Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Flash Recap: "Versus Zoom" (2x18)

Warning: spoilers for The Flash. This episode of The Flash deals with darker themes, including serial killers, shock therapy, and really terrifying bad guys.

After a few week's hiatus, The Flash returned with another breathtaking episode. Barry and the STAR Labs team have figured out a way to increase Barry's speed. Now they must open a portal to Earth-2 and confront Zoom once and for all. But Zoom isn't who they think he is, and stopping him won't be as simple as they think.

This is The Flash!

Earth-2: Twenty Years Ago
A little boy wakes up to his parents fighting in the other room. He leaves his bed and walks down the hall to find his father looming over his mother. The father wears a metal helmet with wings--just like Jay's helmet. The father yells about being a hero, but the mother says he's nothing but a monster. The father sees the little boy and beckons him forward. He hands the boy the helmet before loading a gun. Then, he shoots the mother.

The boy rides in a car to a building surrounded by a fence. He holds the helmet as he is led inside. The escort says the boy is named Hunter Zolomon and that his father killed his mother and then himself. He has no relatives; he's alone. A lady takes him up the stairs to a room--his new home.

Earth-1: Present Day
Barry is outside Central City to test the new device that will increase his speed. He attaches it to his chest and turns it on. Cisco, Caitlin, and Iris track his speed as he races back to STAR Labs. Barry can run four times faster than his normal speed, which is faster than Zoom. The next step: find a way back to Earth-2. However, when Barry asks Harry for help re-opening the breaches, Harry refuses. He's still afraid Zoom will overpower them and target the ones they love. He's still worried about Jessie. Team Flash decides to figure it out without Harry. Iris tells Barry she's going on another date with Scott tonight, and Barry says he thinks that it's great she's able to feel comfortable enough to move on.

(SCIENCE BABES. Yes, that includes Cisco.--source)

Barry and Joe discuss Harry and the breaches over dinner. Joe agrees with Harry that opening the breaches and facing Zoom isn't the best idea. Wally comes in and tells Joe he doesn't live on campus anymore because of the cost. Joe offers to help pay for it, but Wally refuses.

Barry returns to STAR Labs to find Cisco and Caitlin hard at work but without any solid results. (Because setting off a nuclear bomb outside of the city is a terrible idea.) But his interaction with Joe and Wally gave Barry an idea. He asks Harry about Cisco's Earth-2 doppelganger, Reverb. Reverb could see in between the universes, but he also had another ability: shooting vortex energy from his hands. It's possible Cisco can do the same, which would allow him to open up a breach to Earth-2. Cisco tries, but he can't do it. Barry is certain Cisco can, but he wonders if STAR Labs isn't the best place to try it.

Harry visits Joe to ask him to convince Barry not to open the breaches. While Joe thinks it's a crazy plan, Joe knows he can't talk Barry out of doing something that involves saving other people. Instead, Joe tells Harry to help Barry. If Harry helps, Barry will have a better chance of stopping Zoom. (I actually love Joe West so much. He's a wonderful character. I'm so grateful he can be a detective, a dad, and a wonderful character all in one.)

(This is my favorite. Harry is just so... DONE.--source)

Barry and Cisco track down a location with high levels of residue left over from a breach. Cisco tries to summon his abilities again, but he fails. Harry, however, arrives with Reverb's goggles. He's recalibrated them for this earth, and he tells Cisco to try again. Cisco puts them on, and it works. The energy flows from his hands and creates a breach.

Cisco: "Just like Reverb. All I'm missing is the guyliner and the transformation's complete."

On Earth-2, Zoom senses the breach and races to find it. But Cisco stops and pulls off the goggles. He freaks out, telling Barry not to make him do this. Then he runs off.

(So cool! So cool! So Cool!--source)

Back at STAR Labs, Harry helps Barry with speed force stuff. Iris and Joe arrive to help out. Joe asks Barry about the whole Wally situation, and Barry tells him to offer Wally a place to live. Caitlin talks to Iris because she seems sad. Iris says she didn't go on her date last night. She says that everything feels like it's telling her she'll end up with Barry, and now that she's ready to move on, she wonders if it should be with Barry and not someone else. Joe offers Wally a place to stay at the West house. (This is such a nice moment. I'm so happy for Daddy Joe West.)

Joe: "Live here. I mean, it's yours if you want to."
Wally: "You're serious?"
Joe: "I'm not gonna do your laundry. And I'm not washing dishes after you. And this bed is going to be made every morning before you leave.  And there will be no beer in that fridge, but yeah, it's yours."
(I'm not crying. I'm not crying.--source)

At STAR Labs, Barry talks to Cisco about the breaches and Zoom. But Cisco isn't worried about Zoom--he's worried about himself. Using Star Wars, he explains to Barry why. He's worried he'll become what Reverb became--that he'll turn to the dark side. But Barry reassures him. Reverb didn't have Barry to be with him every step of the way; Cisco does. (Gosh, this episode is really pulling at my heartstrings.)

Cisco: "It's like right now I'm Anakin Skywalker. I got the midi-chlorians. I've got the goods.  The force is strong with me. That is something I can feel.  But if I start opening breaches into other worlds, doing all this other crazy stuff Reverb was doing, then ...  what if this is how I become Vader?"
(I'm definitely crying.--source)

Harry revamps the speed force device for Barry's suit, so he's all set to face off against Zoom. Barry talks to Caitlin, comforting her over Jay. She mentions that Jay's doppelganger on their earth was Hunter Zolomon. Harry overhears and tells them that on Earth-2 Hunter Zolomon was a convicted serial killer. (Oh boy.) He shows them the last known picture of Hunter Zolomon; he's got a shaggy beard and crazed eyes.

