Barry has his speed back just in time for Zoom to unleash his metahuman army on Central City. And leading the pack is Black Siren - the Earth Two version of Laurel Lance! But Barry won't be alone in saving his city... much to Joe West's annoyance as Wally West starts trying to fight the metahuman invaders himself.
The Justice League of America comics of Gardner Fox (the various Crisis crossovers, Black Siren is clearly inspired by the evil Earth Three counterparts of the Justice League) and the Vibe comics of Geoff Johns (Cisco's creates a focused sonic blast for the first time).
How the hell is Black Siren still walking after being hit by a car?
The whole idea of Earth Two counterparts being mirror-images of their Earth One counterpart is just unsound on the face of it, given how many infinite Earths there are.
Katie Cassidy's performance as Black Siren is just awful. This is curious given her best work on Arrow was in an antagonistic role in Season Two. Playing the vampy villainess proves beyond her talents, however, as her delivery is rushed in every scene she's in and seems to be doing a bad impression of Danielle' Panabaker's Killer Frost. As Cisco says, she's "just a poor imitation."
Keiynan Lonsdale dominates his scenes as Wally West. Wally's been an afterthought and/or a hostage for most of the second-half of Season Two. Here, however, we finally start to see something of the young man who could one day be The Flash himself.
It's a brief thing, but I loved the scene between Cisco and Caitlin where he comforts her over her seeing Zoom everywhere since escaping him. Partly because it's so rare to see a close male/female friendship like this on television but also because Danielle Panabaker masterfully portrays what PTSD anxiety attacks are like and Carlos Valdes likewise does a good job showing how to comfort someone going through such trauma. And kudos to the writers for scripting this scene.
The opening battle between the police and Zoom's army is a perfect balance of good FX work and fight choreography.
The special effects for the Canary Cry used here are closer to what we saw in Supergirl for Silver Banshee and much better than what we saw in Arrow.
The special effects as Barry runs into Mercury Labs to save everyone are top-notch.
One of the metahumans in Zoom's army is a flying man who throws green fireballs. This could be an evil male version of Beatriz da Costa (a.k.a. The Green Flame, a.k.a. Fire) whose powers included generating green flames and flying.
Black Siren's costume is clearly a tribute to the comics version of Black Canary, being made of black leather and fishnets - though the fishnet material is on her arms rather than her legs.
The scene where Dr. Tina McGee and Dr. Henry Allen meet is a nod to the 1990s The Flash TV series, where actor Amanda Pays played a different Dr. Tina McGee and actor John Wesley Shipp played Barry Allen.
The name of Black Siren comes from the Justice League animated series. That show featured a heroine from an alternate Earth called Black Siren, who was clearly meant as a tribute to the Golden Age Black Canary.
Mercury Labs was equipped with a Crash Survivable Memory Unit - a black box for buildings.
Joe wields a new anti-metahuman weapon - a gun which fires shock-collars that latch onto a metahuman and render them unable to use their powers.
Cisco's Vibe Tech didn't work on Earth Two because their dimension operated on a different frequency. Barry suggests there might be some way to use that and the technology Pied Piper used to fight The Time Wraith to create something capable of disabling all the Earth Two metahumans at once.
Strictly speaking, Barry is technically correct saying Mach 50 is not a real thing. It would be more accurate to say that it's not a real thing on Earth. The highest Mach regime runs from Mach 10 to Mach 25, and measures the speed needed to maintain a low orbit in Earth's upper atmosphere. The speed of light in a vacuum, by contrast, is Mach 880,991.09.
According to Harry, any sound over 200 decibels will kill an ordinary human at close range. The blast from Black Siren which Barry survives is charted at 250 decibels. To put this in perspective, a sound of 150 decibels can permanently rupture an ear drum and is the equivalent of a jet engine taking off at close range. The highest recorded sound in human history was 194 decibels.
All matter vibrates at its own unique frequency. Disrupting the frequency disrupts the matter, like how an opera singer can shatter a glass with her voice. People from Earth Two vibrate at a higher (and, according to Cisco, more erratic) frequency.
Hartley postulates that they could create a dimensional tuning fork of sorts. If Barry runs fast enough around Central City to create a refracting field, the tuning fork will send out a pulse that will bounce off of the wave, split apart and collide with itself over and over, amplifying it into a higher frequency on the Earth 2 spectrum. When that pulse hits anyone from Earth Two, it will disrupt their nervous system, knocking them unconscious.
