‘The Flash’ Post-Show Analysis Season 2 Episode 15: ‘King Shark’
Welcome back to Up To Speed, in which Flash TV show veteran Dylan Todd and newbie Ziah Grace break down the latest episode of The Flash, dispense some Flash Facts, and talk about what works, what doesn’t, and where the series might be headed.
This week, the CGI budget expands to accomodate the return of King Shark, and everyone's having an Earth-2 comedown, but is the audience still riding the high? 'King Shark' was directed by Hanelle Culpepper and written by Benjamin Raab & Deric A. Hughes. (Yes, it's comic book writer Ben Raab, but he's on television now, so it's "Benjamin.")
Ziah: Boy, this was one comic booky episode, huh Dylan? Opening monologue that might as well have been captioned in orange with little yellow lightning bolts, secret identity hijinx, hastily-constructed retcons of character deaths, crossovers (watch Arrow every week to find out what Diggle’s doing!), and subplots, with a last-page/minute cliffhanger. Personally, I loved it. What did you think of the episode?
Dylan: It was jawsome! After the two-part field trip to Earth-2, I expected this week’s King Shark episode to be a bit of a breather, a fairly-standard villain-of-the-week deal, but it kind of just barreled ahead with hardly any stops along the way. We can go into what worked and what didn’t in a little bit, but overall, a really fun episode.
I’m usually a little disappointed with one-off villains, but I felt like they really leaned into the goofiness of the concept here and it made for a much more enjoyable episode bad guy than, say, Geomancer. Like, how can you not love an episode featuring a 12-foot-tall shark-man in torn-up jeans? What else did you like about the episode? Because I feel like we could talk about how great it is that there was a TV show that devoted 44 minutes to King Shark, but a lot of other equally-bananas stuff happened this week.
Ziah: I really enjoyed the writers realizing they could do more with Caitlin Snow’s character than have her be dutifully supportive of the bland hunks in her life! Even if that characterization manifested as her being dutifully depressed by all the bland hunks in her life that have died. I dug Jesse helping Twells in the lab, and Wally and Barry learning to be a family. These were character beats that worked for me, and even though Barry’s got literally no reason not to tell his new brother his secret identity, I enjoyed the miscommunications it caused. This really felt like an issue of a John Romita Sr./Stan Lee Amazing Spider-Man issue, you know?
Dylan: Definitely. They managed to punt a few minor character plots down the field while also delivering a pretty entertaining A-plot, which is the ideal mixture for these shows, I think.
Ziah: Oh man. Oh man! Let’s talk about how ARGUS just straight up brought King Shark back to life. Dylan, this is my jam. This is my peanut butter and jam sandwich.
Dylan: Let’s also talk about how Argus must be hiring the dumbest damn guards in the nation if they fell for the old, “Play dead while they open your cell,” trick. I mean, that should be Day One of Metahuman Jail Science 101. I get that he needed to escape his laser cage in order to wreak havoc in Central City, but geez.
Ziah: “Escaping The Laser Grid” is my New-Wave cover band, but yeah, ARGUS clearly doesn’t hire the best and brightest. But Dylan, do you know what this means? It means the Flash team now have an automatic “Get Out Of Death Free” card to use whenever they want. Twells straight up shot King Shark to death with a lightning rail gun thing, and he’s still back because “yadda yadda, secrecy”. This is amazing.
Dylan: And introducing Argus into the mix gives us a chance to check in with Mr. and Mrs. Diggle, who recently inherited the secret government division after the abrupt departure of Amanda Waller, who died due to a mixture of terrorist groups Shadowspire and also the fact that there’s a Suicide Squad movie coming out soon.
Ziah: You’re the one watching Arrow, so you’d know more about that than I would. I assume Arrow Waller wasn’t much at all like Waller Classic, and was mostly an excuse to bring in secret spy stories and such?
Dylan: I’ve only really kept up with this season, but yeah, she’s just a tough lady who runs a spy place. Which is fine, because it gives us an excuse to do episodes like this where Diggle shows up, tells Barry not to be a pouty butt like Arrow, and is just generally weirded out by the high degree of crazy stuff that goes on in Central City. I also liked the hint that maybe Cisco will fix Diggle’s helmet so it doesn’t look like a knockoff replica of Fassbender’s Magneto hat. Hatneto.
Ziah: Sometimes I feel like your Salieri, Dylan. But yeah, Diggle was a fun crossover. I liked his one-sided conversations with Oliver, and the fact that he mentioned Felicity and almost looked directly at the viewer to remind them to watch Arrow. It’s something that would bug me on a weekly basis, but coming a couple months after the crossover, I just found it charming more than anything.
Dylan: I just thought it was hilarious that Barry seemed so interested in Felicity but also not enough to know she almost died and is now using a wheelchair. But I mean, dude’s been bouncing around the Multiverse while being pursued by an evil Speedster, so maybe it’s understandable?
Speaking of the Multiverse, did you understand at all why Wells told Cisco and Barry not to tell Caitlin, Joe, and Iris about their other selves? Like, he was all, “It might influence their lives but also who cares about any of that stuff.” Also, since when have these people been good at keeping secrets from anybody? Dude has been around them long enough to know how they roll.
