Spoilers ahead for “Invincible,” the latest episode of The CW’s Flash!
The short version: Barry and the gang figure out a nifty McGuffin to take out all of Zoom’s metahuman army, while Wally decides to start embracing his inner hero (without the help of any superpowers, at least for now). But a happy moment with the team (set to The Lumineers, so you just knew something melancholy was coming) is ripped apart when Zoom shows up and murders Henry. Ice cold, Jay/Hunter/Zoom. Ice cold.
The sad, tragic life of Henry Allen
Seriously, the Henry Allen of Earth-1 got the absolute shaft. Seeing how his story seemingly ends now, it really looks like the writers just didn’t know what to do with John Wesley Shipp once they locked him up for a recurring role. Barry manages to get his dad freed from prison, then Henry decides to go wander the countryside for a while, in what was a truly weird turn of events. But now we know what the writers have been setting up: the Death of Henry Allen.
This season has toyed with the parallels between the origin story of Hunter Zolomon/Jay/Zoom, with both he and Barry losing their parents at a young age. But, where Hunter lost both his parents and ended up in an orphanage, Barry wound up in the loving West family. So, in an effort to show Barry they’re really not that different after all, Zoom kills Henry so they’ll both truly be orphans. Which, sure, probably makes sense for a psychopath. It was a brutal moment, and though it will certainly carry some resonance for Barry moving forward, it still felt a bit cheap.
The writers tried their best to make Henry a part of the ensemble the past handful of episodes, but it felt so random, you just knew they had to be setting something up. When Henry happily announced he’d be sticking around for the foreseeable future, you just knew something terrible had to be looming — and here it is. In a way, it makes sense. Joe already has the “father figure” role locked up, and what he doesn’t cover, Harrison Wells picks up. For a CW show, this one is already at its limit for real-life adults. R.I.P. Henry.
The gang takes down Evil Laurel and stops the meta-pocalypse
Seeing Central City in pure, unmitigated chaos was an amazing way to open this episode. Fantastic scene, especially on a CW budget. Well done.
Circling back to the separate frequency tidbit was a nice call back to handle all the Earth-2 metahumans roaming the city, though it begs the question why Zoom didn’t bother to recruit a few Earth-2 metahumans to join his movement. Having Barry battle an army of metahumans and Zoom was just too much to narratively handle with just two (and now one) episode left, and this really did feel like an earned McGuffin to solve the problem. Now, the finale can clearly set up the Flash vs. Zoom battle (or race?) we’ve been waiting for.
It was also great to see Katie Cassidy back in the Arrow-verse, just a few weeks removed from her character’s death over on Arrow. Sure, Black Siren wasn’t the Laurel Lance fans know and love, but it was still great to see her back in action (and she's still around, locked up!). Though, it’s a bit ironic that her metahuman power perfectly matches up with the tech-weapon Cisco built for Black Canary, right? Just sayin’. Having Cisco and Caitlin go undercover as their doppelgängers was also a great nod, with Danielle Panabaker and Carlos Valdes doing a subtle job of acting like their characters acting like their evil twins. It could’ve been a step too cheesy, but it worked.
Well, that took long enough: Wally finally knows Barry is The Flash
Seriously, they strung this “secret” out several episodes too long. The fact that Wally never managed to put it together is maddeningly frustrating, even when he’s literally at a dinner with Team Flash, as all these people are talking about taking down the meta-pocalypse. He’s had numerous face-to-face conversations with The Flash, with the past few in fairly good sight, but thank God that’s finally over. Wally even got a nice “aha!” moment as Barry goes barreling out of the room. About time.
Wally’s story has been an interesting one to follow this season, and though the set-up was a bit on the slow side, it’s finally starting to pay off. He’s truly earned his desire to be a hero, and his idolizing of The Flash is a great throwback to his character's Kid Flash comic origins. Plus, it was actually a great moment to see him save the day when Flash’s fight with Black Siren went sideways. Can’t wait to see where they take Wally next season, and if (or when) he’ll finally start showing some Speed Force powers.
Other notes: So, Zoom apparently let Caitlin go. Nice to have her back on the team, though poor Caitlin is starting to feel like a kicked puppy at this point. She’s had one fiancee die (twice), then her next boyfriend turned out to be the season’s big bad, who kidnaps her and mentally tortures her. It makes total sense for her to be broken and traumatized, but please give Caitlin a win soon. It’ll be interesting to track how Barry’s confidence from his time in the Speed Force will affect him moving forward, especially in the wake of Henry’s death. Cisco busting out his Reverb-esque powers was great. Those could come in handy down the line. Wait, so Zoom can open breaches now? How? That needs to be explained. So… Mercury Labs’ Christina McGee apparently figured out Barry was The Flash a while ago. Why couldn’t Wally, again? Sigh.
Up next: Barry and Zoom apparently race for the fate of the world? Oh, and Cisco had a vision of Earth-2 splitting apart, so that will certainly come into play, right?