The Flash has reached near terminal velocity in my eyes with this episode featuring The Flash family at it’s craziest and the welcoming of Linda Park to the team. We all knew Linda had to get into the Secret Speedster Society at some point, considering she is the future Mrs. Wally West, but I did not expect it to be so freaking fun.

Linda Park is… a ball of light.

Not to mention that we finally get Zoom’d! …some of the team is zoomed harder and more painfully than others. Seriously, Zoom is the baddest villain to hit the TV in a long, long time.

The episode begins with a fakeout beating of The Flash by Doctor Light. She zaps him with her star energy and steals the insignia right off of Barry’s chest. The audience eventually learns it’s an act to bait Zoom through a breach (thoughtfully outside of heavily populated Central City), and Prime-Linda, meta-powerless and “trained” by Team Flash members, is impersonating her Earth-2 counterpart. Brilliantly, the episode ends with an actual beating of The Flash, and it is brutal. But more on that later.

Incredible lightning visfx, as usual.

Light Linda-2 tries to explain herself to a suited-up Barry about her plan to kill Linda so that Zoom would think she was dead. Which wasn’t that great of a plan considering that Zoom obviously knows about the doppelgangers of the two Earths. It’s obvious she’s terrified; Zoom makes people act out of desperation… something Harry Wells (Earth-2) has been trying to tell them all along.

Flash!Barry continues to try and convince Light Linda-2 to help them. He is also desperate, but its so noble and Barry Allen that we ignore how unprepared he is. Actually, it seems like the whole team (Harry Wells included) except for Caitlin thinks that a Zoom Trap as soon as possible will totally and most definitely work. Spoiler alert: It totally and most definitely does not.

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The plan? Surprise the speedster. Shoot Zoom as he runs through the breach. With a speed-slowing serum shooter yet to be invented by “Ramon.” At least Harry isn’t calling Cisco “Crisco” anymore.

In flashbacks to Earth-2, we see why Wells is so quick to vote “yes” for Barry’s premature Zoom Battle Plan: he has a daughter named Jesse who was kidnapped by Zoom. Why? Because she is a freaking speedster and Golden Age Jay Garrick’s speedy sidekick. In Harry’s world, Jess is a genius and most likely the reason Harry Wells has made it his point to help meta-humans. It’s also the reason for his aggressive resentment towards Jay Garrick; if Earth-2 Flash had “done his job,” his daughter would be safe. It’s why Harry went to find Barry Allen on our Earth: to get his daughter back with a speedster that he believes is fast enough.

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Patty is obsessed with the Doctor Light case, and Joe immediately shuts her down. P. Spivvy has the serious capacity to throw a wrench into Team Flash’s plans if she doesn’t get in on the secret soon. Like I theorized last week, Patty is going to find out Barry’s identity on her own; Joe does his best to curb her meta-enthusiasm, but he’s only fueling her to figure out what the hell is up. Not to mention, she seems like a people-pleaser and Joe has the extra status of work partner/boyfriend’s father… so, yeah, good luck Papa West.

Patty thinks maybe it’s because she made out with his son, but Barry assures her that’s not the case since Joe doesn’t even know.

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In ParkWest world (the best world ever ever ever!), Linda pleads for Iris to let The Flash know that she wants to help. She and Iris showcase their amazingness while discussing their desires to ditch the Damsel in Distress archetype they’ve been locked into and remind me why they are the two canonical women that our Flashes (Barry Allen and Wally West) fall for.

Linda Park: “I don’t want to sit around and be told not to worry my pretty little head about it.”

Iris West: “I get that. Believe me, I do.”

Meanwhile back at the Lab, Doctor Light escapes the pipeline by becoming invisible. Something something science. Something something visible light. Oh, she’ll definitely be back. Harry keeps telling Barry “I TOLD YOU I TOLD YOU I TOLD YOU SO,” and Barry is understandably annoyed. Cisco is also annoyed. Basically EVERYONE IS ANNOYED AT HARRY WELLS.

Joe, ever the optimist, is all “…maybe it’s a sign?” and Caitlin nods vehemently. The Team is split in half, which I personally enjoy because it shows that it’s not a complete dictatorship in Flash HQ… but Barry does, ultimately, make the executive decision to continue with the plan. Adjustments must be made. Zoom must be stopped!

*cue lightning and swelling music*

There’s also a quick Joe/Barry heart-to-heart that we love… but the best part is when Joe brings up Barry’s tryouts for the high school football team, and Barry is still extra-sensitive about it. I’m guessing Barry was no Clark Kent.

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If only high school Barry Allen had his speedster reflexes like Clark Kent… #SmallvilleFOREVER

Cisco ridiculously tries to get close to Harry Wells by ditching his salty attitude and attempts to, like, massage Wells’ back or fist bump him or something. It’s f*cking weird. C’mon, Cisco, this man you’re trying to grope and vibe on is the literal genius who outed your meta-powers. He knows what you’re playing at, fool. And it pissed him the f*ck off.

I guess he doesn’t want Cisco to Vibe this painful Earth-2 memory:

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Patty tries to repair her work relationship with Joe, even though it’s not even broken. Patty bumbles about transparency and honesty and making out with Barry Allen. Joe is uncomfortable. Patty can’t take the hint that Joe is not going to say anything about Light’s case.

At the West residence, Linda is stress-cooking, and it’s fantastic. This episode really fleshes out Linda Park’s character from background secondary figure towards the significant role she plays in the Flash-verse. I’m impatiently waiting for Wally West to get to Central City, but I don’t mind waiting if the show continues to set up Linda as an adorable, kickass cupcake.

