With the tachyon device designed by The Reverse Flash assembled, Barry thinks he's now fast enough to take the fight to Zoom. But how will he breach the boundaries between worlds again? The answer may lie within Cisco. But does Barry really know what he's in for?
The Flash comics of Geoff Johns (character of Zoom) and the Star Wars movies (Cisco's trying to access his powers is like various young Jedi trying to tap into The Force and Cisco even refers to his fears of becoming Darth Vader.)
Given how famous Hunter Zolomon apparently is on Earth Two, you'd think Harry Wells might have made a connection between him and Zoom before now. At the very least, the disappearance of such an infamous criminal should have attracted attention even if no one immediately connected him to the super-fast criminal gang-leader who appeared at roughly the same time.
Just how did Zoom get back to Earth Two without Cisco's help? We saw Cisco close the breach after Zoom emerged from it. For that matter, how does Zoom leave Earth Two again to return Wally to Earth One? (Presumably Cisco weakened the fabric enough that Zoom could travel independently as he did before? THIS IS CONFIRMED IN THE NEXT EPISODE.)
This is a great episode for Jesse L. Martin, who hasn't had much to do this season. His scenes bonding with Wally and talking father-to-father with Harry are both great moments. But his best scene in the episode comes near the end when it is Barry who has to comfort him in a tough moment for once. Playing a tough guy falling apart is a tricky task but Martin makes it look easy.
It's a "blink and you'll miss it" moment, but Candice Patton gets a great moment of non-verbal acting as we see the disappointment on her face when Barry doesn't seem upset about the idea of her going out on a date with another man.
Danielle Panabaker hasn't been given much chance to explore Caitlin's reactions to her latest love interest turning out to be a villain. But she makes the most of what little time she has in this episode.
Bart Sears transforms himself in this episode, seeming to be an entirely different actor that we saw earlier in the season in his portrayal of the unmasked Zoom.
The special effects throughout the episode are amazing.
While this show doesn't usually match Arrow in fight-choreography, the fight between Zoom and Flash in the fourth segment is a great one in terms of blocking and movement.
In the original The Flash comics, Hunter Zolomon was the second villain to take on the identity of Professor Zoom, though he usually went by Zoom for short. After his father was outed as a serial killer and murdered his mother during a police stand-off, Zolomon went to college and studied to become a criminal psychologist. He specialized in the profiling of low-level super-villains and eventually married his college girlfriend, who was the daughter of his mentor and favorite professor.
Tragedy struck when an on-the-job mistake caused the death of Hunter's mentor. As a result of the incident, his wife left him, he was fired from his job with the FBI and his leg was injured in such a way that he was permanently unfit for field work. He eventually found work with the Keystone City Police Department, where he befriended the third Flash, Wally West, and helped him with a number of cases
Hunter Zolomon became Zoom after an attack by Gorilla Grodd left him paralyzed from the waist down. When The Flash refused to use his powers to go back in time and prevent Zolomon's injuries, he attempted to use The Cosmic Treadmill in The Flash Museum to go back in time himself. The resulting explosion caused Zolomon to become "unstuck" in time, giving him the ability to control the speed and direction in which he traveled through time. This effectively gave him powers that appeared to be the equivalent of super-speed, without him connecting to the same Speed Force as other speedsters. The accident also drove Zolomon insane, causing him to fixate on the idea that heroes need tragedy to define them to become better. This caused him to focus on attacking the loved ones of various heroes - particularly The Flash.
Apart from the common starting-point of having a father who killed his mother, the DCTVU version of Hunter Zolomon is a totally different character than the comics version. The DCTVU Zoom lost his mother as a child whereas the comic version was about to graduate high-school when his mother died. The DCTVU Zoom was inspired to become a serial-killer rather than a crime-fighter by his murderous father and he gained his powers while receiving electroshock-therapy at the time of The STAR Labs Particle Accelerator Explosion on Earth 2. He claims to have created the Jay Garrick persona as a joke - a means of giving people hope only to snatch it away when their hero - The Flash - proved helpless in the face of a more powerful villain. This is in total opposition to the comics' Zoom, whose motivation is to make heroes better.
This episode features several mentions of Keystone City. When Barry is first testing the tachyon device, we see a bulletin board advertising the Keystone Waterfront Development. Later, Barry and Joe both talk over how great the pizza in Keystone City is. In the DC Comics Universe, Keystone City was the original home of the Jay Garrick Flash. In the post-Crisis DCU, it is the sister city of Central City.
