I swear, ‘The Flash’ isn’t even trying to make sense anymore. The big plot twist in this week’s episode is such a blatant BS ret-con that it’s practically an insult to viewers… No, scratch that “practically.” It must be a direct and deliberate “F.U.” from the show’s writers to the viewing audience.
The episode opens with not one, but two flashbacks. The first is just a quick reiteration of young Barry witnessing his mother’s death 15 years ago. That’s then juxtaposed with a similar scene on Earth-2, the exact time unclear and only described as “Many Years Ago.” A young boy witnesses his abusive father (a war vet wearing a familiar winged metal helmet) murder his mother, and is then shipped off to an orphanage. The boy’s name is Hunter Zolomon. That’s a name we’ve heard before.
Back in the here and now, Barry is testing a new tachyon enhancer device that looks like a big metal ring and attaches to the front of his uniform. The device super-charges Barry’s Speed Force and allows him to run at least four times faster than ever before. As he’s running, we see him disappear in a blink briefly and then reappear a moment later. (Although airing several weeks late, this must be the corresponding tie-in to last month’s ‘Supergirl’ crossover – though it’s very strange that Barry never mentions anything about traveling to another Earth when he gets back to S.T.A.R. Labs.) Feeling cocky and convinced that he’s now as fast as Zoom, Barry is eager to reopen a dimensional breach and return to Earth-2. Dr. Wells, however, refuses to help him do that. He’d prefer that Zoom stay trapped a universe away, but Barry just can’t turn his back on Earth-2.
(Already, here’s a problem. Assuming that this is the ‘Supergirl’ crossover point, Barry already knows that he can travel between universes all on his own, and doesn’t need Wells or anybody else to open a portal for him. He just has to figure out how to control that power.)
If Wells won’t help him, Barry gets it in his head that Cisco might be able to reopen a breach using his “vibe” powers. Cisco’s Earth-2 doppelganger, Reverb, had a bunch of powers that Cisco hasn’t explored yet. Cisco agrees to try, but fails at his first attempt because he has no confidence in himself.
Dr. Wells pays Joe a visit and asks him to talk Barry out of this stupid plan of his. Joe shrugs and says that once Barry sets his mind on something, there’s no stopping him. Eventually, Wells comes around and tweaks Cisco’s Vibe glasses to help him with this breach problem. Barry urges Cisco to try again at the point of a known breach, in an abandoned hospital. Cisco gets further this time and cracks the breach open, but freaks out and immediately closes it. Good thing, too. Over on Earth-2, Zoom sensed the breach opening and was poised to jump through as soon as it got big enough.
Cisco worries that he’s “going Anakin” and will succumb to the Dark Side just like his doppelganger Reverb did. Barry assures him that he’s nothing like Reverb, because he has friends who care about him and have his back.
Wells makes a smaller version of the tachyon device that can be hidden under the Flash logo on Barry’s uniform. When Caitlin mentions that Jay Garrick’s Earth-1 doppelganger didn’t have meta powers and was named Hunter Zolomon, Wells immediately recognizes the name. Hunter Zolomon was an infamous serial killer on Earth-2 who committed 23 murders before being shipped off to a loony bin.
In a flashback, we see that Zolomon was being treated with electroshock therapy at the time Wells conducted his reactor experiment. Although the Earth-2 S.T.A.R. Labs never exploded, Wells nonetheless accidentally released dark matter into the ground, which turned a bunch of people into meta-humans – including Hunter Zolomon. (Because there was no obvious meltdown, Wells kept it a secret that he was responsible for creating the meta-humans.)
But wait, if Wells knows all this, shouldn’t he have known who Zoom was all along? At the very least, how did nobody recognize that “Jay Garrick,” who ran around Earth-2 as The Flash, was a very famous serial killer? Oy, my head hurts…
Anyway, Barry convinces Cisco to open the breach again, this time all the way. Immediately, Zoom jumps through and arrives in Earth-1. I guess Barry expected this, because he leads Zoom on a chase through the city that ends back at S.T.A.R. Labs, where Barry distracts Zoom with cardboard cutouts of his parents, then traps him with the boot-clamp device that Patty used on him back in Episode 2.09.
Caught and unmasked, Zoom acknowledges that, yes, he’s the same Jay Garrick who befriended all of them and romanced Caitlin, not a doppelganger. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing the whole time. Whaaaaaat?! No, that can’t be right. We saw Zoom murder that Jay Garrick on camera!
The boot-clamp thingie proves totally ineffectual when Zoom simply phases right through it and runs away. Oh shit, Barry screwed up again.
Later, Barry and Joe return home to find their house trashed and message from Zoom scrawled on the wall that he has kidnapped Wally and will only exchange him for Barry’s speed. Bummer.
As confirmation of this, we see that Zoom has locked up Wally in the cage next to the man in the metal mask… Hold on, isn’t that on Earth-2? How did Zoom get back there with a prisoner? Did Team Flash seriously leave the breach open and unguarded???
In a moment of staggering idiocy, Barry agrees to give up his speed to Zoom in order to save Wally – failing to recognize that as soon as Zoom has the speed and is totally unchallenged, he’s just going to murder all of them (including Wally) anyway, along with everybody else in two entire universes. WTF are you thinking, Barry?
Barry has Cisco vibe on Jay’s metal helmet and communicate the offer. Jay meets them at S.T.A.R. labs and, as promised, releases Wally. You might think that Barry must have set up a trap for Jay as soon as Wally is clear, but no. He runs on the treadmill and allows Wells to collect his Speed Force with the device he used previously to steal some of Barry’s speed.
As Barry is doing that, Jay goes all Talking Killer and boasts about how the Jay Garrick they saw him murder was a younger version of himself, a “time remnant,” from earlier in the timeline, whom he convinced to sacrifice himself to enact this brilliant plan. He also says that he took up the mantle of The Flash in order to give the people of Earth-2 false hope that he could rip away from them. When asked who the man in the metal mask is, all he will respond is, “You wouldn’t believe it if I told you.”
Barry finishes depleting his Speed Force and is left powerless and human again. Jay/Zoom immediately grabs the syringe and shoots up with it. Now super ‘roided up, he picks up Barry and strangles him. When Caitlin appeals to whatever may be left of his humanity, Jay drops Barry, grabs her instead, and runs off with her.
To be blunt about it, this episode is a bunch of horseshit. It flatly contradicts everything we knew about friendly Jay Garrick, and I don’t buy the story that this was all a diabolical plan to deceive our heroes. Because if it was, it was a damned stupid diabolical plan. I simply do not believe that this is what the writers intended all along when they introduced the Jay Garrick character.
On top of that, the nonsensical time travel stuff in this show just keeps getting worse and worse. If Garrick killed a younger version of himself from earlier in the timeline, the old Garrick/Zoom should have immediately disintegrated and disappeared like Eobard Thawne did when his ancestor Eddie killed himself and ended the family line.
I haven’t paid attention to the names of the writers on each episode. Has the show undergone a major turnover in the writing staff recently? Are the current writers actively trying to undermine their predecessors’ work? More importantly, do they not have any respect for the audience’s intelligence at all?
The most frustrating part of this episode is that the dramatic business is actually pretty good and the cast commits to it. If I didn’t still like the characters and the premise, I’m not sure I’d stick with it after an episode like this.