All posts by Jade4813

The Flash Season 3 Premiere: 5 Quotes That Need Payoff This Season

the flash season 3 premiere flashpoint grant gustin candice patton barry allen iris west cw
The CW

The Flash season 3 premiere ended with a giant question mark, as we are left to guess what has changed in the wake of Barry turning back time. While Flashpoint opens up all sorts of wild new plot opportunities for the show to explore, I hope that they take a few moments to remember to give a proper payoff to these plot threads that they previously set up.

“Suit or no suit that guy is a hero.” (Iris West)

“You don’t need a suit to be a hero” is a theme that has been touched upon in The Flash but not really explored as much as I’d like. The fact is that at the moment, there are more heroes in the show who do NOT wear suits (at least at present) than ones that do. Iris, as a reporter shining light on crime and corruption in the city, is heroic. Though we don’t see it nearly often enough, Joe’s work as a detective is heroic. Wells, Cisco and Caitlin are heroic when they do what is necessary to help the Flash.

Of course, the show has touched upon this theme on occasion. However, it is something that I think they would do well to highlight more significantly in the future. I always enjoy when any Superman series focuses on Clark’s ability to make a change as Clark Kent, a reporter for the Daily Planet. That you don’t need a cape – or a leather suit – to be a hero is a vital lesson in any superhero story.

Barry has a legion of supporting characters who aren’t superheroes (or aren’t superheroes yet). I would love to see an episode where the Flash is running around doing his thing, but the actual focus is on the ways the non-powered people in his life are also being true — if unsung — heroes. While we’ve had snippets, I would like the occasional spotlight.

“[H]e can do no wrong. And yet, they never fail to remind me that I can do no right.” (Cisco Ramon)

Cisco is one of the most interesting characters in the show to me, in the way he broke out of a rather bland and forgettable role as comic relief early on to become one of the best parts of the series.

At this point in the show, it’s hard to argue that Cisco doesn’t deserve a little love. He’s been a strong, steadfast friend to Barry and the rest of the team. He injects a little much-needed humor into every situation. And he has occasionally provided the pragmatic viewpoint that helps keep the team grounded. He has been, in his unwavering support and inventiveness, a true hero, but he likely doesn’t think of himself as one.

In the last season, Cisco has started to embrace his powers, which have even helped the team a time or two. He has also begun to mend the rift with his brother, extending an olive branch that I personally would prefer to use to beat some sense into Dante. And, of course, as part of Flash’s support system, he’s usually out of the spotlight.

For all the good he’s done, I think Cisco still thinks of himself as the less-favored brother. Moreover, I suspect he doesn’t see himself as a hero. This year, I would love to see him realize that he is a hero, even if he isn’t the one in the spotlight. Even if Cisco didn’t have his powers, his heart, along with his desire and ability to do whatever he can to help, make him a hero – and certainly make him the kind of son of whom any parent should be proud.

Also, get that man a girlfriend. Let’s be honest: he’s a hell of a catch.

“If Dr. Wells is who you say he is, then everything I’ve done since I’ve set foot in S.T.A.R. Labs has been a lie.” (Caitlin Snow)

It always annoyed me that Caitlin didn’t get a payoff to this line in the first season. After everything that happened in the last two years, it is even more important that the sentiment behind this line be addressed.

Everyone close to the Flash has had trials and tribulations in the past two years, and certainly Caitlin has faced her fair share. From the beginning, it was established that the life she was living was not the life she would have chosen, once upon a time. Losing Ronnie and facing Jay’s betrayal had to be bitter blows.

She has been more than one villain’s pawn, and her trust in the wrong person cost her a promising career and the man she loved. The show tried to sweep the latter under the rug last season, in her inexplicable and poorly developed romance with Jay. It’s time for the show to face these things head-on, and for them to give Caitlin’s character the respect of a proper payoff (and perhaps even character growth) for the things she’s been put through.

“[E]verything that’s happened to me the past few days is the best story I can never write.” (Linda Park)

For two years, fans have been clamoring for the show to give more highlight to Iris’s role as a reporter. As I’ve explored in other articles, she can play a key role in a story like The Flash, and as a reporter, she’s a hero in her own right.

But in a superhero story like this, being a reporter is a double-edged sword. True, her stories can help expose crime and corruption, every city’s more everyday (but in their own way, no less dangerous) villains. She can also continue to give the city hope in heroes like the Flash, giving them someone to look up to, to trust, to admire. It was, after all, what got her into reporting in the first place.

That said, she is no longer a reporter on the sideline, an outsider looking in. She not only knows the Flash’s identity, but she loves him. She knows his secrets, and she wants to protect him. Sometimes that will be at odds with the stories she needs to tell.

This push-and-pull was touched upon in the second season, when Scott wanted her to write a negative article about the Flash. She refused to do it then, but this will not be the last time she will be faced with such a task. She will also likely face moments in the future when she is privy to information that the people would feel they have a right – or even need – to know, but exposing it could put the man she loves at risk.

Seeing her struggle with her own dual identity, as the woman in love with Barry (and thus the Flash) and as a reporter, would be fascinating to watch. After all, heroes are defined by the way they respond to adversity, and Iris is a hero in her own right. Just as Barry has to balance his private life with his life as the Flash, so too does Iris have to balance her need to reveal the truth with protecting the man she loves.

“If Zoom finds out who you care for, who you love, who you live for, he’ll take them from you.” (Harry)

Talk about a line that had no payoff! Harrison Wells gave Barry this rather dire prediction last year, but it never came to pass, outside of a dream sequence. True, Zoom ended up using Wally to steal the Flash’s speed, and he did kidnap Caitlin. However, his motivations for kidnapping Caitlin were unequivocally to suit his own needs, his own desire for her. And was Wally the best way to pay off this line? I don’t think so, given that Barry and Wally were not terribly close at the time this happened.

Every superhero story has dealt with the question of how heroes keep the people they love safe. Everyone in Barry’s life has been endangered at one point or another because of their closeness to the speedster. However, there is certainly more depth to this plot than has been explored in the past. Just as I would like to see an episode focused on the team’s heroism, I would also love to see a sustained threat against the people closest to the Flash. I would love to see them have to acknowledge that what they are doing puts them in personal danger over the course of several episodes if not a decent chunk of a season, and for them to continue to choose to keep doing it.

And, of course, if one is looking for the person Barry loves and lives for, that person is Iris West, without question. As “Flashpoint” demonstrated, they always find their way back to each other. Of course, we have seen her ability to defend herself, but the threat of a villain that even Barry may not be able to stop would always be looming overhead. In the comics, characters like the Reverse Flash have tried to target Iris because of her relationship with Barry. Loving her may have helped him become the Flash, but the fear of losing her would also be his greatest weakness. Harry’s line offers a promise and a threat that provides the potential for such great drama, and I would love to see more payoff for it in the future.

