Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Flash 2x22 Review: "Invincible" (Heroic Hubris) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

Original Airdate: May 17, 2016

Previously on The Flash: Barry took a trip into the Speed Force and got readjusted his self-identity as a hero, Jesse and Wally were both hit with the blast from the second particle accelerator explosion but neither of them has shown signs of metahumanity, and Zoom amassed a metahuman army to help him take over the world. Starting with Central City, because it’s good to begin locally and then branch out toward world domination.

This week’s episode does a good job handling the aftermath of the previous episode and sending us into the season finale. Not only do we have Zoom’s army running amok, but we also get some spooky vibe-visions from Cisco sprinkled throughout, some great character development for Wally West, and a shocking death that takes Barry from his optimistic, indestructible, post-Speed Force high to what will probably be an all-time low.


There’s trouble right here in Central City — Yes, Trouble! With a capital ‘T’ which rhymes with ‘G’ as in “Gee, there sure are a lot of Earth-2 metahumans breaking stuff and hurting people, we should probably do something about this.” Enter: Team Flash! With an actual, non-hologram version of the Flash this time!

Not only is the Flash flesh-and-blood now — which is very helpful, since Central City Police can really only do so much when they’re up against a mini-army of metahumans — but he’s propelled by the energizing boost of Speed Force Positivity! Barry’s probably more chipper than he’s been all season, which is great for me because I love Chipper Barry (and I know a double-dose of gloominess is right around the corner so I want him to be as happy as he can be, while he can be happy) but his unrealistically shiny outlook on The Zoom Situation is worrying the rest of the gang.

Since Barry doesn’t know he’s in a TV show and can’t take the constant, endless warnings from his friends and family as definite signs of bad things to come, he totally ignores them all. He’s happy! Team Flash is going to win against Zoom and his metahumans, Central City will be saved, the Metapocalypse will be over, those buildings that the Earth-2 version of Laurel Lance will be rebuilt (probably) and Barry and Iris are going to get married and have children and those children are going to call Joe “Poppaw”! Rainbows and sunshine and bunnies and rainbow-sunshine-bunnies for all!

Ha. Yeah, no.

Anyway, I guess Earth-2 Laurel Lance (“Black Siren”) could be considered the non-Zoom metahuman of the week, since she gets the most screentime and has the most impact on our characters. Apparently, her mission is to destroy buildings? And she really likes destroying buildings? I don’t know — seems like a waste of a pretty good power, if you ask me, but I don’t tell metahumans how they should spend their time. Especially not ones who could scream at me and liquify my insides.

The real point of Black Siren is to give Team Flash an idea about sound frequencies, and frequencies in general. Ever since the alternate Earths became a part of the show, we’ve known that a key aspect of their functionality is the fact that all the Earths vibrate on different frequencies. These frequencies can affect those people non-native to that Earth (like Cisco being unable to use his Vibe glasses on Earth-2) so the team figures that they could send out a sort of sonic wave that could incapacitate every Earth-2 person in the city — including Zoom.

Except for a little hiccup where the headphones that were designed to protect the Earth-2 people on Team Flash failed and Harry had to give up his headphones to keep his daughter safe, the plan is very successful. Like, super successful. Barry just has to zip around, cleaning up all the passed-out metahuman villains and popping them into cages and the Metapocalypse is over! Some members of Team Flash do a group hug, then everyone gathers for a celebratory meal and some cheerful music doot-doots its way onto the soundtrack.

Wow, what a bizarrely pleasant end to the second-to-last episode of the season. I wonder what they could do for the finale, after everything tied up so nicely —

Whoops. Zoom kills Barry’s dad. Jeez, The Flash, I thought you were the NICE superhero show?


I get the impression that one of the story layers in this episode has to do with the idea of heroes and villains. What makes a hero, versus what makes a villain: how does a person on one version of Earth end up committing crimes while the same person on another Earth fights crime? Is it a matter of experience — like Zoom argues to Barry, citing the experience of watching his mother die as the reason for his evils — or is it, like Black Siren tells Cisco and Caitlin (pretending to be Reverb and Killer Frost), just the simple fact that doppelgangers are mirrors of each other?

(Of course, Black Siren’s theory actually makes no sense, since there are Infinite Earths and they can’t ALL be mirrors of each other. That not only defies logic, but also falls apart when you realize that Earth-2 Iris and Barry didn’t seem too terribly different from their Earth-1 selves. Still...)

Wally has the makings of a hero. In spite of a rough upbringing and a rocky start with the West family/Team Flash, he seems to have that drive to do good and “earn” his life that means he’s basically just a hero waiting to become a hero. He has no powers (yet), but he sets himself up as bait so he can stop some metahumans terrorizing Central City, he listens to police reports and tries to find an opportunity to help out, he follows the Flash to a confrontation just in case he needs Wally’s help (which Barry totally did!) and just tries to do good things. It’s partly selfish -- Wally wants to make up for the guilt he feels about his life so far, a life that the Flash went to great lengths to save -- but heroes can be selfish, sometimes. As long as the drive to help outweighs the selfishness, the “hero” label still stands.

But in the mind of Zoom, apparently, the switch from “hero” to “villain” can be simple. According to him, all it takes is being “exhausted” by heroics, by the possibility of losing, of pretending that selfishness doesn’t exist. “You want to be seen as pure,” he says to Barry. What Zoom fails to understand, of course, is that Barry isn’t “pure” — he’s most certainly exhausted, and probably a little selfish, but just like Wally’s drive to help is motivated by a bit of self-interest and the desire to assuage some guilt, Barry is a hero because he pushes past all that and does good things in spite of it.

Barry doesn’t pretend to be greater than he is. He doesn’t pretend that it would probably be easier for him to give up being Central City’s savior and just use his powers to make sure he’s never late for work. But he’s a hero because he doesn’t do that — he doesn’t just give in to his own self-pity, self-interests, or the darker, lazier part of him that would keep him from keeping the people in his city safe from villains like Zoom.

So, that’s what makes a hero: understanding that the chosen, good path is the hardest one to follow, and doing it anyway. Even though everyone is telling to not to, even though you keep losing, even though your metahuman friend just got a vision of the oncoming end of the world.

Heeey, look at that! The Metapocalypse just segued into the regular ol’ apocalypse! Clever, show.


Other Things:
  • "The Universe is with us, not Zoom. And if the Universe is with us, how could we possible lose?" Barry, you should know better than to say stuff like that! You’re basically asking fate to kill your dad and end the world at this point.
  • Henry, I get that you missed out on teaching Barry how to drive and stuff through no fault of your own, but… you got out of jail, and then immediately left town. What’s your excuse for that one, dude?
  • Teddy Sears’ Hunter Zolomon/Zoom is A+. Perfect mixture of intimidating, unhinged, creepy... Just, a very good villain.
  • I really loved the way the show fed us Cisco’s dead bird visions. Slowly, kind of making a joke out of it toward the end, and then BAM! End of the world!
  • "This is where I play stupid and you explain science." Bless you, Joe.
  • "Ow!" "Sorry." "Ow!" "Hehehe." More Cisco and Harry messing with each other next season, please!
  • "We're supposed to think that we're something we're not, until we become that thing." That wisdom goes both ways: good or evil. Just by the by.
  • "Ah, detective, I didn't know you cared." "Yes you did." So much good character dialogue in this episode.
  • Oh hey, Wally knows that Barry’s the Flash now! Exciting.


Post a Comment