppelganger is none other than the real Jay Garrick. If that comes true and we ultimately get Shipp and Gustin standing beside each other as Flash’s, we may need to invent some new swear words of excitement….. the old ones just won’t cut it. On the branching speedster front, the season continues to tease us over whether or not both Wally West and Jessie Quick will be feeling the speed force. Wally clearly has his mindset on being a hero and while the two are having their seven minutes in time vault heaven lock away (a Season 3 romantic arc still looks likely for the pair) Jessie drops a clear statement of foreshadowing, “We don’t have any powers”. The Flash has always been a show about family but could “The” Flash family be on the cards?
This is nothing short of an outstanding episode delivering everything that makes the show so entertaining; a fantastic base given meaningful material to work with, spectacular affects and superpowers yet still always managing to have a light and fun edge to it no matter how serious the circumstances (Cisco is on fire this week, especially with the Harry Potter jokes). Next week brings us the much anticipated Kevin Smith directed episode but it’s got one hell of an act to follow. Flashpoint has been utterly smashed!