“Flashpoint” offered a solid premiere that set The Flash on a very promising path in season 3, particularly after the comparative drudgery of season 2. If nothing else, it brought back the lighthearted, happy Barry that we so dearly missed last year. It is clear that they have definite ideas for where they want to take this season, but as excited as I am to see what they have in store for the future, I hope they haven’t completely forgotten these threads from the past.

If they can give these moments their proper payoff while moving forward into the bright new post-Flashpoint world, I think the show will be better than ever.

The Flash Season 2: Flashpoint Paradox

the flash season 2 invincible barry allen grant gustin cw flashpoint
CW

The last couple of minutes of The Flash season 2 finale turned everything on its head and raised a number of questions about what the third season will bring. Or even where all of the characters will be when it begins.

Even Grant Gustin has admitted he doesn’t have the answers, but there are some things we can assume – or at least hope to see!

Barry Allen

Of course, the whole point of the Flashpoint Paradox is that Barry finally gets what he thinks he’s always wanted, but it doesn’t turn out quite as he hoped. In fact, it impacts every character within the integrated universe and has such negative repercussions that Flash realizes he has to put the world back to the way it was for the greater good.

Certainly, I think we can expect that overarching plot next season – at least for the duration of Flashpoint. (I anticipate the universe will return to the one we’ve known in the epic crossover event in the winter.) But what does that mean for Barry?

As in the source story, I anticipate he will not have his abilities – though destined to become the Flash, Harribard confessed he had moved the timeline up to suit his purpose. Since Barry’s mother wasn’t murdered by the Reverse Flash and his father didn’t go to jail for a crime he didn’t commit, the Wests never would have taken him in. He may still be a CSI, but if he and Iris remain friends, their relationship will still be vastly different than it has been.

Of course, he likely won’t be friends with the crew at STAR Labs either, assuming that Cisco, Caitlin, and Harrison still work there. With no Harribard coming back to take the real Wells’ place, the original Harrison may be alive, giving Tom Cavanagh a chance to play the character we only saw for a few minutes in the first season.

It is entirely possible none of these people will know Barry – even Iris could be a virtual stranger to him if they grew apart after their school days. This would certainly give Barry the sense of isolation and despair he has in the new world in Flashpoint.

Iris West

Although Iris is married with children in the original Flashpoint material, I doubt they will go this direction in season 3. Iris’s relationship with Eddie would make the story somewhat redundant and caused quite a bit of hate towards the character (and actress) that I would hope they would avoid bringing on a second time.

That said, Iris doesn’t have to be married to someone else to make Barry miserable; she just needs to not be in love with him. He had been closer than ever to being in a relationship with the woman he’s always loved, only to have Flashpoint take that away from him. The memories of their kiss and confessed feelings will stay with him, haunting him in this new reality.

Since Iris is a reporter and the CW doesn’t have the authority to use characters from the Superman mythos, Iris will take on the role that Lois Lane had in the story and act as intrepid reporter. The nature of her investigation would obviously have to differ, but it would be an amazing way to integrate her into the story.

Cisco Ramon

Cisco has spent the last season developing abilities he may not have any longer. It is likely Barry will want to track him down to get his help trying to return the world to the way it should be. How his storyline may play out otherwise is a giant question mark.

However, if Flashpoint is to go on for several months, the show will need to have some bright moments through the darkness. Not only is Cisco likely to bring some undoubtedly needed levity to the show, but they could also give him happiness in romance, which he doesn’t have in this world. Giving him love – or even a family – would make the return to our world bittersweet. While we should all want the world to return to the one we know, the act of doing so will have more meaningful emotional impact if there are some things we will regret leaving behind.

Plus, Cisco needs a little love.

Caitlin Snow

It’s clear at this point that the show likes the idea of occasionally playing with Killer Frost, but they don’t seem to want to commit to that storyline on our Earth. Of course, since it’s the primary story people are interested to see, drawing it out helps keep up the interest.

However, Flashpoint would give them yet another ability to have their cake and eat it, too. Caitlin could be Killer Frost in this new world – possibly even with Ronnie as Deathstorm at her side – without committing to a story that would impact her in our world.

If they do go down this path, one hopes they would refrain from killing Ronnie off again. Whether he’s a hero or a villain, it would be nice to have at least one reality where he doesn’t die.

Harrison Wells

Harrison could be one of the more interesting characters in Flashpoint. Not only is there the potential for the original Harrison Wells to make an appearance, but Harry from season 2 was on Earth 2 when Flashpoint happened. It would make sense for the reality shift to have impacted only our Earth and not any parallel universes.

This means that Harry and Jesse could retain all of their memories from season 2. More than that, Jesse may have the speed she may have been given but didn’t have a chance to discover over these last few episodes.

With Barry being out of commission as the Flash, Harry and Jesse could return from Earth 2 in order to help set things right, as well as to allow Jesse to stand by his side as a hero.

The Flash Season 2 Finale Recap: Control-Alt… Reboot

the flash season 2 finale race of his life barry allen grant gustin cw
CW

The Flash season 2 finale had a number of things people were waiting eagerly for. The reveal of the Man in the Iron Mask. The final face-off against Zoom. A Westallen kiss. And then, in true Flash style, they took all those wrapped up storylines and threw a curve ball to undo everything and cause all fan’s heads to explode all summer long.

Bye, Zoom

Admittedly the most necessary – if least interesting – part of this episode had to do with the season’s Big Bad himself: Zoom. Zoom’s story hasn’t made a lot of sense this season, and it wasn’t much clarified in this episode.

Essentially, he wants to race against Barry to siphon off their energy to power a device that’s called a Magnatar – that in no way makes me feel like a Transformers villain. Once it’s powered up, it’ll send out a pulse that will destroy every other Earth. It appears he doesn’t want to take the chance that anyone from any other Earth will ever be faster than he is.

Zoom’s always been petty.

Nobody else is down with the “Barry races Zoom and maybe destroys the multiverse” plan – even knowing Zoom plans to kill them all if Barry refuses or loses the race. They think Barry is currently too emotional (he is) and focused on revenge (he DEFINITELY is) and in this mindset, he may not be able to win (a definite concern). Wells and Joe team up to shoot him in the back with what looks like an elephant tranquilizer and lock him in a cell while they try Plan B.

Plan B consists of Caitlin distracting Jay by talking to him about the darkness in her while the others shoot him with a tranquilizer and shove him through the breach, sealing it for good thereafter. Things don’t go quite as planned. For one, although Jay falls for Cailtin’s act, he decides it’s too late and tries to kill her. Fortunately for her, she’s a hologram. The tranquilizer gun jams, so Joe has to race forward to stab him by hand, and when Harry shoots Zoom through the portal, he takes Joe along for the ride.

When Wally finds out that Joe is at Zoom’s mercy and that the team had preemptively agreed to seal the breaches for good regardless of the consequences, he decides he’s having none of this “Team Flash” nonsense and lets Barry out of the cell. Everyone is still concerned about his state of mind, but it’s hard to argue that they’re running out of time.

