‘The Flash’ Season 2 Episode 20 Review: ‘Rupture’ Puts Barry In a Tough Spot
Recap and review of The Flash – Season 2 Episode 20 – Rupture:
The Flash subverted some of my expectations tonight with “Rupture”. I had every confidence that the particle accelerator explosion would work, and we’d have The Flash back to fight Zoom. Instead, what we got was a major death tease, as the team believes Barry (Grant Gustin) has been killed by the particle accelerator. This is without even getting into how the explosion impacts Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) and Jesse (Violett Beane) in such a way that it’s likely to turn them into Kid Flash and Jesse Quick, respectively. “Rupture” could have squandered its potential in a meandering, go-nowhere story. But what we get is a pretty tense hour.
With that said, I could do without all the Barry soul-searching. I mean, he’s interesting enough without his powers, but we’ve been through the “tortured hero” routine with Barry before. It’s not exactly anything new, especially when we know he’s going to get his powers back eventually. On the other hand, those soul-searching scenes offer some nice opportunities for Grant Gustin to display why he’s one of the strongest actors in the Arrowverse. Barry’s rapport with his father, Henry (John Wesley Shipp), has always been one of the biggest strengths of any given episode that features the elder Allen, and it makes for an interesting contrast with Barry’s relationships with his other father figures, Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Wells (Tom Cavanagh). Barry’s episode-long debate on whether or not to go through with the particle accelerator experiment is anchored as much in his father figures’ respective opinions as it is anchored in the necessity of Barry regaining his powers. Sure, Zoom (Teddy Sears) poses an enormous threat, but at what cost will Barry continue this fight without his powers? There’s a real question here of whether or not Barry actually needs his powers to be the hero he needs to be. Of course, we all know what the answer is, but the fact that Barry is willing to keep fighting, despite his vulnerability, speaks volumes of the hero he truly is.
The episode could have gone any number of directions, but I found it smart that the story had Barry making the active choice to go through with the particle accelerator experiment, rather than being guilt-tripped into it. Barry is a guy who knows that heroes come in all shapes and sizes, both with powers and without. But he also recognizes that The Flash is his best self. A different hero might have had an ego, might have thought they could be as effective without abilities. However, Barry’s selflessness means he’ll frequently put himself in harm’s way in order to, as he says, make sure no other child grows up parentless because The Flash wasn’t there. It builds to a great climax, as Barry ends up evaporating in the experiment, and Jesse and Wally are affected by the blowback of the explosion. To Barry’s team, he’s just been killed, since they have no other way of knowing what’s happened to him (well, that and the crisp, burnt Flash suit left behind). And, the entire time, Zoom is still at large, after having cut his way through virtually the entire Central City Police Department. Oh, and he’s still got Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker), so he’s basically holding all the cards right now. Which…isn’t really much of a change from last week, actually. But I like the show building up a villain as an unstoppable killing force, similar to what Arrow did with Deathstroke and Ra’s Al Ghul. This is a show that went from utilizing one-off villains to focusing more pointedly on the overarching threats of the season. Even a guy like Rupture, who is the basis for the episode’s title and much of its action, is more or less a throwaway villain when weighed against Zoom. As it turns out, Rupture is the Earth-2 version of Dante (Nicholas Gonzalez), Cisco’s brother. And he’s convinced that Cisco (Carlos Valdes) killed Reverb.
While I didn’t love the Rupture storyline, I could appreciate what the episode was going for. Occasionally, it’s felt like some of the character beats are getting lost in the margins of the broader Zoom arc. Before she was abducted, we didn’t get much of a sense for how Caitlin was processing Jay’s betrayal. And Cisco, as Caitlin’s de facto other half, hasn’t gotten as much character development as I would have liked, considering how vital his Vibe powers are to the narrative of the season. His stories just tend to focus on the love/hate relationship he has with his powers, without really exploring how these abilities fundamentally change him as a person. I felt like this storyline with his brother has shown how Cisco is struggling with his newfound identity as a metahuman. And that’s something I could get behind. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention how badass the design is on Rupture, who wields a fiery scythe and wears a mask that calls to mind Death personified. And yet, more of Cisco meant we got less time for what should have been a major development, as Iris (Candice Patton) finally admits her feelings for Barry. It’s a moment that really ought to have felt bigger and more momentous than it was. Unfortunately, it was merely one element within a busier narrative, so there wasn’t a whole lot of time to dedicate to it beyond Barry looking positively stunned by all this. I also feel like the episode kind of glossed over the massive reveal that Garrick was the maiden name of Barry’s grandmother. Sure, the climax we got was awesome, and it’s building to what’s looking like a riveting endgame for Season 2. But it almost feels like the show is rushing to the finish line now.
But what did you think of The Flash Season 2 Episode 20, “Rupture”? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on The Flash, read our review of last week’s engrossing episode, “Back To Normal”!