Nicholas Gonzalez/The CW

“Rupture” is a pivotal episode this season, but for the most part, it’s also a dull one. Team Flash has made bad choices in recent weeks, and they haven’t turned out to be such great choices for the creative team either. Because this entire episode is built to get Barry to the point where he agrees to Harry’s reckless plan to recreate the particle accelerator explosion, it gives us a passive hero for most of its running time. Barry is in reactive mode, listening to one speech after another about what he should do or not do or whether it even matters what he decides. Since we know it’s a foregone conclusion—of course Barry is stepping into that mini-accelerator at the end—this makes for a largely drama-free episode, unless the reconciliation of the Ramon brothers is something you’ve been longing to see.

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The writers do manage to figure out a reasonably clever way to show the Flash in action this week even while Barry is powerless: Cisco rigs up a hologram projector that makes it appear as if the Scarlet Speedster is still zipping around Central City, and the power of suggestion is enough to keep the crime rate down, at least for the moment. It’s not going to do anything to stop Zoom, however, as he has arrived on Earth-1 with a plan to replicate his conquest of Earth-2. Having seen it happen on his own world, Harry is pushing hard for the particle accelerator plan despite the rest of Team Flash explaining the obvious drawbacks (destruction of the city, creation of many new metahumans, yada yada yada).

It becomes a My Two Dads scenario (or three, if you count Harry) when Henry Allen decides to give up his never-adequately-explained life of chopping wood in the mountains to return to Central City and serve as the voice of reason. It’s too bad he didn’t show up a couple of weeks earlier when Barry was deciding to give up his speed in the first place. That’s the frustrating thing about this entire dilemma: it’s all of Team Flash’s making. They did a dumb thing and now they have to do a dumber thing to undo it. Instead of coming up with a plan to double-cross Zoom back when he kidnapped Wally, they went along with the only scheme that would ensure their vulnerability to future Zoom attacks. Now they have to lock up Jesse and Wally in the STAR Labs safe room just to be sure they aren’t taken or harmed again. (And let’s face it, as soon as we saw those two future speedsters together in that room, so close to where the attempt to give Barry his speed back would take place…well, let’s save that for later.)

Part of Zoom’s plan involves importing metahumans from Earth-2 to do his dirty work, so he chooses one of the silliest and least effective villains we’ve seen yet. Rupture has a glowing scythe and…well, that’s about it, really. He also has a secret identity that plays into the family reunion theme running through the episode: he’s the Dante Ramon of Earth-2, meaning he was Reverb’s brother. His appearance serves to bring Cisco and his own brother closer together, but Rupture is easily distracted by the Flash hologram, allowing the CCPD to bring him down with tasers. A disappointed Zoom shows up at Jitters and kills him, along with all the cops except Joe and Singh. If Zoom wanted better results, though, perhaps he could have chosen more wisely from the extensive list of Earth-2 metahumans.

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Despite all its missteps, “Rupture” sticks the landing with a well-executed cliffhanger as the particle accelerator appears to tear Barry apart and convert him into energy that sweeps over Wally and Jesse as they escape from the safe room. We know there’s zero chance Barry is dead (and I appreciate that the previews for next week didn’t even bother trying to maintain the pretense), but the scene still packs an emotional punch because his friends think they’ve killed him in the process of trying to restore his powers. With three episodes remaining, this has to be the incident that jump-starts the season’s endgame. It’s about time the Flash got back to work.

Stray observations

  • Garrick is Henry Allen’s mother’s maiden name? Barry didn’t know that?
  • “I’m sure there’s something out there that will satisfy your need for speed and helping people.” Thanks for setting that one up on a tee, Joe.
  • Somewhere amidst all the fatherly advice, Iris finds the time to finally let Barry know she has the feelings for him he was hoping she had all of last season. I get the timing: she’s letting him know this while he’s powerless, to be sure he’s aware it’s Barry she cares about, not the Flash. My problem with her speech is that she’s still couching their relationship in terms of its inevitability. If it’s this way in the future and it’s this way on Earth-2, shouldn’t it be this way here and now? That just doesn’t strike me as the happiest, healthiest starting point.
  • Efficient dual origin story for Kid Flash and Jesse Quick, show.

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