King Shark returns, but the aftereffects of the Earth-2 trip weigh just as heavily on Barry's mind

By Jonathon Dornbush
February 24, 2016 at 04:10 AM EST
Bettina Strauss/The CW
S2 E15
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  • The CW

King Shark is on the loose after tricking his way out of an A.R.G.U.S. facility, but don’t worry, we’re not gonna need a bigger recap to handle all the CGI fun of The Flash’s first post-Earth-2 episode.

Of course, there’s the little matter of Zoom’s identity being revealed, but all in good time. With their foray to Earth-2 seemingly behind them at the outset of “King Shark,” Team Flash attempt to move on with their lives. Caitlin, after having lost Ronnie, can’t fathom losing Jay, too, and becomes distant, short, and cold — exactly the things Cisco is afraid could signal her turn into Killer Frost.

But she isn’t the only one affected by the Earth-2 jaunt. Jesse is learning to acclimate to life on an entirely new planet while Barry attempts to find a metahuman, any metahuman, to distract him from the events that have left him shaken from his time through the breach. Luckily, King Shark answers that call.

Diggle and Lyla arrive at S.T.A.R. Labs (this week’s example of the lab’s upgraded security doing absolutely nothing to prevent walk-ins) to warn the team of Shark’s return and his insatiable appetite for one meal: The Flash. Harry works on finding a way to track the literally big bad while Barry aids in A.R.G.U.S. in the search.

They notice the path he’s cut from the A.R.G.U.S. facility to Central City includes a few pit stops by bodies of water, so they assume he must be somewhere by the sea in Central. Unfortunately, their hunt for the vicious foe comes up fruitless…until he chomps down on two A.R.G.U.S. soldiers, that is.

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Lyla, the newly instated head of A.R.G.U.S., is worried that her first big task is turning into such a mess, but she’s not going to stop looking. Caitlin and Cisco, meanwhile, head out to find Tonya Landon, the wife of King Shark’s Earth-1 doppelganger, who happened to have died in the particle accelerator blast.

The widow eventually offers to give them a look into her research (she just so happens to be studying sharks) but only after Caitlin chases after the information with surprising force and a lack of her normally kind disposition. Cisco is thrown, but when Caitlin asks him why he, too, has been acting weird ever since the return from Earth-2, he clams up on the subject. (It’s a great idea on Cisco’s part because both The Flash and Arrow have proven time and again that NOTHING goes wrong when people keep secrets.)

Cisco later confronts Caitlin about how she’s been acting back at the lab, only to accidentally reveal that he met Killer Frost on Earth-2 (after Harry explicitly told him not to tell her a thing about her other version). She’s horrified, not at the idea that she might turn into an ice-wielding baddie, but that Cisco can’t understand why she’s been acting that way. She needs this time to cope, to process, and that requires some isolation, even if it makes her a bit frosty at times.

They’re not the only pair with an on-edge dynamic throughout “King Shark.” Wally, despite easing into his role with Joe and Iris, can’t seem to connect with Barry. It’s easy to see why (Barry’s been Joe’s surrogate son for years; they’re constantly putting him on a pedestal), but to Barry, it’s a complete mystery. Joe suggests the two find a way to connect, but he also suspects something happened on Earth-2 that has made Barry act just a little off since his return.

Joe tries having the two work together on Wally’s proposal project for an engineering program he’s applying to. The playdate starts off on a good note, with Barry trying to be as helpful as he can be. That’s the problem, though. He wants to help so much that he begins simply solving every issue he finds on his own, barely taking Wally’s input into consideration.

Fed up, Wally’s ready to leave, but he runs into a problem. King Shark has ripped the roof right off the living room, having tracked the Flash here. Joe distracts him with gunfire while Barry, Iris, and Wally flee, and more importantly so Barry can switch into speedster mode.

NEXT: Time to start chumming the waters for one big catch

The Flash shows up and attempts to do battle, but the King proves why he earned his moniker, deftly knocking Barry away from him. The only thing Barry can fight back with are words for the moment, as he informs King Shark that the breaches are closed and he’ll never go home. Shark doesn’t accept defeat, pompously stating he’s faster even than The Flash…in the water, and he flees as a troupe of A.R.G.U.S. vans arrive on the scene.

