How does one recap the plot of an hour of television that makes no sense on any level? That’s the challenge I face in describing the Season 2 finale of ‘The Flash’.
This episode isn’t just confusing. It actively scorns any attempt to find logic or coherence in it. It dares you to pretend to understand what’s happening, and then laughs in your face for trying. The best I can do here is list out the plot points as they happen. Finding meaning in them…? Yeah, good luck with that.
Barry’s dad is dead. Zoom fisted him through the chest, which sounds like an unpleasant way to go. As his body drops to the floor, Zoom taunts Barry, “I told you family was a weakness.” Then he plays Emperor Palpatine and tries to lure Barry to the Dark Side by encouraging him to give in to his anger.
Enraged, Barry chases Zoom through the city. At a certain point, they get separated and a second Zoom pops in from out of nowhere to run next to the first one, which indicates that he has time traveled.
Barry catches up with one of the Zooms. They fight. Zoom dares Barry to kill him, but Barry holds back. Suddenly, the second Zoom runs in and kills the first one (or vice versa, I have no idea). One of them was another time remnant, who willingly died just to mess with Barry.
As Barry fills his friends in on what happened, he explains that the time remnant was created when Zoom went back in time just a few minutes to meet up with himself, thus having two together. This is inherently an unsolvable paradox. If one of the two Zooms doesn’t travel back in time again, the other won’t exist. By the rules of time travel established on this show (such as they are), when Zoom kills his time remnant, he should immediately vanish as well. That he doesn’t just shows that the writers pay far less attention to this stuff than the viewers do.
Everyone attends the funeral for Barry’s dad. It’s daytime and the sun is shining, yet it’s also raining, because all funerals in movies and TV shows are required to take place in the rain. Barry is too distraught to give the eulogy so Joe has to do it. In contrast to the previous episode, Barry no longer feels invincible. He swears to get revenge on Zoom.
Zoom appears again. He challenges Barry to a race to prove once and for all which of them is the fastest man alive. (What’s the mystery here? Zoom has consistently outrun Barry every single time they’ve ever quarreled.) If Barry doesn’t race, Zoom says he’ll kill all of his other friends one-by-one. He gives Barry a deadline to make up his mind.
Dr. Wells tells Barry that Zoom has stolen an experimental device called a Magnetar from Mercury Labs. The Magnetar acts like a pulsar, and if powered up enough could destroy not just the Earth, but all other Earths in the entire multiverse as well. Cisco describes this as, “One pulse to destroy them all.” Why would Mercury Labs build a doomsday device like this? For kicks, apparently. Now that Zoom has it, Wells reasons that he plans to siphon Barry’s speed force during their race and use it to power the Magnetar.
As such, it seems obvious that following through with racing Zoom would be absolutely the worst thing Barry could possibly do. Naturally, he’s determined to do it anyway. He thinks that all he has to do is beat Zoom and everything will be OK. This officially makes Barry the dumbest human being who has ever lived, in this or any other universe. The faster he runs trying to beat Zoom, the more he’ll power up the doomsday weapon. Also, even if he was right, he has never, not even once, run faster than Zoom. What’s his plan for “winning” this race? He doesn’t have one. He just assumes that he’ll be able to do it when the time comes.
Fortunately, Barry’s friends recognize that he’s being a dumbass of epic proportions. Joe and Wells tranq Barry. He wakes up locked in a cell in the Pipeline, with all of his friends standing outside his door to stage an intervention. All of them, even Iris, have agreed that he needs to sit this one out.
Wells has his own plan to stop Zoom. Cisco is able to track his current location. Caitlin will go in and apologize to Zoom for running away, and tell him that she loves him. When he’s distracted, Joe will shoot Zoom with the boot-clamp weapon and Wells will disarm the Magnetar. Then Cisco will open a breach back to Earth-2 and they’ll knock him back through it. Easy, right?
Why has everyone forgotten that Zoom can open portals to and from Earth-2 at will now? How is this going to stop him from returning? Even if they did trap him there, are they OK with letting him destroy Earth-2?
Jesse tells her father that as soon as this Zoom situation is resolved she’d like to return home to Earth-2. Yes, the same Earth-2 that they just talked about sending Zoom back to. WTF? Seriously, writers, how have you already forgotten what you just made the characters say 30 seconds ago?!
As planned, Caitlin goes to Jay. She tells him that she’s ready to accept who she really is. Jay says that’s nice but it’s too late so he’s going to kill her anyway. When he reaches toward her, he discovers that Caitlin is just a hologram. Sneaky girl.
Joe shoots the boot. It locks Jay in place. (Haven’t we already established that he can phase right through it?) Joe runs up to tranq him. Cisco opens the breach and Wells shoots Zoom to knock him through it, but Zoom grabs Joe and pulls him through as well. The breach closes behind them.