As Harry tells Hunter Zolomon's story, there are flashbacks depicting the events. Hunter Zolomon was convicted for twenty-three murders. He was sent to an insane asylum after the trial and given daily doses of shock therapy. Then, dark matter seeped into the asylum. Harry tried to stop it with the particle accelerator, but it didn't work. Instead, it created an unstoppable monster: Zoom.

Barry says that Zoom isn't unstoppable any more, and he wants to use Hunter's past to stop him. They set up an elaborate trap at STAR Labs. Harry brings Joe, Caitlin, and Iris into the secret room to keep them safe from Zoom. But he gives them a few weapons just in case. Barry and Cisco open up a portal to Earth-2. (I'm so proud of you, Cisco!) Immediately, Zoom bursts through. Barry confronts him, then challenges him to catch him. They take off through the city. (This is glorious! The dual lightning colors are fantastic.) Zoom gains on Barry, but the speed force device works, so Barry stays out of Zoom's clutches. He leads Zoom to STAR Labs.

Barry taunts him again, and they race around STAR Labs. They've set up cut-outs of significant people in Hunter's life: his father and his mother. While Hunter is distracted, Barry restrains him and pulls off his mask. Face-to-face, Barry tells him about the doppelganger, but Hunter is only angry. He's dying, and he wants a permanent cure. He doesn't care how many lives it takes.

Barry: "You just don't care how many lives you destroy trying to get it? How many people you kill?"
Zoom: "No, I don't! That feeling was taken from me a long time ago. We're not so different. What happened to us when we were kids. You could have just as easily become me."
Barry: "No, I'd never become like you."

Hunter says it's about time he got what he came for, but Barry says no. Hunter says that you can't lock up the darkness. Then, his eyes turn black, and his voice changes. He vibrates, knocking off the restraint. He runs. Barry chases him, but Zoom disappears. (Duh-duh-DUN!)

Barry, Joe, and Iris return home to find the house ransacked. Barry checks for Wally upstairs, but he's gone. A message is scrawled across the wall: Your speed for Wally. (Uh-oh!) Wally is locked in a cage in Zoom's lair. The man with the iron mask taps against the window, but Zoom shows up. He says only one person can save Wally now: the Flash. Wally is bewildered that the Flash would care about him, but Zoom says the Flash cares about someone who cares about Wally.

The team tries to come up with a way to save Wally and stop Zoom without Barry giving up his speed, but there isn't any other way. Joe storms out, upset, so Barry goes to talk to him. Joe says Barry can't give up his speed, but he wants Wally back too. Barry says Wally is a part of their family now, and families do whatever they have to in order to keep their family safe. (I love that this show is so focused on the theme of family. It's wonderfully refreshing.) Barry says giving up his speed is the only way to save Wally.

They return to STAR Labs. Cisco uses the goggles to contact Zoom. Zoom arrives with Wally. Barry approaches, dressed as the Flash, and agrees to Zoom's deal. Zoom removes his mask and smirks. (Poor Caitlin. She looks absolutely crushed that Jay is Zoom.) Harry explains he has a device that will take Barry's speed and turn it into serum that Zoom will be able to inject into himself. Harry then looks at Hunter and says someday he'll knock that smug smile off his face.

Barry asks Hunter if this was his plan all along, and Hunter says yes, ever since he saw another world. Iris then asks about Jay's death. Hunter says he did die, but Jay was a time remnant of himself. He went back in time after they closed the breaches and convinced himself to go along with this plan. Barry asks about the man in the iron mask, but Jay says he wouldn't believe him. (Curses! I want to know who it is! Come on!) Joe asks about the charade of being the Flash for Earth-2, and Hunter says it was fun to pretend to be a hero. It gave people hope, and then he ripped it away. Caitlin say he's no hero, only a monster. This gives Hunter major flashbacks to his mother saying the same thing to his father. (I sense this will be important later. A hint that Hunter Zolomon can be redeemed for his acts?)

Zoom: "It's so fun pretending to be a hero."
Caitlin: "You're no hero. You're nothing but a monster."

Barry gets on Harry's device and begins to run. Faster and faster, he runs as the vial fills up with his speed force. He slows down as it leaves his body. Then he falls off the device, exhausted. Harry gives the vial to Zoom, who immediately injects it. As the new speed force merges with is body, he laughs and his eyes turn black and glow with multiple colors of lightning. (This is actually terrifying!)

He grabs Barry and pins him to the wall. Caitlin runs over, telling him to stop. She says that if anything that happened between them was real, he would let Barry go. She said she believes there is a piece of him that did care about her. Hunter releases Barry. Then, he grabs Caitlin and zooms away. (Duh-duh-DUN!)

Concluding Thoughts
I was a little worried that the revelation of who Zoom actually was would be disappointing. But I can say it was not. I loved seeing his backstory. While he's definitely a monster, it was heartbreaking to see the tragedy he went through at such a young age. I love that the two different earths bred different kinds of speedsters. And I'm impressed by Teddy Sears' acting throughout this entire season. He made me fall in love with Jay just as much as Caitlin did. I trusted him; I thought he was cool; I even rooted him on. But he also has made me loathe him by how he portrayed Hunter Zolomon's criminal persona and Zoom thus far. Excellent job!

This episode had many tender moments whether it was between Joe and Barry, Joe and Wally, Barry and Cisco, and even Harry and Barry. Seeing how much Harry cares for Jessie is still heart-wrenching. I also feel for Iris. She must be so overwhelmed with everything lately. And poor Caitlin! I was shocked that Zoom kidnapped her. I look forward to whatever comes next with this show. This entire season has been a wild ride. The Flash has yet to disappoint!

What did you think of "Versus Zoom"? How did you feel about the back story of Hunter Zolomon?


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