The Flash: Enter Zoom review

Enter Zoom isn't just the best episode of The Flash season 2. It's one of the best episodes in the show's history.

This The Flash review contains spoilers.

The Flash Season 2 Episode 6

Any time an episode of The Flash starts with a flash-forward, I feel like we’re in for some serious craziness. “Enter Zoom” was no exception. It’s also the best episode of The Flash season 2 so far.

Keep in mind, there hasn’t been a bad episode of this season yet. There just hasn’t been anything that has felt quite up to the almost impossible standard set by the season one finale. Well, until tonight, that is.

“Enter Zoom” did everything right. Even before its final few minutes, this was already on its way to “best of the season” territory, but it was that ending that really drove it home. This isn’t just one of the best episodes of The Flash season 2, it’s one of the best episodes the series has ever done.

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How do you spend nearly a quarter of an episode focusing on comic relief as effectively as this one did, manage to sneak in not one, not two, but three emotional Barry and Joe moments, get some legit romantic sparks between Barry and Patty, deepen the Harrison Wells mystery, and then scare the living crap out of all of us with that Zoom showdown at the end? Seriously. How did that happen?

I’m having a hard time thinking of a single episode in the show’s history that packed quite as much story into one 40 minute period. Maybe another five-star entry, “Out of Time” from season one. Yes, spoiler alert for those who care, I’m giving this episode a rare five star review.

In case you want to bark at me about that, I’m going to head you off at the pass. Whatever issues I had with this (my continued feeling that simply having “evil dopplegangers” on Earth-Two is kind of an unimaginative abuse of alternate universe privileges, Doctor Light’s miraculous ability to “hack the system” of that stupid, unconstitutional science jail cell) are so utterly irrelevant in the face of just how ambitious “Enter Zoom” is, and how finally, we really know how serious shit is going to get this season.

Zoom is truly terrifying, by the way. They did a good job making Reverse-Flash a malevolent, almost demonic force during season one, but it was nothing compared to what we’re getting with Zoom. With Reverse-Flash, even when we didn’t know it was Harrison Wells, we still kinda knew it was Harrison Wells. With Zoom, while I have a laundry list of suspects and comic book lore to pin evidence on, the mystery adds to the menace. I mean, the creepy costume and Tony Todd’s voice sure don’t hurt, but, for real, why the hell is this guy doing this?

And we have never, ever, ever seen Barry get his scarlet ass handed to him like that. Zoom displaying him like a trophy to everyone in Central City who matters is something that I don’t think we’ve seen any supervillain in movies or TV get away with in a long time, if ever. Sure, we’ve seen heroes overcome seemingly insurmountable odds (remember Oliver Queen’s “death” around midseason last year?) but there was something particularly disheartening about this, especially coming so soon after what everyone (especially Cisco) was sure was about to be a triumphant moment).

In fact, let’s take a moment to appreciate Carlos Valdes this week. I sometimes feel The Flash falls back to easily on the “Cisco as audience POV character” shorthand. But like he did in “Out of Time” Cisco was a quiet star, proving to any cranky TV reviewers (guilty) that he’s far more than just comic relief. And I have to confess, I kinda popped when he did for the “thunderbolt” moment, and while that should have been my clue that no way in hell was that actually going to work, well…I got caught up in the moment with Cisco. That’s all down to Carlos, and Cisco’s interplay with Harrison Wells for the rest of this season is now as crucial as any other piece of awesome this show is serving up.

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But, y’know what? This was Grant Gustin’s week. Yeah, I know, he’s the star of the show, but I sometimes feel I take him for granted. This was a different side of Barry. He wasn’t the slightly bitter “lone wolf” from the season premiere, but we finally saw elements of that return. I felt that had been glossed over a little too easily early on. It paid off this week.

But his performance this week also drew on all that weight from the season one finale, too. TV’s Barry Allen right now is far more adult and badass than I would have imagined during say, the early episodes of season one.  I like this Barry, though. He’s driven and self-assured without being arrogant. Every inch of this has been earned by the writing staff and Gustin’s performance. And then just as we’re getting comfortable with it all, they absolutely destroy him.

If it feels like I’m not giving enough credit to other great moments, like the thoroughly amusing Patty Spivot/Joe West relationship, or Joe West seriously looking to lose his shit on Harry Wells while Barry is laid up, or the genuinely powerful moment when Barry unmasks for Linda, well, forgive me. There’s only so long I can make these articles before people stop reading them and/or you start to think I’m a paid shill for the CW (I’m not…most of you have seen me when I’m not feeling quite as lovey-dovey about the shows that I love). It’s amazing that all of this happened in the same episode, and I never felt like I was just being batted around from scene to scene.

Oh, and if somebody hasn’t gif-ed the “Harrison Wells and Joe West find unlikely allies in each other via skeptical side-eye glances when the use-Linda-as-bait plan is being discussed” please do so. See also: Barry’s “eh” and eyeroll when Harry Wells tells him he was wrong. Try to do it. Please.

Who The Hell is Harrison Wells?

– Okay, so we can rule out Harrison Wells as Zoom now, right? Right. We’re good.

I’m even going to take this a step further. Harry Wells being this much of an asshole is far too easy if he was a bad guy at all. His genuine concern for his daughter, the fact that he marched right outside to help Flash during his throwdown with Zoom (yes, I realize that would benefit him, anyway), and the fact that seriously, there’s no way this show would telegraph him being this much of a dick if he was outright evil, well…it ain’t happening.

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That being said, he should keep being a dick. He should be an enormous dick until he has to sacrifice himself in heroic fashion, and then we’ll all have a good cry together.

Slightly off topic, when Jay Garrick gets his speed back (and he will), how ridiculous is it going to be when he renders unto Zoom the feel-good ass-kicking of the year? You folks will be able to hear me cackling from wherever you are.

Flash Facts!

– okay, so…Zoom. This is pretty much not the Zoom from the comics. Trying to explain things further would take far too many words in a review that already has far too many words. Lucky (or unlucky) for you, I wrote a whole article just about Zoom right here.

– Harry’s daughter is his “Jesse Quick” eh? Well, it’s a safe bet that she’s going to survive her encounter with Zoom and gain some speed powers of her own. I’ll get into this more when the time is right, but this isn’t the episode to do it.

– I rather enjoyed the “Robert Queen is the Hood” switch on the Earth-Two version of Arrow, there. It’s a little bit of a poke at the Flashpoint universe, where young Bruce Wayne was killed when his parents were killed and Thomas Wayne became Batman to avenge him.

I may have missed a few things because I was too busy losing my mind about how generally excellent this episode was. Feel free to point them out to me on Twitter or in the comments.

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5 out of 5