‘The Flash’ Season 2 Episode 22 Review: Epic ‘Invincible’ Ends In Tragedy
Recap and review of The Flash – Season 2 Episode 22 – Invincible:
With The Flash nearing the end of its second season, the stakes are higher than ever before. “Invincible” is an epic episode that’s mostly fun, save for its tragic conclusion. But it remains a compelling look into heroism — its responsibilities, its triumphs, and its cost.
When the previews started teasing a death, I think it stood to reason that one of Barry’s father figures would bite it. And since Henry (John Wesley Shipp) doesn’t really serve any other purpose, it makes sense that it would be him. Still, it doesn’t make his death any less tragic, as Zoom (Teddy Sears) swipes Henry in the middle of a family dinner at the West household, and then forces Barry (Grant Gustin) to chase him to his childhood home. There, he phases his arm right through Henry’s chest, as a heartbroken Barry can only look on helplessly. It’s a natural conclusion to an episode where Barry has an uncharacteristic sense of confidence about the battle with Zoom and his army of metahumans. Hell, even his friends feel obliged to remind Barry he’s not invincible, even if he did survive a trip through the Speed Force. And yet, towards the end of the episode, it seems like Barry’s optimism will be vindicated, as the STAR Labs team is able to develop a sonic wave — akin to a giant tuning fork — that affects each of Zoom’s metahumans, including Zoom himself. It’s a cool climax, mostly because it involves an episode-long arc centering on Zoom’s army, led by Black Siren (Katie Cassidy), the Earth-2 version of Laurel Lance. She not only kicks the crap out of Barry after a vicious (more so than Earth-1 Laurel’s) Canary Cry, but also puts Reverb and Killer Frost (really Cisco and Caitlin in disguise) on the defensive. It’s exciting stuff, largely because Black Siren is a threat in her own right, and not simply a tool to be used by Zoom. In fact, I would love for her to become a recurring character, since there’s a darkness to this Laurel that we rarely got to see from Earth-1 Laurel we knew before. She somehow feels closer to the traditional Black Canary than we got on Arrow, even though Black Siren is a FAR different Laurel. It makes me wish we got to see Cassidy do more with the part, since she was not only cocky and aggressive, but also formidable. I genuinely enjoyed watching her antagonize Reverb and Killer Frost, and rant about how Zoom actually appears to be afraid of Barry, even though she had an easy time taking him down herself (seriously, Barry only survives because Wally comes to the rescue with his car). I’m hoping she comes back soon, since her story seems unfinished, considering she’s more neutralized than properly defeated by episode’s end.
But I digress, as Black Siren’s criminal rampage is only one part of the episode. In a lot of ways, this was an episode about fatherhood. Joe (Jesse L. Martin) is worried about Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) now that he’s decided to get more actively involved in the fight against Zoom and his metahumans. It’s a choice that nearly gets him killed early in the episode, and Joe’s concern only magnifies when he realizes that a one-on-one talk with The Flash has done nothing to dissuade him from his heroic antics. By the same token, Wells (Tom Cavanagh) is beside himself with concern about Jesse (Violett Beane), particularly once her headphones fail, causing her to be affected by the Tuning Fork. Granted, this conflict is depicted as being less severe than the one affecting Joe/Wally or Barry/Henry, but I think it’s all part of an ongoing story that builds to both Wally and Jesse becoming speedsters themselves. In this sense, the hardships that Barry faces become an abject lesson to Wally and Jesse, since pursuing a career in vigilantism means they, too, could end up losing people they love. In one of the best scenes of the episode, Zoom criticizes Barry for his do-gooder persona, saying that his willingness to save everyone is what will spell his doom. And he’s somewhat right, in that his willingness to save Wally nearly cost him his powers for good. And he’s willing to trade his life again later when it’s his father who is in danger. Henry’s final moments with Barry are heartbreaking, but also affirmational, as Henry makes certain to tell his son how proud he is. I mean, it’s not exactly a big comfort when your father is being gutted by your most hated enemy, but at least there was nothing left unsaid between them. Henry sees the hero that Barry has become, and lets him know how happy that makes him, even as he faces death. It’s a gripping moment that’s among the most tense that the series has ever produced, even as the outcome is never really in doubt. John Wesley Shipp played a great father figure and moral compass, but there was really nowhere left for his character to go, in my opinion. At least here, the threat Zoom presents is greater than ever, because we now know he’ll actually kill to get to Barry. I mean, he let Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) go, so why should we believe he’d actually kill anyone close to Barry? And yet, the end of the episode shows us that Zoom never gave up his villainous intentions. To make matters worse, Cisco (Carlos Valdes) vibes the end of the world, as the sky begins to tear in two, as if another breach were opening — except bigger, and with more catastrophic results. All of this is Zoom’s doing, and he’s far from done inflicting pain on Barry and his world. And I think that’s what makes Zoom a great villain. His evil doesn’t appear to have any grand purpose beyond villainy for its own sake.
With the season finale on the horizon, it seems like all personal relationships are on hold. Barry and Iris (Candice Patton) decide to give their relationship a shot, but that gets pushed to the side once Zoom kidnaps Henry. Jesse flirts a bit with Wally, but that similarly gets sidelined once Zoom’s arrival results in Wally discovering Barry was The Flash all along. While it might be frustrating to some to see Barry and Iris’s relationship dragged out further, I really don’t see any other approach that makes sense. This conflict is larger than any one relationship. Perhaps that’s Barry’s weakness — his willingness to sacrifice everything to save one person. Whether it was Henry who Zoom had threatened, or if it were Iris, Joe, Wally, Caitlin, Cisco or whoever, Barry still would have offered himself up for the trade. And while that’s admirable and heroic, Barry often fails to see the greater good he represents, and how giving it all up to save one person could end up dooming an entire population. Maybe the season finale will give us a Barry who won’t hold anything else back. If nothing else, it looks like the finale is setting us up for a battle to end all battles. And I say bring it on.
But what did you think of The Flash Season 2 Episode 22, “Invincible”? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on The Flash, read up on the director troubles DC is facing with the upcoming big screen version!