Wells designs special headphones to protect himself and his daughter from this pulse.
Harry Wells makes use of a 75 KTSB 40,000 watt reverberating sound amplifier, designed to single out the operating frequency of every single Earth Two being on Earth One, which, when contained and magnified by The Flash creating a sound pressure wall around Central City, will render all of the aforementioned Earth Two beings without special ear protection conscious.
Cisco creates a special cell for Black Siren in The Pipeline, using double-panned sound-proof glass.
Iris (opening voice over): Some people are calling it "the met apocalypse" - the days when Central City was overrun by an army with powers beyond imagination. But in these dark times, we must never forget our own strength. Our own power to fight back. That it is only in the blackest of nights that we can truly see the light and know for sure that we are not alone. We are never, ever alone.
Dr. Tina McGee: There may be one more possibility. A few months ago, I saw Harrison Wells running out of my facility. I know it sounds crazy, but I'm certain it was him. Is there any way he could have anything to do with this?
(Enter Harry Wells, standing in the doorway with a coffee mug. Dr. McGee's jaw drops.)
Harry: A few months ago? Sure. Now? No.
Barry: Yeah, there are a FEW more things that we could catch you up on, Dr. McGee...
Wally: The Flash can't be everywhere at once! I have to do what I can to help! I have to show him I was worth being saved!
Joe: Wally... you ARE worth it.
Wally: Really? Am I? Because last time I checked, I'm the guy who avoided his dying mother for weeks. I'm the guy who shamed a bunch of other guys and illegally took their cars from them. I'm the guy who caused The Flash to lose his powers and start this whole damn Metapocalypse in the first place!
Wally: Last time I checked... I have a whole lot to make up for. And that's what I intend to do.
(Barry enters his lab. He finds Zoom looking over Barry's timeline his mother's murder.)
Zoom: You know, I never saw the crime photos of my mother's murder? Well, I guess I didn't need to. I got a ring-side seat while you got whisked away. Too delicate, I suppose.
(Barry just stares at him.)
Zoom: Not just a hologram after all, are you Flash? (He meets Barry's gaze) Interesting.
Barry: I know you didn't call me up here just to banter. Let's finish this. Right now.
Zoom: Actually, I did. I called you up here to tell you you can't keep running from one meta to the next. Around and around. Like a dog chasing its tail.
Barry: I'll do whatever it takes to stop you.
Zoom: If only that were good enough. 'Cause here's the thing - I know you. I know you. I know what's holding you back. You and me? We're really just the same person.
Barry: (scoffs) Yeah, you keep saying that, but that's not going to make it true.
Zoom: You'll see. We are. Same tragic background. Same reason for running. Same desire to be the fastest - to be the best. The difference? You think your anger is dirty somehow.You want to be seen as pure. The hero. Doesn't it get exhausting? (frantically) Doesn't it get exhausting, Barry?! It was exhausting playing Jay, believe me!
Barry: I'm not pretending.
(In the background, a seismic rumble is heard. Barry looks across the skyline to see another building starting to collapse.)
Zoom: Now if it were me, I'd let that building tumble without a second thought. But you... you'll never let that happen, will you? That's why I'm going to beat you, Barry. Because you always have to be the hero. And while you're playing the good little boy... I'll be busy winning.
Cisco: Birds! Why? It's like a Hitchcock movie in my head!
(As Caitlin has a panic attack, thinking she saw Zoom.)
Caitlin: I see him everywhere!
Cisco: Look. You literally just escaped the psychopath who kidnapped you, all right? So I think it's normal for you to have a severe reaction like this.
Caitlin: This is so much worse than that! I-I'm afraid all the time. I don't think I can ever move forward
Cisco: You will...
Caitlin: When?! Jay took everything from me! My confidence My trust! My sanity. I don't think I'll ever be whole again!
Cisco: (hugging her) Of course you will. I promise.
(Wally is sitting his his car, listening to a police scanner. Suddenly, The Flash runs up.)
The Flash: Stealing is illegal, you know?
(Wally looks at the scanner and chuckles, as if trying to think of an excuse.)
The Flash: Detective West tells me that you've been... fighting Zoom's army on your own?
Wally: Yeah. I want to help.
The Flash: I admire what you're trying to do. But the best way to help is to just leave this to the police.
Wally: Like you did?
The Flash: I do have powers, Wally. It is a little different. This isn't your fight. It's mine.
Wally: No, it's all of ours. This is my city now too, now. And it's up to all of us to protect it.
