The Flash: The Race of His Life

BOOM. In one episode this series just totally turned around everything I thought I knew about where The Flash was going. Some people will be on Barry's side; some people will be on everyone else's. Me? I feel for every character on this show right now, except maybe for Zoom.

This freaking awesome season finale had me asking throughout: What is Zoom's ultimate game? Teddy Sears in the role of Hunter Zolomon showed serious acting chops. He somehow manages to come off batshit crazy and completely sane at the same time–a very difficult feat. I started catching on early that all of this "I want to make you like me" stuff was really Zoom baiting Barry. The idea that Zoom was trying to trick Barry into becoming fuel for his world-destroying pulsar Magnetar machine, enabling Zoom's megalomania and giving him complete power over a single Earth was among the better villain plots I've heard lately.

I frankly almost thought he would pull it off, get Barry to completely lose control and wind up giving his power to Zoom. Why? Because it became clear early on that Zolomon completely FUBARed Barry by murdering Henry. I wasn't a fan of the whole racing concept, but I give points where they're due: the way Barry was acting, how he was being manipulated by Zoom through the murder of Henry Allen, and Zolomon's face throughout sold me on this part of the plot. Think about it. Barry saved his father from jail only to lose him to a supervillain after failing to save his mother. From the beginning it was clear Barry was going to pinwheel somehow. While I don't think the trapping of Barry was necessarily the brightest idea, I have to admit the team had a point. Barry has not been thinking rationally since he got back from the Speed Force. From euphoric high to dysphoric low–from the world is perfect to the hero is broken–he's been going up and down faster than a yo-yo on the finger-knives of Edward Scissorhands. It was great having Wally be the one to release Barry.

The ultimate fight drew on everyone's talents, from Caitlin's insight to Cisco's burgeoning powers to Joe's very impressive metahuman-handling skills: and OMG so much on Barry. Every stage of the highly developed fight was well choreographed, from Barry taking a chapter from Zoom's playbook with the time remnants to the other Barry sacrificing himself (neatly turning Zoom's "be willing to kill them" on its head), to Zoom being taken by the Time Wraiths in a manner that reminded me and everyone watching with me of the end of the movie Ghost. Almost as freaking fantastic as their winning this fight, was the subsequent reveal: the Man in the Iron Mask is Jay Garrick (I called that part) is actually Henry Allen's doppelgänger from Earth–2 (I didn't call that.) I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this return for John Wesley Shipp; back into the fleet feet of the original Flash. The acting was, I thought again, incredible; you could see a different personality shining out from behind the messy beard of this series' very own castaway, a regal hero. Not that Henry Allen wasn't heroic in his own way, but kudos: this show really shines at portraying different versions of the same people.

So: episode almost over. Zoom is gone, and the world and the worlds are safe and everyone's smiling even though Barry's just rejected Iris and I'm tweeting OMG EVERYONE IS SMILING THIS MEANS SOMETHING BAD IS GOING TO HAPPEN.

And something does: Barry cracks, unable to deal with the pressure of both parents being lost, and literally erases Season Two. No wonder he doesn't want to have the happy with Iris. He knows he's going to erase them all. He's already decided. He leaves. He runs back to the events shown in "Fast Enough" and this time, instead of listening to the Reverse-Flash stab his mother while hiding behind a door, pushes aside the Man in the Yellow Suit, injures him severely enough to not have to worry about him, goes to his helplessly sobbing mother and tells her she doesn't need to be afraid.

Then he looks up at himself coming out from behind the door, at the Barry from a year ago: a Barry first shocked, then pleased, then grinning and ecstatic, then gone. Vanished into nothing. Erased, like Season Two, an Iris who's become interesting, the defeat of Zoom, and the defeat of the Reverse-Flash (who might or might not be still in the game.) Cast adrift in time, like Michael J. Fox's hapless family in Back to the Future, or Jane Seymour from Somewhere in Time? Can you blame Barry, who's now lost so much, from trying to fix even one of his mistakes: even if fixing that mistake costs Barry his family and friends?

