Barry returns in “Invincible” in an unusually upbeat mood after his trip to the Speed Force. Despite staring down a Metapocalypse (not to be confused with a Metalocalypse) and the destruction of Central City at the hands of Zoom, Barry is so shockingly positive about their endeavors that it worries everyone around him.
They’re facing a huge number of evil metahumans and a possible end-times scenario, and yet Barry is so surprisingly enthusiastic you’d think he inspired Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling.” Unfortunately, by the end of the episode, all of that positivity and his belief in the universe being on their side can’t stop another major loss in Barry’s life.
Before that casualty is even close to a reality, however, Team Flash is doing all it can to quell Zoom’s army of Earth-2 metahumans laying siege to the city. CCPD has its hands full, even with the Flash zipping around town to stop every baddie one by one. He can’t be there to stop every tragedy, and so Mercury Labs comes crashing down thanks to the sonic blasts of Black Siren, Earth-2’s Laurel Lance. (She comes with more swagger than Laurel does, in addition to a costume that is miles ahead of anything the Black Canary ever had to wear. Was this one just stuck in the back of the costume closet this whole time?)
Barry makes it to the scene in time to save Dr. McGee, who has no problem guessing that Barry is underneath the scarlet costume. But at the time, neither of them know how the building came tumbling down. Bringing McGee back to the lab (where they have to fill her in on more than a few developments), they decide to go after a black box failsafe in the wreckage that includes security footage and will reveal who brought the labs down.
Barry reclaims the box with relative ease and his newfound unshakeable (for now) spunk, but before the team can do much, sirens go off signaling a problem at CCPD.
Barry rushes over despite Henry trying to warm him about still being careful (comments Barry doesn’t immediately take kindly to) and confronts Zoom in his office. He’s ready for a fight, but Zoom, unmasked, is more interested in coming to verbal blows, not physical ones. He wants Barry to realize the two of them are not so different, coming off with all the menace of Dr. Evil as he beats Barry over the head with this point.
He calls attention to what he believes is the one difference between them — Barry’s need to be the hero. Zoom can’t see how Barry keeps it up; he found being Jay exhausting. Being the villain allows Zoom the freedom to make cataclysmic decisions without a second thought, a point he makes by having a building crumble outside at that very moment. He promises Barry that’s why he’ll lose. Barry always has to be good, and Zoom sees weakness to exploit there.
And because of this Zoom is interested in cutting at Barry’s emotional core, rather than a fight. Returning to the lab, Barry wants to figure out how to take down all of Zoom’s metas at once, tearing down his armor to leave the big bad exposed. He and Cisco consider the possibility of concocting some vibrational technology that will simultaneously take down everyone from Earth-2 without harming anyone from their Earth.
NEXT: Finding the right frequency [pagebreak]
While Cisco goes to work, the problems pile up. Caitlin, back from her Zoom captivity, is still shaken and disturbed by her time with the villain. She’s seeing flashes of him imposingly appearing out of thin air, though they seem to be unnoticed by anyone else. And Wally is out on the streets serving up some justice where he can, but going fist to superpowered fist with metas is a risky move. Joe is there to protect his son in one particular moment, but the elder West is not pleased with his son’s behavior. Wally believes he needs to be helping, though. He needs to prove to the Flash that he was worth saving and make up for all the perceived bad he’s done in his life.
Joe asks Barry to speak with Wally once again as the Flash, and so he zooms out to find Wally listening to a police radio for possible crimes. Barry asks him to stop, but Wally argues that this is his city, too. He also deserves to protect it.
Their little discussion is interrupted, however, when Barry is called away to a meta encounter, which he conveniently speaks the location of aloud so Wally overhears. Arriving to the scene, Barry discovers the Black Siren and is shocked to see any form of Laurel Lance up and walking. (Having been known to comfort Oliver Queen over a once-mysterious death that turned out to be Laurel’s since the fall, these scenes certainly work a little better if you also watch Arrow. Even Harry has to ask to be filled in, so it’s not a completely confusing moment for only Flash fans, though.)
And Earth-2’s Laurel makes surprisingly quick work of the Flash, knocking him down with a powerful cry before and throwing in a few punches to add injury to insult. Barry only makes it out alive because Wally speeds into the picture…via car, smashing into the Black Siren before offering the Flash the passenger seat.
