The Flash: “Versus Zoom” Season 2 Episode 18 Review

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Whoa. Did The Flash just tie every little subplot into the fight against Zoom? Sure, there were some significant narrative hoops and unbelievable character decisions to get there. But if you’ve been paying attention, Flash’s war with Zoom just roped in Wally’s assimilation to the West family, Cisco’s growing powers, and the Caitlin/Jay romance into its tangled web. Mistakes and all, this is an impressive feat. “Versus Zoom” has a focus that these CW superhero shows can usually only dream of. Unfortunately, when something is this cohesive and acts this intelligent, it only just makes the errors stand out more.

The parallels between Barry’s and Hunter Zolomon’s origins was easily the best part of the episode. The Flash doesn’t hold back on finally pulling the curtain back on the season’s big bad. Seeing Zoom’s father with that iconic helmet before he shoots his mother was truly haunting. Flash and Zoom were both created by the death of their mother at about the same age, pulling familiar strings to trigger an emotion and understanding of Zoom well before he started killing.

Zoom was also created by Dr. Wells’ particle accelerator explosion, but the one on Earth-2. A serial killer on death row, the electric chair went off at just the right, or wrong, moment, combining electricity to give him the Speed Force. Though where Barry’s life seemingly started anew after the accident, Zolomon has always been dying from his powers. They’re two sides of Harvey Dent’s coin if you will, Barry the clean side, Zolomon the scratched-out, blackened side.

After his backstory is unveiled, “Versus Zoom” takes its time setting up its epic encounter with Zoom. Cisco has to get more comfortable with his powers while the Wally/Joe dynamic gets some really sweet moments. Not all the drama in this subplot has worked, but something about the way Wally called Joe “dad” was really worth it.

Once Cisco allows Zoom to make his way to Earth-1, the episode gets more exciting. The way they initially capture him, using his past to torture him, was very cool. But then Barry and the team harshly underestimate Zoom’s abilities and let him phase out of his handcuffs. It’s a frustrating moment that’s clearly just to get us to the next plot point, which is Barry trading his speed for a captive Wally West. For all the times Barry has faced tough decisions to defeat his foes, even when things got personal, this felt cheap. I really hope that it turns out Barry was tricking Zoom into thinking all his speed was taken, but it looked pretty definitive. Obviously it won’t last. The Flash needs the Flash and his powers. But I don’t buy this new conflict, especially since we’ve seen the team work through more difficult decisions than this in the past.

Zoom took Caitlin before he left, which weirdly indicates some level of humanity to him. Though I’m not sure exactly how he feels them if it was really his younger self the whole time, just so he could show the team the death of Jay Garrick. That whole thing is a pretty big stretch and, when you start to think about it, really makes zero sense. If his younger self died, how is he still wreaking havoc on the present? The Flash hasn’t quite defined its time travel philosophies, making this moment difficult to swallow.

So for all “Versus Zoom” gets right, the things it gets wrong are fairly large. Still, season two’s many threads came together neatly enough that the episode as whole works really well. But had the writers found some better ways to navigate the problems here, this could have been one of The Flash‘s best episodes. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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