The Flash ends Season Two with, “The Race of His Life.” There are a lot of surprises and twists, and they manage to keep curveballs coming right up until the very last scene. I didn’t see the end of this one coming, and a few other things along the way surprised me as well.
The episode picks up exactly where the last one ended, with Barry screaming as Zoom kills Henry Allen, Barry’s father. Zoom goads and taunts Barry, then takes off. What follows is a race around the city, and then a fairly brutal fight. Zoom pulls a few surprise tricks, and then tells Barry he’s almost ready before speeding off again.
Continuing an unfortunate theme this year for the CW hero shows, the next scene is a funeral. Henry is buried next to his late wife, Nora, and there’s the obligatory rain falling during the service. The STAR crew is all there, and they all look worried when Barry swears vengeance on his father’s casket after failing to give the eulogy. Joe steps in to do that, fortunately. I’m a bit disappointed none of Team Arrow made it for this. Felicity and Barry are supposed to be good friends, and Barry put in an appearance at Laurel’s service after all.
There’s a somber gathering at the West home. Wally, now in on the secret, thanks Barry for all he’s done. Cisco is worried about his visions of Earth 2 being destroyed. The others talk about what to do, and Barry slips outside, followed by Iris. They have a touching scene cut short when Zoom speeds by. He’s not only a ruthless killer and villain, he’s a party crasher, too.
Barry blurs off after him, and Zoom challenges him to a race. He claims that, if Barry wins, it’s over. He also threatens that, if Barry doesn’t do it, Zoom will kill more of Barry’s loved ones. Zoom runs off again, and Barry apparently lets him go.
The STAR Labs crew compare notes about Zoom’s newest demand. They finally figure out what Zoom stole from Mercury Labs- a device that could siphon the energy from both Flash and Zoom and make a pulse that will destroy all the other Earths. Barry is dead set on confronting Zoom, and isn’t listening to anyone. The rest of the team makes the drastic decision of capturing Barry and locking him in a cell on the Pipeline. Barry rages as the rest of them look uncomfortable with what they feel they had to do. No one is happy about this development.
The team meets and tries to come up with a way to stop Zoom. At least they are smart enough to realize this is going to be a lot harder without Barry. They finally come up with the bare bones of a plan that might work, if they’re very lucky. As they plan this out, Jessie says that, when this is over, she wants to go back to Earth 2, but she’s ok with it if Harrison stays here.
The team puts their attempt in play once they manage to find Zoom’s hideout. I’ll give them points for some good ideas: they send in Caitlin to play with Zoom’s head, with the plan being Joe tranqs him like they did Barry, Wells hits him with the boot, and then Cisco opens a portal back to Earth 2 and they knock him back home. They do a few good twists on this idea, and it almost works perfectly. Joe’s tranq rifle fails, so he rushes in to jab Zoom directly, and gets pulled back to Earth 2 with him. Oops.
In the aftermath of this chaos, the team tries to figure out what to do. Cisco can’t lock in on Joe, his power showing him too much too quickly. Wally continues the trend of anyone wandering in to STAR whenever they want, and learns what has happened. They all apparently made a pact that, if Zoom was sent away, they’d never open a breech again, no matter what, so they aren’t going to try and save Joe. Wally isn’t ready for this, and lets Barry out of his cell. For someone who just got in there, Wally seems to know his way around really well.
On Earth 2, Zoom gets in more gloating to his captive Joe. He talks about his early days of trying to be faster, and the Velocity 9 drug (although it shouldn’t have been called that back then). The man in the Iron Mask is another speedster- the real Jay Garrick of another Earth. Zoom plans to capture Barry and put him in a cell like Jay’s. Of course, Barry’s own team kind of already did that…
A very pissed off Barry confronts his team about what they did to him, and their willingness to let Joe go. He finally browbeats them into working with him, although they caution him about revenge. They use Cisco’s powers, much like when Iris went looking for Barry in the Speed Force, to let Barry set terms with Zoom.
Everyone shows up for the big face off. Zoom has built his gadget to destroy all Earths but Earth 1. Apparently that one is central to all the others, and Zoom intends to conquer it. Essentially, the speedsters racing around Zoom’s gadget will power it up and let him destroy all the other worlds. All Barry has to do is stop Zoom from doing enough laps to power it up. Barry gets really clever and pulls some tricks to not only beat Zoom, but also free Joe and destroy Zoom’s weapon. Barry almost kills Zoom, but doesn’t at the last moment, and Zoom is taken off to a worse fate.
Wells and Cisco bicker (naturally) as they work to get the mask off Zoom’s prisoner. They finally succeed… and it’s Henry. Apparently, he’s Jay Garrick from Earth 3. Barry is stunned by this and leaves, having a talk with Joe about this big surprise. Jay leaves, with help from Cisco, and the Wells’ both go with him. Apparently they’ve had enough of being refugees and want to go home to their own Earth.
Back at the West place, they seem to have returned to normalcy, and folks are sitting around watching tv. Barry slips out again, and once again is followed by Iris. They talk about their relationship, and Barry makes it sound like he’s going to put that on hold while he goes off to find some kind of peace. What he actually does stunned me and is going to make next season open to all manner of changes. I was completely surprised by this.
What I liked: Zoom should be gone for good. I won’t miss him. While I was surprised to see it, the STAR crew caging Barry actually made a lot of sense at the time, as did Wally’s choice to later free him. I’m not sure how I feel about the costume they ended up using for Jay at the end, but the helmet was a nice touch. And points to the writers; there were several good mis-directs.
What I didn’t: Did they need to kill Henry? I liked him, and was amused by the set up for a Henry/Tina romance. Making everything come down to a race was just a bit cliched. I’m not sure I buy the Wells’ are gone, at least not Harrison. And I really don’t like Barry’s final decision, as much as I understood it.
I’ll give this finale a 3.5. I’m really curious what’s going to happen next season.
Oh, and if Wells and Zoom’s Earth was Earth 2, where is the JSA at the end of Legends of Tomorrow from? Earth 2 has always been their home in the comics.