Spoilers ahead for “Versus Zoom,” the latest episode of The CW’s Flash!
The short version: It turns out Cisco is capable of opening the breaches, and thanks to Reverse-Flash’s nifty tachyon device, Barry is finally fast enough to hold his own with Zoom. But, as soon as they open the breach, Zoom flies through, escapes from Team Flash’s trap and takes Wally hostage. Barry cuts a deal to give up his speed, which he (seemingly) does, and Evil Jay provides some much-needed exposition ... before taking Caitlin hostage and heading back to Earth-2!
The origin of Zoom revealed
This episode provide a fascinating counterpoint to Barry Allen’s origin story, focusing in on young Earth-2 boy Hunter Zolomon. We see Hunter’s father kill his mother in cold blood (right in front of Hunter), which bears some resemblances to Barry’s mother’s death. But, instead of having someone like Joe and Iris there to take him in, Hunter gets shipped off to an orphanage straight outta the 1920s (and is delivered by arguably the most cold-hearted social service worker ever, by the way).
That lack of support, and the emotional damage from seeing his dad off his mom, leads Hunter Zolomon to become one of the most famous serial killers Earth-2 has ever seen, racking up 23 murders before finally being shipped off to the mental asylum (complete with his own Hannibal Lecter-esque mask). That should’ve been the end, but when Harry’s particle accelerator on Earth-2 exploded, it funneled the Speed Force straight into the psycho killer and Zoom was born. Oops.
TL;DR: Dude is crazy, y'all
Jay/Zoom/Hunter also gets a chance to sit down with Team Flash to provide some much-needed exposition. Sure, the scene was a bit clunky, but it was so deliciously crazy and fun that it actually worked. Let me see if I get this all straight: Hunter Zolomon created the character of Jay Garrick/The Flash on Earth-2 so he could, basically, masquerade as a hero to give people hope before snatching it away. Sure, that’s very sociopathic, but it’s also a bit of a stretch to explain away Jay (and if Jay Garrick only exists as the cosplay of a psychopath, it’s kind of a disservice to the character) in such a weird way. It’s a pretty elaborate ruse to go out and play a hero, just so your evil true self can allegedly kill the fake hero? Yeah, it starts to fall apart if you poke too many holes.
Oh, and we also finally get an answer to how Zoom/Jay/Hunter could be on Earth-1 and Earth-2 at the same time (as both Jay and Zoom). Zoom apparently enlisted the help of one of his time remnants from a previous point in the timeline to team-up to pull off the ruse. Which...is kind of silly and confusing, too. Case in point: Zoom is so obsessed with survival that he’d literally kill anyone to get more Speed Force in his body and keep breathing. But, a previous version of himself was happy to sacrifice himself to play a part in Zoom Prime’s plan? Eh.
Though the details are still a bit wonky, turning it into a real opposite side of the coin from Barry’s origin was a neat trick. It’d almost make you feel sorry for Jay/Hunter/Zoom, you know, if he wasn’t such a complete psycho. Again, not to just pick holes here. The episode really was a ton of fun, but just a bit of a head-scratcher.
Wait, so Barry actually gave up his powers?
I wasn’t the only one waiting for a twist in that final act, right? Barry agrees to trade Wally’s life for his speed, and once Zoom hands Wally over, Barry sticks to his word and (seemingly) empties out his Speed Force a few minutes later and gives it to Zoom. Just like that. I mean, yeah, a hero is supposed to be a man of his word — but couldn’t Team Flash come up with some kind of double-cross here? Again, it just seemed really rushed. Yes, Barry obviously had to do whatever he could to save Wally. But not you’ve effectively super-charts a super-powered serial killer and literally have no way to stop him.
Again, I’m assuming Team Flash has a plan here that just hasn’t been revealed. But, at least drop a hint or two if that’s the case.
Cisco doesn’t want to become Darth Vader
There was a lot of stuff going on this week, but Cisco’s arc arguably stole the show. He already had a peek at his ultra-powered doppelgänger this season, and was understandably scared he might follow the same path. After Harry rewires Reverb’s headset for Cisco, and he can actually tap into that multiversal power, Cisco is scared. It seems like he’s scared because he can sense Zoom, but we soon learn it’s because he’s smart enough to know he’s standing on the precipice of real power — and it scares him. Of course, this being Cisco, he explains that with a ton of Star Wars references, but it really does hit home with the character. It was an earned, real moment for a character who is typically used for comic relief. Can’t wait to see where they take Cisco next.
Wally moved in with Joe and Barry
Joe’s estranged son Wally has slowly worked his way into the ensemble this season, and took a major step forward this week (aside from being briefly kidnapped by Zoom) when he accepted Joe’s offer to move in. So, now Wally is officially living with Joe and Barry. After the events of this week, you’d also have to think he’s on the short list to either be told, or finally figure out, that Barry is The Flash. It’s been a slow burn, but we might finally be getting on the track to eventually turning Wally into a speedster.
Random good stuff: Barry’s quick jaunt through a portal in the episode’s opening was a nice nod to his trip over to Supergirl. Apparently, time moves differently on CBS? Harry and Joe’s scene was nice, and it’s great to have Wells fully back on the team. The Iris/Barry ‘ship saga continues. It’s coming, y’all. Very clever, and very creepy, move to use pictures of Hunter’s parents to throw him off his game. Caitlyn is absolutely heartbreaking in this episode. That girl needs a win, stat. Who is in the iron mask? Jay’s answer: “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” This better be worth the wait.
Up next: Barry has apparently lost his powers and is still fighting crime, while Caitlin is playing house with a serial killer. Should be fun!