Race against Zoom he does, and they charge up the Magnatar, which supposedly can’t be turned off once it’s charged. However, in a twist, Barry has made a time remnant of his own for just this eventuality. While he faces off against Zoom, the remnant races around the Doomsday Machine to counteract its frequency. The action kills him, but it also saves the multiverse, so job well done!

However, all these remnants have gotten the time wraiths’ attention from wherever I presume they were vacationing in Bali, since Zoom’s been going through remnants like they’re tissues during a Barry/Nora scene. The wraiths come for Barry but realize Zoom’s a more attractive meal and drag him off in a storm of special effects that are a little reminiscent of The Mummy.

Who Is That Masked Man?

In a soliloquy, Jay confesses to Joe that the Man in the Iron Mask is Jay Garrick, a speedster from yet another Earth. He captured him to try to steal his speed but couldn’t, so he keeps him as a trophy since he got what he wanted from Barry. Of course, once Barry loses the race, he plans to put him in another cell like the world’s creepiest zoo.

Once Zoom is defeated, they manage to get the mask off and discover its – dun dun DUUUUN! – John Wesley Shipp, playing Earth 3 Jay Garrick. The penny finally drops for Barry that his dad’s throwaway line that “Garrick” is an old family name was actually important. He is a speedster but seems to have no relation to Barry or knowledge he’s E1 Henry Allen’s doppelganger. He does wear a classic Flash costume and decides to add Hunter’s helmet to the ensemble to make it a symbol of hope again.

Guys, seriously. When an item has become a totem for a serial killer, you can really just bury it and never mention it again.

Barry freaks out at seeing his dad’s double but holds his tongue while Harry and Jesse decide to go back to Earth 2 to try to find a way to get Jay back home to Earth 3. Jay takes them into the portal, but I’m sure it’s hardly the last we’ll see of them. Jesse’s friends can’t be THAT interesting.

The Path of Guilt

While fans had hoped to see a happier Barry in Earth 2, we see him at his darkest hour in this episode. He asks Iris how he can ever find peace with losing his dad when he’d just found it over his mom. She points out that he has to find a way or it’ll tear him apart. Wise words, but guilt over a parent’s death is never easy to let go of, believe me.

After seeing his dad’s double, Barry confesses to Iris that seeing him should have made his loss easier but it really just makes him miss his father more. Iris hopes that maybe a future for the two of them will give him something to look forward to. Sadly, while that’s all he’s ever wanted, Barry is concerned that he’s too broken to give her that future at the moment.

Their love is too strong to be deterred for long, so Iris reassures him that she’ll wait for him for as long as he waited for her, if need be. He should go do whatever he needs to do because she’ll be waiting for him when he gets back. They confess their love for each other – they love each other and always will – and have a sweet, simple kiss.

However, if Westallen fans thought they might have a summer to relish this newfound relationship and their love for each other, the show wasn’t quite done with us yet. Looking through the window at Iris, Barry apologizes for what he has to do.

He races away, into the past, running back to the moment when his mother was murdered. This time, he stops Reverse Flash from murdering her. His past (Season 1) self evaporates, and Nora begs him not to hurt her but he reassures her he won’t. He’s saved her life – Flashpoint Paradox, anyone?

This is what everyone was expecting at the end of last season, and it’s certainly going to throw a monkey wrench into the next one. However, I have no doubt that the timeline will be returned to its current status.

Remember, when Barry tried to save her in Season 1, his future self stopped him – as if he knew that the consequences for saving her would be worse than letting her go. I’m sure that Barry was the Barry for Season 3, and I’m curious to know what they’ll do in the interim.

But once this gets put to rights, can we stop going back into the past to rewrite history every time these two lovebirds finally get on the same page and kiss?

The Flash Spoilers: Season 2 Finale Roundup

the flash season 2 finale the race of his life barry allen zoom teddy sears grant gustin cw
CW

We have only one more episode of The Flash season 2 left to the season, so it seems a good time to round up spoilers, break out some speculation, and try to anticipate not only where this show is headed for the next episode but where it will leave all of its fans over the interminable summer hiatus.

Here come the Flash spoilers!

What We Know – Villains Edition

In an era where everything gets spoiled practically the second it is created, The Flash has done a reasonably good job of keeping this one under wraps. I’d even go so far as to say they’ve done perhaps too good of a job, because the promo showing Zoom racing against Flash was far from heart-pounding. (A race to save the world? Really? I mean, I know he’s the fastest second-fastest one of the fastest men alive, but a foot race doesn’t make for must-see-TV action.)

Of course, whether as a race or more, there will be a showdown between Barry and Zoom. And while I expect that the door will be left open for Zoom to return in some capacity, it may well be that Teddy Sears’s stint on the show is done. He has another series, and there doesn’t seem to be much further they can go with Hunter Zolomon’s character. That said, Tony Todd, the voice of Zoom, has confirmed on Twitter that he will return.

This leaves an interesting question: Will Zoom be, like Batman, a mantle that can be passed from one person to another? Or is Zoom an entity that possesses people but can travel from person to person? (I still can’t forget Jay’s line about the darkness – or the way his eyes changed when he said it.)

Of course, that’s not the only thing we know. It has been spoiled that someone will betray the team, leaving Barry “shocked.” There are really only a few possible options, since neither Cisco, Joe, nor Iris would make any sense. Betrayals by any of the above not even remotely been foreshadowed. As relative newcomers to the series with stories that need to be explored before any betrayal arc would have much impact, Jesse and Wally similarly make no sense. After the betrayal of Harribard in Season 1, having Harry betray the team would be extremely redundant.

That really leaves Caitlin as the most likely to betray the team – particularly when one considers her recent arc.

Not only did she spend a good deal of time with Zoom, but the way she left was significant. He offered her a choice – to stay or leave and be in the same danger as her friends. The implication of her appearance in the next episode would seem that she chose to leave and take the chance. However, I noticed she didn’t tell the team about Zoom’s threat. Also, when Zoom came to the house to kidnap Henry, he didn’t say anything to the woman he had been holding hostage and threatening not long before. Is it possible she made a deal with Zoom in exchange for her freedom and safety? Or is it possible she does so next episode?

Given that they’ve established Jesse as her replacement in the lab without losing stride, I think there’s a good chance that Caitlin will become Killer Frost next season. If so, something needs to send her down that path and a betrayal would certainly be a first step.

What We Know – Heroes Edition

Of course, there’s the obvious: We will find out the identity of the Man in the Iron Mask. After all the speculation and theorizing, I think Earth 2 Henry is the most likely candidate. Of course, this doesn’t entirely make sense, but it wouldn’t be the first major plot hole in the Earth 2 Zoom story. (If Zoom decided to steal Barry’s speed once the breach opened, why had he kidnapped Jesse months before? This I expect will never be explained.)

At any rate, after Henry’s comment that Garrick is his mother’s maiden name, I think it is a near-certainty that the reveal will be not just that he’s under the mask but that he’s the real Jay Garrick.