Ziah: Considering how Barry and Cisco have ignored every single piece of advice Twells has ever given them, I imagine that at this point he’s just started screwing with them by telling them not to do harmless things. “Listen Cisco, it’s very important that you don’t go swimming within an hour of eating anything with potassium, or your metahuman cells could explode.”
Dylan: Except maybe he knew they’d tell and this was his plan all along!
But seriously, no. These guys just suck real bad at keeping secrets. It’s like this show has to look for ways the characters can fail at lying to each other. Barry might as well have been wearing an “Ask Me About My Trip To Earth-2!” t-shirt, the way he was pouting at West family game night.
Ziah: Okay, can we talk about that game night real quick? Why were they stacking cups. Is this a thing families do? Is this a thing people get together to do, socially? Just… just stacking cups super fast?
Dylan: I have personally never done it, but I feel like it was a thing on that Guy Fieri game show? I have no idea. Maybe the writers wrote Battleship in there but ran into a licensing thing at the last minute so they went with whatever they had on hand. It seems like something they would have played in the Depression, though; only the slowest stacker got sold to the glue factory, so Papa could have enough money for newspapers to wrap his feet in when he went to work in the mines.
Ziah: The thing I got from this scene is that Wally would be a terrible guest for game night. Just constantly talking about how quickly he got Uno or Yahtzee or stabbed the orc king. Speaking of, how’d you like Barry and Wally’s sibling rivalry?
Dylan: It felt very forced. I’m glad they came to an uneasy peace by the end of the episode, but I kind of wanted to hurry that subplot along a little bit. Not that it was terrible, I just felt like it was there to fill up space and provide some sort of dramatic resolution by episode’s end. I’d much rather seen a little more of the Cisco/Caitlin plot or the Twells/Jesse stuff, to be honest.
I will say that Wally remarking on Joe and Iris’ relative calm after a giant shark in pants busted through their wall “like the Kool Aid Man,” was pretty great.
Ziah: Yeah. But like the “Is Caitlin Snow Actually Killer Frost…? No. No, Of Course She’s Not” subplot, it was a nice way to make the side-characters have a little more to do than an average episode of The Flash, and let’s be honest here, this was a full King Shark episode. I can’t be that critical of it. I dreamed a dream, and it came true.
Dylan: It sure did. Speaking of things that came true, we now know the identity of Zoom and I will be darned if I can figure out how this is possible, but it’s… (drumroll)...
Ziah: Or is it? No, yeah, it looks like it’s Jay Garrick. But is it a twist if it ends up being neither Earth-2 Jay or Zolomon? If it’s a Jay from Earth-3 or whatever, it’s going to look a little bit like the writers can’t play this game without cheating after the Wells/Reverse Flash mystery last season. Time Travel? Clayface? Jay Garrick’s twin brother, Gay Jarrick?
Dylan: As the kids say, “I literally can’t even,” with this. I will admit to letting out an audible, “…the hell?!” when Zoom took off that mask, but as to the hows or whys, I am totally flummoxed. I’m assuming time travel of some sort? Maybe the drip we all know as Jay Garrick is really Future Zoom traveled back in time, hoping to stop himself? Or vice-versa? Except Zoom killed Jay, knowing who he was, right? Which makes no sense. This friggin’ show, man. I can’t help but feel like the Reverse Flash episode was pointing us in some sort of general direction.
Ziah: Was that general direction pointing… back to the future??? IDK dude.
Hey, jumping back for a minute, how great was Diggle saying that King Shark was driven by a biological imperative to kill the Flash? I like to think all Earth-2 sharks just hate fast people.
Dylan: Yeah, I thought that “biological imperative,” line was highly suspect. Like, nowhere on Lazlow’s Pyramid does it say “Kill the Flash.” Or maybe they changed it and I don’t know about it? (Thanks, Obama.) One thing King Shark did like to do was chomp people down like it was no big deal. He was eating Argus agents the way I’ve been eating Girl Scout cookies lately. Which is to say in mass quantities and also while wearing only a raggedy pair of pants. Somewhat related: did you know you can be banned from post offices? (Again: thanks, Obama.)
Ziah: Hahaha. I think Girl Scout cookies have a better sense of self-preservation than those ARGUS agents.
Dylan: Girl Scout cookies would have known that shark-dude was faking it when he played dead at the beginning of the episode. Okay, maybe not Cranberry Citrus Crisps --- they’re pretty dumb --- but the rest of them? No way.
Oh, and one of these days, The Flash is gonna face a bad guy that can’t be found by retasking the STAR LAbs satellite and run (see what I did there?) into a problem that can’t be solved by going in real fast and that dude is going to be so screwed on that day. Like, how many times have they defeated the villain that way? Eleventy billion? Maybe we’ll see some innovation when we face off against the new Speedster in the next new episode, dropping March 22.
Ziah: I sure hope these new episodes arrive in……. a Flash.
Dylan: Aw geez, Ziah. I mean… uuugh. Have some self-respect. (J/K I love you never change.)
Ziah: Maybe the pacing will improve when the show gets back. Get it. Pacing? Because you have pacing when you run? Anyway, we’ll see you in a month!