Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Flash Season 2 Episode 15 "King Shark" Review and **SPOILERS**

Earth-2 Residue

Starring: Grant Gustin, David Ramsey, Audrey Marie Anderson et al.
Story By: Benjamin Raab & Deric A. Hughes
Directed By: Hanelle Culpepper
First Aired: February 23, 2016

*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

“IIIIIII’m a shark, I’m a shark, I’m a shark, I’m a sharkI I’m a sharrrrrrk! I’m a fucking sharrrrrrk!” is what I sang throughout much of this episode, much to my wife’s chagrin. Are there no weird depths you won’t plumb, CW’s The Flash? No strange corners of the DC Universe you won’t inhabit and infect and perhaps place an end table with a vase of flowers on it? King Shark. He’s a fucking shark. Wearing pants. We accept him in comic book form, but does this ridiculous concept translate well to the television screen? Does he make the proceedings so ridiculous that the rest of the show cannot be taken seriously? Well, it is a program about a guy who runs fast enough to break dimensional barriers, so let’s not expect Gray’s Anatomy here. Read on for my recap and review!

Explain It!

Last episode ended on sort of a downer, what with Zoom murdering Jay Garrick in front of everyone and sucking him back into Earth-2 before the portal closed for good. We pick up right from there: Caitlin all shell shocked and probably wondering about her taste in men, Barry hollering at Wells to crack open the portal to Earth-2 because he wants to avenge Jay. Why he thinks suddenly he can take out Zoom, I have no idea, but it’s a moot point because Wells informs Barry that Earth-2 is closed for business, and they can never return. This makes his daughter Jessie pout, because she left her favorite blouse back there. Her favorite blouse, incidentally, would be any one that wasn’t shiny with a stupid black cat pattern on it. It looks like she’s wearing a bowling shirt, for crying out loud. So Barry, Cisco, Wells and Jessie are safe, but it’s bittersweet because Jay died, and plus let’s not forget about that mysterious guy in the mask back at Zoom’s warehouse. Lotta irons in the fire right about now.

This husband and wife knit hat ensemble is too adorable.

We cut over to the A.R.G.U.S. compound, where new director Lyla Michaels is touring the facilities with her husband Andy Diggle, who you might remember from the hit CW program Arrow! It’s a nice bit of crossover since we saw the former director of A.R.G.U.S., Amanda Waller, bite it an episode or two ago. While Lyla gives the place the white glove test, something goes wrong in the aquarium, namely it being strange to have an aquarium in the secret compound of a clandestine government agency. Lyla and Diggle arrive at the aquarium in time to see King Shark—yes, King fucking Shark—munch up a few bites of attending guard and take off into the night. Wow! They went there. And let me tell you, CW’s the Flash has some serious stones to be parading this much shitty cgi around in prime time. I mean, there is worse out there, and it does the job, but yeesh. Sometimes it looked like King Shark’s skin was going to ooze right off his skeleton and puddle around his ankles. But I give the show major credit for doing it in the first place. 

Meanwhile, back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlin is sleeping off a tranquilizer Cisco administered, because I guess he just prescribes medicine now? He, Barry and Wells are discussing what a bummer it is that Jay is dead, and how this doesn’t bode well for Caitlin since her other fiancé died like twice on her. They make a pact to create the I’ve Got a Secret club and not tell anyone what they’d seen on Earth-2, which makes sense because I’m sure no one will want to pry. Jessie and her dad then settle in to their new digs: they have two measly cots in some back room of S.T.A.R. Labs. The point of this scene is to show that Jessie is annoyed at being trapped on Earth-1, but I couldn’t get over the idea that this father and daughter have to stay in the same room in this sprawling facility, on beds that wouldn’t even rate at a Boy Scout camp. They can maintain an inter-dimensional portal at S.T.A.R. Labs but they can’t offer more than a storage room for accommodations. Just about then Lyla and Diggle show up to warn the crew that King Shark is around, and he’s looking for Barry since it was Zoom that tasked him with killing the Flash in the first place (trust me, it was like ten episodes ago.) So they decide to pool their resources and go after K. Shark right after Cisco makes his Jaws reference.

Later, at the West household, they are literally playing that Solo cup stacking game that was huge for like one minute, seven years ago. You know, where you speed stack them upside down and balanced on each other, then collapse them into one cup as fast as possible. Well Iris, Joe, Wally and Barry are “playing” this game by stacking them and competing against each other’s time. Doesn’t that make you just want to puke? What family does this? Actually, it does sort of play out like a normal family dynamic because Barry is all sullen and refuses to play. This annoys Wally who takes off because he wants to be the sullen one in the family. Iris and Joe ask Barry what’s wrong, and Barry can’t tell them he’s got Earth-2 business on his mind, so he agrees to try and smooth things over with Wally, get to know him and whup his ass in cup stacking another day. Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Cisco and Caitlin are looking up info on King Shark based on what Wells knows. It turns out he was Shay Lamden, Marine Biologist who became all sharky when Wells-2 switched on his metahuman-making device. His doppelganger on Earth-1 contracted a mega cancer that killed him in three days from the S.T.A.R. Labs explosion, but his wife, Dr. Tonya Lamden, a research scientist specializing in—you guessed it—sharks still lives. They decide to go pay her a visit, and Caitlin is a real bitch to her for no real reason. Cisco uses sweet talk to get some shark science out of her, but earlier he did express to Barry a concern that all of this personal tragedy might kick Caitlin’s inner Killer Frost into gear, which is a pretty weird thing to think if you ask me. I mean she should really be put on suicide watch, not handled with fear and suspicion.
"Can you believe these jokers at Weird Science DC Comics?"

