The conspiracy theorists were right! After weeks of dropped hints and teased clues, this episode finally revealed the identity of super villain Zoom to be none other than… Jay Garrick! Or, a version of Jay Garrick, anyway… or possibly someone else inhabiting the body of Jay Garrick, or morphed to look like him, or… you get my drift. It is The Flash, which is known for ‘you-think-it’s-one-guy-but-it’s-actually-another-guy’ switcheroos. But when Zoom finally pulled off the mask at the end of ‘King Shark,’ we see the familiar face of actor Teddy Sears, who plays Jay Garrick.
There have been theories quietly circling the internet that Zoom was possibly some version of Jay ever since Jessie and Barry realized the man in the mask was tapping out ‘J-A-Y’ in the cell last week; some thought the Jay we knew was an imposter from Earth-2 and that the man in the mask was the REAL Jay (I fell into this camp), while others thought that Zoom was some version of Jay, the man in the mask was some version of Jay, and the man we knew as ‘Jay Garrick’ on Earth 1 was yet ANOTHER version of Jay, opening up the possibilities of not only Earth-1 and Earth-2, but possibly an even larger multiverse accessed through the breaches. With Barry declaring the breaches were not ‘closed for good’ and the reveal of the familiar face behind Zoom’s mask in this episode, it certainly seems like those fans might have been spot on.
‘King Shark’ opens with Caitlin having a bit of a breakdown after *Jay* was kidnapped and/or killed by Zoom. The Star Labs crew seems pretty certain Jay has been murdered, and Barry demands they open up the breach to try and go after Zoom—only for Wells to say the breaches are closed forever. Jessie acts predictably annoyed at being trapped on Earth-1 (if I were Barry and Cisco, I would totally regret saving her, because she’s a whiner), and Wells says there’s nothing they can do this time but try to let it go, forbidding them from telling Joe, Iris, and Caitlin about their Earth-2 doppelgangers or anything that happened on Earth-2. He informs Barry that those were not *his* people (a sentiment that I shared- sue me), and not to dwell on what can’t be changed. That doesn’t stop Barry and Cisco from acting moody and paranoid, respectively, with Barry mourning the death of Joe-2 and Cisco afraid that the loss of Jay AND Ronnie will be what sends *our* Caitlin down the road to becoming Killer Frost. They definitely can’t keep a secret.
We learn that John Diggle of Arrow and his wife, Lyla, are in Central City, following the escape of the notorious metahuman King Shark from an A.R.G.U.S. facility. (Lyla had recently been promoted to director of A.R.G.U.S. after the death of Amanda Waller, and the catching of King Shark would be a major coup.) King Shark bested Barry once before, and the two warn him that he will be coming again to kill Barry for Zoom and return to his home of Earth-2. Barry, racked with guilt over his typically defensive stances putting people in danger, decided to go on the offense, finding King Shark himself. Cisco and Caitlin find the wife of Earth-1’s version of King Shark, a marine biologist named Dr. Shay Lamden who was killed in the explosion of the particle accelerator, and they go to question her about her own research on sharks.
It’s never explicitly revealed what kind of shark research she’s doing, which seemed a bit odd, but the scene primarily functioned to show the recently developed coldness of Caitlin; she questions the grieving woman in a frank, almost brutally honest manner, leaving Cisco to swoop in and smooth things over with his trademark charm. When he later confronts her about it and tells her to get some rest, she snaps at him that she’s fine. Ouch. That was downright frosty, and completely out of character for Caitlin-1. Cisco wonders aloud to Barry, who’s the only one he can discuss this with, if this could be the beginning of her becoming evil. And this is the moment where I get that there’s a ripple effect at stake here, but MAYBE they should mention to Caitlin that she has the capacity for evil? Maybe? I think she has a right to know.
Cisco ends up letting it slip that Caitlin has an “icy look in her eye just like she did over there,” after her sarcasm flies off the charts while stating there won’t be anything gleaned from the research. He tells her her doppelgänger is the evil metahuman, ‘Killer Frost,’ that enjoyed killing, and says Caitlin-1 is acting just like she did. Caitlin responds with the rather valid point that she’s acting cold and detached because she watched ‘Jay’ get killed in front of her eyes, and states that if she lets herself feel the pain and anger, it’s never going to stop. She asks for time to heal which, again, is rather valid and reasonable. Instead of keeping his concerns to himself, I wish that Cisco had confronted Caitlin about her feelings earlier instead of dragging it out through an entire episode.
