“Versus Zoom” is the most recent episode of Flash, and things are getting ugly. The beginning is an interesting comparison of histories. Barry’s past is recounted, with the death of his mother, being taken in by the Wests, and the love and support he got. Over on Earth 2, a young Hunter Zolomon sees his father return from war, kill his mother, and is dumped into an orphanage, clutching what will later become a very familiar helmet. Vaguely similar beginnings that go down very different paths.
In the present, Barry is in Keystone, the sister city to Central (and comic book home of Jay Garrick, interesting given what happens this episode). He’s wearing a new piece of tech, a “tachyon harness,” which is part of what came of his visit to the past to see Wells/Thawne. Testing his new speed, he goes faster than he ever has before and disappears briefly. They never state it flat out, but I’m fairly certain that little blip was when Barry’s visit to Supergirl’s world happened. He gets back to STAR, where the mood is generally happy. Barry asks Wells to miniaturize the tech. Wells is not happy with Barry’s plan to go after Zoom.
Joe and Barry have dinner. In a rare event, Joe actually agrees with Wells. He, too, thinks going after Zoom is a phenomenally bad idea. Wally drops by to bring in some laundry, and makes a few passing references to some money problems. Wally is nice about it, but refuses Joe’s offer of help. Joe is confused and makes a joke, wondering if Wally’s Earth 2 doppleganger is less complicated. This give Barry another bad idea.
Back on Earth 2, Cisco’s duplicate was known as Reverb, and had a lot more powers than Cisco does. Barry thinks Cisco might have them, too. No one seems happy about this, including Cisco himself. Showing how desperate he is, Wells actually goes to Joe’s house. He asks about Jessie, which I’m sure is a concern of his, but he’s really there to ask Joe’s help in talking Barry out of going after Zoom. Joe agrees that Barry’s being dumb, but doesn’t think he can talk Barry out of it. Joe, in turn, suggests Wells helps Barry, because Barry’s chances are better if Wells is helping him.
Barry uses one of their STAR toys to track down the strongest residue of one of the closed breeches. Cisco tries to open a new rift, and partially succeeds. Through some mechanism or power I have no idea of, Zoom senses it and races to it. Cisco gives up and it flickers out. I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to work– Barry was in his civilian clothes and if he has his big throwdown with Zoom, you know he’s going to be in costume. Cisco freaks out a bit and walks off.
Wells keeps tinkering with some of Barry’s tech back at STAR. The Wests drop by for a few different conversations. Iris is feeling torn about trying to date anyone since she’s seen at least two different versions of herself married to Barry (Earth 2 and future-Iris). She and Caitlin talk about destiny and love (shades of Ray and Kendra over on Legends of Tomorrow). Joe, befuddled, asks Barry’s advice about what to do about Wally. Barry somehow or other has divined that Wally wants to move in with Joe but doesn’t want to ask. There seems to be a lot of borderline ESP floating around this episode. Joe does this in an amusing scene with Wally later. I think that scene is the first time Wally calls Joe “Dad.”
Cisco is brooding in his workshop. He has a great scene with Barry about the temptation of power, and Cisco being worried about what will happen if he gets controls of these new abilities. Of course, Cisco being who he is, couches it in terms of Anakin becoming Darth Vader. It’s a good scene, funny, geeky, and shows the friendship between Barry and Cisco.
At STAR, the heroes compare notes and end up making a few discoveries. The Hunter Zolomon name that Jay gave Caitlin has some history behind it. On Earth 2, Hunter was a serial killer with 23 confirmed kills. Apparently, he was caught, committed, and receiving electro-shock therapy when the accelerator of Earth 2 exploded, which kicked off his powers.
Wells has finally decided to start helping, and gives Cisco an upgraded version of the goggles worn by both Cisco and Reverb. Cisco manages to open a portal, and Zoom immediately jumps through. After a race all around Central City, Flash leads Zoom back to STAR. They have the target range they used to train Dr. Light set up, and the images that pop up are Zoom’s parents. Zoom hesitates just long enough for Barry to use one of Cisco’s gadgets on him. They have a long talk that would have been time better spent stuffing Zoom in a Pipeline cell. Instead, Zoom, stunningly (ok, I’m being sarcastic) escapes.
Zoom had commented on family being a weakness, and he’s out to demonstrate that. Wally, who can’t catch a break, is abducted from the West home with a ransom note left behind “Your Speed For Wally.” Wally himself gets a tour of Earth 2, Jessie’s former cage, and meets the mysterious masked prisoner.
Cisco uses Jay’s helmet to contact Zoom and they arrange an exchange. There’s a lot of gloating on Zoom’s part. He really seems to be devolving into an “I’m evil because I’m evil” kind of guy. Also, if he got his powers from the accident, why was he taking the Velocity drug? And if there never was a heroic Jay Garrick speedster, why did Wells recognize him as such when they met? They seem to be creating a lot of plot holes here.
Barry does the heroically stupid and goes through with the exchange. Zoom is ecstatic, and almost kills Barry in a celebratory homicide. Caitlin makes a tearful plea for Barry’s life that ends in Barry being spared but Caitlin taken. Not a great place to end.
Before I go into my likes and dislikes, I have a general trend here I’m not liking. Barry keeps being overly cocky and it always costs him. He’s not learning. Not only is he smarter than that, but the STAR crew is smarter than that, and they should be calling him on it. Now, Zoom is more powerful than ever and Central City is out of powered heroes, unless Cisco manages to really up his game. Flash has been cocky in the past, but that was always a Wally West thing, not Barry Allen.
What I liked: Cisco is moving closer to his comic book incarnation as Vibe. Hopefully they let him be more than brainy comic relief soon. I like the highlight of Barry and Cisco’s friendship. Wells’ reluctance to engage Zoom probably proves he’s the smartest one in the room.
What I didn’t: The Iris anguish over “Can I see anyone but Barry” is too reminiscent of Ray and Kendra on Legends of Tomorrow, and I don’t like it there, either. This episode seems like they poked plot holes in their past. I also hate the idea of Jay Garrick as a villain, not a hero. Jay was the first Flash in the comics, and I was happy when he was living up to that tradition. If Zoom’s real name is Hunter Zolomon, where’d the Jay Garrick name come from? And Barry really needs to get his head in the game. I’d say he should have called for help, but at this point his only super-powered ally he can get to is Vixen, and I don’t think she could do much with Zoom. The explanation for how there were two Jays, or Jay and Zoom, was weak.
I’m giving this one a low 3 out of 5. I freely admit I may be biased by what they did to Jay.