Season 2 of The Flash has its biggest reveal with the ferocious villain Zoom finally unmasked. That bombshell drops in the last minute of this week's complex and thoughtful episode - King Shark. Fandom had a fairly good idea of who to expect with the recent avalanche of clues. But beyond the identity of Zoom, the emotional toll of their losses against him finally hits a critical mass. The Flash has always had solid dramatic performances from the leads, but King Shark marks a huge leap in character development. Barry (Grant Gustin) has paid a staggering price for his timeline altering decisions as The Flash. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) is through being a wounded girlfriend, adapting the icy disposition of her alternate universe doppelganger - Killer Frost. Another surprise is a crossover appearance from Arrow's Diggle (David Ramsey) and Lyla Michaels (Audrey Marie Anderson). All setting up the season's third act brilliantly for a showdown with their most formidable adversary.

King Shark opens directly after last week's Escape from Earth 2. Caitlin watches in horror as Zoom kills Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears) and pulls him back through the closing breach to Earth 2. With every breach now closed, the STAR Labs team is theoretically safe with Zoom unable to enter their universe. A few weeks pass, but the deaths of loved ones on both versions of Earth, and his inability to beat Zoom, forces Barry to accept the blame for changing time. Caitlin, having seen a second boyfriend die helplessly, channels her sorrow into resolve. The team is battle hardened, as a vestige of Zoom reappears.

King Shark, the half man, half shark, meta-human sent by Zoom earlier in the season, has been kept prisoner at a secret ARGUS facility. In a ludicrously easy escape timed perfectly with our heroes need for a new villain, King Shark chomps his way back to Central City. Insert the ARGUS team from Arrow, Diggle and his wife Layla, to lead the capture.

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The B-plot of the episode is a downer, as we get more West family tension. Even with a rampaging, bloodthirsty shark man loose, Barry decides to accept Joe's (Jesse L. Martin) efforts to get closer to his newly discovered son - Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale). King Shark, who can sense The Flash's electronic signature, crashes the party spectacularly. Leading to an ugly showdown where Wally brands Barry a coward for running away. It's going to be fascinating to see where the writers take Wally West. Comic fans have a lot of familiarity with Wally West, but I have a feeling the show will take the character in a different direction.

The STAR Labs and ARGUS teams find King Shark easier than change in a water fountain. It's a weak resolve that should have been more methodical. But you can only squeeze so much in forty-two minutes. The focus on the dramatic story left little investigation time. I guess King Shark is only needed for the big action finale, which despite the story flaws is very well done. The visual effects are first rate for a television show. We can see that The Flash is getting faster, more powerful, with a stronger ability to harness the lightning generated by the speed force. King Shark is a quick capture. Canned away like tuna, undoubtedly appearing in future episodes.

Barry has a come clean moment in the end, owning up to his failures before the team, promising a different outcome the next time he faces Zoom. Then in a jump cut, we're back to Zoom's lair on Earth 2. The black suited speedster throws a beaten, but very much alive Jay Garrick to the floor. Zoom's remaining prisoner, the man in the iron mask, still trapped in his cage, watches in dismay as Zoom takes off his mask...to reveal Jay Garrick.

The revelation of Zoom as another doppelganger of Jay Garrick has been teased effectively throughout the season. While Jay Garrick was The Flash on Earth 2. Jay Garrick as Zoom could have easily come from yet another earth. This multi-universe concept has already brought us different iterations of the same character. Comic fans have known all along that Zoom's alias on Earth is Hunter Zolomon. He was briefly hinted at in the beginning of the season, but ignored as he was not a meta-human. Maybe that was to throw the audience off. Another unresolved piece of the puzzle is the man in the iron mask. He strongly hinted, while tapping on the glass during Barry's capture last week, that he was also Jay Garrick. It makes perfect sense that Zoom is collecting all the speedsters, including versions of himself, to steal their speed force.

The story arc for this season is building to a finale as explosive as last year's epic battle with The Reverse Flash. If we're lucky, the writers will bring him back to join the Jay Garrick fracas. This episode had several flaws with the Wally West subplot and the Arrow team's help in apprehending King Shark. Those are minor quibbles with Zoom exposed. He's been an excellent foil all year, beating The Flash soundly at every turn. But now, we have a far tougher, seasoned Flash to take him down.

Julian Roman at Movieweb
Julian Roman