Sometimes, the road to success is paved in murky details, where the journey speaks to one’s true character more than the destination. For Barry Allen, he’s been consistently bested by his malevolent counterpart from another universe, and is at a point where all bets are off so long as he could finally put an end to his rival’s malicious ends. But in order for Barry Allen to stop Zoom, he’s going to have to get faster – a character thread The Flash is very much familiar with this season. And therein lies the problem for him: he doesn’t know how to reach that goal right now – he’s practically tried every measure of training and physical strengthening up to this point to no avail, and is no longer afraid to cutting corners.
“Trajectory” thankfully doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to tackling this issue from a more grounded perspective than the show presents itself as elsewhere, which is quite evident in the juxtaposition between Team Flash somewhat relentlessly pushing a frustrated Barry to his limits in a “leap of faith” and another scene where the gang gets together at a four-star club (nice work using Yelp to find it, Barry!) to get away from their plight with Zoom for a change. Even while the show retains its more charming attributes in various moments like the latter sequence, it gives the viewer plenty to chew on with the former material as Barry descends down a whole new low point towards the end of the episode.
And that low point happens to revolve around the Velocity-9: the same chemically-formulated potion Caitlin provided Jay that almost had him killed before he really got killed by something (or, as you all remember, someone) else. We find that Barry needs that extra “oomph” to have an edge over his rival speedsters, so he eventually decides he’ll get there by downing some V-9 and calling it a day. But this isn’t a contrived plot twist, here. Barry spends practically the entire episode getting his ass handed to him – both in his failed attempts at reaching new speeds and in his simply getting overwhelmed by Trajectory in multiple occasions – and it winds up having a grave toll on his confidence level. Had this been an early season two episode, I honestly don’t think this would have resonated for me much because this degree of failure had yet to manifest in The Flash‘s prior installments. (Although in retrospect, Reverse-Flash was a mighty enough challenge to have threatened Barry’s integrity, should the same cards now have been drawn then.) However, at this juncture Zoom has beat his ass over and over again, and considering the lives who hang in the balance of Barry finally sub-doing him it’s perfectly understandable (and quite sad) for our Flash to let his frustrations drive him into a potentially chaotic life choice. Like an advantageous baseball player is to steroids, Barry (almost) is to this volatile stimulate, and the show draws in this shrewd bit of social commentary from a cleverly written superhero’s perspective.
Trajectory herself also played into this moral conundrum, as the world of Mercury Labs opened up ever so slightly through Eliza Harmon. I liked that her personal problems -loss of grant money, months of pertinent research falling well behind schedule – mirrored Barry’s in regards to the impact they’d have on her life (despite the fact that the show allows very little time to flesh her out further), and the “little voice in my head” dynamic was an inventive way for us to at least moderately sympathize with her while she went off on her criminal tangents. But her use of the V-9 is where Eliza plays such a huge part in this week’s proceedings. We find out that she gained her speed through it, and that over the course of her dosage the stimulate has chewed away at her psyche (hence, the sudden urges in her head demanding her to take violent, iniquitous measures in advancement of both her research and financial backing). Then, when she overcomes Barry one last time, she runs off in a shriek of blue light similar to that of Zoom’s and disintegrates right before our hero’s eyes!
So, not only do we get confirmation that Barry’s risky intentions could’ve definitely proven fatal, we are now keen to why Zoom has been so desperate for Barry’s speed all this time; he’s dying from prior injections of a similar power source. But that’s not all, folks! Cisco’s been vibe-ing about him again, and thanks to Wells putting that matter on blast in front of everyone else his latest vision reveals that Zolomon (or Earth-2 Jay or another form of Jay out there in another world) is Zoom. Which means that Barry, unaware of Jay’s Earth-1 doppleganger, once again feels betrayed by another person he dearly trusted – leading to an exceptional moment where he shatters that glass case he made for Jay’s helmet and lets his anger out in the woods. Surely, Caitlin’s going to have to bring up Zolomon’s existence at some point, since it would help the gang solve this identity crisis in the weeks ahead – and they did all have front row seats to Jay’s demise. Team Flash may have gotten a world of answers last night, but they should still be asking more questions.
Here are a few more things I’d like to bring up in regards to this week’s episode:
- First things first: THE Harrison Wells used Kanye West lyrics to refer to the risks Barry was facing in that Evil Kenevil jump at the beginning of the episode. Dope.
- I said this in a comment thread last night, and I will say it again: The CW should offer a sweepstakes where the winner gets to enjoy a whole night out with The Flash cast, complete with some “turnt” clubbing with Cisco.
- As much as I soaked in Wells confronting his previous acts (I.E. killing The Turtle, etc.), I hated how Jeese used that as an excuse to remain ungrateful to her father and run away; I mean, all she’s done since she was rescued is bitch and whine about everything. Luckily for us, she did happen to leave, which no longer has me wondering what purpose she would have served with the gang had she stayed in an extended capacity. At least Trajectory injected her with the V-9, and although Cailtin got to it in time, you’ve gotta wonder with a name like Jesse and a speed source that strong there might be significant implications down the road.
- Iris going on a coffee break/fake lunch date with her boss just to ease him up on her latest Flash column was by far the worst part of this episode – but at least we can at least speculate how her knowledge of Earth-2 might play a part in her relationship with our Barry. And her talk with Barry at the club definitely had a kinkier energy to it than we’re used to seeing. Hmmmmm…
- Let’s have a moment of silence for one of THE worst lines The Flash has ever had, courtesy of Wally West:
“Are you from far away?”
This was a pretty good week for The Flash, as it returned with another well-written moral quandary for Barry while Team Flash was made aware of Zoom’s true (?) identity. Having Trajectory play such an integral part in pushing the season’s main arc forward worked out swell, and I really enjoyed the parallel she shared with Barry as they both yearned for a dangerous potion that either did or could have developed terribly fatal affects. Hopefully, Barry takes what he’s learned this week and uses it as fuel to stir up another confrontation with Zoom sooner rather than later.
+ Barry (almost) resorting to V-9 for more speed
+ Trajectory’s plight and her playing a bigger part in the proceedings than imagined
+ Wells owning up to his prior acts
– Eliza could’ve used some more fleshing out
– Iris’s journalism subplot was pretty annoying this week