Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Flash Review: 2x15 "King Shark" (Sharks and Diggles and Angst, Oh My!) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"King Shark"
Original Airdate: February 23, 2016

The Flash including King Shark on the program is a hilarious nod to how stupid comic books can be — and I say that with love, of course. I mean, King Shark is the bizarre result of comic book wackiness from back in the 1990s, a time period in which publishers were apparently trying to recapture the ridiculousness of the Silver Age, but thought it necessary to add a touch of EXTREME! to make it truly '90s. What’s more EXTREME! than a shark? A shark that’s giant! And muscular! And can talk! Thus, King Shark was born. What an absurd blessing to us all.

I don’t think other shows within the DC television universe go as far into the “comic book” nature of their source material as The Flash does, and I appreciate this show for that. The Flash has a good balance of silliness and seriousness: it can have things like King Shark in the same episode as a well-acted, emotional scene in which Barry tries to deal with his experiences on Earth-2, and nothing really feels out of place. I’ve mentioned in reviews before about how the writers needed to carefully establish their universe as one where bizarre things could happen but the characters — and their problems — would still feel real, and they’ve done a remarkably good job with that. This episode, though way less fun than the Earth-2 episodes that preceded it, held up fairly well.


Guess who’s in the episode this week? It’s the Diggles! Hi, Diggle and Lyla! I’m so glad you’re here, because — while the episode was fine and dealt with some interesting stuff — “King Shark” is mostly unremarkable (unre-shark-able!). It needed the guest appearance of the Diggles to give it something special, and they do the double-duty of also setting up the main plot and the threat of King Shark, who has escaped from A.R.G.U.S custody in order to wreak havoc on Central City. Again? Like, did he wreak much havoc before?

King Shark really wants to kill Barry! Why? Because he’d been sent by Zoom to kill Barry in the first place, and doesn’t really get that the breaches are closed and his mission would be impossible to complete. That said, didn’t Zoom want all speedsters — Barry included — to be taken alive? So that he could get all their speed? Why would he send a giant, killer shark-man to kill Barry if it meant that Zoom couldn’t harvest Barry’s speed? No answer! Aaaanyway...

The Diggles and A.R.G.U.S just wanted to warn Barry and then take King Shark themselves, but Barry’s not having it. He wants this whole Zoom/Zoom henchmen thing dealt with and King Shark is technically the last of the lot. After the team helps pinpoint the most likely locations for King Shark — and after they talk to a Dr. Lamden, whose husband is actually the Earth-1 version of Earth-2’s King Shark, I think? — they get a few ideas on how to hunt King Shark down and stop him for good.

Of course the team does eventually stop King Shark, thanks to Barry’s ability to run on water and something to do with electrolocation. Which is indeed a thing, so I’m going to assume that this episode is all scientifically accurate and totally logical. It’s just easier that way. At first, their plan of baiting and trapping King Shark doesn’t work — but then, in a really neat CGI action sequence, Barry manages to electrify the water around King Shark and stun him so that A.R.G.U.S officials can take over. We don’t find out what A.R.G.U.S will end up doing with King Shark, specifically, but it’s implied that the formerly corrupt organization is becoming more... humanitarian, under the command of Lyla, and they’re going to try to find a cure for King Shark and metahumans like him. Yay, Lyla!


As I’m sure we all remember, last week’s episode ended with Jay Garrick’s chest area getting a bad case of Zoom Hand, followed by him taking an involuntary trip back to Earth-2. Everyone was shocked by this, but Caitlin Snow is definitely hit hardest by the loss. After all, she was developing a connection with him. I think the episode goes a little too far in saying that she was in love with him, but yeah, I buy that Caitlin’s probably sick of all her love interests dying. Losing Jay, especially after she worked so hard to find a way to cure whatever disease was caused by the Velocity-6 serum, is a real bummer.

Losing Jay also makes Caitlin turn to what Cisco sees as a “cold” demeanor (a bit like early-Caitlin of season one, if I’m remembering correctly?) that reminds him of her Earth-2 counterpart, Killer Frost. This causes some tension and, even though no one is supposed to say what they experienced on Earth-2 (not really sure why they can’t — it’s not as if it’s a time paradox situation they’re dealing with, and I don’t see how knowing Joe was a lounge singer on Earth-2 would affect the Joe of Earth-1) Cisco spills the beans and tells Caitlin all about meeting her evil doppelganger.

