‘The Flash’ Season 2 Episode 16 Review: Barry Faces Female Speedster In ‘Trajectory’
Recap and review of The Flash – Season 2 Episode 16 – Trajectory:
As a character, The Flash struggles to come to grips with the responsibility of heroism. But “Trajectory” shows us how he steps up into the role, even in the face of increasingly perilous odds. More than any other superhero show on TV, The Flash focuses on what it takes — and what it means — to be a hero.
Of course, the big revelation of this episode is that Barry (Grant Gustin) and the rest of the team discovers that Zoom is really Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears). And the way they find out is through the discovery that the reason Zoom wants Barry’s speed is because is because he’s dying from the same condition afflicting Jay. The hunch is confirmed when Barry hands Jay’s helmet to Cisco (Carlos Valdes), causing him to vibe a vision of Zoom unmasking as Jay. What makes this reveal so emotionally effective is that it represents the second time that Barry has found himself betrayed by someone he considered a friend and a mentor, following the betrayal by Wells last season. Honestly, it’s kind of a miracle Barry trusts anyone when the main thrust of both seasons so far has been The Flash finding out that his closest allies are anything but. Grant Gustin plays the revelation exceptionally well, speeding to the edge of a cliff after discovering the truth, and then letting his emotions out in a primal scream. I probably sound like a broken record, but I think Gustin is the best superhero on TV, for how he connects with his character, and communicates his inner turmoil without having to say a whole lot. It’s clear that learning Jay is Zoom has devastated Barry, perhaps deeper than learning Wells was the Reverse Flash — or, at the very least, just as deeply. With that said, I’m not entirely convinced that Zoom is the Jay we’ve known, and not some alternate universe Jay who’s here to wreak havoc for Team Flash. But we can only operate on what we know now, and it seems like Jay is the guy they’ve been hunting all season.
However, the Jay-Zoom reveal isn’t the primary thrust of the episode, as we focus instead on a different rival speedster, a woman named Eliza a.k.a. Trajectory (Allison Paige), who steals the Velocity-9 serum that Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) created in order to heal Jay. The narrative suggests that Eliza isn’t as bad as she appears to be, that she’s simply a misguided woman who’s desperate for power. And yet, she spends the majority of her screen time rebelling against Barry’s insistence that she’s a good person deep-down. Interestingly, Eliza’s stint as a rival speedster ends up smearing the good name of Barry, whom the public — particularly Iris’ new boss — believes is The Flash gone rogue. It’s a fascinating direction to go in, since we’re given a somewhat inconsistent view of how the public sees The Flash. Is he a hero? Or is the public inherently suspicious of all metahumans? It seems the truth lies somewhere in the middle, as The Flash is a savior of sorts, but not yet universally loved. The narrative illustrates that Eliza’s actions are part of the reason why, and yet we’re never really put in a position to judge her for anything she does, so much as feel pity for her. In the climax, she injects herself with Velocity-9 in order to finally outrun Barry, and this results in a downright horrifying scene in which she essentially runs herself to death, racing so fast that she essentially speeds herself out of existence, leaving behind her suit and her mask. Whether she’s really gone or not is anyone’s guess, but it’s a stiff reminder of what could have happened to Barry had Wells (Tom Cavanagh) indulged him and allowed him to ingest the Velocity-9. Granted, had he given it to Barry rather than Trajectory, Jessie (Allison Bean) might have had more respect for her father. But his decision to fork over the formula when Trajectory put her in peril prompted Jessie to rethink her life. She opts to bail on her dad in an attempt to find her own way in this new world, and while it makes a certain kind of sense for the character, I’m not sure where the show is really heading with it. But I like that lack of certainty, since The Flash is at its best when it indulges its unpredictability.
In other news, Iris (Candice Patton) is being courted by the aforementioned editor, a man named Scott (Tone Bell). Scott sees all of Trajectory’s bad deeds and assumes it’s all The Flash’s doing. In a way, it’s understandable why he’d think this, since suspicion of metahumans has to be at an all-time high, considering how many attacks there have been in Central City in a relatively short span of time. But his anti-Flash stance, and his overall thirst towards Iris, really makes the character off-putting, even if Iris doesn’t necessarily see his Flash distrust as a dealbreaker. I guess the narrative has to do something with Iris, since she’s too valuable an asset to the show to sit on the sidelines (no, really, I think Patton is one of the most underrated presences on the show). But I wish it were something other than a romance. Iris as an investigative reporter has so much potential, and I’m hoping this story with Scott allows us to see her investigative qualities put to use. If nothing else, giving her a more prominent storyline would make her feel more essential to the ensemble than she’s felt this season.
“Trajectory” is compelling TV, as Barry comes face-to-face with his responsibilities as a hero. It’s a lucky break that he never ingested the Velocity-9 formula, since he now lives to fight another day. It’s a way of illustrating to Barry that decisions made on impulse aren’t always right, nor are they necessarily the most heroic decision to make. While Eliza’s story is sad, it’s an abject lesson on what can happen when someone buys into their own hype rather than taking a step back, taking stock of their powers, and assessing what the responsibility of those abilities truly are.
But what did you think of The Flash Season 2 Episode 16, “Trajectory”? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on The Flash, check out the official poster for the Supergirl/Flash crossover that premieres this Monday!