Just because Barry Allen has lost his speed doesn’t mean the Flash still can’t save the day. Just so long as he doesn’t say anything, touch anything, or go indoors, that is.
While Barry remains speed-less, Team Flash has figured out a Tupac-inspired solution to combat crime in Central City, with a hologram of the Flash speeding around town to intimidate but never physically confront street-level baddies. And though it’s a workable half measure for the moment, the return of Zoom to Earth-1 during “Rupture” forces Barry to consider whether Harry’s suggested new particle accelerator explosion is a necessary risk for regaining his speed.
Luckily, he’s not alone in that decision-making process because “Rupture” also offers perhaps the most dad-ness The Flash has ever displayed, which is saying quite a lot considering the show has delivered two of the best television fathers on air.
Barry goes to deliver the news to his father of his current powerless state on a jaunt to Henry Allen’s secluded wood cabin in the forest. Papa Allen is against Barry going along with Harry’s plans — he doesn’t think Barry needs his powers to be his best self. He’s still worried about his son’s potential future, though, so he heads back to the city with him.
(ASIDE: The scene also does its best to fan the fires of speculation with what is a throwaway piece of information to the characters but one that comes packed with plenty of potential for viewers. Henry mentions that Garrick, upon hearing Jay’s full name, is also his mother’s maiden name. Does that mean Henry Allen is the man in the iron mask? Is it someone else in Barry’s family we haven’t met yet, man or woman? Henry feels almost like to obvious an answer, but the man in the iron mask being a member of the Allen-Garrick lineage certainly seems like the most likely candidate. END ASIDE.)
When they arrive at S.T.A.R. Labs, Harry is continuing his crusade to enact another explosion. He’s steadfast in his belief that restoring Barry’s speed this way is the only means of stopping Zoom, though both members of the Allen family aren’t quite sold on the idea.
Unfortunately, the reality of dealing with Zoom meets them much sooner than they might have anticipated when he comes to the CCPD station to terrorize the town. He’s brought Caitlin with him, which stops him from immediately killing the station’s worth of police officers, who book it outside and eventually set up a temporary station at Jitters.
The city is his, Zoom claims, and all who disobey will meet a grim end, but naturally Team Flash has every intention of disobeying. Zoom pouts at homebase (the station) with Caitlin, who he continues to think he can make love him once again, if only for the sake of having someone around to no longer consider him a monster. But she’s not changing her tune anytime soon, even if Zoom thinks she can unlock the darkness inside her. Yet as he did on his own Earth, Zoom leaves Caitlin alone to go off and do…well, whatever a world-conquering speedster does, and she hatches a plan.
While she does, Team Flash figures out what to do now that Zoom has come. (The first easily handed priority is hiding those he has already kidnapped, so Wally and Jesse are stashed in Reverse-Flash’s secret room.) The different states of mind about how to approach the baddie come to a head with the show’s trio of father figures — Harry, Henry, and Joe. Harry continues to work on his makeshift contraption to imbue Barry with the powers he gained during the first explosion. Henry wants to protect his son and not meddle with forces outside their control. And Joe stands somewhere in the middle, unsure of what the right thing to do is while knowing Barry likely won’t change his mind once it’s set.
Although the show should absolutely employ this trio of actors together more frequently, the moment does more than bring three great performances together. It crystallizes the problem Barry faces and the influences in his life directing him on his way. The Flash has so often dealt in the relationships of fathers and sons, of the ideas of masculinity and responsibility those different father figures present, and how their sons in turn respond to those examples.
NEXT: Cisco runs into a familiar face…and that face’s doppelganger [pagebreak]
Yet even with all of these perspectives presented to him, Barry is still unsure about what path to choose, a hesitance that chases him for much of the episode. But he finds a bit of direction, not from these father figures, but from an unexpected source. Iris comes to Barry in his time of confusion, telling him she doesn’t think she could go through what she had to during his coma if he were to be hurt again.
With all the cosmic weight of their would-be relationship weighing on her, Iris tells Barry that she’s been wondering whether they’re destined to be. She wants him to know he always had someone to come home to, and it wasn’t just someone like Patty for a time. It’s been her, and though she wasn’t available in this way when he professed his feelings for her in season 1, she is now, and she wants him to know that Iris loves him for being Barry, not the Flash.
And so Barry tells Harry that he’s made up his mind. He doesn’t want to go along with the plan. They’ll have to figure out a way to stop Zoom without the Flash. But now they also have one other immediate threat to handle in the form of a new meta from Earth-2, Rupture.
