This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS for the episode to be discussed, if you do not want certain plot points or story spoilt, please do not read further.
Earlier this season we were teased with a brief appearance of King Shark, one of the show's most visually stunning villains, but the moment was gone quickly and overshadowed with the surprise return of Harrison Wells. An entire episode being given over the the hulking villain was both a surprise and visual treat.
With King Shark in the custody or A.R.G.U.S., now headed up by Arrow's Lyla Diggle after the death of Amanda Waller, the Earth-2 villain manages to escape from the facility he's being held in (with gruesome results) and heads to Central City to finish his mission of killing the Flash. John and Lyla travel to Central City to warn Barry and the gang of King Sharks return and stick around with A.R.G.U.S. to help capture him.
We only get a handful of scenes with King Shark, coming to only a few minutes of screen time, but the episode uses him brilliantly, building tension as our heroes hunt him down and giving us lots of destruction as he tears apart people and buildings like they were nothing.
Other than Gorilla Grodd no other villain has been used to show just how amazing the shows visual effects team are, and when viewed in high definition this episode definitely deserves a round of applause. Every time King Shark is on screen you can see the texture of his skin, you see his veins and muscles move under his skin and they even manage to show different expressions in a face that's much harder to do that with than a gorilla's.
King Shark is without a doubt one of the most impressive moments of the entire Flash/Arrow universe and I'm sure will get the show more nominations for it's visual effects work. From the brief looks we get at Doomsday from the Batman V Superman trailer King Shark actually looks better than the big threat from a multi-million dollar blockbuster. King Shark is definitely going to be remembered as one of the standout's for season 2.
The action in the episode is sparing, but well thought through, with the final ocean based battle not only looking great, but showing just how adaptable Barry's powers have become and how adept he is at using them. King Shark chases him across the sea as Barry runs on water, creates a whirlpool to capture the monster, then throws lightning at him repeatedly until he falls unconscious.
To break up the shark hunt the episode also takes the time to deal with the fallout of the teams visit to Earth-2 and focuses on the effect that those events have had on the team. The two most damaged by the events of last weeks episode are Barry and Caitlin, both of whom suffered loss due to Zoom.
Caitlin spends much of the episode dealing with watching Jay killed in front of her by Zoom (maybe,
I still think the man in the iron mask is the real Jay Garrick) and having lost another person she loved.
It's not an easy subject to handle, as during the course of the last two seasons Caitlin has possibly suffered the most emotionally. Yes, Barry went back in time last season and saw his mother killed again, but this was something Barry knew would happen and has lived with for 20+ years, in the space of a year Caitlin lost her husband, and then when she finally started having feelings for someone else saw him die too.
Having witnessed a dark version of Caitlin on Earth-2 Cisco becomes worried that the loss of Jay might be forcing their Caitlin down a path that will lead to her becoming more like Killer Frost. The episode even teases us with this notion with an angrier and more abrupt Caitlin, but Caitlin herself points out how crazy the notion is when she finally forces the information out of Cisco. She's grieving, and part of that is her shutting off her emotions so that she can process everything, it doesn't mean that she's going evil.
The fact that Cisco could think that shows that despite being a genius he's a little stupid sometimes, but it does help to show the bond that he and Caitlin have and how much the two of them really do care for each other. I'm sure this isn't the last we'll see of the pain Caitlin is going through, but her journey in this episode does feel real and satisfying to watch.
Barry goes through most of the episode carrying the weight of what happened to him on Earth-2 as well, and we start to see the effect that this entire season has had on him. He blames himself for opening the breaches between the two worlds, he blames himself for the death of Joe on Earth-2 and he blames himself for what happened to Jay. He's struggling to see that not being able to save someone isn't the same as being responsible for their death.
It isn't until he's finally confronted by Joe and Iris to talk about what's going on that he's lifted of this burden. He tells them everything that happened on Earth-2 and gives us one of this best emotional performances this season (other than the heartbreaking conversation with this mother on Earth-2). Gustin steps up in this scene and gives us a Barry one we haven't seen in a long while, a man haunted by everything that he's been through and finally thinks he's had enough.
Luckily his family are there to pick him up and help him move on, and by the end of the episode he's done feeling sorry for himself. He assembles the team and tells them that he's had enough with dealing with Zoom and the pain he's been putting them all through. He's resolved to taking the fight to Zoom and ending things once and for all, and it looks like everyone else is ready to do the same too.
The episode also starts to build on the Barry Wally relationship, something that hasn't really happened yet. The television version of Wally is very different to either version of his comic counterpart (pre and post New-52), so building a similar relationship between the two on screen was going to be a very different prospect. Wally doesn't like Barry much, he doesn't like that he's such a big part of the family he's trying to be a part of and because of the things Barry is working through this episode their relationship still looks a little frosty, but they've definitely started to find some common ground to build a relationship on. The scene with Joe and Wally in the coffee shop is an important one too, as it helps Wally to understand Barry a little more and maybe not view him as the rival he thought he was.
The episode ends with a scene that fans have been waiting months for, the reveal of the identity of Zoom. After so long building the character up and masses of speculation from viewers it was a big moment. Zoom returns to his lair with the body of Jay Garrick in his arms. The man in the iron mask sees this and reacts badly (it's hard to know exactly what he's feeling with only his eyes visible) and then Zoom removes his mask to reveal....Hunter Zolomon.
The show's producers have already spoken to confirm that Zoom is Zolomon, not Jay Garrick, but it's still a surprise moment, and one that doesn't actually go to explaining anything. We don't know if this is the Zolomon we saw on Earth-1 or another version of him, we still don't know if that was really Jay Garrick who died and we still don't know who's inside the iron mask. It's definitely a fun way to leave the show as it goes on a break for the next month.