By Justin Carter
The Flash hasn’t exactly won a lot of people this year with Zoom. He started out pretty intimidatingly, thanks to some great design and the voice acting talents of Tony Todd (the voice, if not the face behind the masked Zoom), but the mystery surrounding Zoom’s identity went on a little too long to feel satisfying when the curtain was finally pulled back. What should have been a reveal for the mid-season finale was instead only played out roughly a month ago. Thankfully, this is a fun enough episode to almost make the wait worth it.
As it turns out, Earth-2’s Jay Garrick has been Hunter Zolomon this whole time. Zolomon grew up with an abusive father who killed his mom and gave the kid his wartime helmet. Put into an orphanage because no one in the rest of his family wanted him, Zolomon ended up becoming the rarest thing in Earth-2 — a serial killer. Unfortunately, during his electroshock therapy session (after a high body count landed him in a mental asylum), the particle accelerator went off and gave him his super speed.
Teddy Sears did good work as Jay, but for some people, it’ll be hard to separate who he’s been for most of the season with who he is now. While all of this is just a retread of last year’s “the team gets betrayed by their mentor” storyline, he looks really good in the suit and comes across desperate and unhinged pretty well. If nothing else, he’s definitely got the “evil smirk” that villainous speedsters have down pat.
There are still some things I’m unclear on, such as how he came up with the name “Jay Garrick” or why he kidnapped Wally specifically to draw Barry out and get his speed, though. But pulling double duty as Flash and Zoom to give his world hope and yank it away? Yeah, that’s a villain alright.
It’s pretty easy to see the parallels between him and Barry, something the show is all too eager to point out about four or five times. The importance of family strength is stressed heavily thanks to Wally wanting to move in with Joe but not knowing exactly how to say that and Cisco wanting to use his powers without becoming the Earth-1 equivalent of Reverb. Both storylines work; it’s been long proven that Jesse L. Martin has chemistry with everyone in this cast, and that holds true with Keiynan Lonsdale. It genuinely feels like a father and son coming together after being apart for years when the two of them stand in Wally’s new room. And Cisco’s struggle mostly tracks; even though it’s hard to buy him being evil because he’s…well, Cisco. It makes sense that he’d freak out about that. It’s nice to see him and Barry bond like bros.
Of course, it’s after all the family stuff has been said and done that it hits the fan. There’s not much in the way of punching, but watching Barry outrun Zoom is still really cool. Watching him run to give Zolomon his speed, not as much. I’m not really sure what was stopping the team from taking out Zolomon then and there beyond “because then the season would be over,” especially since Wally was already taken to safety. This may be explained later, ditto whatever weird Exorcist stuff was going on him as he put the Speed Force into his body, but for the moment, we just have a de-powered Barry and a kidnapped Caitlin. There’s worse ways to end an episode, I guess. Weird end logic aside, “Versus Zoom” does a good job of shedding light on our bad guy and thankfully narrows down the focus for the next handful of episodes.
- Wondering how Zolomon managed to kill Jay? Turns out that Jay was a time remnant that he convinced to let himself get killed for the sake of the mission. And yes, that’s as confusing and convoluted as it sounds.
- What about the Man in the Mask? All Zolomon cryptically says is “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” Hmm, who could it be…
- Iris had a date with her boss, but she canceled because she thinks she’s in love with Barry. Which, that’s fine, but maybe don’t use “we’re married in Earth-2” as your logic.
- I’m not sure if this happened everywhere, but one of the commercial breaks for my airing said “The Flash is brought to you by Captain America: Civil War!” I don’t know who came up with that, but kudos to them.
- There’s no way Joe and Iris can keep Barry’s identity a secret from Wally, considering they stood in front of him pointing guns at his kidnapper.