(As Black Siren gloats over a deafened Flash, a car comes out of nowhere and hits her, sending her flying. Wally West opens the passenger door and waves to The Flash.)
Wally: Get in!
(The Flash crawls into the car as Wally grins, guns the engine, and drives off into the night.)
Wally: Thought you might need a lift.
The Flash (still gasping) Yeah... thanks...
(The Flash exits the car, leaving Wally alone to grin and shake his head.)
Wally: You're welcome.
Joe: (To Cisco) This is where I play stupid and you explain science.
Captain Singh is injured in the battle with Zoom's minions.
Caitlin makes her way back to STAR Labs, seemingly let go by Zoom. She's dehydrated, malnourished and in shock but otherwise fine.
Since returning from The Speed Force, Barry is overly optimistic and seems to think he's invincible, talking about how the universe is with them.
Cisco has several vibe visions of birds flying into glass windows and dying. Specifically, canaries.
Dr. Tina McGee figured out that Barry Allen is The Flash through simple observation of the fact that Barry seemed to be far too well informed regarding everything going on in her labs that The Flash was privy to but Barry Allen shouldn't have been.
Dr. McGee makes reference to seeing Harrison Wells rob her lab back in 204.
Dr. McGee learns of the existence of Earth Two and its version of Harrison Wells.
Jesse asks Caitlin to run tests on her to see if she's become a metahuman after being hit by the dark matter wave.
Caitlin is having PTSD flashes of Zoom.
Barry claims the Speed Force changed him and took away his fear.
Barry refers to the events of 217 and Pied Piper using his technology to take down a Time Wraith.
Black Siren's sonic powers seem to be me more powerful than Black Canary's. She also seems to be a more accomplished fighter than Earth One Laurel Lance.
Black Siren is aware of the death of Black Canary.
Wally West's licence plate is 6EG-488.
Cisco is right-handed. His Earth Two counterpart, Reverb, was apparently left-handed.
All dopplegangers are mirror images of themselves, at least in terms of which hand is dominant, according to Black Siren.
In a moment of duress, Cisco is able to throw a focused sonic blast at Black Siren, which sends her flying by accident.
For some reason, Jesse Wells is still effected by the pulse wave despite her ear protections, experiencing great physical pain. Harry Wells takes off his protectors and places them over her protectors, saving her but causing him to be knocked unconscious.
Barry, Cisco and Caitlin elect not to tell Sara Lance and Quentin Lance about Black Siren, based on Barry's own bad experiences interacting with his alternate-earth loved ones in 213. She and several other metahumans are being contained in STAR Labs Pipeline. The rest are being kept at Iron Heights.
Captain Singh survived his injuries. He is aware that the captured metahumans are being kept someplace besides Iron Heights, but trusts Joe when he says he doesn't want to know where.
Captain Singh is unaware of the existence of Earth Two.
Joe West wants his grandchildren to call him Poppa - not Gramps.
A romance seems to be blooming between Tina McGee and Henry Allen.
The same can be said about Wally West and Jesse Wells.
Wally seems to figure out that Barry is The Flash.
In the final scene, Zoom seems to kill Henry Allen in the same spot where his wife died, in Barry's childhood home.
We don't see the the opening wave of Zoom's metahuman army attacking Central City, with the episode opening in media res in the middle of an all-out battle between the CCPD and Zoom's followers.
We don't see Barry saving the people at the second building collapse.
The Fridge Factor
For all the effort put into making Black Siren seem menacing, she's really not.
The Boomerang Factor
Barry's competence is severely nerfed in order to make Black Siren seem threatening.
The Bottom Line
A bit of a stumble as this season runs for the finish line, to use a running metaphor.
The script fails to properly build on the drama that could have been caused by Team Flash confronting an evil version of a fallen friend and Black Siren's presence is a distraction from the much bigger (yet oddly quieter - no pun intended) menace posed by an army of hundreds of evil metahumans. Had there been some attempt at showing Black Siren's background or allowing the whole team a chance to react to her, it might have worked. That failure, coupled with Katie Cassidy's muted performance, makes the Black Siren subplot largely pointless.
And yet, the rest of the episode has moments that work so well you can ignore how pointless the scenes with Laurel are. Cisco trying to help Caitlin confront her PTSD. The brief flirtation between Henry Allen and Tina McGee. Every moment of Wally proving that he is his father's son and trying to be a hero? These moments make the episode into something tolerable, if not quite good.