You know who else is bad at keeping the secret of Earth-2? Barry. Because he’s trying to handle the guilt of causing so much damage on Earth-2 — not to mention leaving them to suffer Zoom alone — and unloads his feelings on Joe and Iris by telling them about their Earth-2 versions. He’s feeling guilty about the loss of Jay Garrick as well, and understands — correctly, I suppose — that the people who died on Earth-2, Jay Garrick’s (presumed) death, and the continued reign of Zoom is... well, pretty much all Team Flash’s fault. Because they didn’t stop Zoom and essentially just made him someone else’s problem.

Because Barry has the heart of a hero, he can’t be okay with pushing his responsibilities over on some locked-off alternate dimension. He’s going to think a lot about how much he could have done to help, how much damage Zoom could be doing over on Earth-2, and how it’s mostly his fault that he’s doing damage at all. Add in the fact that he promised Helmet Guy he’d come and save him, which is now impossible with all the breaches closed, and you’ve got a very gloomy Barry. A very gloomy Barry who, by the end of the episode, decides to not be gloomy and tries his best to rally the team with the promise of a return to Earth-2 and a defeat of Zoom.

And speaking of a return to Earth-2, we cut to Earth-2, where Zoom is carrying the body of Jay Garrick. He removes his mask to reveal... Jay Garrick!

(Cue collective audience gasp, except probably not because we all knew he was going to turn out evil on some level, right?)



Other Things:
  • I love that Earth-2 is the most comic-booky Earth. They have Atlantis and 1940s aesthetics and a Giant Ape kingdom and King Shark. It’s all further evidence that The Flash: Earth-2 needs to be an actual show.
  • “This isn’t happening AGAIN!” Oh, Caitlin. You poor darling.
  • “I just sat with her until she fell asleep.” The friendship between Cisco and Caitlin in this episode is heartwarming and great.
  • “There’s been a breach in the aquarium!” “You have an aquarium? Why?”
  • Who makes King Shark’s giant-sized shark pants? Does A.R.G.U.S have an on-staff tailor?
  • The Wests spend their free time speed-stacking cups. Someone please buy them a Wii or the board game Ticket to Ride or something, because that’s really sad.
  • “Hey Dig, how’s that helmet treating you?” “Could use some improvements.” So many improvements.
  • Barry and Wally don’t get along in this episode. Stuff happens. Both are kind of dumb about jealousy, but I think it works out in the end?
  • Why isn’t Felicity returning Barry’s calls?!
  • “You’re starting to do that thing Oliver does, Barry. Carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.” NO, BARRY! DON’T BECOME OLIVER!
  • “I’m not supposed to say anything.” “Why not?” “Because I’m not supposed to say anything!” Yeah, that’s pretty much the whole reasoning behind the “don’t talk about Earth-2” thing.
  • Do you think people in Central City have metahuman insurance on their houses?
  • “Jaws busts through your house like the Kool-Aid man, the Flash shows up, and y’all just act like it’s no big deal.” Wally is really growing on me. I mean, he and Barry were annoying this episode but I loved his incredulity regarding Central City’s weirdness.
  • Joe looks so entertained by the idea of his Earth-2 counterpart being a lounge singer! Maybe this is why they’re not supposed to talk about Earth-2. This knowledge might influence Joe into a karaoke hobby.
  • “You know Quint dies, right?” Harry needling Cisco is always fun.
  • Hey guys? Jay’s dumb helmet doesn’t look any less dumb in a plexiglass box.
  • Note: I apologize for the unre-shark-able pun.

1 comment:

  1. So... yes, they weren´t on their finnest when last week they had the guy in the helmet say "Jay"... without it it would have been twice the shock this week (to say the least). And... the problem is I don´t remember if they told Jay in Earth-1 was alive, and if so... Zoom is Jay from Earth-1, who jealous of Flash went to Earth-2 to be the only speedster? I´m sooo lost right now..