This week, The Flash races toward the final conflict with Zoom but still delays the inevitable. With Zoom working on a plan we don’t know about, “Invincible” never quite sells the urgency behind taking down Zoom himself – at least, not until its final moments.
The Flash Gets His Mojo Back
As discussed last week, being in the Speed Force was a huge confidence booster for Barry, so much so that literally every character was concerned about his good mood in “Invincible.” Maybe if Barry had acted without thinking, their concern would have been understandable. As it was, it seemed like Barry finally got confidence in himself and his friends wanted to tear him down again. It made for a bizarre character dynamic, but it wasn’t until the end of “Invincible” that this plot really fell apart.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
To be honest, I called Henry’s (John Wesley Shipp) death in “Rupture” as soon as he said he didn’t feel like he needed to be away from Barry any more. That is a major character death red flag. So, it wasn’t a surprise that “Invincible” ended with Henry’s death. But what does this mean for Barry?
If past experience means anything – and it might not with the lingering Speed Force confidence – Henry’s death is going to give us a sad but determined Barry. Since next week is the season finale, we did need a reason for Barry to be absolutely set on defeating Zoom – and I guess the destruction of Earth-2 was not enough reason – but The Flash once again runs the risk of skewing too closely to its winning season one formula. Barry has a parent to mourn once again.
I’d like for the events of “Invincible” to not affect Barry’s newly re-found confidence because The Flash works better as a show when its characters aren’t depressed, as they have all been too often in season two. But it seems more likely that his father’s death will naturally have a profound influence. Zoom certainly thinks so.
Zoom’s professed reason for killing Barry’s father is to show Barry how similar they are. From Zoom’s comments in “Invincible,” it sounds like he wants Barry to get angry. This would all work better if Zoom weren’t still such a blank character.
The Flash has gone out of its way to make sure we know as little about Zoom and his motivations as possible, even adding another twist-y layer on in “Invincible” with the not-random destruction of Central City’s buildings. But all this mystery has achieved is making Zoom a flat, boring, evil enigma. We don’t know what Zoom wants, and therefore, it’s impossible to care about him or his plans for Earth-1.
Laurel Lance Comes to The Flash
The Earth-2 version of Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) was clearly intended to be the big draw of “Invincible.” But The Flash gave the character very little to do. Those who enjoyed the character on Arrow will enjoy her again in evil form here, but Laurel is mostly around to do Zoom’s bidding as Black Siren, exactly like every other meta-human in The Flash season two.
However, Cassidy does get the most enjoyable scene of the episode when Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) dress up as their Earth-2 counterparts to distract Black Siren. It was a thoroughly enjoyable scene, one that reminded me how underused every doppelganger on The Flash has been. The idea of a team-up of villains to take on Zoom is a really good one, and it’s sad that this is clearly a throwaway idea.
With Zoom’s habit of hiding behind other meta-humans that he sends to fight for him, it’s not hard to believe that some of the metas would have teamed up against him. Perhaps this could have even given Zoom more shading than his current characterization of evilest evil to ever evil.
Wally West is the New Flash (Sort Of)
With all of the Zoom stuff out of the way, we can make room to talk about Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale). Wally had a big plot in “Invincible.” Because Wally is trying to help people, Joe (Jesse L. Martin) decides his son is being reckless and needs to stop playing a hero.
This plot is frustrating on a number of levels, not least of which is the fact that Barry is the Flash and Joe lets him be a hero. Considering how poorly the plot started, it ends up with the best resolution of the episode. Barry tells Joe that he can’t and shouldn’t stop Wally from being a hero, and Joe goes along with that. As much as The Flash has been teasing Wally becoming a speedster, it’s unlikely this is the last we’ll hear about Wally’s new hero attitude, but it’s where “Invincible” leaves us.
In spite of the metapocalypse going on in Central City, “Invincible” hues too closely to the typical Flash formula. Given how awful Zoom and his plans supposedly are, there should be more urgency in every moment, particularly this close to the end of the season. But season two has always had a problem with its major villain. Perhaps the neutrality of “Invincible” is the best we can hope for.
Final Thoughts on “Invincible”:
- The throwaway lines about Laurel’s death on Arrow seemed particularly tacky given The Flash characters never mentioned it or her.
- I like Cisco and Harry’s bantering, and I hope that dynamic stays.
Images courtesy of The CW.