Season 2, Episode 20 - "Rupture"
Grant Gustin, Teddy Sears, Keiynan Lonsdale, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Nicholas Gonzalez, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin, John Wesley Shipp, Violett Beane
Regular airtime: Tuesdays, 8 pm
US: 3 May 2016
For the second week in a row, Barry (Grant Gustin) remains powerless, his speed powers traded to Zoom (Teddy Sears) in exchange for Wally’s (Keinynan Lonsdale) freedom. The deal ended poorly for the Flash. The hero’s now powerless to save Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) from Zoom’s clutches and can offer no defense against the villain’s assault on Central City.
While last week’s episode felt a bit like filler, “Rupture” returns to the full-on battle against Zoom (Teddy Sears) that has made this season so exciting. There is a villain-of-the week in the form of Rupture, an energized-scythe wielding menace from Earth-2, but Rupture has deep connections to this season’s long-arc storyline. Rupture is the alternate Earth doppelganger of Cisco’s (Carlos Valdes) brother Dante (Nicholas Gonzalez). Convinced by Zoom that Cisco is responsible for the death of his brother on Earth-2, Rupture’s mission is personal.
Team Flash, in an attempt to keep the hero’s powerlessness a secret from the villains of Central City, employs a holographic projection of the Scarlet Speedster. It proves pretty effective against regular baddies, but is no defense against Zoom. Harry (Tom Cavanagh) thinks that the solution is to expose Barry to the same conditions that produced his powers in the first place. This, of course, is an idea that comes with a great deal of risks.
From the very beginning, The Flash has been a series about the importance of family. It has especially focused, as superhero stories are wont to do, on issues of fathers and sons. Super speed, as it turns out, isn’t the most important factor in what makes Barry the hero he is. Instead, as this show keeps pointing out, Barry’s heroic character has been shaped by the father figures in his life: Joe (Jesse L. Martin), Harrison Wells, and his birth-father Henry (John Wesley Shipp). With the decision of whether or not to follow through with Harry’s plan hanging over his head, Barry makes sure that all three of these men are at his side when he’s thinking things through, and at his back when the time comes for action.
The return of Henry Allen brings a big clue to the identity of the man in the mask, a captive in Zoom’s prison whose secret has viewers speculating. When Henry learns that Zoom had been pretending to be the Flash from Earth 2, whose secret identity is Jay Garrick, he’s surprised by the name. Garrick was Henry’s mother’s maiden name.
Does this mean that the real Jay Garrick is the Earth-2 doppelganger of Henry Allen, which also means that Henry could be the Earth-2 Flash? To be honest, this seems so obvious to me now that it makes me suspect that the hint dropped this week is just an attempt to throw us off track. Henry would be an incredibly appropriate Jay Garrick, however. DC’s Flash has long been a character stepped in tradition and legacy. After all, it was the meeting of the Silver Age Flash/Barry Allen with the Golden Age Flash/Jay Garrick that opened up the DC multiverse and set the stage for the decades of storytelling that followed. I was originally bothered by Teddy Sears’ casting as Jay Garrick, because it removed this generational component from the relationship between the two heroes. Putting the helmet on Henry Allen would remedy that misstep, and further emphasize the father/son story that’s at the core of this series. The fact that Shipp played the Flash in the 1990 TV series makes this seem even more appropriate.
But, as I said, it all seems so obvious that I’m tempted to think we’re being misled.
The generational nature of the Flash character was on display in another important way in this episode. When Barry does decide to take the risk and go through with Harry’s plan to recharge his powers, Wally and Jesse (Violett Beane) are collateral damage. We don’t know much about what happened, but we do see the two of them impacted by the energy from Harry’s device. Comic book fans know that these characters are themselves super speedsters: Wally was originally the Flash’s kid sidekick, Kid Flash, and went on to assume the identity of the Flash himself. Jesse’s the super-fast character known as Jesse Quick.
I don’t know whether or not their exposure to the speed force in this episode means that they’re soon to come into their own as super heroes. Perhaps this is just a tease for comics’ fans. The Flash seldom teases without following through, however, and I suspect that this time will be no different.
“Rupture” is an improvement over last week’s slow-moving episode and it ends on a real cliffhanger. The Flash may not have his speed back yet, but this episode takes things full speed ahead.