While I’m sure he’ll be instrumental in the finale, he won’t be the only one to offer some key assistance. Carlos Valdez has spoiled that Vibe will be key in defeating Zoom. Whether this means that he will be the one to discover Zoom’s true plan or whether he’ll get a handle on the powers he momentarily displayed last week (at least enough to land a crucial blow) is for question. My bet would be the former, since they could get some more mileage up to building up the latter in developing his powers even further next season.

The finale won’t all be hero v. villain drama, of course. As leaked today in photos, Iris West and Barry Allen will share their (second) first kiss. Some fans are worried that this will be undone, given Grant Gustin’s cryptic comments at the CW Upfronts that the finale will put the time stream at risk. However, I think it highly unlikely that the show would undo something they’ve built up over the course of several episodes.

That said, if they want to stick to the same time period as Arrow, there will be a time jump between Seasons 2 and 3. I think it’s probable something will delay the Westallen relationship over the hiatus, so that the viewers don’t miss out on all those early-relationship moments. Whatever it is, I’m confident that they will not erase the kiss as they did in the first season. Everything indicates they’re building up Westallen to (finally) seriously move forward with that relationship next season.

Given Cisco’s vibe that Earth 2 is in danger, my current theory is that the finale will end with Barry trapped in Earth 2, having crossed over to help and closed the breach behind him to prevent any danger to that world from carrying over into his own. If Cisco and Barry are trapped together, this might explain why it would take several months for the two to find a way to open the breach – after all, Cisco works on a different frequency on Earth 2, and Harry wouldn’t be around this time to help create glasses to make up the difference.

So what do you think, Flash fans? What’s going to happen in the finale? Is Caitlin going to be the one to betray the team? What cliffhanger will they torture us with over the summer?

The Flash: The Importance of Iris West (and Westallen)

the flash season 2 the runaway dinosaur westallen barry allen iris west grant gustin candice patton cw
CW

As much as we sometimes complain about them, people love love stories. There’s a reason why romance is an interwoven plot point in movies, television shows, and books of all genres. From Star Wars to The Mummy, Bourne Identity to X-Men, love stories are so often woven through the threads of our narratives that we don’t even think about their prevalence anymore.

From the countless love stories that have existed from the time the very first stories were told, there are a relative few that are integral to the narrative. Few love stories stand out not just because they teach us something about the nature of love (as other stories have done) but they speak to who we are and teach us about ourselves. And, for those with a more romantic outlook (or even cynics who secretly want to believe), they show us what is possible in love.
If one were to list love stories so integral that the narratives themselves wouldn’t be the same – in fact, may not make sense, work, or be memorable – without them, the love story of Barry Allen and Iris West on The Flash has to make the cut. Iris West is such a key part of Barry Allen’s narrative that his story as the Flash wouldn’t be the same without her.

In the comics, and now indicated in the series, Iris is Barry’s lightning rod. As described by Geoff Johns in the comics, “When a speedster pushes themselves to their limits, the Speed Force draws them in. Without an emotional lightning rod to return to, a speedster can be lost forever. Without Iris, Barry Allen would have been lost to the Speed Force long ago.” Of course, Iris’s in the Flash narrative isn’t exclusive to Barry’s story. She’s also mother to the Tornado Twins, Don and Dawn. She’s Wally West’s aunt, and as Wally himself explains, Barry taught him how to be Kid Flash, but Iris taught him how to be Wally West. She is also Bart Allen’s grandmother. Each of these characters exist because of or were shaped by Iris West.

It’s also notable that Iris West was introduced in the comics in 1956. Cut from the same mold as Lois Lane, and, like Lois, very much a groundbreaking character of her time, Iris helped pave the way for the strong female heroines and superheroines in the comics today.

We have come a long way from the 1950s, but Iris West on The Flash is still groundbreaking. It is still groundbreaking for an African-American woman on television to be a female lead in a love story, particularly with a Caucasian man. It is even more rare for African-American women to be romantic leads in superhero love stories, when so many of the most beloved characters come from an era where interracial relationships were not seen as acceptable, even in fantasy fiction.

Little girls who look like Candice Patton have seen for decades that they grow up to be the best friends or, perhaps more often, canon fodder. Iris West as depicted on The Flash shows little girls today that they can dream of being any part of a story because every role in a story can belong to them. They can be the superhero, the love interest, the best friend, the loving daughter, the supportive sister, and so on.

I adored “The Runaway Dinosaur” for a number of reasons too numerous to expand upon in this article. Barry was allowed to put the sorrow of his past behind him to look into the future. As someone who has lost a parent and experiences my own guilt over it, the scenes of him confronting that guilt and getting absolution from the reflection of the parent he loved so much absolutely tore my heart out.

But one of my favorite things about this episode was how it recognized and celebrated the importance of Iris West, not just in the past canon but in the current television landscape. It reveled in a love story that can belong to only Barry Allen and Iris West, and which so defines the hero’s narrative that his story would be incomplete and far less meaningful without it.

It was one of The Flash’s most memorable and powerful hours, and I cannot wait to see the series move forward in this new direction. I also eagerly await the next time writer Zack Stentz and director Kevin Smith collaborate on an episode of my favorite television series. (Kevin Smith has been announced to return in season 3, at least!) If it’s anything like this one, it’ll be an hour not to be missed.

The Flash Recap: A Journey Home

the flash season 2 the runaway dinosaur barry allen nora allen grant gustin cw
CW

Kevin Smith, the director of this episode of The Flash, described this episode as a hero reborn. I think that’s an apt description. After a year of being far less chipper than he was in the first season, Barry is forced to come to terms with a few things and takes one more step on the path to being the hero he’s destined to be.

It Takes a Dream to Accept Reality

A good portion of this episode takes place within the Speed Force itself, which is where Barry was lost after disintegrating last episode. He wakes up in the home he shared with his parents and is confused to find both crime scene tape and Joe there. Joe explains that he’s not really the man Barry knows, but they thought it would be easier for Barry if he was in a place and with people he knew. He tries to explain about the speed force, which is a little hard for Barry to process. Realizing he’s talking to the Speed Force itself is a bit too much for Barry to process, and he’s not really ready to listen. He wants to get home to see his friends, but Joe tells him that he won’t get back until he catches the streak he sees running by.

He chases after it and ends up by the lake where he and Iris shared their first kiss. At first he’s happy to see her, until he realizes that she is no more real than Joe was. He’s angry that the Speed Force is keeping him trapped when he needs to get back to his friends and his city, but Speed-Force Iris explains that he was given a rare gift when he became the Flash and he gave it away.

Meanwhile, Cisco has realized Barry is lost in the Speed Force and tries to reach him. At first, Barry is tempted to try to return with him. However, when Speed-Force Iris tells him that leaving now would mean he never gets his powers back and he has to choose what he wants, Barry decides to stay. He chases the blur once again, this time to a graveyard with Henry.

This is where the Speed Force’s true purpose in talking to Barry this way becomes clear. Henry forces Barry to confront his mother’s grave. Speed-Force Henry explains that the loss of Nora is what made him the Flash but he hasn’t really accepted that yet. He asks if Barry is at peace with letting her go when he took his trip to the past, and Barry counters by asking how anyone can be at peace with deciding to let their mother die in a decision that their own life is more valuable?