King Shark tracks Barry to the West household, ripping off the roof and demanding the Flash be revealed because he can “smell him.” The West family quickly runs upstairs and Barry zooms out as the Flash, promptly getting beaten by King Shark again before A.R.G.U.S. arrives and forces him to retreat. Wondering how the metahuman found Barry so fast, the gang at Star Labs deduces he sniffed him out using passive electro location, aka he senses the electricity in Barry’s system. Utilizing satellites track him using active electro location, they search for electronic distortions that correlate with a one-ton walking shark and find an anomaly at the pier. They wait for hours before King Shark shows, and after luring him in with bait, Barry uses his powers to electrocute King Shark while running on water. It’s a well-done, exhilarating scene, and I’m glad they actually showed King Shark IN the water; he appeared to be a HUGE and terrifying metahuman, leaving me skeptical to the idea that he could travel around without being seen. The speed with which he moved in the water made it much more believable.
There’s a subplot in this episode involving Wally West and his jealousy of Barry: Wally is resentful, distant, and at times outright disrespectful to Barry, despite Joe trying to push them to find common ground to bond over. Barry attends a family game night and is morose over the events on Earth-2, which seems to annoy Wally; Joe suggests Barry help Wally on a school project involving turbine engines, which ALSO seems to annoy Wally. Wally reveals he feels Joe and Iris idolize ‘perfect’ Barry, who was also able to grow up in a home with them, and he even goes so far as to exclaiming he didn’t know Barry was a coward after King Shark rips apart the West household. Joe finally sits him down and has a talk with him, revealing Barry’s tragic backstory and the fact that he and Iris are so proud of Barry because things could have turned out so differently for him.
Joe also states that Wally is still his son, just like Barry is his son, and he doesn’t play favorites. That pretty much smoothed over the Barry/Wally conflict, and, to be honest, it was a bit underwhelming. I know we’re supposed to sympathize with Barry here, but Wally’s resentment that another man grew up with the father and sister he didn’t get to have is completely understandable, and it would have been nice to see Joe and Wally have an actual conversation about Wally’s feelings rather than Joe give him a speech that gives everyone the warm fuzzies. So much time was wasted on the ‘Will she or won’t she turn evil?’ Caitlin/Killer Frost conflict that it almost seems like the resolution of Wally’s issues was tacked on as an afterthought.
Barry also finally reveals what happened on Earth-2 after the attack at the West home, leaving Joe and Iris shocked at the fates of their doppelgangers. Wallowing in guilt, Barry says the death of Joe-2 is especially hitting him hard, despite Dr. Wells’ warnings not to get emotionally sucked in, and he also states that he left the entire world of Earth-2 at Zoom’s mercy by closing the breach, that the death of Jay is his fault and the unleashing of Zoom on Earth-1 is his fault, including the destruction caused by metas like King Shark on our planet. (I would argue that Dr. Wells has his fair share of blame to hold here, but okay.) He gets everyone together at Star Labs to apologize to them, starting with his actions but from when he initially travelled back in time to save his mother and created the breaches. He says the consequences will haunt him, but that he owns his choices, and will find a way back to Earth-2 to save everyone from Zoom, and especially Jay. Oh, Jay.
Throughout the episode, I wondered why everyone seemed so SURE Jay was dead. We never actually saw a body, just Zoom’s arm passing through him and yanking him into the alternate universe, so the multiple declarations of how he was ‘murdered’ seemed like they jumped the gun a bit. And, indeed, they turned out to be red herrings- especially a scene where Barry is revealed to have had Jay’s Flash helmet memorialized while saying the words, “We’re going to find Zoom, whoever he may be.” The foreshadowing is strong in this one, because in the last scene, we see Zoom drag in the unconscious Jay we saw snatched from Earth-2, only to take off his mask and reveal that he, too… is Jay?! The terrified eyes of the masked prisoner in Ascension Falls are also shown, leading me to believe that he, too, could be Jay. So many Jays, so little time! Can’t wait to see this storyline pan out.