One of the benefits of the long-form storytelling inherent in a TV series is that you care about the characters — when they bleed, you bleed. This week’s episode of The Flash uses this affect pitch perfectly in an episode whose relationship revelations lead to an emotionally shocking conclusion.
The theme of the week is, once again, family. The Flash loves this theme but ‘Rupture’ goes a different route and delivered a nice variation on what this show says about one’s flesh and blood. The episode shouldn’t have been named ‘Rupture’ it should have been named ‘The Fight of the Three Fathers’ TM.
The central conflict of this episode spawned from Harry’s (Tom Cavanagh) idea to replicate the conditions of the particle accelerator explosion and give Barry (Grant Gustin) his super-fast alter-ego back. In the one corner there’s Henry Allen (John Wesley Shipp), who has returned from chopping wood in the mountains to tell Barry not to be so stupid and to stay normal. In another corner we have Joe (Jesse L. Martin), who’s just so chill about the situation and is the cool uncle who will support Barry whatever happens. Then, there’s Harry, who is egging Barry on. Each father figure is approaching this conflict from a genuine place and it makes the conflict so engaging. Henry doesn’t want to watch his son die, Harry wants the Flash back to stop Zoom from straight up killing everybody, and Joe just wants what is best for Barry.The performances of these actors suck you in. Martin and Cavanagh are always first-stringers and there is a moment where Cavanagh expresses sadness, regret and an ego deflation in one facial expression. Not many actors can act thinking but Cavanagh owns that schtick. Shipp feels like the most jarring of the three because he hasn’t been a part of the season-long narrative. But, he does what he needs to do. In the middle of the father fight is Barry and Gustin delivers the goods, acting as a nice counterpoint to all the emotion swirling around in this episode.
Probably the biggest pouring of emotion came from Iris (Candice Patton) who finally revealed her true feelings for Barry. Viewers have seen this scene before then time travel got in the way — damn time travel getting in the way of shipper dreams. Anyway, Iris spilled her feelings in a touching scene played perfectly by Gustin and Patton. Barry struggled to pick up on the signals, adding a nice splash of reliability amongst the otherworldly genre trapping spread throughout the episode. It was just a shame Barry left Iris hanging, not once, but twice, and the episode would have been better if it offered some sort of conclusion to this moment.Barry wasn’t the only love-struck speedster this week as for the first time it felt like Zoom (Teddy Sears, voiced by Tony Todd) cared for Caitlyn (Danielle Panabaker). Panabaker is just playing the damsel in distress now, but she is not going to be deterred by bad writing easily and she gives it all she’s got. Cisco (Carlos Valdes) also repaired his relationship with his brother but it was so underdeveloped and rushed it was only a distraction.
This episode was so emotionally involving you can forgive some underdeveloped character work and if you can’t, the fact that you care about the characters makes the ending a sucker punch and a killer Harry Potter reference should tide you over.