Although Speed-Force Henry tries to explain that his mother wouldn’t have wanted him to die for her and that the lives of the people Flash has saved have value too, Barry still isn’t ready to hear it. He chases after the streak once again and this time, it leads him home to where Nora awaits him.

This was truly the most heart-wrenching part of the episode. Nora reads him a board book – the titular Runaway Dinosaur – about a mother who will always love her child, and he admits that he has never accepted the choice he made and probably never will. Their entire scene both made me tear up and gave Barry the message that he needed to hear. No matter how fast he is, he will never be able to do everything. Bad things will follow, no matter how hard he tries to outrun them. She tells him she’s proud of him, both as the speed force and as his mother, and he finally comes to terms with the decisions of the past and is ready to move forward. He reaches out, grabs the blur, and finds out that it’s himself in his Flash costume.

Back in the world, Cisco decides to try one more time to get through to Barry and they realize someone else can reach out to him if they’re touching Cisco. Iris asks to do it, and when she sees Barry in the Speed Force, she reaches out to him and asks him to come home to her. With one last look at his mother, Barry smiles, reaches out, and takes Iris’s hand so that she can bring him home.

Meanwhile, Back at Star Labs

While Barry was having a personal revelation in the Speed Force, the team at Star Labs was dealing with problems of their own. Jesse and Wally were knocked out by the particle accelerator explosion, and though Wally wakes up pretty quickly, Jesse lingers in a coma similar to Barry’s. We find out nobody apparently told poor Henry about what happened to Barry during his time in a coma, since he seems to be pretty surprised by the revelation. Joe suspects they may have gotten powers like Barry did, but when he tries to find out if Wally is suffering any side effects in the most awkward pseudo-puberty talk ever, it seems that perhaps Wally is still without powers.

The particle accelerator explosion reanimated Girder from the Morgue, much to everyone’s chagrin. Well, almost everyone’s. Henry takes it more or less in stride, which really makes one wonder what kinds of things he saw during his stint in prison. Girder escapes and when Iris realizes that Girder is after her (as he was back when he was alive), she lures him back to Star Labs so Cisco and Harry can try to kill him again using the power of electromagnets. It fails at first, and so they all have to take refuge.

Iris volunteers to lead Girder away, but luckily, they bring back Barry in time to prevent her from having to take the chance. Barry grabs Iris and lures Girder away so that the team can try to turn the power to the magnets back on, but it turns on there’s no need. In the end, he runs around fast enough to charge the magnets and take Girder down on his own.

Once things have calmed down, Barry goes to Jesse and shocks her with the Speed Force, waking her up. It seems they’re about to have a second speedster on their hands. Barry also admits to Henry that he’s finally accepted that everything that has happened to them – good and bad – happened for a reason and made them who they are. He has finally accepted that he wouldn’t change the past, and Henry announces he’s decided to stay in Central City to be with his son. I sense bad things ahead now.

There is some final unresolved business to attend to, however. For the first time, Barry goes to visit his mother’s grave, and he takes Iris along. When he tells Iris about The Runaway Dinosaur, she admits she’s never been a fan of the book since it’s about a mother who was always there for her child, and that was never the case for Barry and Iris. They never had someone who was just right for them.

In a move so smooth he had to pick up some tips from the Speed Force, Barry counters that they did. He confesses that he’s been seeing things differently, and that he’d been too focused on what he’d lost when he had so much. Finally, he tells her that, while he may not know what there is between the two of them and where they go from here, “You’re everything to me and you always have been. And the sound of your voice will always bring me home.”

I was screaming at the screen for them to kiss right then because how do you NOT kiss when someone says something like that to you? Sadly, these two dorks still continue to thwart me because they give a really heartwarming hug instead. I know they’re building to an epic kiss (possibly in the finale) but it’s killing me that they’re drawing it out!

In the last teaser before the episode end, Zoom sweeps Caitlin off her feet by telling her she can either stay with him or leave and be with her friends. If she chooses the latter, of course, he’ll show her the same mercy he plans to show them. Apparently, Zoom’s twisted definition of romance has its limits. He leaves to go address the metahumans he’s collected and brought back from Earth 2 to conquer Earth 1’s CCPD, and in his absence, it’s suggested Caitlin decides to stay since she doesn’t move.

All in all, it was a fantastic episode and I’m really looking forward to what happens next! Also, those two adorable dorks, Iris and Barry, really need to kiss already.

The Best of The Flash Season 2

the flash season 2 barry allen caitlin snow cisco ramon carlos valdes danielle panabaker grant gustin cw
CW

With The Flash season 2 drawing to a close, I wanted to spend my remaining articles talking about the season we’ve had – what has worked and what hasn’t. Last week, I discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the emotional arcs for each of the characters. This week, I want to talk make a list of my five favorite moments of the season so far. I’ll be honest up front and admit I may cheat a little. In no particular order, they are:

Welcome to Central City, Wally West!

Without a doubt, one of the most anticipated moments going into this season was the arrival of Wally West. He’s a huge fan-favorite in the comics, and people were excited to see what the show would do with this beloved character. Unfortunately, his lead-in story about Francine West being a drug addict who abandoned her family was a let down at best with some rather unfortunate undertones. This led to fans having more trepidation over Wally’s treatment than hope that he would be handled well, dimming some of the enthusiasm that had carried into the season.

While the show hasn’t done much with Wally since his introduction, I did love his first appearance, brief though it was. We were immersed in the warmth of family and friends as they celebrated Christmas, and then there came a knock on the door. Wally West – a stranger to Joe and Iris – stood on the doorstep, both hope and uncertainty on his face. It was a simple moment, but I spent the entire winter hiatus wondering where they would go from there.

In subsequent episodes, I have generally enjoyed Wally but they have not yet lived up to that promise of the summer or even in that episode. I can only hope they will do better by him in the future.

Zoom, Drag That Ass

I’ve written before that Zoom’s story as a whole has been a letdown. It was not improved by the revelation that Hunter is in love with – or at least obsessed with – Caitlin. Not only have I never really bought into their relationship even before the reveal of Zoom’s secret identity, but this arc makes her a damsel in distress yet again.

It is a shame that the payoff didn’t live up to the potential, because I cannot deny that Zoom was everything he should be in our first real introduction to the character. We had gotten a glimpse of him before, but we were shown the depths of his evil when he came to our Earth, broke Barry’s back, and did a Drag of Shame all over Central City.

It took a psychological toll on Barry that was understandable if hard to watch, for those who wanted a return to the lightness of season 1. It also stayed with the audience. We had been promised a villain so evil, he would put Reverse Flash to shame, and in this episode, the show absolutely delivered. Zoom was every bit as terrifying as we were promised.

Unfortunately, the subsequent reveal of his identity, the huge holes in his plot line, and his stale love story with Caitlin has deflated a good deal of that promise. But it cannot be denied that in his introduction, Zoom was everything a villain should be.

