Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Flash 2x06 "Enter Zoom" (You Can't Outrun Consequences) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Enter Zoom"
Original Airdate: November 10, 2015

Things get much more focused on the season arc this episode and we get no Metahuman of the Week because Team Flash is going after Zoom! Silly Team Flash –– it's only episode six of the season. Your attempts to defeat the main villain this early in the run are destined for failure. Tragic, tragic failure. Onto the episode!

Oh no! Somehow Doctor Light escaped her prison cell and is fighting Barry –– and winning! How did this happen? Whatever shall the Scarlet Speedster do to avert disaster and doom? How upset will Cisco be that Doctor Light totally just stole Barry's sweet new season two chest emblem? Why did Cisco make that thing so easy to remove, anyway? We're only a minute into the episode, how did things turn so bad so quickly!?

Seventy-two hours earlier (I do love an introductory time-jump), Barry was chatting with Doctor Light about her really bad plan for escaping Zoom: kill Linda Park, make him think it was her that died, and... uh... Move away, I guess? It certainly wasn't very well thought through, since she was going to kill Linda with light beams and I'm pretty sure Zoom would have figured out that Doctor Light hadn't killed herself with her own light beams. Silly villains. Be better at planning things. Anyway, Barry really latches on to the idea of stopping Zoom by using Doctor Light as bait.

We know that ParaWells is obsessed with finding Zoom and being as cantankerous and creepy about it as possible, but Barry's seeming pretty manic this episode, too. Joe notices and he confronts him about it, suggesting that maybe Barry resents that he wasn't the one to take down Reverse Flash and he wants to take down Zoom to make up for it. Because, in spite of Barry's general chipper disposition and puppy-like qualities, there's an underlying anger to him. He wants justice, he wants revenge, and he wants so badly to save the world (or at least his city) that he sometimes lets that be a driving force for the big things that he does. He lets his need to succeed and be the hero cloud his better judgement. Even worse, he uses his self-righteousness to convince the people around him –– people who are meant to be there to rein him in and temper his more impulsive decisions –– to go along with what he says. Because Barry's a good guy. He's a hero, and he has good ideas a lot of the time.

Compare this with ParaWells. The Wells of Earth-2 is intelligent, manipulative, impatient, and seems to care very little for the welfare of those around him, so long as he gets what he wants. Even before he ended up on Earth-1 –– before Zoom kidnapped his daughter and probably pushed him over the edge from "misunderstood genius" to, as Cisco called him last week, "a dick" –– he seemed absolutely sure of his actions and decisions. In the flashback to Earth-2, when Wells tells his daughter about his role in creating the metahumans, he tells her that "When you don't have the key to the lock, sometimes you kick in the door." He isn't a man who regrets his decisions, in spite of the problems they might have caused –– he's a man who tries to convince the people around him that he was right to make those decisions. Like Barry, Wells uses his strengths to persuade others to his line of thinking and forget the consequences, because he knows what's right and what's wrong. Unlike Barry, Wells is kind of mean about it.

Both ParaWells and Barry want to get Zoom. They want to do so for different reasons –– maybe Barry does want to fulfill whatever void Thawne-Wells told him he was destined to have, or maybe he just wants to keep the people in his city (and parallel versions of his city) safe; Wells just wants to save his daughter. Both of them use their willpower to get people to help them achieve their goals even though the plans they come up with aren't safe and aren't guaranteed to succeed. Being the leader of the group means making big decisions and both these men understand that, for better or worse.

Barry isn't malicious. He isn't bloodthirsty or brooding and he's about as far from an anti-hero as you can get, but he's human and he sometimes throws away caution in favor of action. After all, he's The Flash ––  action is kind of his natural state of being. Mostly, things work out in Barry's favor. We've seen him fix the problems around him every week, with the help of his team of friends and family (and ParaWells, I guess –– whatever he is to anyone) and with that sort of track record, it's understandable that Barry thinks he can do things without really contemplating how they could go wrong.

And boy, things sure do go wrong this time.

It all starts out fun. Team Flash gets the bright idea to use Linda Park and some light-emitting gloves to make Zoom think Doctor Light and The Flash are fighting. After an initially rocky practice montage with Linda and the gloves Cisco created, they're mostly ready for the main show: a mock-fight that proves Linda and Barry are so terrible at acting that I half expected Zoom to pop up, shake his head at them in disappointment, then zip back to Earth-2 in order to find a more reasonable and less embarrassing arch-enemy. The play-fighting fails to lure Zoom out, though, and everyone goes home to think of a new plan because none of these people realize what kind of show they're in and that the second they let their guard down, Zoom's going to show up and take them by surprise.