The exact location of Keystone City in the United States has varied from story to story, with some comics placing it in Ohio or Pennsylvania. Generally it is agreed that Keystone City is in Kansas and Central City is in Missouri, with the two having a relationship and position similar to that of Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri in the DC Universe.
The episode confirms that Cisco Ramon - like his Earth Two counterpart - has the ability to tap into the energy between dimensions and manipulate it. This is a rather broad definition of the powers exhibited by the New 52 version of Vibe in the comics.
The New 52 Vibe was able to create focused seismic blasts, sense the presence of other-dimensional beings, travel to other dimensions and even shut off the flow of energy from other dimensions, such as The Speed Force. Based on this episode, it appears that the DCTVU version of Cisco has the exact same abilities.
The tachyon device powers up the Speed Force in Barry's cells like a quick-charge battery. Barry describes the feeling as "different'.
The tachyon device allows Barry to run four-times faster than his maximum recorded top-speed with no visible effect on his vital signs. This is even faster than they've recorded Zoom moving.
Wells describes Reverb's powers as being able to tap into the multi-dimensional energies that separate the Earths. This allowed him to see through dimensions, detect people who traveled through the breaches between Earths and shoot focused vibrational bursts through his hands.
Barry theorizes that this would allow him to open breaches between worlds, which means Cisco could do the same thing. He is proven right, though Cisco needs his goggles to do it and has to do it at the site of a previously open breach.
Harry recalibrates Cisco's goggles to the electromagnetic frequency of Earth One.
Harry also creates a "tachyon absorption enhancer upgrade", based on the technology he once used to steal Barry's Speed Force energy. It will now do the reverse, allowing Barry to gain more Speed Force energy as he runs.
Cisco suggests weaponizing his goggles as a way to stop Zoom. Harry dismisses this, saying they don't have time.
Caitlin suggests modifying their pulse rifles to emit a low level EMF. Harry dismisses this saying they don't have the equipment.
Barry: Sometimes terrible things happen to us when we're children. Things that can define who we become. Whether we want them to or not. Some of us become stronger. The people who took me in helped me heal and move past everything that happened. They are responsible for who I've become today. But I know that I'm one of the lucky ones. Not everyone gets that kind of support. Without it, I don't know where I could have ended up or what I could have become.
(Barry explains that Harry refuses to work on finding a way back to Earth Two)
Joe: Well, I can't believe I'm saying this about a man I shot at and punched in the face, but I think you should listen to him.
Harry: There's another thing also, Detective. A favor. I would ask you to talk Barry out of reopening the breaches to my Earth.
Joe: Ah. I can't do that.
Harry: No? You can't find a way to change his mind for both our children's sakes?
Joe: Look, I think it's just as dumb as you do, but I learned a long time ago I can't talk Barry out of anything once he sets his mind to it. Zoom is terrorizing this other world - your world. He can't let it go. But look, why don't you do me a favor? Go with Barry. Help him.
Harry: Help him? Why would I do that?
Joe: Because he's got a much better chance of defeating Zoom if you're involved.
Caitlin: Are you okay?
Iris: I don't know what I am. (sighs) Last night I was supposed to go on a date. My first real date since Eddie died. But at the last second, I just - I couldn't do it.
Caitlin: Is it because of Eddie? Or because of Barry?
(Iris just blinks. She was not expecting that.)
Caitlin: I've noticed the way you've been looking at him recently.
Iris: Is it that obvious?!
Caitlin: Only to a woman who's been through the same thing.
Iris: Everything seems to be telling me that Barry and I are meant to be together. I mean, on Earth Two, we're married. In the future, we're supposedly married! And now that I'm finally ready to move on, I just wonder if that should be with Barry.
Caitlin: Everything seems to be pointing in that direction.
Iris: Do you believe in destiny?
Caitlin: Maybe for you.
Barry: Look, um - I know what it's like. Zoom? Getting him in your head? How scary that can be.
(Cisco sighs and turns around from his work station.)
Cisco: It's not Zoom. It's me.
Barry: What do you mean it's you?
Cisco: It's like right now I'm Annikan Skywalker. I've got the midichloreans. I've got the goods. The Force is strong with me. THAT is something I can feel. But if I start opening breaches to other worlds, doing all this other crazy stuff Reverb was doing, then... what if this is how I become Vader?
