Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Flash Season 2, Episode 15: King Shark

Now that the big Earth-2 epic storyline is over (for now), this week's Flash resumed the "villain of the week" format. But WHAT a villain! It's the return of King Shark, the most awesome character who's ever been on the show. Yes, even better than Gorilla Grodd!

Naturally since this episode featured a giant shark, the Jaws references were troweled on pretty thick. Thankfully they pulled back just before they became unbearable.

The biggest news is that this week's episode finally, at long last, showed us who's under Zoom's mask. And it's exactly who I thought it was too! Well, maybe. It's complicated. Read on to find out more.

Lastly, it was announced this week that Teddy Sears, who plays Jay Garrick on The Flash, is joining the cast of the upcoming 24 reboot. What this means for The Flash and his future as Jay Garrick, I can't say. It certainly doesn't bode well for the survival of his character, but who knows? He's not a major character who's in every scene, and actors have starred in two series at the same time before, so it's possible he could work both into his schedule.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
We pick up right where we left off last week, seconds after Zoom killed Jay and dragged him back to Earth-2 before the portal closed forever. Caitlin pleads with the others to reopen the portal, but Harry says it's impossible.

Caitlin becomes distant and withdrawn, or as Cisco puts it, "cold." He worries that all this trauma's going to make her become evil and turn her into the Earth-1 Killer Frost. Harry warns Barry and Cisco to not say anything to the others about their Earth-2 doppelgangers and what they were like. They both promise, but might as well have had their fingers crossed behind their backs.

We then get a montage of Barry running aimlessly through Central City as he tries to forget what happened on Earth-2. Weeks pass.

Cut to ARGUS, where King Shark is being kept in a heavily fortified pool. He escapes during feeding time and run off. Diggle and Lyla from Arrow wander into STAR Labs to warn Barry that King Shark is loose and is coming to kill him. Barry patrols the waterfront, but sees no sign of the giant man-shark.

Barry worries that Wally, the new addition to the West family, doesn't much like him. He tries to bond with Wally, over a new car engine design he came up with. Unfortunately Barry begins pointing out flaws in Wally's design. Wally gets offended and leaves in a huff.

Meanwhile, Cisco and Caitlin research King Shark, who's from Earth-2, and find out he's a mutated human named Shay Lamden. The Earth-1 Lamden was killed in the particle accelerator explosion, but his widow is alive and well and working with sharks at Nautilus Labs, because of course she is. They visit her and request any info she has on sharks.

Cisco continues to worry about Caitlin's attitude. She finally forces him to tell her about Earth-2 and Killer Frost. Caitlin tells him she's not becoming evil, she's being cold and distant because that's what humans do when they see their significant other killed before their eyes.

Barry tries working with Wally again, but ends up taking over the project instead of letting him do it himself. Wally says he's tired of hearing Joe and Iris talk about how perfect Barry is. Wally's about to storm out again, when suddenly King Shark rips the roof off the house, announcing he's looking for the Flash. Joe takes a few shots at him, while Barry zips away and returns as the Flash.

Out in the street, the Flash tells King Shark there's no way to get back to Earth-2, and Zoom can't control him anymore. King Shark knocks Barry aside and flees. Barry returns to Joe's house (as himself). Wally, thinking Barry hid during the attack, calls him a coward and, of course, storms out. Joe and Iris ask Barry what's wrong with him, as he's been acting different since coming back from Earth-2. He tells them what happened, that Barry-2 and Iris-2 are married there, and Joe-2 was killed due to Barry's boneheadedness.

Cisco and Caitlin use Dr. Lamden's research to determine that King Shark is sensing the electricity in Barry's Speed Force lightning, which is how he's able to track him. They decide to use that knowledge to trap him. They set up a fake, electrified Flash to lure King Shark to the bay. The fake Flash is filled with tranquilizers, so hopefully when he chows down on it, he'll pass out and ARGUS can capture him again.