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While Linda frosts some cookies or prepares a casserole or something, Barry and Iris get a not-so-genius idea to have Linda impersonate Doctor Light to draw Zoom out of his Earth onto theirs. Iris assures Barry that Linda isn’t terrified: she’s furious and eager to help in any way she can. Iris has faith in Linda and thinks that the decision shouldn’t be made by anyone but her.

So “The Flash” invites Linda to the lab to go through some crunchtime fake-supervillain training. This is where things get awesome: the team all works together to try to make Linda as Light-y as possible. It’s kind of like the Hunger Games training center, but just way, way more fun.

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IT IS QUITE POSSIBLE THAT I MAY BECOME A LINDA PARK STAN. Check back in at the end of this season.

Linda learns to shoot the cardboard cutouts of her ex-boyfriend Barry Allen’s best friends a fact that Linda may have missed due to all of the excitement with her brand new lumos gloves, but the whole messy situation does nothing to build the confidence of the team.

Literally everyone tries to talk Barry out of this terrible terrible terrible plan giving him ALL the reasons: she can’t handle it, you’re projecting your residual feelings from the Reverse Flash, etc. etc… but Barry knows what to do to build Linda’s confidence; he officially reveals his face to her. Linda Park’s reaction? Priceless. (And accurate.)

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Also, I’m pretty sure I just ship Barry Allen with everyone. I just fully support Barry making out with awesome female characters. Especially during hilariously awful superhero dialogue. Barry and Linda fail to convince Zoom that “Doctor Light” killed Zoom, even after Linda took the Flash insignia off his chest and threw it into the breach (thus bringing it back to the fakeout intro).

It was like a weird roleplay sexual fantasy… but they’re so cute.

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This scene deserves to be watched and rewatched. It’s pure cheese that only The Flash can pull off…  although Supergirl is starting to get there. I know that Barry/Linda are a thing of the past, romantically, but I’m excited to see how this friendship progresses.

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One friendship already in progress is Iris/Linda. These two… I love them and am so proud to have two strong, funny, caring, badass women of color sharing a supportive relationship. It’s so easy to pit women against women, and to see these two onscreen is something truly special.

But the happy moment ends when Linda leaves the office to be abducted by Zoom. It actually feels like the end of all happy moments; I think that the extra ridiculousness of Linda’s training was meant to offset how badly shit hits the proverbial fan once Zoom enters the picture.

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Zoom is scary and seemingly unbeatable. Barry manages to rescue Linda when Zoom drops her from the top of S.T.A.R.’s roof, but only because Zoom lets him. In fact, Zoom is very much in charge of the whole encounter. There’s a second where we hopefully believe that Barry is ready for this when he forces Zoom into a “free fall fight” at terminal velocity and evening out the speedforce playing field.

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“Heroes die.” “Only if you can catch them.”

Oh… Zoom catches him, alright. He catches the speed-dampening dart that Harry tries to shoot at him, and he catches our Barry in a horrible beating. Zoom is fucking fast. Terrifyingly fast.

I was so horrified and most likely covering my eyes that I missed a major moment before Zoom stabs Barry in the chest with the anti-speed serum:

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Ohhhhhhhh that’s why he was dragging around Barry like a rag doll… HE SNAPPED HIS SPINE AND RUINED HIS LEGS. HIS MAGIC LEGS.

It’s painful to watch Barry being flung around like a floppy, red leather purse. Even worse, Zoom puppets him around the city that had just recently heralded Barry as their savior and hero. For the audience, it’s even harder to watch knowing Barry is underneath the mask being humiliated in front of Iris and Patty and the CCPD.

Zoom drags Barry’s body one last time back to S.T.A.R. Labs and taunts Harry Wells. What the hell happened between the two of them?! He holds Barry up by the throat and is about to use that famous jack knife hand trick that we all know, but Cisco shoots him in the neck. Zoom is only temporarily stunned but speeds off. Harry Wells screams, “NOOOOO!”

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He was definitely about to kill Barry. Straight up. Three separate times. Joe is pissed and finally unleashes on Earth-2 Wells. We finally learn Harry’s secret about his daughter Jess, and he and Joe share a surprising fatherhood moment.

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You can hear the disappointment and genuine anguish in Harry’s voice. Zoom didn’t send him to kill Barry… he came here of his own accord in a plan to capture Zoom and get his daughter back. Do we trust him yet? I really, really am starting to. I hope my faith isn’t misplaced.

Barry wakes up to Cisco and Caitlin smiling at him. Their smiles fade when Barry tells them he can’t feel his legs.

Super Quick Earth-2 Thing:

Oliver Queen-2 is dead and his father, Robert Queen, is the one who took on the green hood and bow after being marooned on an island. At first, this just seems like a great easter egg, but it’s likely to be a hint that Barry Allen-2 is dead, too. Maybe, like Ollie-2’s daddy, Henry Allen’s fate is more similar to Prime-Barry’s in that Henry became a speedster. But not as the hero.

Maybe Barry-2’s possible death is the thing that made the war between Zoom and Wells personal. Wells’ “conversation” about parenthood with Joe on Prime Earth hinted at this. Nice job, writers.

But wouldn’t Zoom have recognized Barry once he demasked him post-ass beating? Or has he become so demonic and inhuman that his only fuel is his need for speed and his hatred of Wells? I don’t think we’ll find out until the mid-season finale. Until then, Grodd and Flarrow crossover!

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