Cisco has no luck vibing to find out where Joe is. Wells is also unable to disarm the Magnetar. Wally is pissed about losing his father, but Iris tells him that Joe knew the risks and would want them to seal all the breaches.
Over on Earth-2, Joe is locked in a cage in Zoom’s lair. He asks what the deal is with the man in the iron mask. For the hell of it, Zoom explains that the man is a speedster he encountered while traveling through different universes. After capturing him, Zoom (a.k.a. Hunter Zolomon) adopted his name. The man in the mask is the real Jay Garrick.
Furious that nobody’s going to do anything to save his dad, Wally lets Barry out of confinement. Barry argues with the team that he still needs to go through with the race. He somehow convinces them, because if he didn’t then the episode wouldn’t have a climax.
Cisco helps Barry vibe a message to Zoom accepting the challenge. When he arrives (see, he had no problem coming back), Zoom admits that his plan is to destroy the multiverse. However, he claims that Earth-1 is at the very center of the multiverse and will be spared. He will leave just the one Earth to rule as his kingdom.
Zoom sets the rules of the race. The Magnetar is a giant metallic ring, and the two of them need to run around it 500 times to power it up. If Barry can stop Zoom before they get to 500 laps, he wins. However, if he stops early before 500 laps without beating Zoom, he forfeits and Zoom will kill everyone he loves starting with Joe. Sounds fair? Good.
So they race around and around in circles. Suddenly, a second Barry – a time remnant – appears and joins the race. (Won’t this just power up the Magnetar faster? Yup, that seems to be what happens, geniuses.) One Barry exits to save Joe. The Magnetar hits peak power and shoots a pulse up into the air, which creates a breach above the city. The other Barry turns around and runs circles in a counter direction to (as Wells explains) create a second pulse out of phase with the first one. The two pulses will cancel each other out and save the multiverse, but doing it is a suicide mission for Time Remnant Barry. He runs so fast that he disintegrates and vanishes.
The remaining Flash fights Zoom for a few minutes. Zoom gets the better of him, but Barry was just biding his time anyway, waiting for a pair of Time Wraiths to appear, attack Zoom, and drag him away off into the Speed Force or something.
Barry tries to explain what happened. He says he knew that creating a time remnant would draw the attention of the Time Wraiths. He lured them to follow him, figuring that as soon as they saw Zoom they’d be more pissed with him than they are with Barry. Luckily for him, that turned out to be the case. How convenient.
Barry releases the man in the iron mask from his cell on Earth-2, and with Wells’ help gets the mask off. The man is revealed to be… Barry’s dad, Henry! Rather, he’s an alternate universe doppelganger of Barry’s dad from Earth-3. (Barry recalls Henry mentioning that his mother’s maiden name was Garrick.)
The real Jay Garrick thanks everyone for rescuing him. Without the mask to disrupt his powers, he has his speed back. He squeezes into his Flash uniform (it’s not John Wesley Shipp’s old uniform from the 1990s ‘Flash’ TV show, but it’s a nice bit of fan service all the same) and also claims Zoom’s winged helmet as his own for spite. The image of him putting it on looks like the classic comic book depiction of the Jay Garrick Flash, which I suppose is the TV show’s way of redeeming the character.
Wells decides that he wants to go back to Earth-2 with Jesse after all. They say some emotional goodbyes.
Iris tells Barry that she wants to be with him, but he’s too sad over his dad to be in a relationship right now. Iris says that she’ll wait for him until he’s ready. They kiss.
Exclaiming, “I have to do this,” Barry runs off and travels back through time again to the moment of his mother’s death. This time, he beats the hell out of the Reverse Flash and saves his mom. He looks up and sees himself in the next room (from that time earlier this season when he stopped himself from saving his mother). With a look of understanding, the other Barry vanishes from existence. Barry tells his mother, “You’re safe now.”
Writing all this out is even more exhausting than watching the episode. The finale is filled with so many plot holes and contradictions, it makes my blood boil. Is it as bad as that disastrous episode where Zoom was revealed to be Jay Garrick? Perhaps not, but it’s not far removed from it. The only saving grace to this one is that the emotional beats work better here. If you can focus on those and not try to make sense of the plot at all, it’s almost enjoyable on that level.
I’m not even going to try to unpack the plot twist in the final scene. What that will mean for the show next season is something I can’t fathom. I doubt the writers have any ideas about it yet either. They’re clearly making this stuff up as they go along, changing all the rules episode to episode.
This season was a real mess. The show needs to get back on track quickly next year. When the episode where the main character literally jumps the shark is the best of the season, something’s got to change.