King Shark takes the bait, but realizes the Flash lure is fake. He says he's going to kill the Flash, and then all of ARGUS. Barry lures him away from shore by literally running on the water. King Shark follows, and Barry runs around him so fast he creates a vortex and electrifies the water. This electrocutes King Shark and knocks him out long enough to be recaptured. Lyla says she'll try to turn King Shark back into a man, instead of recruiting him for the Suicide Squad.

Joe has a talk with Wally, telling him that he took Barry in after his mother was murdered, and did everything he could to make sure he came out OK. He says that's why he's so proud of Barry, but it doesn't mean he's perfect, and Wally shouldn't compare himself to him. Meanwhile, Barry tells the assembled cast that he's going to make sure Jay Garrick didn't die in vain, and he'll find a way to return to Earth-2 and defeat Zoom once and for all.

Over on Earth-2, Zoom strides into his lair. He drops the lifeless body of Jay Garrick to the floor, as a terrified Iron Mask watches. Zoom/Jay says, "Well, this is a complication!"

Thoughts:
• As you might expect in an episode starring a giant man-shark, there were many references to Jaws (most of them coming from Cisco, natch).

When an ARGUS guard sees King Shark lying motionless at the bottom of his pool, he says, "I think Bruce has gone belly up." All good film buffs know that "Bruce" was the nickname of the mechanical shark in Jaws. Bruce was also the name of one of the sharks in Finding Nemo, but I doubt they were referencing this.

When Diggle warns Barry that King Shark is back and out to get him, Cisco quips, "We're gonna need a bigger Flash."

Cisco makes a fake Flash as bait, saying, "King Shark takes one if of that, cue the Jaws soundtrack."

When Barry tells Cisco about the attack at Joe's, he says, "Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the suburbs, King Shark shows up at your house."

When working on their plan to trap King Shark, Cisco says, "Caitlin, I don't understand why I can't be the one playing Quint in this scenario. I should be the one out there, not you." Harry reminds him that Quint died, once again confirming that Jaws exists on Earth-2 as well.

Bonehead Character Action Alert! King Shark is being held in a heavily guarded pool at the ARGUS facility, complete with a crisscrossing laser grid above the water. When the guard sees King Shark's apparently dead, he actually deactivates the laser grid above the containment pool. Right on cue, the enormous man-shark then leaps from the water and escapes.

Did they really have to turn off the lasers to see if he was alive or not? The gaps in the grid are more than big enough to allow someone to stick a pole into the water and poke King Shark a few times to see if he's alive.

The only reason for turning off the grid was so he could escape and start the plot ball rolling.

• At the West house, the family plays a rousing game of cup stacking. Wally wins, gloating, "Whoa, yes! Ain't nobody faster than me!"

OK, THE FLASH, WE GET IT! WALLY IS CONSTANTLY MAKING "SPEED" COMMENTS, BECAUSE HE'S GOING TO EVENTUALLY BECOME KID FLASH. We all know it, so please dial the "fast" comments down a notch or twelve.

• The "STAR Labs Security" running joke continues in this episode, as Diggle and Lyla waltz into the Cortex completely unannounced.

• Harry specifically tells Barry and Cisco to NOT discuss anyone's Earth-2 doppelgangers with them. Of course to no one's surprise, Cisco wastes no time telling Caitlin about Killer Frost, and Barry tells Iris that their Earth-2 counterparts are married, and informs Joe that his double is dead. Good job keeping a secret, guys!

• Cisco does some research and finds out that King Shark's real name is Shay Lamden of Earth-2. 

There's a King Shark in DC comics, but he has a different alter ego and a very different origin. There he's an entity named Nanaue, a humanoid shark whose father was some sort of shark god.

• King Shark first appeared earlier this season in The Fury Of Firestorm, which was also the first appearance of Harry, the Earth-2 version of Harrison Wells.

