Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my all of my reviews of The Flash here.
After two weeks on Earth-2, this was the fallout episode. The bulk of “King Shark”, the meaty centre of the episode, comprised the emotional consequences of the very eventful trip to Earth-2. To fully explore this, the show needed to slow down and take a break from Zoom—without resorting to a forgettable villain-of-the-week. This made it the perfect opportunity to bring in King Shark, resulting in an episode that was very high on thrills yet still allowed the characters breathing room to process what they went through.
This was a sombre episode. For one, Jay Garrick had just died. I wasn’t that bothered by his death—aside from his first appearance, most of the time he was just… there. Plus, it happened so suddenly that I expected a swerve. Still, it gave our characters something to mourn.
Caitlin seemed to take it the hardest, reverting back to her unsmiling self that we saw in the pilot after she’d just lost Ronnie. This led Cisco to worry about her potential to become like her Earth-2 counterpart, Killer Frost. It was a silly concern, as Caitlin herself told him—she was just grieving, and it was natural. Still, the episode cleverly played it like a definite possibility, leaving just enough doubt in the audience’s minds. That subplot led to a few laughs thanks to Cisco’s reactions, but it was mostly dramatic, showing how Cisco was affected by seeing the Earth-2 counterparts of Team Flash.
Equally affected and much more solemn was Barry. Like I said two weeks ago, he watched Joe die in front of him. Earth-2 or not, the sight of his father figure on his deathbed took a toll on him—especially since he believed it was his fault. Not only for being the “breacher” that Killer Frost and Deathstorm were seeking, but for opening the breaches to begin with by traveling back in time to save his mother. And for closing all the breaches, leaving a whole world at Zoom’s mercy. Honestly, it was hard to argue with his logic, which made his despair resonate very well. And Grant Gustin sold it with a fantastic performance.
Barry dealing with all of this guilt made him very reminiscent of Oliver Queen, so it was a great idea to have John Diggle in the episode to give him solace and guidance, two things Diggle excels at. The King Shark plot didn’t really need Diggle there, but it was a good idea to take advantage of ARGUS’s presence and not only have some inter-show connectivity, but also make use of Diggle in an episode where Barry needed him most.
The King Shark plotline was there to keep our heroes occupied while dealing with the fallout, but the show really made the best of it. King Shark himself was the show’s best CGI creation, and the battles between him and the Flash—especially the final one—looked amazing and were incredibly entertaining. I’m pretty sure most of Season 2’s budget went into this episode alone, and it was worth it.
Another element at play this week was Wally West’s rocky relationship with Barry. There was an element of jealousy and sibling rivalry, as Wally clashed with the man his father loved and had raised instead of him, and Barry was too busy coping with his grief to endear himself to Wally.
Finally, the final scene came with a big reveal—Zoom’s identity. He’s Jay Garrick. Or an alternate-Earth Jay Garrick. Possibly Hunter Zolomon? Who knows at this point. It wasn’t that shocking, since it was revealed a few weeks ago that Jay’s Earth-1 counterpart was called Hunter Zolomon (Zoom’s identity in the comic books), and considering the masked man was spelling out Jay’s name last week. But then again, Harrison Wells being the man in yellow was a predictable reveal last year, too, and yet the show handled it with a neat twist. Here’s a great interview with Andrew Kreisberg in which he talks about it and draws great parallels between Garrick and Wells. In any case, it’s a juicy reveal that’s sure to keep fans talking while the show takes a short break.
When fans of The Flash fondly remember the back half of Season 1, they’re recalling a show that perfectly balanced emotion with crazy fun, out-of-this-world superheroics. That’s exactly what “King Shark” did, once again cementing The Flash as the best there is at what it does.
Rating: 4/5 (Great)
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