NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “The Flash” are present in this review
Despite taking a month off of the airwaves, The Flash returned as if it had never left this week, still going strong and standing tall as one of television’s most fun and creative primetime shows at this point. “Trajectory” was a very good episode that nicely pushed Barry’s continued frustrations with self-improvement, even after the breaches to Earth-Two have been closed, since the menace of Zoom still appears to loom on the horizon.
The main hook this week however was a new speedster, and the series’ first female speedster to boot! With the very episode’s title playing up this character’s introduction, Trajectory, a rather minor villainess from DC Comics lore, continued this show’s odd hot streak when it comes to almost consistently making the female villains-of-the-week superior to many of the male ones. I’m not sure why that is, even if some male metahumans have also managed good villain arcs here and there, but regardless, Trajectory is a great villain, and a strong foil for Barry as he continues to push himself to get faster.
What made Trajectory so interesting is the fact that she wasn’t yet another metahuman that was mutated in the Particle Accelerator explosion, but was instead a former colleague of Caitlin’s from Mercury Labs, who Caitlin hired in secret to help crack the Velocity-9 formula for Jay, back when he had to fight Geomancer while Barry was on Earth-Two with Cisco and Wells. Eliza Harmon gets her super-speed powers as Trajectory from reverse-engineering the Velocity-9 formula, which she gets addicted to, and which results in her suffering mental instability and delusions, causing her to go on a crime wave that appears to implicate The Flash in the eyes of the public. This was all inspired, and made Trajectory a rather tragic villain-of-the-week, not unlike Plastique or Peek-a-Boo from Season One, two other especially effective female metahumans that Barry has faced.
The whole Trajectory arc also tied wonderfully into the fallout from Jay’s apparent death before the show took its month off, with the team reeling from the loss. This fortunately leads into a nicely goofy and fun club scene for the S.T.A.R. Labs crew when they decide to unwind, which Jesse also comes along with, complete with a metahuman-detecting watch that coincidentally goes off when Wally pays a quick visit with Iris. Hmmm… could it be that Wally already has some latent potential as another Flash? That would certainly be interesting, though the show doesn’t dwell on this tease, after Jesse discovers that Wells somehow recorded his murderous dialogue about saving his daughter on the metahuman detector (it records voices?), which upsets her greatly.
If there was a running theme this week, it was the dangers of excess, and compromising one’s humanity in the name of progress and being better. This was effective with every arc, between Trajectory being an under-appreciated researcher who cracked under the need to make her mark, Barry wanting to take Velocity-9 to become fast enough to battle Trajectory (who is faster than him) and eventually face Zoom again, and Caitlin having to face the consequences of involving a third party in matters of the Speed Force. The end for Trajectory was particularly heartbreaking as well, when Barry tries to convince her to kick her drug habit, only to have her shoot up again, and then speed off with her lightning turning blue, before she eventually disintegrates into nothingness, leaving only her costume behind. Damn. Don’t do drugs, kids!
Naturally, the detail of the blue lightning doesn’t go amiss to Barry and co., who begin to put the pieces together regarding who their new arch-villain is. Cisco comes clean that he’s vibed an image of Zoom whenever he’s near Jay’s helmet, leading to the group gathering together as Cisco tries to intentionally vibe the helmet, and sees that Zoom is indeed Jay, and that everyone was deceived. While the episode was rapidly winding down at this point, and we only saw a quick dash and scream of anguish by Barry as fallout so far, this was a great scene, as everyone learns the truth about who Zoom is, and how he was seemingly in their midst for almost the entire season.
This served as the perfect time to have Team Flash figure out who Zoom is as well, since they also put together that Jay/Zoom gets his speed from Velocity-9, and is dying, needing Barry’s speed to prevent his own demise. This is not only a neat twist that makes Zoom more vulnerable than you would imagine, but also better separates Zoom from the motivations of Reverse-Flash during last season, and makes him feel like a more distinct baddie. Moreover, it also better ties Jesse into the ongoing conflict with Zoom, as Trajectory injects her with Velocity-9 and overloads her system, nearly killing her, and later motivating Jesse to split and head to Opal City to find her own path. This seems like a pretty obvious tease that Jesse is about to embrace her own speedster side from DC Comics lore, and could potentially represent an upside to the Velocity-9 arc, to stand in contrast with the abuse of the formula by Zoom and Trajectory.
The only dud storyline this week was Iris’ storyline at CCPN, as her editor naturally runs with the idea of The Flash going bad, after the city mistakes Trajectory for their hero, and Iris tries to fight the story. Iris obviously can’t reveal the details of her affiliation with Barry and Team Flash, but the result of this plot led into a weird accidental date scenario that seemed to want to set up a new romantic arc for Iris, though it’s kind of late in the season to be doing this, and Iris’ editor suddenly seeming to have a big old crush on her feels a bit random. It’s not a bad thing that Iris is starting to move on from Eddie, and even casually mentions amusement at the idea of being married to Barry like on Earth-Two when everyone is at the club, but why now, especially in an episode that had so many better developments for the rest of the leads?
That said, “Trajectory” is still a great episode that continues to push the show forward, and pits Barry against one of his most interesting foes in a little while. The overarching theme of the episode tied in well with the individual plots, especially in terms of establishing how dangerous and volatile Velocity-9 can be, but even then, scenes like the goof-off at the club and everyone reacting to the existence of a female speedster kept the fun factor plenty high this week. It’s great to have The Flash back after the past several weeks of hiatus, with the fight against Zoom still not losing its appeal, even after the path to Earth-Two has seemingly been shut.
The Flash returned strong after its month off, with the introduction of a cool new speedster villain, and more big developments with the identity of Zoom.