Cisco, The Precious Cinnamon Roll

Cisco is the character who’s without a doubt benefited the most in moving from page to screen. At best, his history in the comics is a bit of a joke, so hated that even comic writers have tried to forget he existed before the series launched. While he was introduced to provide comic relief as a character, he quickly became a fan favorite and an absolutely vital part of the series.

This season had a few key moments for Cisco. In moments like his almost childish glee over seeing the world of Earth 2, he continues to provide a lightness that this season has sorely lacked overall. However, it cannot be understated how much he shines in the moments where he is coming to terms with his powers – both the good and the bad.

Of course, we have seen Barry learn about his powers and adjust to them, as well, but Barry did not carry the burden of questioning the motive of their origins or the knowledge of an evil doppelganger from an alternate world. If Barry’s origin was about hope, Cisco’s has primarily been about fear. Yet Cisco hasn’t let this fear hold him back, thanks in large part to his relationship with the team. He has run through the gamut of emotions, from amazement to fear, and in moments like his recent confession to Barry about his fears of turning to the Dark Side, has injected both humor and pathos into his character. In such moments, while I enjoyed watching Carlos Valdez explore an evil side in Earth 2, I hope we never see that side of the Cisco we know and love.

Iris West: Kicking Ass and Taking Names

I haven’t exactly held back on my opinion that Flash needs to do more with the character of Iris West. Not only do they need to allow her a point of view, but they need to focus more on her role as a reporter and as an invaluable asset to the team.

In the moments that they have done so this season, Iris has really shined, and the show has been better for it. Watching her take charge in Earth 2 was one of the best parts, worthy of every bit of the critical acclaim she received. When we saw her go undercover to help her brother Wally at the drag races, we saw how much fun the show could be if they explored that dimension of her character more often – perhaps with the added dynamic of having to interact with Flash in her role as a reporter while having to hide the nature of her true relationship with him.

And in last week’s episode, we really got to see how she would interact with the team and how she could be a key asset in fieldwork. It is important in the future that the show celebrate the skills she brings to the team as a reporter, but last week was a good start. It was an absolute joy to watch her irritate Wells with her persistent questions, and she and Cisco have such a fun dynamic and easy-going chemistry. Jessie is still a bit immature at times, so allowing Iris to act as her role model could lead to a good deal of character growth on her part. And, of course, the importance Barry puts on his relationship – both in terms of friendship and romance – with Iris means that she can get through to him when nobody else can. Perhaps in season three, she can even help him find the lightness of spirit that he has sadly been denied for the majority of this season.

An Act of Pure, Selfless Love

Barry’s love for Iris was a key part of the story and the character throughout the first season. In the first half of this season, Westallen wasn’t put on the back burner; it was put in deep freeze. Anyone coming into the show for the first time would have had no way of knowing the depth of love Barry had for Iris, or how much that love had shaped him and helped him become both the man and the superhero that he is today. However, in one moment, they not only brought Westallen back to the forefront but they showed how much Barry has matured as a character in the past year.

Barry knew that Iris has had a hard time moving on from Eddie’s death. During his trip to the past, he asked Eddie record a message to Iris in an effort to give her closure, to offer her a measure of peace. Then, when he gave it to her, he did so under the pretense that he had stumbled across forgotten footage, not mentioning his trip to the past.

At other times, this white lie may have been an insult to her character – as many white lies throughout the first season were. However, in the context of the episode in question, it was a selfless act of pure love. In keeping his trip to the past to himself, Barry allowed the moment to be about Eddie and Iris, not himself. It wasn’t a ploy to get her to see him the way he sees her or to seek her gratitude. It was about to simple act of providing his best friend and the woman he loves the peace to move forward and find happiness in whatever form it may appear. Even if it’s not with him.

Barry has stolen my heart on many occasions over the course of the show, but perhaps never so much as in this moment. And in this moment, we are allowed to see just how far he has come as a character. I cannot be happier that it seems Barry and Iris are finally on the same page, and I look forward to seeing them take the next step together.

The Flash Recap: Silence Isn’t Golden

the flash season 2 rupture westallen iris west barry allen grant gustin candice patton cw
CW

I suppose there are a few themes of this episode of The Flash, but I can’t help but think that one is “Family don’t tell each other anything.” There seems to be an awful lot of catching various family members up on things they probably should have known about before. Oh, and of course there’s the continuing thread of love (Westallen) versus obsession (Zaitlin). Team and family are pretty divided on a decision Barry has to make.

And, oh yeah, there’s murder. So much murder.

Getting Up to Speed

We start this episode with a little subterfuge. To keep the city from finding out about the Flash’s fate, Barry, Iris, and Cisco have concocted a plan. A hologram of Flash races through the city after a getaway car. After the team can’t quite decide whether he should try to throw lightning (leading to some hilarious arm movements from Grant Gustin) and Cisco rocks an old Atari joystick, the bad guys are captured and Flash poses in the cockiest stance ever for a non-corporeal being.

They get all of three seconds to celebrate their clever solution to a big problem when Harry comes in to rain on their parade. He points out that this ruse won’t hold up forever, and he insists that anther particle accelerator explosion is the only way to rectify the problem. He’s actually a little uncomfortably ride-or-die with this plan; if I didn’t know better, I’d think we were dealing with Harribard again.

Barry still isn’t convinced. He drives to go see his dad, who’s apparently off fishing and still without a phone because he is in no way up to speed on any major event going on in his son’s life. He isn’t aware that Barry lost his speed, and he has no idea who Jay Garrick supposed to be. He does drop a pretty significant tidbit: Garrick is Henry’s mother’s maiden name. Call me crazy, but I suspect that will be important in the future.

Henry returns to the lab with Barry, and the various father figures hash it out. Harry really wants Barry to risk his life to get his speed back. Henry is adamantly opposed to his son taking such a risk. He has a point when he mentions that even with his speed, Zoom broke his back earlier in the year, so he’s going from one risk to another. Joe is somewhat on the fence. However, before they can come to a consensus, Barry walks in and reminds them all that it’s really his choice to make and he’ll be the one to make it, thank you very much.

It’s a refreshing change from last season, when he had a decision to make and went to everyone for their advice before he made it. Of course, before the end of the episode, he still manages to get everyone’s advice in this episode. But it’s nice to at least see him standing up and acknowledging that, at the end of the day, he’s the one who has to make that call.

While Barry deals with his own interpersonal familial drama, Cisco seeks out his own after unintentionally flashing on Earth 2 Dante, his brother. He meets up with his Earth 1 counterpart to check in, and we find out that he’s no more pleasant to Cisco than he was before his little brother saved his life. Some gratitude. Not only is Cisco cuter than his brother, he’s an all-around better person, too.

Cisco reconciles himself to the idea that he and Dante will never have the relationship he wants, and he goes to leave but big brother follows. More sibling bickering is gearing up when they’re attacked by a man in a mask, holding a glowing Scythe of Doom. It’s Earth 2 Dante, going by the name Rupture, out for revenge against the man he believes killed his brother. Dante is understandably freaked out. Cisco has some explaining to do.