But OMG this is going to be a long summer hiatus.


What happened to the tachyon accelerator thingy? I honestly thought they were going to pull this out to give Barry an edge. Not like he needed it - once he got going, he kicked Zoomy butt.

The Transformers jab. Love it.

When the Flash team told Barry they'd taken over, I had a flashback to Buffy Season 7, when the team fired the titular Slayer.

Throughout this episode we saw Joe demonstrating mucho skill at handling the metahumans. I wanna bet his developing skills will be addressed next season.

There's a lot of comics references here. I think they are fun to read and read about, but I also want to emphasize how clear it is this show is not necessarily following print canon and that in doing so they are creating something far more interesting that they might otherwise. What comics references did you catch? I think I caught two, but am hesitant to say anything since I only read a few of the comics.

I feel like I don't trust the Speed Force for some reason. You?


Cisco: "Jay may be crazy-pants, but he can pick a venue."

Iris: "Seeing you happy... this is all I've ever wanted for you."

In a Flash

Last year's season finale was good. This year's was better. By building on the emotional arc for Barry of the entire first and second season, the writers have managed to pull off a slingshot effect catapulting this series into a new level.

Five out of five. Just... five outta five.


Diogo said...

So I watched that ending and at first I just thought: "hmm, interesting, I wonder how it will play out in the next season?"
Then I was scrolling through the internet and it hit me:
OMG! THEY'RE DOING THE FLASHPOINT PARADOX!!! My favourite Flash storyline!
Of course, it won't be exactly like the Flashpoint Paradox, because Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and the like don't exist in this universe yet, but still! I'm sure they'll do something interesting with the Arrow characters in this alternate timeline.

(For anyone who's curious, I suggest watching the excellent "Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox" animated film, which is one of the best DC animated films to come out so far, even though it's a little dark)

JRS said...

That's what I was thinking, because I saw the animated film–does it follow the comics closely? Seems like a potential crossover for Supergirl and the Legends of Tomorrow folks too, the ones that are left.

Billie Doux said...

The Flash rocked this season. I was watching this episode with my son, who is familiar with the comics, and he went nuts during the finale. Whatever they have in mind, they certainly are going for bold storytelling. No namby-pamby season finale for the Flash Powers That Be. :) I'm sure whatever happens will involve the other three DC shows somehow, too.

CrimsonLine said...

For what it's worth, the man in the iron mask was Henry's doppelgänger from Earth-3, not Earth-2. On Earth-2, Henry Allen's doppelgänger had to be named "Henry Allen" in order for Earth-2’s Barry Allen to be "Barry Allen." I love this show. :)

antman said...

I loved all the easter eggs, and nods. having John Wesley Shipp become the real Jay Garrick! talk about full circle moment! also, the fact they showed the Black Flash ( read Flash REbirth by Geoff Johns) and the fact that they are gonna do Flash Point ( the comic, and the animated movie Flash Point Paradox) is insanity and thrillingly exciting at the same time! I'm blown away by how much history and mythology of the scarlet speedster that the show's writers and team have embraced and managed to adapt. truly superb in terms of season finale and cliff hanger. what a time as a comicbook fan to be alive!

antman said...

@JRS yes, the FlashPoint PAradox film follows the comic closely, but like all adaptions has its own tweaks to it. In my opinion , I remember reading the comic before the whole New 52 happened back in 2011 and then seeing the animated movie a few years after and I thought that the movie was a lot more better ,where as the comic felt rushed ( it was only 5 issues).

Thomas Ijon Tichy said...

Fun tidbit: Earth-3 is the evil mirror universe of DC canon, where Bruce Wayne was killed with his parents and Owlman (Thomas Wayne Jr) is the evil Batman along with evil versions of most DC superheroes. It's been speculated that Gotham is influenced by Earth-3 canon and Gotham's finale just introduced Thomas.