He whisks the Flash away, though Barry inevitably darts away from his savior, returning to the lab for cleanup. Joe is quite upset with Barry, who frustratingly takes everything more lightly than the concerned father would prefer. After the last failed talks, Iris attempts to speak to Barry alone shortly after and confront him about this self-assuredness. She lays it out more bluntly than Henry did, telling Barry he’s not invincible. A little fear can be good, she argues, particularly when making major decisions, and it’s something both he and Wally could stand to learn. Barry agrees but doesn’t really seem to hear her or the others, at least not yet.
And now that Cisco’s new device is coming together, his positive outlook certainly doesn’t disappear, either. With the help of Harry, they’ve assembled a device that, once amplified and reflected all over town with the help of Barry’s speed, will knock out every Earth-2 meta, leaving them unconscious and ripe for the arresting. The device taps into the different, or as Harry time and again asserts, “higher” frequency, and a couple of pairs of headphones will protect Jesse and Harry from its effects.
But Black Siren is preparing for an attack, tasked by Zoom to take down more buildings and keep Team Flash busy. Rather than sending Barry after her, however, she’s met with two surprisingly blasts from her past. Reverb and Killer Frost appear at the scene of her would-be crime, not as dead as she believed.
NEXT: Another Allen falls [pagebreak]
Of course, they’re just Cisco and Caitlin in disguise, but the two put on as strong a show as they can to keep her busy as the frequency machine is prepped. They regale her with a fake plan to overthrow Zoom, playing to her ego and promising her godlike status if she helps them. Siren sees through their ruse easily enough, though, testing Reverb’s reflexes by throwing him a stray pipe. He catches, but in the wrong hand — doppelgangers are literally mirror images, apparently, so Reverb would be left-handed, not right. She goes in for the kill, momentarily halted by a surprise Reverb-like blast from Cisco that he cannot replicate.
It’s not necessary, though. Harry starts up the machine back at the lab, sending Siren and all of the other metas into shock. Unfortunately, Jesse’s Beats by Harry fail, and her father gives up his headphones to protect her, succumbing to at least a partial blast. Joe shuts the machine off to stop Harry from dying, but his near-death sacrifice is not in vain. The other metas are down, including Siren, and so Barry starts bringing them to their new home in the bowels of S.T.A.R. Labs.
The blast also affected Zoom, but he was able to create a rift back to Earth-2, escaping in time to prevent his absolute failure. And with Zoom gone and all of these metas locked up, Central City seems downright peaceful. Sure, Barry has 100 cases at work to blast through, and Joe is still worried about Wally, but Barry’s unending optimism looks to have won out. (He tells Joe not to worry about Wally becoming the hero he’s destined to be. Might that hero have some speedster powers?)
In the sense of that joy, the team has a celebration at the West household. Everyone’s in high sprits, love seems to be in the air — Barry asks Iris if she wants to give the two of them together a shot, which she does, while Henry flirts with Dr. McGee and Jesse and Wally appear smitten with each other — and there’s a general calm to the whole affair.
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Until Cisco vibes, that is. Throughout “Invincible,” he’s been having odd visions of dead birds and then birds careening into a building only to fall dead at his feet. His last vibe gives him the time to actually turn around, where he finds Earth-2 being split apart, creating a cataclysm before his eyes.
Cisco is freaking out about presumably seeing the future, but more immediate danger befalls the group. Zoom appears, grabbing Henry in a headlock. Barry chases him throughout the city (and by speeding out, also reveals to Wally who he is), before ending up back at Barry’s childhood home. There, Zoom leads Barry to the room where his mother died. He finds Zoom still holding onto his father, promising Barry this will make him just like Zoom.
With Henry’s last word’s telling Barry he’s made him the happiest father, Zoom shoves his vibrating death hand through Henry — causing Barry to lose another parent.
The Speed Force warned Barry that he would never be able to outrun the horrors the universe has planned for him, even with his powers. Barry discovered that hard truth once again after a night spent believing the universe was on his side in stopping Zoom. And it may very well be, but that doesn’t mean stopping Zoom won’t come without a price.