‘The Flash’ 2.18 Recap: “You Can’t Lock Up the Darkness”

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.

Episode Verdict

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.


  1. Steve

    “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.” <– Right on the nose. I liked the story behind Jay/Hunter (despite making sense), but ultimately felt the only way to enjoy last night's episode was to be high. I was hooked when Cisco opened the portal. I was ecstatic when Zoom was "booted." Then, Barry starts to monologue and the entire episode undid everything this season has been building up. Quite possibly one of the worst episodes yet.

  2. Guy

    There was a scene on Arrow last season where Roy/Arsenal got zapped by Ray/The Atom and was knocked unconscious on the ground with emphasis. Green Arrow and The Atom then talked things out and decided peacefully to go their separate ways…literally. They both left the scene. Poor Roy was passed out on the ground, not even shown again after being dramatically knocked out, and the other two went on their way feeling happy. Fans noticed, mocked this incessantly and, a few days later, one of the producers apologized for the oversight while admitting no one involved with getting the episode to air even noticed.

    That anecdote pretty much sums up the logic and quality contol of all shows in this shared universe at this point. Whereas the abandonment of Arsenal was an unintentionally amusing, minor moment from a single episode, it’s becoming obvious that the same carelessness seeps its way into the larger narratives. Nothing about their handling of Zoom has held up to close examination since Cisco vibed Jay’s helmet and saw Zoom. Team Flash immediately jumped to the assumption that Jay was Zoom and that they’d been duped with a fox in the hen house all along. That leap of logic on the part of the characters didn’t make much sense. I thought Team Flash locking onto that one single interpretation of the vibe and tricking themselves that way was poor writing to allow the characters to be surprised by a later twist, but now I’m being told that was the actual case? What!?

    In addition to the questions Josh asks here, my biggie is: Exactly when were we seeing Zoom-as-Jay with Team Flash vs. when was it Timeline Remnant-as-Jay? The assumption would be that we were seeing the remnant the whole time as Jay, but that wouldn’t make any sense paired with Caitlin swaying Zoom at the end. Ugh…

    The bottom just fell out from under this season, if not the whole series. Unless there’s an insanely detailed “Here’s what really happened…” episode coming up that plugs all the holes, how could I trust this creative team again?

    • Josh Zyber

      Desperately trying to force an explanation to fit the events that we’ve seen, the best I can determine is that Zoom went back in time to find the younger version of himself (the “time remnant”), which he then brought forward to his own time and had dress up as The Flash in order to give the populace false hope. (Early this season, we saw a scene of Garrick fighting Zoom until he was sucked up into the singularity and deposited on Earth-1.) Therefore, all of the interactions Garrick had with Team Flash on Earth-1 were the younger Zolomon, who eventually sacrificed himself.

      As for why Caitlin was able to sway Zoom at the end… assuming that young Zolomon genuinely developed feelings for Caitlin, older Zolomon would still have those memories and residual feelings.

      Now, there’s also the matter of the Earth-1 Hunter Zolomon that Jay showed Caitlin in the park, who allegedly has no meta powers. Was that really his Earth-1 doppelganger, or was that Zoom pretending to be E-1 Hunter Zolomon to throw Caitlin off? I have no idea. I doubt the writers do either. They’re clearly making this shit up by the seat of their pants.

  3. I was frustrated as well. While Barry was running around with Zoom in big room, Wells, Cisco and Caitlin where in the secret room aiming special guns at the door. Why not have Wells and Cisco be hidin in the room, so then when Zoom is booted, they could shoot him if he tried anything. Just dumb on Barry’s part to think Z couldn’t phase through those boots. Now the question remains, how does Barry get his powers back?

    • Wedjat Wakes

      And aiming their guns at the door for what purpose? Are we to believe they would be able to hit Zoom while he and Barry were going ‘faster than ever before’ if they came near the door? I mean, do Wells and Cisco have Captain Cold and Heatwave’s level reflexes to be able to pull the trigger and hit speedsters?

      There was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the ‘Supergirl’ episode when Barry asked how long he’d been gone when he popped back into STAR Labs. Which literally no one acknowledged and Barry felt no need to geek out to his friends about this cool new universe. (Well, maybe it wasn’t that cool.)

      Question: Who exactly pays the utility bills and the property taxes on STAR Labs nowadays anyway? It’s a huge stadium size building that pull massive amounts of energy to power and heat/cool. Has 2 employees that get their income from what now. Now, Harrison Wells of Earth-1 is gone. Did he set up some fund that will keep paying the bills for perpetuity? That’s pretty benevolent financial planning for a super villain.

  4. Jack Ryder

    This is Jack Ryder here to let you know that you are WRONG! There is no contradiction between Jay Garrick’s usual persona and what the show did because Hunter is not Jay, in fact we could find out that Jay is under the mask (even though it’s most likely Wally). However Jay Garrick does not exist so there’s no issue there. Think about this, the second Zoom went back in time and approached himself…the future he came from no longer exists. The timeline has been changed, this way Zoom can exist in that present from a different future. Something tells me they’re setting up for Darkseid to come in as the next big bad villain.


      • Steve C

        The Creeper.

        I was thinking Barry wasn’t that stupid, the guys had a plan and Zoom shot up with Velocity 9, but if the next episode is about being depowered then yeah, the writing was forced and contrived.
        Not so worried about the time remnant, that makes sense under the premise (a leftover from a timeline that is erased). The Earth-3 travelling with Supergirl was a BIG hole though, that should have at least had a mention.

        • nagara

          This episode was weak sauce. They would have been better off saying Jay was from earth 3,4, or 5. That at least would have made more sense. I would rather have seen a while season about Grodd out King Shark than this Zoom business.

          BTW why wouldn’t you lock Zoom up in the pipeline as soon as he was incapacitated?

  5. Mouse

    Quite frankly, I’m getting fed up with all these holes that are never explained, as well.

    As for the doppleganger death inconsistency, I assume the Zolomon that was sacrificed was Zolomon from Earth 1, not Earth 2. We have yet to see him I thought?

    I gather that according to all their time travel laws, if you kill your younger self in your current multiverse, then you die – as we saw with Thawne. But since we’ve seen dopplegangers from other multiverse’s die with no reprocussions to the Earth 1 characters, I think that’s what their going for.

    • Josh Zyber

      You’re forgetting that the show brought back Thawne with a nonsense explanation that it was a younger version of the one they defeated from earlier in his own timeline. Which makes no sense at all since they supposedly eradicated him from ever existing in that timeline.

  6. Zoom

    Lemme get this straight
    You’re compacting about pseudo science bullshit in a TV show based on a COMIC BOOK. And not any comic, but one whose main character runs at extraordinary speeds not possible in our universe.
    Look your points about plot holes are all fair but like, seriously dude, wtf did you expect?

    • Josh Zyber

      The problem is that the show’s pseudoscience bullshit isn’t even consistent with itself. Suspension of disbelief only stretches so far.

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