Barry: Dude, you're never going to become Vader -
Cisco: You don't know that! That is what happened to Reverb! He learned how to use his abilities and when he felt that - when he felt that power? He succumbed to the dark side.
Barry: Look, I get it. I really do. Every time I've learned a new ability, I've been terrified about what it might mean for me. What it could do to me, you know? But you were there with me. When I learned how to run on water? When I ran up a building? Or traveled through time? Just like I'm going to be there every step of the way with you. You've got something that Reverb never had. And that's Caitlin and Joe and Iris and Wells and me. Friends who are going to look out for you. And we're more than just friends - we're your family.
Barry: We would have helped you. We would have done anything we could to save your life.
Zoom: Not everything.
Barry: Caitlin found you a cure!
Zoom: A temporary one! I'm dying, Barry! There's only one thing that can get me what I need!
Barry: And 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.
Joe: Barry, I know you... can't give up your speed to that monster, but... I also know that I want my son back and I don't know what to do.
Barry: I do. Wally, he's... he's part of the family. He's a part of our family. And we do whatever we have to to keep the ones we care about safe.
Joe: No, you - you can't give up your speed.
Barry: That's not your decision. This is the only way, Joe.
Hunter Zolomon's father, James Zolomon, was an ex-soldier. It turns out Zoom was telling the truth in 202, when he said the helmet he wears as The Flash belonged to his dad.
Like Barry Allen, Hunter Zolomon lost his mother when he was 11 years old. Unlike Barry, Hunter's father was guilty of murdering his mother. Ironically, whereas Henry Allen ordered his son to run and not look at what was going on, Janes Zolomon ordered his son to stay and watch what happened next. Whereas Barry was taken in by Joe West, Hunter was abandoned by his family and sent to an orphanage.
Barry briefly disappears during his first test-run of the tachyon device and asks how long he was gone. Though he doesn't get a chance to explain what that means, it seems likely this is the point at which Barry disappeared from Earth One and journeyed to the Earth of the Supergirl TV series during S118. We hear the Supergirl musical sting as he disappears and reappears, all but confirming this.
Wally recognizes Harry Wells.
Harry has Joe looking for his missing daughter.
Harry fixes Cisco's goggles so he can use them on Earth One.
Zoom has some kind of ability to sense the breaches opening.
Harry reverse engineers the technology he used in 212 to steal Barry's speed to enhance it instead.
Iris bails on her date with her editor because she is unsure about her feelings regarding Barry.
Wally moves into Joe's house.
Wells is able to engineer the tachyon device into a more compact model that Barry can conceal behind The Flash emblem on his costume.
Caitlin tells the rest of Team Flash what Zoom revealed to her about his Earth One counterpart being a man named Hunter Zolomon in 211.
On Earth Two, serial killers are rare enough that the few who exist are infamous and well-known to the public at large.
Huinter Zolomon was arrested for killing 23 people. He was incarcerated in the St. Perez Mental Asylum for the Criminally Insane and treated daily with electro-shock therapy until the night of The STAR Labs Particle Accelerator Explosion.
Barry tags Zoom with the same restraint gun that was used on him in 201
Barry reveals that the clue that made him realize "Jay Garrick" was Zoom was the Velocity-9 and the fact that when a speedster moves fast enough, their lighting turns blue, as revealed in 216.
Cisco is able to send a message to Zoom by vibing through his helmet.
Zoom laughs at Cisco's question regarding whether or not the Jay Garrick they saw die was a speed mirage, saying that even he is not that fast. This suggests that Zoom is not as fast as The Reverse Flash Eobard Thawne, who was able to create speed mirages in 115.
Zoom explains that the Jay Garrick they saw die was his time-remnant - a version of himself from the past, similar to the Time Remnant of The Reverse Flash encountered in 211.
Zoom does not explain who The Man In The Iron Mask is, saying that nobody would believe him if he told them.
Wells re-calibrates the device that drains Barry's speed, giving it to Zoom.
Zoom abducts Caitlin.
Central City on Earth Two - Many Years Ago
Keystone City on Earth One
The Fridge Factor
Granting that the scene is well-acted by Candice Patton and Danielle Panabaker, it is still troubling that the one scene in the episode focused on both of the show's female protagonists has them talking about their romantic problems.
The Bottom Line
This is just what we needed after the show's hiatus - a wonderful episode that gives all of the ensemble cast at least one moment to shine, with a focus on the relationships over the comic-book action. And then when we get the comic-book action... oh, baby!