Which he does. At first, he seems to target Linda –– but it turns out he's just using her as bait to get to Barry, who falls for it and ends up in Zoom's clutches. For a little bit, it looks like things might go all right for Barry, just like every other episode. He uses some stuff that has helped him in the past, but Zoom catches the lightning Barry throws at him and Barry's attempt to use physics against him ends with our hero beaten and bloody. Zoom zips around Central City, showing off an unconscious Flash to all the people who matter: the news (some of whom get it on camera, of course), the police department, and S.T.A.R Labs.

Harrison Wells, clearly distraught (because there's something inside of him that really doesn't want to see Barry hurt? Or because he thinks his last good chance at saving his daughter is kaput?), admits that he made a mistake, and Zoom agrees –– and delivers what probably would have been a killing blow to Barry if Cisco hadn't arrived in time to shoot Zoom, making him to drop Barry and flee.

When Barry wakes up from his ordeal, he realizes that the consequences of his fight with Zoom weren't limited to another near-death experience to add to the collection and a fashionable new neck brace. He can't feel his legs.

It's amazing how fast things can go from fun to frightening. But that's pretty fair for this genre, really.

In my opinion, The Flash is everything a comic book show should be. It manages to be fun and funny without being campy; it's serious and exciting without being disjointed or over the top. Every emotional beat –– no matter how sudden –– rings true and effective because something in the mix of writers, producers, and actors allows for tonal shifts that flow and blend, rather than stagger, into each other. This week's episode started out with Cisco making sarcastic remarks in the background and ended with Barry close to death and unable to walk after being dragged around Central City like Zoom's favorite rag doll. And I bought it. That kind of turn takes a lot for a show to pull off, but The Flash manages it because, as I said last week, it has established a versatile universe that we can laugh at and be emotionally attuned with on equal levels.

Next week the show's bringing back Grodd, the super-intelligent gorilla, and Barry's in a wheelchair (a la Thawne-Wells –– hello, parallels!). Some viewers might boggle at the melding of such polar opposite situations –– the drama of our hero, who relies on his legs to be a hero, confined to a wheelchair and the silliness of an evil gorilla running rampant on the streets of Central City –– but I'm not even bothered. I don't care, because this is what comic books are. They're drama and ridiculousness mashed together into one crazy, colorful, serious, exciting world meant to push and pull our emotions like saltwater taffy and, beyond all else, entertain the crap out of us.

The next episode is called "Gorilla Warfare." Gorilla Warfare, people. This show is so stupid and wonderful and the best and I want to hug it. I want to physically hug this television program.



Other Things:
  • "Zoom is obsessed with speed." I hadn't caught that quote before, but now that I've heard it in the "previously on" –– what a dumb thing to be obsessed with, Zoom.
  • "You know it took a lot of work to make that emblem, right?" and "I would never let that happen. Sergeant Slow is a terrible name." are both excellent quotes highlighting Cisco's stellar priorities.
  • "Did you know that light energy can be turned into hard light?" Is that like what makes Lightsabers work?
  • Patty calls Joe Barry's "dad" and Barry doesn't correct her and I LOVE how The Flash deals with adoptive/foster parent relationships. I know I've said that a lot of times, but –– ugh, it's so great.
  • I know Barry/Patty isn't endgame but I am enjoying their flirty-flirting.
  • Wait, Doctor Light left her clothes in a pile –– was she running through the city naked? And even if she wasn't, she took her shoes off. Concrete and bare feet? Ouch.
  • "Whatever, Harry!" Cisco calling ParaWells "Harry" is still the best.
  • "I think at the time we were talking about your high school football tryouts." "You said you'd never bring that up again." It's said so seriously! What the hell happened at Barry's high school football tryouts?
  • "God, you'd think the serial killer version would've been a bigger jerk." I love how much of a jerk ParaWells is. SO MUCH.
  • I'm genuinely interested in the Earth-2 version of Arrow where Oliver's dead and middle-aged Robert Queen becomes a vigilante.
  • Oh, you haven't identified the student kidnapped by the metahuman, Earth-2 News Team? Maybe, I don't know, take a hint from the phone you're zooming in on with the (very famous) Harrison Wells' face and the word "Daddy" showing up on the Caller ID?
  • So when Cisco gets bored he makes life-sized cutouts of his friends? Why am I not surprised?
  • "What does a terrible idea look like to you, Cisco?"
  • "Holy crap! I've made out with The Flash." Ha! Linda.
  • I suspect that Cisco's interaction with ParaWells the second time was actually less about trying to get a vibe on him and more about just irritating him for funsies.
  • "Next time we're doing this, I'm writing better dialogue." and then Iris and Caitlin saying together, "Next time?" Hee.
  • "See him catch a bolt of lightning with his –– demonic claws?! Yeah, saw that!"


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