At the end of that episode, the Flash is about to get his head chomped off by King Shark. Suddenly Harry appears and shoots King Shark with some sort of advanced, high-tech Earth-2 blaster. He's immediately knocked out.

Sure would be nice if Harry remembered he had a pants-wearing shark blaster in this episode!

• Why was Barry's mask so dark in this episode? It looked noticeably darker than the rest of his costume. In some scenes it was almost black. I don't remember it ever being this dark before.

• Wally's quite the asshat in this episode, ranting about how Joe and Iris think Barry's perfect and can do no wrong. He even complains that Barry's in every family photo in the West house, while he's in none. 

Um… say Wally, you do realize that Barry's been part of this family since he was six, right? And Joe didn't even know you existed until a few months ago. Of course you're not going to be in any family photos!

• After King Shark attacks Joe's house, Wally is puzzled as to why no one seems surprised by this. Iris says, "Eh, we're used to weird stuff like this in Central City." Wally says, "Weirder than a talking shark wearing pants?"

That's called "lamp shading," folks. By having a character point out the absurdity of a plot point, it makes it easier for the audience to accept.

• Wally rejects Barry's attempt to bond with him, saying Joe and Iris think he's perfect and can walk on water.

So what does Barry do to defeat King Shark? He walks on water. Literally. OK, he runs, but you get the idea. Maybe Wally's accusations aren't as crazy as they seem.

 Harry says the containment trailer for King Shark is made of Prometheum Metal. Supposedly this is a nod to DC character Cyborg, who's bionic limbs were made of Promethium.

• Cisco worries that Caitlin losing yet another boyfriend will unhinge her, causing her to become the Earth-1 Killer Frost. 

When she finds out, she begins pretending she's turning into Killer Frost, saying she's always hated the name "Caitlin." As Cisco's eyes widen, she says, "Gotcha!" and tells him he's an idiot. She tells him her "cold" manner is a natural human reaction for someone who just lost their boyfriend, and she's not turning evil.

Or is she? There's a subtle and ominous little undercurrent in her performance here that's a bit unsettling, and leaves me wondering. Time will tell.

• Cisco also jokes that Caitlin's hands are ice cold. She downplays his fears, and he says she needs to get checked out, because she may have Reynaud's.

Reynaud's Syndrome is a real medical condition. It causes small arteries in the body to narrow, restricting blood flow to extremities and causing them to become cold.

• Wally's trying to get into Central City University's engineering program by designing a "turbine super car" that runs on biofuel.

Joes sees it and says, "I want one of these super cars. I mean, especially if iI can run it off the bacon grease I collect."

Whoops! Sorry, Wally, but cars that run off of grease are already a thing. They're a pain in the ass to maintain, but they've been around for years now. Nice try, but you're going to have to come up with a new idea.

• At the end of the episode, Barry gives a speech saying they'll find and defeat Zoom, "whoever that monster is." As he says this, the camera zooms (heh) in on Jay's metal helmet. Subtle!

• In the tag scene, we see Zoom remove his mask and reveal that he's really Jay Garrick! Well, A Jay Garrick, at least. Woohoo! That's exactly what I predicted last week!

I still have a ton of questions about all this though. Zoom enters his Earth-2 lair and drops the lifeless body of the Jay Garrick we've been seeing all season onto the floor. He then removes his mask, revealing yet another Jay Garrick's face underneath.

All the while, a terrified Iron Mask watches. I still think he's somehow Jay Garrick as well, since last episode he was tapping out the letters "J-A-Y."

But that would make three Jay Garricks, which isn't possible unless one's from Earth-3 or something, and I doubt the writers would want to muddy the waters even further with yet another alternate world.

I'm betting that Hunter Zoloman, the Earth-1 version of Jay Garrick, is involved in this somehow, in a way I haven't quite figured out yet. It's starting to make my head hurt.

Next week— welp, there ain't no next week. The series is taking a month off, because programing directors are idiots and don't understand things like story momentum.

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