Although he tries to keep the truth to himself for a time, Dante finds a letter Cisco wrote before heading to Earth 2 and learns the truth. Cisco confesses about his powers, and the two men hug as they decide they would like a better relationship in the future.

A Not-So-Fine Line Between Love and Obsession

Three romantic relationships are really at the heart of the show this episode. Caitlin is being dragged everywhere by Zoom, who keeps her handcuffed and brings her along presumably to impress her with his homicidal inclinations. She’s still pretty firm on the point that she’ll never love him, but he isn’t too fussed because he senses darkness in her. His obsession – it’s hard to call it love – does cause him to not kill quite as many people as he otherwise might have done, but he’s still pretty free with the murder.

Meanwhile, in a scenario that has launched many a One True Pairing in fanfics, Jesse and Wally are locked in the time vault to keep them safe. Wally isn’t having any of it; he wants to help in any way he can. They finally decide to team up to get out and they work pretty well together. I admit they’re cute, but I still am sorry we aren’t getting any Wally/Linda since that is such a great relationship in the comics. Perhaps in the future, this will change.

Of course, the main relationship is between Barry and Iris. Iris is afraid of what will happen to Barry if he takes the chance to get his powers back, but she lets him know she supports him whatever he chooses. However, she also confesses that she’s been thinking about the two of them lately and that she’s always been the person he could come home to. Barry calls her on not saying this sooner, and she admits that she wasn’t available when he confessed but, regardless of what he chooses and whether he becomes the Flash again, it’s Barry Allen she wants to know if she has a future with. If he wants that too. He doesn’t respond so she walks away.

It’s an interesting parallel to season one, when Barry confessed and Iris needed time to process. I think the fact that they didn’t resolve this issue will be an important plot point in next week’s episode.

Betrayal and Sacrifice

At first, Barry isn’t keen on Harry’s plan. He wants his speed back, but he also wants to make sure the collateral damage of the first explosion isn’t recreated as well. He tries to solve the problem without his powers, and they do manage to take Rupture down when he goes to Jitters to kill police officers who thought Zoom had spared their lives.

Unfortunately, while they manage to stop Rupture, Zoom catches on to the situation when it’s reported on the news. He isn’t too happy with Caitlin, once he figures out that she clued the team in on his plan. She points out that he betrayed her first, since he’d promised to let the officers live. She also finally pieces it together that he changes his voice to scare people, which one would think would be obvious from the beginning.

He races off and kills all the officers and reporters Rupture failed to kill, then takes out his former partner as revenge for failure. He grabs the camera and reveals Flash’s secret to the city, telling them that there’s nobody left to protect them. Before running off again, he tells the team that they’re only alive because of his affection for Caitlin, but that won’t protect them in the future.

This is the final straw for Barry. Harry points out that Zoom will recruit every metahuman he can find, many of whom have probably stayed in hiding as long as Flash was on the case. Now that they know that he’s no longer protecting the city, Harry predicts they’ll come out of the woodwork. Barry decides that the murders are his fault for giving up his speed and leaving the city unprotected. Although he still has concerns, he decides to go ahead with the plan.

Harry is convinced he can contain the explosion, and the show relishes a little Harry Potter geekdom as Cisco takes to the rooftop with Weather Wizard’s wand to call down the lightning. Barry is strapped in to the accelerator, and Iris reassures him that her feelings for him won’t change, no matter what happens. Henry tries one last time to tell him he doesn’t have to do this if he doesn’t want to, but Barry admits that Flash is the best part of him and he needs his speed to be that person.

Everyone is ready for Barry to take the risk, so Harry injects chemicals into him similar to the ones he was exposed to during the first explosion, making Iris’s façade crack and she shows the fear she feels at the risk Barry is about to happen. Wally and Jesse break out of their room just in time to be caught up in the explosion, which will undoubtedly lead to both developing their powers in the near future.

At first, it seems like their plan may be successful, but then Barry disintegrates before their eyes. Iris’s sobs at the thought Barry is dead are positively heartbreaking, and Zoom shows what kind of villain he is when he comes back just to rub a little salt in their wounds. At least he doesn’t kill anyone before racing off again, leaving them to their grief at the thought Barry is dead.

For the record, next week’s episode – directed by Kevin Smith – looks absolutely amazing. I’m pretty sure this next week will be absolute torture as we wait!

The Flash Recap: Truth and Consequences

the flash versus zoom barry allen cisco ramon grant gustin carlos valdes cw
The CW

After teasing the audience with questions in the second half of the season, The Flash started giving us answers tonight – about Jay/Zoom and about the nature of Iris’s feelings for Barry. Even better, Barry is able to be proactive, smart, and willing to put his life on the line to save a world that isn’t even his own. He comes up with a plan that actually seems like it might work… and then, of course, everything goes spectacularly wrong.

The Best Laid Plans

Barry’s been determined to get faster all season, and he finally gets some payoff. The tachyon device does in fact make him four times faster than usual – as fast as Zoom. He’s ready to open a breach to take on the evil speedster, but not everyone is so eager. Harry is concerned that opening a breach will put Jesse in danger, and Caitlin agrees it may be a bad idea. Cisco is okay with the idea in theory, but when it becomes clear that he’s going to have to get further in touch with his powers – further in touch with the powers Reverb demonstrated – he’s more cautious. He’s worried using his powers to their full extent will turn him to the Dark Side, like Anakin Skywalker. Oh, Cisco, you should know you’re nowhere near as emo as him.

Barry is determined, however. As a true hero, he’s not just interested in saving his world; he wants to save all the worlds. He convinces Cisco that his friends will stop him from going to the Dark Side, and Cisco finally feels confident enough to give it a real shot. After a talk with Joe – in which Joe expresses concern that Barry won’t succeed in facing off against Zoom without help – Harry also agrees to do his part and creates a new set of glasses for Cisco to use to help with his Vibe powers.

While Cisco struggles with his demons, Caitlin spills what she knows about Jay’s doppleganger, which is basically that he’s named Hunter Zolomon and that’s the extent of it. Wells becomes alarmed at this revelation, since Hunter is a known serial killer on his world, his face known by everyone – though not well enough for anyone to have made the connection between Hunter and Jay earlier. In their defense, Hunter rocks a pretty wicked beard.

Decisions to Make

While plans are being made by some, others have come to crossroads in their lives and have decisions to make. Wally’s having a hard time making ends meet, though he’s too proud to ask for money. Barry finally wakes Joe up to the reality that Wally really wants to move in, though he doesn’t want to outwardly ask. Kicking himself for not catching on sooner, Joe extends the offer and Wally happily accepts. Where is Iris living?

Harry’s torn between helping Barry and not wanting to put Jesse in danger, though he does eventually accept that the Flash needs his help. However, Jesse’s still his primary concern. He finally leaves the lab to ask Joe for help tracking down Jesse. Unfortunately, he bumps into Wally, who recognizes that he looks an awful lot like You Know Who. Poor Harry. He is OVER being confused for Harribard. That’s what you get when a murderer comes back in time and steals your face, I guess!

