Barry Allen's (Grant Gustin) superpower may be his incredible, sound-barrier shattering speed and astounding intelligence, but Greg Belanti and Co.'s is the ability to combine a stellar cast, technology and oodles of television magic to create a TV show that's akin to diving face-fist into the comics without all that pesky danger.
Case in point: This Tuesday's penultimate episode, "Invisible," in which Zoom's army of Earth-2 meta-humans have descended on Central City to wreak havoc on its inhabitants.
"Invincible" is jam-packed with gargantuan moments, and here are the biggest of the big.
Cisco's powers. After witnessing the true depth of Cisco's power through his doppleganger, Reverb, in "Welcome To Earth 2" and "Escape from Earth 2," it has gotten tiresome that Earth 1 Cisco still only gets uncontrollable and haunting glimpses of the future. "Invincible" takes a giant leap forward on the path of Cisco tapping into his powers when he involuntarily shoots a sonic blast at an advancing Black Siren. The fact that he did it in disguise as a Reverb and Caitlin's dumbfounded, "What the WHAT?!" only made it that much cooler!
Wally Is Worth It. We finally got long overdue inside into the mind of Wally West. We knew he likes fast cars and storming out of rooms, but until now, that was it. After being saved by The Flash, Wally is determined to prove to everyone that he was worth the sacrifice and the appalling violence that followed. Of course, the only way to do so is to drive into the chaos, looting and violence of the Metapocalypse to save people, including Barry. What he lacks in experience he makes up for in patented West (and surrogate West) Heroic Stubbornness that has Barry pleading his case to Joe. Granted, they should probably nudge him towards law enforcement and not vigilantism (at least until he taps into the Speed Force).
Secret Identity? What secret identity? At this point, who doesn't know that Barry is The Flash? Even Dr. McGee from Mercury Labs figured it out. Probably because the adorkable Mr. Allen does a horrendous job at covering his tracks, even with the face-blurring and voice-changing tactics. I'm especially shocked that Wally West, who's designs futuristic cars, had yet to figure it after Zoom returned him to Earth 1 where everyone he'd ever met in Central City was there, fighting for him, except Barry. But hey, who's that mysterious, young white dude in the The Flash costume? The jig was finally up by the end of the episode when Barry, sensing danger from Cisco's vision, dropped all pretenses to protect his family.
Barry's Optimism. When a person survives being disintegrated and a mysterious encounter with the Speed Force, they have every right to find the silver lining in the world, even in the midst of a Metapacalypse. "I know from being in the Speed Force that the universe is with us, not Zoom. And if the universe is with us, how can we lose?" Barry dreamily explains. His "We Got This" euphoria is a rosy departure from the bleakness of a destroyed Star City, and even encourages him to take the plunge with Iris. That's right, people, #WestAllen is a go.
"Invincible" even gives us a glimpse of why Barry and Iris's love isn't destiny but regular, impossible, once-in-a-lifetime love. It's Iris who makes Barry understand that "a little fear" is a healthy, life-preserving thing to have when Barry's dads cannot. And she shares his optimism, just in a more pragmatic way. We are one step closer to chubby-cheeked West-Allen babies and Paw-Paw Joe.
We Can't Have Nice Things. If you're hip to television or life in general, the anxiety should've started to ramp up after Barry asked Iris out on their first official date, and you should've been groping for the paper sacks when Barry returned him to find everyone gathered for an impromptu party. It feels much like William Weasley's wedding in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, a celebration fearlessly held in the midst of and in spite of a burgeoning war that ends in mayhem, disaster and tragedy. It's a nice touch that when Zoom initially appears, viewers aren't sure if he's product of Caitlin's post-kidnapping trauma, but then he snatches Henry, and all hell breaks loose. Zoom drags him to Barry's childhood home, Barry hot on his heels, and he kills him, in order to get Barry to realize that they are two sides of a the same evil coin. This is most horrific and efficient way to shatter Barry's joyful spirit.
Henry's death isn't entirely shocking, but thanks to stellar acting from Grant Gustin and John Wesley Shipp, it feels crushing all the same. Sidenote: Is John always going to play martyred fathers? First Dawson's Creek, and now this!
A quick reminder that this is not the season finale. I'm not sure what The Flash has in store for its season ender, but you don't have to be a psychic to say that it will be an emotional and epic hour of television that will only make me a bigger fan of this excellent TV show.
Don't miss the season finale of The Flash on The CW at 8/7c. I will be live-tweeting the East Coast airing. Feel free to join me.