There’s this pretty contrived scene where Barry and Wally try to connect over some science shit, but there’s still friction between them. Just as they begin to have it out, King fucking Shark peels back the roof and hollers for the Flash! Everyone hustles upstairs, and in the confusion Barry throws on the red suit and steps out into the street to meet Shark like a real man. He tries some super-speed fancy stuff, but King Shark just bats him against a car and advances on him like a roiling cloud of computer-generated implicated shark skin with a toothy mouth on it. Just then, A.R.G.U.S. shows up, and King announces that the Flash isn’t faster than he is in water, and then he takes off…presumably for water. Barry super-speed sneaks back into the Wests as they are cleaning up the damage that will most likely NOT be covered by homeowner’s insurance, I don’t even know why I bother paying the premium, is probably what Joe West was thinking. Wally calls him a coward because he wasn’t there cleaning up with them I suppose? Joe chastises him and Wally takes off which is his signature move. That’s when Barry tells all about what he saw on Earth-2: how Iris was a Detective, how they were married, how Joe was a lounge singer and got killed by Deathstorm. I hope it made him feel better to get it off his chest!

There’s also this thing where Harrison Wells is working out some complex shark-finding mathematics equations on that stupid fucking window dry erase board, and Jessie comes over to lend a hand. Wells pushes her away, but Jessie’s like “no,” so Wells is like “okay.” The two of them do super scientific equations side-by-side at that stupid fucking dry erase window board, and I’m just counting down the moments until Jessie stumbles upon the enhanced speed formula that will make her Jessie Quick. Anyway, now that King Shark is loose, the team figures out a way to lure him to a Flash dummy full of tranquilizers that gets stuck out on a buoy. Just this plan made me giggle internally with its Silver Age comic book goodness (externally, I was still farting.) King Shark takes the bait, but it doesn’t knock him out and he leaps out of the water with what must be one of the mightiest leaps ever seen in that time slot. He menaces the Flash and a handful of A.R.G.U.S. agents, then Flash lures him out to sea with his running on water trick. Flash runs in a serpentine pattern to avoid King Shark’s leaping bites, and also to taunt him a bit, then when he gets far enough out he begins running around in a circle, creating a whirlpool—are you listening up there, Julie Schwartz, you magnificent bastard?! They did it! They fucking did it!!—which then subdues and electrifies King Shark long enough for Barry to throw an energy blast at him and knock him cold. Easy peasy.

Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, after Caitlin plays a prank on Cisco by behaving like Killer Frost, Barry address the group and apologizes for making things unpleasant due to time traveling—but he owns those decisions, so therefore no one can be upset with him. He renews his dedication to getting back on Earth-2 and defeating Zoom, and shows off Garrick’s Flash helmet in a neat little plexiglass case. We then cut to Earth-2, where Zoom enters his lair holding the prostrate form of Jay Garrick. He drops him to the ground, while the Man in the Iron Mask looks on with alarm, and Zoom removes his mask—he is Jay Garrick!!!
"I'm a sharrrrrrk!"

What?! What! How! When!? What a switcheroo! I like how it basically obliterated the entire episode I’d just watched, which was still pretty good in its own right. Sure, King Shark is a little silly, and some of this emotional pain Barry and Cisco were suffering due to keeping their Earth-2 experiences a secret was sort of overplayed, but it was engaging as hell and just a real good time throughout. Indeed, when I first saw this episode teased after last week’s credits had rolled, I assumed this would be a “filler” episode, a break in the story arc as you commonly see during television seasons (and comic books as well). But nope! Turned out to drop the bombshell of bombshells and made me want to enter cryogenic stasis until next week’s episode. Damn you, time and space! Would that I were the fastest man alive!

Bits and Pieces:

It occurs to me that I might not be the best person to review this particular television program, because there’s no way I can look at it objectively. Some might hear there’s a gigantic, anthropomorphic shark on the show and think it’s a bit boorish and silly. I hear about King Shark and I’m hoping Catman and Scandal Savage aren’t far behind. I know you’re reading this Berlanti! Let’s see a Secret Six show next year! It will be cheaper than Legends of Tomorrow, I guarantee it! Are you listening to me Berlanti? Berlaaaantiiiiii!!!



  1. "We're gonna need a bigger flash." Hahahaha laughed so hard.

  2. Also Secret Six? Hell yes!! Can we get Gail Simone to write for it?