Synopsis of 2×15: Still reeling from the aftershock of his trip to Earth-2, Barry goes on the offensive when King Shark returns from the dead.

Rating: ?????

Like Barry Allen stranded in the past and altering it to save the future, “King Shark” is The Flash’s creative team taking another stab at a topic. The fifteenth episode of this wild and daring season puts us in the same place as the first episode of this season, “The Man Who Saved Central City.”

One of Zoom’s henchman is trying to kill The Flash. Barry laments the lives of loved ones he couldn’t save. Caitlin mourns a lost love. The similarities between “Man Who Saved” and “King Shark” are numerous, and “King Shark” bests its predecessor in every way.

"I swear I've been here before." []
“I swear I’ve been here before.” []
First off, King Shark is a much greater foe than Atom Smasher turned out to be. Not only is King Shark not a guy with vague powers of embiggening, he is in fact a giant man-shark. He’s real scary. After some Superaquarium guards use some real Jurassic Park logic and unlock the cage when they think King is dead, he’s set loose in Central City. And no one is sure how to stop him.

Central City’s best hope lies in Harry Wells and Jesse Quick, two of just a few of our stranded left trapped on Earth One (if memory serves, Dr. Light is also on the wrong side of the dividing line).* Harry and Jesse manage to pin down King Shark’s location using some fancy sci-fi rigmarole and the power of Family. Finally having his daughter back from Zoom’s clutches, Harry has a renewed vigor. By God, he actually smiles. This is a different Harry Wells.

*Speaking of which, where’s Linda these days?

"This all feels a little familiar, doesn't it?"
“This all feels a little familiar, doesn’t it?” []
Also changed drastically is Caitlin, who just lost the man she loved for the third time. That’s a lot. If you’re a man, you’d do best to avoid Caitlin Snow like the plague because it’s very likely she is one. Caitlin feels similarly because she just can’t fathom how this keeps happening to her.

“King Shark” is as close as The Flash usually comes to giving Caitlin interesting material. She’s struggling and outside herself. She reminds us an awful lot of Killer Frost. “King Shark” very nicely keeps the comparison between the two Earths alive. Harry tells Barry and Cisco not to tell anyone about what they saw. In grand The Flash tradition, Barry and Cisco tell everyone. It didn’t even last one episode.

Caitlin puts Cisco’s fears to rest quickly. To prove something to herself, she goes on site to the final King Shark showdown. She needs to do something that matters. The emotions are pushing their way out of her. She has to tamp them down or she’s going to lose it. Eventually, her terseness will rupture. She will grieve and find peace. But for now she must need to Quint the King Shark situation. Now it’s important to note that she doesn’t do anything while she’s there. Baby steps.

"Did I ghost into an episode I've already been in?" []
“Did I ghost into an episode I’ve already been in?” []
Also running over familiar territory is Barry.* “The Man Who Saved Central City” found Barry reeling from the terrible events of the Season One finale, specifically the deaths of Eddie and Ronnie. Eddie’s death was tragic, heroic. He killed himself to save the everyone. An act of true nobility.

Ronnie’s death happened off screen between seasons. It was harder to mourn because of its nature as a season premiere surprise and because Robbie Amell is not a very good actor. “Man Who Saved” was a bummer of a premiere that found Barry Allen wallowing in his losses. “King Shark” is a joy, emboldened by Barry’s feelings and made all the more powerful.

*I’m not sorry. I’ll never be sorry.

Grant Gustin’s performance alone raised my grading at least half a star. His voiceover monologue about feeling stuck in his circumstances was great. The scene where he breaks down on the stairs in front of Joe and Iris was doubly so.

Actors on genre shows rarely get enough credit for the work they do. Not just anyone can do what Grant does as Barry Allen. Not just anyone can make you believe in superheroes or inspire you to be a better person. He makes you believe that anyone (even King Shark) can have a happy ending. He makes you want to be The Flash.


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