Meanwhile, Iris is struggling with a romantic quandary and goes to Caitlin for advice. She was supposed to go on a date the night before (much to Barry’s chagrin), but she’d cancelled at the last minute. Caitlin calls her on the fact she’s struggling with feelings for Barry and encourages her to act on her feelings. It turns out she believes in destiny – at least when it comes to Barry and Iris.

Plans Go Awry

When it comes time to face off against Zoom, Caitlin is unnerved at the idea of facing Jay again. However, Barry realizes he can use his knowledge of Zoom’s identity against him. He creates cardboard cutouts of Jay’s parents and uses them to unnerve the bad guy long enough to take him down. Not for long, however. With a vague threat that “You can’t escape the darkness,” Jay’s eyes go black, his voice changes, and he gets enough speed to break out of his tether and escape.

He’s not going far, though. He kidnaps Wally and suggests a trade: Barry’s speed for Wally’s life. Joe doesn’t want him to do it – though he doesn’t want Wally to die, either – but Barry tells him it’s not his call to make. Barry’s really stepping up and making his own decisions this season, and so he agrees to the trade.

Feeling chatty this episode, Jay/Hunter/Zoom confesses that he told Caitlin about Hunter in order to get her to stop trying to fix him. He’s dying, he needs a cure, and he doesn’t think the team is up for the task. Barry seems frankly astonished that a known serial killer with over 20 kills under his belt would be willing to kill additional people to get what he wants.

While waiting to take Barry’s speed, he gets even more chatty. He admits this had been his plan all along. The Jay they knew was a past version of himself – and somehow this didn’t catch the attention of Time Wraiths. His other version wasn’t thrilled to be a sacrificial lamb to get the team so upset they would find a way to get Barry faster, but he eventually agreed.

Appalled, Caitlin calls Jay a monster, which reminds him of his mother calling his father the same thing. He steals Barry’s speed and runs off with Caitlin because it seems he really did love her after all.

The Flash: The Good and the Bad on Zoom

the flash versus zoom jay garrick teddy sears cw
CW

As we move into the final stretch for The Flash season 2, my excitement has hit a peak that can no longer be accurately measured. However, it’s also occurred to me that now is a good time to start to look back on the season we’ve had – and the show overall – and reflect upon their hits and misses this year. Since this week’s episode is about Zoom, it only seems fitting to start with him.

Initial news that Zoom would be the main villain this year was met with something of a mixed reaction. While he is a key villain in the comics, fans of the source material worried at Barry being given one of Wally’s core villains. Also, as another speedster, fans of the show worried at a potential for a repetitive villain story or arc this season. There was also a measure of trepidation on the part of those who had enjoyed Harrison Wells too much to be eager to see another villain step into his shoes.

Of course, the show runners were ready to allay concerns, promising Zoom would be “terrifying, and scary, and fast.” Rather than being a pale imitation of the Reverse Flash, fans were promised a villain whose capacity for evil put Harribard to shame. Fans were perhaps bolstered by the news that Tony Todd would voice the evil speedster, as anyone who has ever seen him as the titular villain in Candyman likely still has nightmares about the experience. If fears weren’t entirely allayed, fans were at least curious and open to the possibilities.

So did Zoom live up to the hype? In my opinion, not entirely, though he has had a couple of stand-out episodes that show his true potential.

To the extent the show has focused on Zoom, they have done a tremendous job of making him truly terrifying. His first appearance in “Enter Zoom” was everything anyone could wish for in an embodiment of evil and did set him on a level above even the Reverse Flash. Certainly Tony Todd does a tremendous job of imbuing his voice acting with a sinister touch. So, given that they have hit many of the right notes with this character, where did they go wrong?

For starters, they faced an immediate problem that was not an issue last season: how to keep the villain present in the audience’s minds so that his threat grows, even as the show focuses on other things. Since Tom Cavanaugh (and, for that matter, Rick Cosnett) was a part of the main cast throughout the first season, it was relatively easy to keep the mystery of the Man in Yellow alive without spending too much time on the issue in episodes devoted to other matters. A circumspect line or two, a slight twinge of possible ulterior motives, and the Man in Yellow was never truly gone, let alone forgotten.

Such is not the case this year. Not only was Zoom not seen or alluded to every episode, but even Jay Garrick was absent for stretches at a time. When he was there, they never quite managed to sell the underlying sense of an ulterior motive that they had aptly managed with Harrison Wells. Moreover, even the characters themselves seemed to forget about him Zoom often than they should, given how hard the show tried to sell that he was an overwhelming threat. Although Zoom made quite an impression when he appeared, he was lamentably all to easily forgotten between relevant episodes – for the characters and, as a result, for the audience, as well.

That the writing faltered somewhat on keeping the memory of Zoom alive for the audience throughout the course of the season – let alone building the tension of his threat – was a problem but not an insurmountable one. In losing track of Zoom, if the show had fleshed out Jay Garrick as a character and made the audience care about his ultimate betrayal of the team one way or another, a good deal could have perhaps been forgiven. However, in this, too, they failed.

While Jay had been announced as a mentor to Barry, this role was quickly sidelined, and Jay became more of a wet blanket than a true help to the team. He seemed to exist for two purposes: to make vague threats about Zoom without offering any solutions, and to serve as love interest to Caitlin in a rather shallow arc that did neither character any favors and gave fans little reason to care. Although Jay wasn’t as subtly malicious as Harrison Wells, many wondered from the beginning of the season if he would turn out to be Zoom. As a general rule in television, when a villain’s identity is hidden for a significant period of time, the reveal is generally not going to be of a character the audience hasn’t seen before. Given the significance of Zoom as the Big Bad, fans knew he would end up being someone we know – or an Earth 2 counterpart of a known character – and possible options were limited.

Rather than building Jay as an asset to the team and a true friend and mentor to Barry, a romance with Caitlin was lightswitched into existence. Rather than slowly building that relationship and letting it develop in a way that the audience could understand – let alone care – why they would be drawn to each other, Caitlin and Jay formed an instant attraction and jumped into a relationship just as quickly. For many, this was particularly troublesome treatment of Caitlin, since, given all that has happened to her thus far, we deserved to see her struggle, grow, be impacted by, and really come to terms with the repeated tragedy of her past. At the very least, she deserved an arc for her character outside of romance.

Although the SnowJay relationship was shown in several episodes, there was no build-up to it and no reason for the audience to become invested. So when the inevitable betrayal was revealed, the response was anger at the show for subjecting Caitlin to even more tragedy, as opposed to feeling a particular emotional response by the betrayal itself.

Still, the character of Zoom does have potential (though I think Jay himself is likely a lost cause.) Tony Todd has announced he should be back next season, and I’m glad. I don’t think all hope is loss for Zoom. With a little more care and attention, I think he can become the villain he should have been all along.