The previews for this week’s episode left me wondering if it was really a good idea to introduce another speedster now, with the Zoom threat still looming and Kid Flash yet to emerge. But aside from being an entertaining hour in its own right, “Trajectory” ties into the larger arc of the season by sparking a revelation for Team Flash—one the audience has been privy to since the end of the last episode a month ago: Jay Garrick is Zoom.
Before we get there, however, we get to spend some happier time with the team, complete with the sort of goofy moments that have been in too short supply of late. The opening scene is almost a throwback to season one, with Barry conducting another speed test with Wells, Cisco, and Caitlin. It proves to be Barry’s own Snake River Canyon jump (and you can bet Cisco is right on time with the Evel Knievel reference), as he is unable to quite reach the opposing cliff. (Unlike Knievel, however, Barry is rescued by Cisco’s drones before he can hit rock bottom.) The familiar old chemistry is flowing easy and free here, as it does in the following clubbing sequence, in which Cisco and Caitlin bust some truly awkward moves.
Team Flash’s night off is interrupted by Trajectory, a mystery speedster with no loftier goal than petty theft. She turns out to be Eliza Harmon (Allison Paige), an old colleague of Caitlin’s from Mercury Labs who helped out with the Velocity-9 formulation and figured out how to whip up a batch for herself. (Note to Team Flash: Superheroes should never outsource.) Trajectory is presented as an alternate personality of Eliza’s, complete with a hallucinated voice that speaks to her, urging her to continue shooting up so the fun never stops.
The show draws a pretty straightforward parallel between Velocity-9 and steroids, particularly once Barry starts complaining to Wells that all his enemies are gaining a competitive advantage on him and he should be able to level the playing field. That’s an awfully common defense among steroid cheats in professional sports (and a valid one, some would argue, though this is not the time or place), and it’s easy to see Barry’s point of view here. All of the extra training he’s been doing hasn’t paid off, so if this shortcut can help him catch up to Zoom and put an end to the threat, then why not?
We learn why not after Trajectory briefly traps Barry in the pipeline and makes off with another batch of V-9. Barry’s training (combined with the extra adrenaline boost that comes with rescuing citizens from the bridge) pays off as he is able to leap the river and catch up to Trajectory. Her final dose of V-9 goes horribly wrong, however, and she dissolves into nothingness. Just say no, kids! (OK, it doesn’t come off as being quite that preachy, but with a few nudges this could have easily turned into a Very Special Episode.)
Trajectory’s presence also triggers a subplot for Iris, as her new boss at Picture News, Scott Evans (Tone Bell), harbors a distinctly J. Jonah Jameson-esque suspicion of the Flash and assigns her to write an article blaming him for the speedster crime spree. Her attempt to stall him by inviting him out for coffee is mistaken for romantic interest, and before the hour is out, we have a new reason for West/Allen shippers to shake their fists at the TV set. Still, there’s hope! Iris certainly appears to be intrigued that she and Barry are married both in the future and on an alternate Earth.
The payoff to what might otherwise be an amusing one-off comes when Barry sees Trajectory’s lightning turn blue shortly before she disappears. Team Flash pieces it together: V-9 causes the blue lightning, which indicates a sick speedster. Jay was sick and Zoom has blue lightning. Cisco confirms it by vibing the Earth-2 Flash’s helmet: Jay is indeed Zoom. The Jay we know, anyway. There’s still more to this mystery, including the man in the iron mask, but for now all Barry knows is that he’s been betrayed by another mentor. His big scream at the sky is a bit much, given that Barry and Jay really didn’t hang out all that often. If anything, Caitlin should have been given the big reaction at the end. But the cat is out of the bag, and now the hunt for Zoom gets personal.
- “Are you from far away?” is not a question people really ask, Wally West. (Yes, I realize the writers were setting up a “Boy, am I!” reaction shot from Jesse, but that could have been a little more artfully phrased.)
- Speaking of Jesse, Wells-2 is further humanized when she stumbles on a recording of him confessing to murdering the Turtle in order to save her. Cavanagh plays the conflict beautifully as Wells is torn between his overprotective nature and his fear of pushing his daughter away. That’s what happens in the end, as Jesse heads off to Opal City to learn more of this mysterious Earth-1 she’s found herself on. Maybe she’ll run into Ralph Dibney. I’m still waiting on him.
- Don’t date your boss, Iris. Come on.
- On Earth-2, Beyonce is a senator. Of course.