This season of the Flash has been epic; but with all that epicness has also come a ton of questions. Well after a mini Spring Hiatus, The Flash returned last night to answer all of our pressing questions about this Season’s big bad “Zoom”: Who is Zoom? What is his relation to Jay Garrick and Hunter Zolomon? Who’s The Man in the Iron Mask?
This week’s episode answered about 90% of these not only directly but also clearly, which is incredibly impressive for the truth bombs dropped this episode. The remaining 10% was also answered indirectly, but with tremendous support. Though either way, you still might have some confusion and/or want to see what else you missed this episode.
So as always, let’s take a Closer Look at The Flash “Versus Zoom”.
Barry Versus Zoom – Backstory, Motivations & The Tragic Parallels:
As the episode opens, we hear Barry pondering how terrible things can sometimes make us stronger. He recounts that he was one of the lucky ones; but wonders where he’d be or what he’d have become if he didn’t have a loving family to take him in. Well this episode sets out to show Barry – and we the audience – just what he could have been: a monster. It’s very rare that we get a non-title character Flashback in the Arrowverse; but when we do, you know it’s going to have weight! And seeing Zoom/Hunter/Jay’s backstory was not only powerful, but also incredibly familiar.
When Barry was a child, his mom was murdered by the impossible and his father was unjustly accused of it, which led Barry to be taken in by the West family. We should all know this story by now, so when we see Hunter’s we’re disturbed by how it’s simultaneously the exact same and exact opposite of Barry’s – in EVERY regard. For when Hunter was a child, his mom was murdered by the possible, an unstable father who just returned from war. With his mother dead and father ‘justly’ in prison, Hunter was forced into an orphanage and grew up without a loving influence. Worse still, remember that Barry didn’t actually see his mother murdered as future Flash rushed him away. Hunter on the other hand was forced to watch as his own father James killed his pleading mother.
It’s no wonder that Hunter became a sociopath that loves ripping hope away from people. As a child he had his ripped away. Instead of seeking justice for a misjudged father and helping people, he knew to only care about himself. Though thanks to Caitlin, there are some signs that there might be good inside, but is it too late? Can this 1% overcome all the darkness? Well it’ll be important to see since these shared backgrounds could also spell foreshadowing for Barry. This of course goes beyond my usual hope for the show eventually exploring the Future Flash storyline where Barry goes bad; but is also shown in this episode as Barry’s motivation for hunting Zoom might not be purely to save another world. Could Barry want revenge for being deceived again? Is this all Barry wanting to get the last word in a tragic situation? It certainly wouldn’t be the first time; but then again there was a lot of déjà vu this episode.
Déjà vu – Cisco Scared Of Powers, Barry Can’t Leave Things Along & Iris Loves Barry:
This episode was full of déjà vu moments. For starters, we again find Cisco scared of his Vibe powers. This was certainly the case earlier this season when he feared any “gift” from Evil Wells/Thawne would make him bad too; but thanks to Barry and Professor Stein, he overcame those fears and began to try to understand his powers. This ultimately led him to Earth-2 where he met Reverb, his doppelganger whom Cisco feels was seduced by all these powers. So once again, Cisco is scared of himself and tapping into these all-powerful dimension-bending powers. Like the first time, Barry helps Cisco overcome these fears; but this is all a little ironic because Cisco having these fears is all because Barry once again can’t let something go!
At the start of every Season 2 episode we hear how Barry tracked down the man who murdered his mother, but it opened their world up to new threats. Hell, even Barry himself admitted this a few episodes ago. Zoom only came to Earth-1 because of the Singularity Barry opened going back in time and trying to rewrite history. Like last time, Joe and other try to talk him out of it; but he still decides to go through with the initial act. Notably, unlike the first time, here Barry completely goes through with his plan; but the fact remains that going after Zoom is once again an instance of Barry ‘kicking a hornets nest’ when he shouldn’t. When he tried it for his mom it led to new Zoom and loosing Ronnie, so what will vexing Zoom lead to? As the episode ends, we see it’s the kidnapping of Caitlin and the loss of his speed; but there is something else he might have just put at risk: a chance with Iris!
Iris has definitely been ‘feeling’ for Barry lately and as we accurately predicted a few episodes ago, Iris’s relationship with her boss wouldn’t last – or take off at all, which was a very good move for the show. Though hearing Iris admit feelings for Barry reminds us of last Season’s episode “Out Of Time” where Iris admitted she loved Barry and then he ran so fast trying to stop someone, he went back in time and changed everything. Sure he had to do that one, but will this also hurt his chance with Iris? Will Iris be the next person Zoom targets? For the sake of my poor panda heart, I hope not.
