The Flash: 2.23 The Race of His Life
The Flash season two has been a bit of a mixed bag, filled with brilliant ideas but not always brilliant execution. The portals to other multiverses, arising from the black hole created in last year's season finale, offered the show the chance to visit other worlds, alternate versions of beloved characters and expand the scope beyond the show's original premise. No longer was the Flash tasked with taking down evil metahumans created from the same explosion as him; now multiple worlds were at stake. And at the heart of it was the villainous speedster Zoom
The Race of His Life was the culmination of all these events; after last week's disappointing invasion of Zoom's army of metahumans from Earth 2, this was all about the Flash vs Zoom. The villain's murder of Henry Allen in Invincible's closing moments provided plenty of drama and some interesting plot developments, ones that made it a surprisingly strong season finale. Well mostly.
The central plot was silly; Zoom wanted to race Barry to see who was faster. It certainly elicited a snigger from me, though it did redeem itself with a slightly insidious plan behind it. Zoom needed Barry to charge the device stolen from Mercury Labs to destroy all the multiverses but this one, leaving Zoom ready to conquer this world and prove that he was the fastest man alive. It was so OTT - more so perhaps that Damien Darhk's equally ridiculous plan to blast the earth in a nuclear holocaust over in Arrow - but then he had someone to match him; Barry Allen.
I think I am starting to miss the fun Barry of old; I thought we would get this after his encounter with the speedforce a couple of weeks ago but the death of his father in his childhood home seems to have set him back further than before (at least he acknowledged the closure he had got with his mother). We've already seen him make on idiotic decision this season, giving up his powers to Zoom to save his friends and this week he was ready to do it again. Ready to race Zoom, even at the risk of activating the device and obliterating every other alternate universe because Zoom threatened his friends. I don't think I've been as frustrated with a hero so much as I have been with Barry Allen these past few weeks.
Thank god then for the rest of the team at Star Labs making the one sane decision and locking Barry up to stop him going through with his ridiculous plan. Its was a great twist, even if it showed just how fallible the show's hero was. I don't mind fallibility but stupidity, particularly twice is just very frustrating to watch and The Flash is playing a very fine line between the two. And I actually thought Team Flash's plan to trap Zoom was rather well played, even if it did result in Joe being kidnapped and taken to Zoom's cell in Earth 2. I wondered if the show would be as bold as to kill off two father figures, though perhaps there was already too much trauma with Henry's death.
Fortunately, Barry's plan aside, the rest of the finale was rather great. The brutal smackdown between Zoom and the Flash across Central City made for a thrilling opening and there was a brilliant double take moment of Zoom killing himself (by using time travel to create two versions of himself). That in turn led to the dramatic finale where Barry - freed by Wally - finally took on Zoom. Okay, it was still a little ridiculous - the race to see who could beat the other - but the stakes had been raised and Barry traveling back to create two versions of himself was very exciting to watch, his second self's death by vaporising particularly brutal.
But not as brutal as Zoom's; his messing with speed, hunting Flash's from other realities finally came back to bite him and his death was possibly the nastiest the show had done. Taken by the time wraiths, his body burning to leave a bloody skull along one side of the face, it was a shocking but satisfying demise for this villain. His reveal as 'Jay Garrick' might have taken some of the wind out of the character but he has been a formidable threat this season and with his demonic black costume and Tony Todd's forbidding voice, he is a bad guy The Flash will find hard to beat.
I imagine a lot of fans were angered by the reveal that Zoom was Jay Garrick, so there was some great redemption here for that character as it was revealed Zoom was only pretending to be Jay. The reveal that the real alternate Flash was Henry Allen was a great moment - and a chance for John Wesley Shipp to make further appearances on the show - plus a nice nod to his role as The Flash in the 90's version of the show.
The Race of His Life was a thrilling finale and a fitting sendoff for Zoom with some great twists; the man in the iron mask paying off most of all. But the one character that I found myself frustrated with was the hero and even after the final victory, he showed his stupidity again, rushing back through time to save his mother. I am sure this is going to open up some intriguing new story ideas, perhaps serving as a soft reboot of the show with a changed timeline? I'm looking forward to the next season of The Flash but I can't say I am excited as I was after season one. There have definitely been some struggle with season two; let's hope the show can knock it out of the bag with a stronger and more consistent season three.