The Flash season 2 episode 18 review: Versus Zoom

Does The Flash have a woman problem? On the basis of its latest episode, it would seem so...

This review contains spoilers.

Can we please talk about Caitlin Snow, and what a huge mess The Flash has made of her this season? It feels like a good time to do so, her being kidnapped again and all.

I’m starting to think that The Flash hates women and, with Arrow having gone through a similar problem since it premiered, that’s really very sad. The show is so very good at so many things, but it’s quite terrible at writing its female characters anything interesting, inoffensive or proactive to do. Caitlin is the most obvious victim of this, because I’d argue that Iris now is much improved from Iris a year ago.

No, Caitlin is continually shafted in Team Flash storylines, and her only function at this point seems to act as the girlfriend for soon-to-die male heroes/villains. We went through it with Ronnie twice, and then this season her purpose was to get close to Jay while everyone else was chasing Zoom.

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It was frustrating at the time but, now knowing that it was leading here, to being Hunter’s victim because she reminds him of his mother (or something equally twisted), somehow makes it worse.

The episode doesn’t improve from here because, being the hour where Zoom does a lot of standing around in order to explain his master plan, a lot of it is about waving away past anomalies in the mystery as it stands. It has to be done, but it’s really quite hard to make that fun for everyone. Some viewers I’m sure get a kick out of it, but I feel like time would be much better donated to underserved characters.

Which brings me briefly back to Caitlin, who had three key moments in the episode. One was the final kidnapping sequence, one was the scene in which she casually mentioned some key information about Hunter she had failed to share previously, and the other was a Bechdel test nightmare in which she and Iris discussed boys.

There’s a genuine spark of human sadness to her comment about believing in fate for other people, but not really herself anymore, but the main takeaway from this was that Iris is still feeling the pressure from Earth-2/future Iris and Barry. She’s ready to move on, and wonders if now’s the time to give Barry a shot. I’ve made my feelings on this clear in the past, and it retroactively spoils the whole “screw the future” mentality of last year’s finale.

Other character moments are good, with Cisco getting some solid development. Tapping into Reverb’s power set is of course going to make him question what they might do to his morality – he’s seen enough movies with this plotline – and the conversation between him and Barry was a good, personalised summation of the message of not just the episode, but the show as a whole.

We are who those we love make us – now the central conflict between Barry and Hunter. Barry witnessed the death of his mother and lost his father on the same night, but had Joe and Iris to take him in. Hunter didn’t have such luck, and became unhinged and murderous as a result. It’s classic supervillain stuff, but that first scene (notable for opening the episode on the murder of another woman) was pretty darn brutal.

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Zoom’s identity hasn’t had the same impact as the Reverse Flash, and small moments like the group conveniently not knowing about the existence of Hunter Zolomon before now ensure that remains the case. We’re left with a powerless Barry and another rescue mission, but we’ve still got five weeks for the show to get us excited for Zoom and Barry’s ultimate showdown. 

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Flash Back, here.