Spoilers ahead for “The Reverse-Flash Returns,” Tuesday night’s episode of The Flash!
It’s been a while since Zoom caused much trouble for Barry Allen and the gang, but when the Reverse-Flash is back in town, you don’t really care.
After Eddie’s heroic sacrifice erased Eobard Thawne from existence in the Season 1 finale, it seemed one of the Flash’s greatest villains was probably off the table moving forward. Well, think again. A younger version of Eobard arrives in modern-day Central City, but in a very nice twist, Team Flash has a distinct advantage over the less experienced Reverse-Flash.
This episode also (seemingly) brought Barry and Patty’s relationship to an end in the most frustrating way possible. Ugh. Grr. We’ll get to that in a minute. Oh, and Cisco took a major step forward with his Vibe powers (sweet goggles, by the way). Oh, and DID WE JUST LEARN WHO ZOOM IS?
Reverse-Flash’s origin story
There are few stories truly worth veering off from the threat of Zoom at this point, but the return of Reverse-Flash is one of them. We got one heck of a cliffhanger last week, when a confused Eobard showed up trying to figure out where (and when) he had landed, and they paid it off in spades. Doing another Reverse-Flash story could’ve been cliche, but they took the perfect approach by giving us a fish-out-of-water take on Thawne. Heck, they even did a decent job of explaining how it could actually work (timeline remnant!), assuming you don’t think about it too hard.
Barry got another shot at taking on Reverse-Flash, and following a brief chase, he proved just how far he’s come since Eobard wiped the floor with him in the majority of their race fights (which just sounds silly when you say it out loud) last season. Barry caught him, beat the crap out of him, dragged him into STAR Labs and tossed him into a cell. This early-in-his-criminal-career Reverse-Flash is as beatable as any other metahuman. Barry knows his tricks, and takes full advantage. It was a nice change of pace seeing Barry have the upper hand, for once.
Of course, we couldn’t just leave Eobard Thawne locked up in a cage, especially since he has to be free to eventually kill Barry’s mom, get stranded in the past, and actually turn Barry into the Flash. So, when Cisco starts having a negative reaction to the changes to the timeline they have to send Thawne back to the future(which makes sense, somewhat, since Cisco is the most sensitive to timeline changes thanks to vibe-iness). But, if that were the case, why haven't the other changes to the timeline caused this problem before? A small gripe, but still, something that stuck out.
Patty’s greatest moment is seemingly her last
This is so, so frustrating. Patty Spivot is a fantastic, well-rounded character. Heck, she’s arguably been one of the best female characters on the show (no offense, Caitlin and Iris). So, of course, they write her off in one of the most frustrating turn of events ever. Patty decided last week to leave Central City and pursue her dream of being a CSI technician, and since Barry has been acting like a shady tool (since he refuses, for whatever reason, to tell Patty he’s the Flash — even after he decided to tell her).
But, with her rose-tinted love glasses finally removed, Patty puts the pieces together fairly quickly to determine that Barry is the Flash. Who’d have ever guessed?! So, she confronts Barry about it, and literally says she will stay and be super-happy with him forever if he just tells her the truth. So, of course, he refuses and Patty leaves. Have I mentioned this is frustrating? Again, Iris is Barry’s true love in comic lore, but whatever. Who cares? Patty rocks. #BringBackPatty.
Being a strong, smart character, Patty sets a final trap for Barry that forces him to confirm her suspicions — giving them a sweet goodbye moment. Which is nice. But still, Barry has a ton of people in his life who know his secret. I could understand if he were a total loner without a big support team, but c’mon! Patty is obviously strong enough to protect herself, and if anything, it's somewhat condescending for Barry to take that decision away from her — even after she figures out he is the Flash. Grr.
Cisco's becoming a superhero
Cisco also got some nice moments with Harry, and their bromance took a few steps further. Having a stronger Cisco and Earth-2 Wells together is the perfect mix to anchor Team Flash. They can’t stand one another, but begrudgingly respect the hell out of one another. To that end, Harry helps Cisco crack his Vibe abilities (by putting on the Reverse-Flash suit and scaring the absolute crap out of us) and makes a nifty piece of headgear to help him control his metahuman ability.
It’ll be interesting to see how they incorporate Cisco’s abilities in the future, because having a character who can literally see the future could be a bit too much of a deus ex machina, especially for a show where the main character can run at lightning speed. But, it was a nice growth moment for Cisco, as he used his skills to save the day and took a huge step toward becoming a hero in his own right.
West family sadness
Iris and Wally’s mother is still sick, and only getting sicker. Iris goes to see her on her death bed, while Wally is avoiding his emotions. It was sweet to see Iris work through her issues and forgive her mother, though Wally's avoidance of the situation is just another reason to not really like the character. We talked about how he’s bordering on Dawn Level Annoying last week, and did little to rectify the situation Tuesday night.
Of course, they could be setting up an arc we don’t really understand yet in coming episodes, so here’s hoping we’re just not seeing the endgame here. If not, Wally West is not off to a good start.
WTF, is Earth-1 Jay Garrick The Flash?
Last, but certainly not least — we might’ve gotten a gigantic hint toward the identity of Zoom.
As we learned a few weeks ago, Jay Garrick is dying due to the fact that he lost his Speed Force. So, Caitlin and Jay have both been looking for his Earth-1 doppelgänger. Turns out, Jay found him a while back — but his DNA apparently can’t help heal him, because his DNA was altered by the Speed Force (or something). But, the really interesting bit came when Jay revealed his Earth-1 self to Caitlin…
...and his name is Hunter Zolomon. If you’re unfamiliar, here’s the clue: Zolomon is the alter ego of Zoom in comic lore. Yeah, just let that sink in for a moment.
This could mean a few different things, so let's unpack it all. First off, the obvious set-up here is that Earth-1 Jay Garrick is Zoom. It makes a certain type of sense, and there’s some symmetry by using an alt-Flash, but leaves a few questions. Namely: Why did he start his attacks on Earth-2 by going after Jay (and how did he even get to Earth-2?), when he could’ve just attacked the homegrown Flash first and tried to steal Barry’s speed? All those questions could be answered, but still, they do linger.
It also sets up another interesting theory — what if the Jay Garrick we know really is Zoom? It’s less likely, and it’d mirror Season 1’s Wells/Reverse-Flash twist a bit too closely, but it’s certainly worth considering. Maybe he has multiple personalities? Or...something?
Or, this could just be a bizarre easter egg for fans. Which, would be pretty lame, really. That’s a major nugget of comic lore to waste on an easter egg.
What do you think? Who is Zoom?