The Flash season 2: who is the prisoner in the iron mask?

Escape From Earth-2 has thrown up some big questions for fans of The Flash. The identity of the man in the mask is one of the biggest…

Contains spoilers for The Flash season 2, up to and including episode 14 Escape From Earth-2. 

At the end of last week’s The Flash episode, Welcome To Earth-2, we caught a glimpse of a mysterious man in the mask – a captive of Zoom, just like Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen and Violett Beane’s Jesse. 

This week, Escape From Earth-2 gave us a few clues about who this masked fella might be, and how he might slot into the series at large. Here’s what we deduced… 

His appearance

For starters, it becomes apparent quickly that this guy is Caucasian. And as one tantalisingly brief shot showed us, he is hiding some short dark blond hair under that mask. And in another fleeting shot, we got a good look at the man in the mask’s stature…

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So, our mystery masked man seems to a fairly heavy-set guy. He’s not rake-thin skinny, but he’s not Arnold Schwarzenegger-levels of muscular either. If it’s a recognisable actor under there, though, The CW may have made them wear extra layers under the jumpsuit thingy to hide their exact physiology from the viewer. 

Either way, that dirty blond hair helps us rule a few of the male cast members out: the masked man can’t be another version of Barry Allen, or Harrison Wells, or Cisco Ramon, or Joe West, or Ronnie Raymond. That doesn’t help much, though, as we already knew about all of their Earth-2 counterparts. We can also rule out Wally West and Diggle (if that helmet was enough to get you on-board that speculation train), based on physical appearance alone. 

His actions

Breaking Bad’s Heisenberg has competition for the title of ‘The One Who Knocks’. Seeing as he’s masked, muted and without anything to write on, The Flash’s new mysterious character has to communicate by knocking on the clear front wall of his cell. It’s the most emotional glass-tapping we’ve seen on screen since Bernard Cribbins in Doctor Who.

It takes Barry Allen a while to recognise his knocking as a five-part ‘tap code’ used by prisoners of war. Could this be a character who’s been held captive somewhere before? Or has he just been Zoom’s prisoner for so long that he worked out a code for himself? Either option is plausible. 

Once the code is broken, our face-hiding glass-knocker manages to communicate just one word before Zoom threatens him and shuts him up. That word is ‘Jay’. When Barry asks if he means Jay Garrick – the man he believes to be Earth-2’s Flash, who has spent most of the season on Earth-1 mingling with the STAR Labs crew (and ends up dead at the end of the episode) – the masked man nods in clarification. 

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Barry assumes that the masked man thinks Jay is dead, and quickly explains that he is actually still alive and has relocated to Earth-1. This causes a big emotional response from the man in the mask, who wallops his fists on the glass and shuffles around a bit (which, in fairness, is about as much emotion as he’s capable of displaying). Zoom promptly bursts in and puts a stop to the chitter chatter. 

This masked guy clearly has history with Jay and Zoom, and has been locked up and silenced to stop him from spilling important secrets. For some reason, Zoom has imprisoned him rather than murdering him. This suggests – if Zoom’s other decisions are anything to go by – that the masked man could still have an important role to play in proceedings (does he have speed or another superpower that Zoom seeks to steal?), or could be used as emotional leverage against someone else.

At the end of the episode, Barry is forced to leave the masked man behind. He vows to come back and save him when all this pesky world-saving business is over. Him and Barry share a moment, with their clenched fists touching the glass simultaneously. And that’s your lot. Leaving us with the big question… 

So, who the heck is he?

Obviously, there’s something go on with Jay Garrick that fans don’t know about yet. The masked man’s response to hearing that Jay is still alive on Earth-1 wasn’t that of ‘oh good, our hero lives on!’, it was more like ‘oh God, you don’t understand this situation at all!’ 

One theory doing the rounds is that the man in the mask is the true Jay Garrick (whom Zoom is keeping alive to siphon speed from), while the character played by Teddy Sears that audiences have come to know as Jay is actually a fake who works for Zoom. The ‘Jay’ we’ve seen could have stolen the original’s face in the same way that Eobard Thawne stole Harrison Wells’ identity back in season 1 (explaining why all the Earth-2 guest stars recognise ‘Jay’ as The Flash). 

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It would also explain why ‘Jay’ has taken a sudden interest in regaining his powers over the last few weeks. Perhaps Zoom has told ‘Jay’ to up his game and bring him some Speed Force to feed on. If this is the case, maybe Zoom killed him at the end of this episode because his work is now done – the Velocity drug seems to pretty much work now, so Zoom can just come in and steal it. ‘Jay’ is no longer useful and could blow the entire operation if he blabbers. Hence the murder.

There’s a strong chance, as well, that Jay’s Earth-1 doppelganger – who goes by the name Hunter Zolomon (which, in the comics, is the true name of Zoom) – will come back into play somehow. Perhaps he’s evil, and helped Zoom concoct the plan to use his Earth-1 doppelganger to get close to Barry. The folks at The CW wouldn’t give a character the name Hunter Zolomon without good reason, after all.

Another big theory is this: the masked man is Henry Allen, Barry’s father. He could be the Earth-2 version (who perhaps learned some sensitive information, and possibly even had Speed Force powers, and was thusly locked up by Zoom) or even the Earth-1 Henry (we’ve not seen him for a while; perhaps Zoom kidnapped him? But how would he know secrets about Jay Garrick?)

Escape From Earth-2 seems to encourage us to think that the masked man could be Henry. His physical stature is a match, his hair is close enough, and this moment from the end of the episode – with Barry and the mask wearer touching the glass together, with reflections also in shot –  was very reminiscent of the season 1 prison scenes shared by the father and son…

Barry’s various father figures – Henry, Joe, Harrison Wells, Harry – are a constant theme of the series. For Barry to realise that a version of his dad was being held captive by Zoom would help make the personal stakes for the season 2 finale episodes even higher. It’d also go some way to explaining why John Wesley Shipp has been so absent for the majority of The Flash season 2 so far. Perhaps he’ll have a larger role to play towards the end.

Also: fans of the classic The Flash TV series from the 1990s have been waiting patiently for Shipp to get speed powers again here… perhaps The CW will work it into this plotline as fan service.

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Eddie Thawne seems like another potential man-in-the-mask contender. Again, the physical parameters that we’ve been shown seem to fit. And Rick Cosnett was suspicious by his absence during last week’s Earth-2 Central City Police Department scenes. Perhaps, Earth-2 Eddie dug too deep into an investigation of Zoom and uncovered secrets involving Jay Garrick. 

But why would Zoom lock him up rather than killing him? Well, maybe he wants leverage against the CCPD or perhaps this version of Eddie has Speed Force powers that he wants to feed on. Heck, he could even be the Reverse-Flash of this universe (seeing as Matt Letscher hasn’t been spotted on Earth-2 yet either). 

Or, admittedly, it could be Letscher himself under that mask for all we know. It feels like we’ve had our fill of the original Eboard Thawne for this season, but stranger things have happened in comic book TV. Maybe Zoom is keeping the Earth-2 Eobard locked up and stealing his speed, and Eobard is attempting to gain revenge by revealing Zoom’s allegiance with Jay Garrick via coded knocking.

At the moment, any of these theories could be true. I even thought at one stage that the masked man’s physique was a bit Stephen Amell-esque, but that seems the least likely potential upcoming revelation of the lot. If you’ve got a favourite theory (mine is Henry Allen… unless he’s actually Zoom), or a different take, do let us know in the comments…