The scythe-wielding baddie appears on the scene attacking Cisco and his brother Dante. The two have met at a bar after Cisco vibed on his brother, but the attack makes him realize it wasn’t his Dante he saw. Rupture takes off his Star-Lord-like mask to reveal he is Dante from Earth-2, and he’s come to kill Cisco for killing his brother, Reverb. (A lie Zoom has likely told Rupture to keep this henchman focused on Zoom’s goals.)
The two escape Rupture and his scythe’s energy blasts, and the mini-boss of a metahuman returns to his commander with a report of his failure. Though he promises Rupture he’ll have his revenge, he wants Rupture to unleash his fury first on the cops holed up in Jitters. Caitlin, overhearing the entire plan, sends a distress text to the team thanks to a phone she found in an evidence box that she has secreted away while Zoom was otherwise occupied.
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Caitlin’s saving text gives Joe and the police some time to prepare a trap, which also calls for the assistance of Barry, Cisco, and Holo-Flash. Cisco leaves Dante at the lab after telling him the truth about being a metahuman, having traveled to Earth-2, and his belief that they may never actually be able to salvage their fraught relationship.
So Cisco heads off with his brother in the fight against evil, trucking along Barry’s virtual reality-esque setup to play the part of the Flash’s hologram, and to do so indoors this time, no less.
The cops are all hidden from sight as Rupture breaks through the doors of Jitters, only to be met with the fake Flash. Rupture misses a few times until Barry lets him hit Fake Flash, pretending to be knocked down while allowing the cops to spring their trap and handcuff him.
The whole operation is reported live on the news, however, warning Zoom to Caitlin’s betrayal. He zips over to Jitters and exercises his dominance of the scene, killing every cop inside save for the captain and Joe. He snatches up Rupture and kills him, as well, met only with Barry’s demands for him to stop.
Using a variation of the Joker’s move in The Dark Knight, Zoom broadcasts his message to the city live, telling them there is no more hope. There is no Flash, only
NEXT: Time for another explosion [pagebreak]
The impact of Zoom’s devastation hits Team Flash hard and forces Barry to decide he has to go through with a new explosion. (It also leads to a sweet moment between Cisco and Dante, as the former hugs his brother after having watched his doppelganger get killed right before his eyes.) Harry warns them that everything he has said of Zoom’s plan has come true and the big bad is only likely to continue this reign of terror. He will recruit every metahuman he can to work for him, and Harry promises them there’s an untold number of metas who will come out of the woodwork now that the Flash is gone. (He shows them a lengthy list of metas from his Earth, which resulted from a contained explosion, insinuating the number of superpowered humans on Earth-1 must be magnitudes larger.)
Barry comes around to the idea, not wanting to let the city down or leave it unprotected without him; he’s particularly thinking of a cop just killed by Zoom who now leaves a son behind. Despite Henry’s protests that he doesn’t have to go through it (and Iris telling him she’ll feel the same for him no matter what), Barry believes he’s his best self when he has his powers.
So Barry waits in Harry’s machine as Cisco heads to the roof with the Wizard’s Wand (not for use at a Harry Potter convention, though he does wield it with a shout of “Expecto patronum!”). He directs a surge of lightning into a satellite on the roof, powering the machine as Harry enacts the particle collision, even going so far as to infuse Barry with the same chemicals in his lab from the night of the accident.
Barry writhes in pain as the machine kicks into gear and the collision occurs. Barry is hit with the ensuing energy and…is seemingly burned into oblivion, his flesh melting away until an explosion erupts from where he was. He disappears from existence before their eyes, including Cisco who comes in assuming everything went well.
(ASIDE: But apart from the obvious assumption that Barry will return in some form, the explosion might have worked to create two other speedsters. Jesse and Wally escaped their temporary captivity just as the machine exploded, only to be knocked out by the blast of energy that emitted from the machine as it carried Barry out of their world. With Wally and Jesse both being speedsters in their comic book form, could this be the beginning of these versions tapping into their speedier sides? Certainly, three speedsters is better than one to take on Zoom, but whether they gain powers now or next season, this certainly feels like a possible origin for both of them to find themselves among the metahumans. END ASIDE)
Zoom noticed the lightning storm and comes to S.T.A.R. Labs to stop the whole ordeal, only to find a burnt shred of Barry’s Flash costume. He mocks Harry for trying to restore the Flash’s powers. Instead, he killed him, and so Zoom leaves Harry to his failure and the rest of their team to their heartache.
So…hopefully Kevin Smith knows exactly how to go about finding a disintegrated, temporarily powerless speedster who has seemingly disappeared from existence?