Explaining Who/What Was Jay Garrick Was – Twin, Speed Mirage Or Time Remnant?
We’ve had a lot of theories about the Zoom/Jay/Hunter Tri-ality; and the wonderful thing about this episode is that each theory was addressed in some way/shape or form. For example, one theory was that Hunter and Jay were twins. This theory was dispelled when we learned that Hunter Zolomon was an only child. Additionally, people wondered if Zoom could have been using a Speed Mirage to be both Zoom and Jay. Hunter of course dispelled that theory the same as we had by saying even he’s not that fast. Pulling off a speed mirage is hard enough, but doing one betweentwo totally different Earths while also fighting people is impossible even for a speedster. The actual answer was hinted at earlier this season and it’s something we all missed – a Time Remnant.
Since time is always a difficult thing to understand, I’ll explain in the same way I did for The Reverse Flash in “The Reverse Flash Returns”. As we know, Time likes to keep things intact and if it can’t influence events it’ll cause a self-correcting skip in order to avoid a paradoxical loop. We saw this with Reverse Flash and Eddie. After all, if Eddie died and erased all of Thawne from existence, Eddie would have no reason to kill himself, thus previous versions of Eobard had to exist to keep the timeline intact. Hunter/Zoom is the same principle only slightly reversed since he brought a ‘past’ version to the future rather than a future into the past. So to put it simply, you’d expect Present Hunter killing his former self to end the timeline; BUT since it’s he himself who’s killing a younger version, we have a problem. IF Present Hunter killed his younger self and his timeline stopped, then there would no longer be a ‘future’ Hunter to kill ‘past Hunter’. Thus Past Hunter would grow into future/present Hunter… and thus go back to killing himself. If this still doesn’t make sense, then the flowchart I made below should help; but in short, he becomes a self-causing action within his own timeline. Ergo, in order to prevent this loop, time had to fragment to keep things intact.
Who Is The Man In The Iron Mask – “You Wouldn’t Believe Me” (Or Would We)?
We’re almost out of the woods; but there is still one question left: Who is the man in the iron mask? When asked, Hunter said we wouldn’t believe him; and whereas that could lead to a twist, there was some evidence given this episode. We heard that Hunter’s father was a War Hero, and that the Golden Age Flash was actually his father’s old military uniform. Pairing this with what appears to be PTSD, it’s not hard to think that Hunter’s father James was a Prisoner of War at some point. This could be how he knows the old time POW-tapping code Barry first analyzed from him on Earth-2.
Then again, considering Hunter’s “you wouldn’t believe me” comment, is there something more to this. If I wanted to be really TWISTY, then I’m going to say “future Barry from an alternate timeline” and he’s already lived through all this so that’s how he knows his younger self would ‘Get the message’. Though that idea hurts my head, SO I’m going to hope it’s the simpler James answer. It’s also be a nice chance to see that father son relationship years later. But I guess we’ll see.
In A Flash – Easter Eggs, Quotes & Other Notables:
- For continuity purposes, during the field test of the new tachyon accelerator after Cisco says “Do It” THAT is where he goes to cross over into Supergirl “Worlds Finest”
- It was a nice touch using the ‘testing facility’ that they originally used to train Linda to be Dr Light.
- The fact that he flashed back to his Mom calling his Dad a monster when Caitlin said it is key. It equates both situations and shows that (1) makes him realize he’s become his father (2) shows Caitlin as someone he does care about. This would explain why he took Caitlin, he realizes she’s a weakness for him now.
- It was weird yet very satisfying to see that Joe is helping Wells find Jessie. They’ve almost never gotten along, but they are both loving fathers, so this was very much enjoyed.
- Something about the “Do you believe in destiny Caitlin”/”Maybe for you” exchange makes me feel like something is coming in regards to Caitlin. I don’t know what though. Maybe she DOES get ice powers. Or maybe she has no destiny and dies. Again, for the sake of my Poor Panda Heart… I hope it’s #1 and Caitlin becomes a not-so-killer Frost. Perhaps a new version of the DC heroine Ice 😉
- Was anyone else expecting Wally to get shot with the pure speed force and that’s how he becomes Kid Flash?
Next week, we’ll see Barry once again try to reclaim his speed; but this time the stakes are higher as a metahuman not only attacks the city; but also the fates of Caitlin – and apparently Dr Wells – hang in the balance. So stay tuned for more Closer Looks!