This The Flash review contains spoilers.
The Flash Season 2 Episode 18
While I often bemoan the obvious filler episodes, The Flash has always, without fail, delivered on its promises when it comes to big episodes. I’ve never been let down when it’s time for them to throw in a big twist or offer some kind of massive reveal.
“Versus Zoom” was entirely anticlimactic, awkwardly paced, and it confirmed something I’ve feared all along: The Flash never really had a solid plan for the whole Jay/Zolomon/Zoom thing. “Versus Zoom” was hailed as the episode where everything would become clear about this season’s big villain, and it did exactly that. The problem is that it wasn’t worth the wait.
Now, before I go any further, I should offer something in the way of a disclaimer. Jay Garrick is a comic book character quite near to my heart. If you’re a regular reader, you know that I was ridiculously excited to see Jay brought to live action, and I found Teddy Sears to be another wonderful piece of casting. As you might imagine, I’m not thrilled that they decided to (rather arbitrarily) combine one of the most important characters in comic book history with a secondary comic book villain, and come up with something that is considerably less than the sum of its parts.
So yes, there is perhaps something not entirely objective coloring my view of this episode. But I also can’t shake the feeling that even if I had no attachment whatsoever to Jay Garrick or the Earth-2 concept, that this whole thing would feel messy at best, or at worst, as inexcusably lazy as I fear it really is.
Seriously, compare this Zoom stuff to the way the Harrison Wells/Reverse-Flash mystery was teased out last year. That was a masterclass in how you can both satisfy and misdirect the fans, and every reveal was more pulse quickening than the one before it. I never felt cheated by the Harrison Wells arc. This entire Zoom story, on the other hand, well…it doesn’t measure up.
Zoom began this season as an incredible visual, and a fine mystery. The first genuinely scary villain in superhero TV history (remember, we didn’t get Killgrave on Jessica Jones until a few months after Zoom made his debut). His half-assed origin story tonight is like something out of one of my RPG notebooks (Palladium Games Rifts and Heroes Unlimited players let me hear you!) from when I was a 13 year old, complete with Megadeth album cover visuals. Throw in that that infuriating gibberish about how he was able to murder himself in front of everybody, and we have all the hallmarks of a season that had a bunch of cool moments and concepts to play with, and never figured out how to actually connect the dots in a meaningful way. When Jay/Hunter says we “wouldn’t believe me if I told you” about the identity of the Man in the Iron Mask, I realized that I no longer care. What should have been this season’s most important, dramatic episode was so DOA that I don’t believe that whatever else is behind the curtain is going to be all that interesting.
Even if you’re satisfied with the Zoom reveal, I’m sure we can all agree that the “using cardboard cutouts of his parents to trap Hunter” was eye-rollingly terrible. For that matter, so was the dialogue between Iris and Caitlin. I’m all about the continued rehabilitation of Iris West, and Barry and Iris absolutely should (and will!) end up together. But for real, what a terrible place to put that.
I’m suddenly worried that this season has shot itself in the foot in a way that it simply won’t be able to recover from. Earth-2 has never felt like the convincing villain engine that the particle accelerator was in season one, and tying this season’s entire fate to the alternate universe concept now appears to have been a miscalculation. How many more Zoom kidnappings will we have to witness this season? Enough.
There are five episodes left, and I still firmly believe that The Flash is by miles the best superhero show on television, and perhaps of all time. But it’s going to take something miraculous to make me believe that this season wasn’t built on the shakiest of foundations.
I didn’t hate everything!
– Is there a warmer, more wonderful presence on TV than Jesse L. Martin as Joe West? I’m also really starting to grow fond of Keiynan Lonsdale as Wally West. I feel like he’s starting to find his “presence” a little. The more they pair him with Joe, the more I think we’ll get an indication of where he’s supposed to fit with this cast.
– Did Blake Neely straight up give us a Vibe theme in the music tonight? Because that was pretty awesome.
– Now we know where the Supergirl episode fits in! What a pointless place to put this reveal.
– Cisco should know better than to mention midichlorians during his Star Wars speech. Cisco has legit geek bona fides all day, every day, week in and week out. He should know damn well that real Star Wars fans don’t recognize midichlorians.
– All the Jay stuff aside, the Hunter Zolomon origin story couldn’t possibly have been more different than the one from the comics, which I wrote about extensively right here.
We seemed light on DC Comics stuff this week, so if I missed anything, drop ’em in the comments or get at me on Twitter!