The cleanup at the West house following the on-land shark attack is no less heated despite the lack of a roof likely letting in a breeze. Barry conveniently appears from upstairs, but Wally takes his absence as a sign of cowardice. He openly chastises Barry, infuriating Joe and causing his biological son to head out for the night. Barry, realizing now that Wally is turned off by the idea of how perfect a picture they paint of him, finally reveals what has him in such a state.

(ASIDE: In Joe’s typical great-dad fashion, he later compliments his biological son on all the work he’s done when he completes his proposal. Wally is incredulous when Joe tells him how impressed Barry was by what Wally cooked up, but Joe does a damn good job of explaining that no one favors Barry over him. There is no preferred son; Joe loves his children equally. END ASIDE)

Barry tells Iris and Joe of their Earth-2 versions, including the death of Joe’s lounge-singing iteration. He knows that wasn’t his life, that they weren’t his family, but he can’t help blaming himself for causing that Joe’s death. A man is dead because he showed up, he believes, and he’s having difficulty living with the consequences of his actions.

He can’t help feeling guilty for what happened over there, but while he can’t do anything to fix Earth-2’s issues for the moment, he can focus on the matter of a giant anthropomorphic shark terrorizing his home. Caitlin cooks up a way to track the King by reversing her method of keeping tabs on Barry (monitoring electrical field disturbances).

What that translates into is basically baiting King Shark with a Flash-sized electrical current that isn’t Barry to make him think he’s found his prey. Cisco whips up a Barry-like piece of bait, electrical footprint and all, which the team sticks out on a buoy. King Shark goes for the bait, but this walking, talking shark is no dummy. It discards the tranquilizer-filled fake Flash and sets its sights on the real one, so Barry decides to take the fight to the Shark’s home turf.

Barry races out onto the water as King Shark follows, until he’s able to run circles around the swimming shark once again. Only this time, he’s electrifying the water around the Shark until he’s fully able to knock him out with one final push of his generated electricity.

The plan works, securing King Shark once again for A.R.G.U.S., which Lyla promises won’t be using the Shark as Amanda Waller would have wanted — to weaponize it. Instead, they’re going to study it and maybe even find a way to cure it, with a little help from Dr. Landon’s research, per Caitlin’s suggestion. (Speaking of Caitlin, she plays a quick prank on Cisco by implying she’s already making a transition into her Killer Frost state, only to assure him that Killer Frost will not be coming to Earth-1 anytime soon. But once those breaches re-open, there’s always the possibility…)

So Diggle and Lyla leave Central City with one massive shark in tow (and a promised new helmet for Dig courtesy of Cisco in a nice winking note to fans, myself included, who have balked at Diggle’s headgear). In return, Diggle attempts to leave Barry behind with some wisdom, much of which he’s doled out to Oliver, but with Barry, he’s hoping it’ll catch on a little faster.

And it appears to. Barry tells the team that, as he had to learn to live with the consequences of going back in time to save his mother, he has to learn how to cope with not just the choices of going to Earth-2 but everything that’s happened since Zoom arrived on the scene. And he’ll make damn sure they do what they can to deal with this big bad.

The breaches may be closed, but they’ll open them up and deal with Zoom. How? He hasn’t figured that out yet, but he’s determined to do so, for Jay’s memory (which he memorializes by putting Garrick’s helmet in a glass casing) and for so much more.

Speaking of Zoom, the villainous speedster is facing a problem when he returns to his hideout with Jay’s lifeless body. And that problem is that Zoom is Jay Garrick… er, Jay’s Earth-1 version Hunter Zolomon that is, as EP Andrew Kreisberg explains in more detail to EW.

So while that reveal may put an end to one set of The Flash betting pools, there’s still one left to deal with — who is the man in the mask? The answers to that and to how Barry will find Zoom are unfortunately weeks away, though, as the show goes on a short hiatus. Happy theorizing until then!

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After the success of Arrow, Barry Allen (a.k.a. The Flash) gets his own CW treatment in this comic-themed spin-off.

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