The first season of Naomi has either been uneven or they’ve had a very odd pace to their storytelling. There are a great deal of unanswered questions, both large and small, and a lot of perplexing choices. Now, at least a few things are revealed in “I Am Not a Used Car Salesman.” Because of the way they set this episode up, there are going to be a lot of spoilers below. Without them, this would probably be the shortest review I’ve ever written. So, be warned.
Last episode ended with the very unexpected development of Zumbado rescuing Naomi from the machinations of Dr. Bell at STAR Labs. This STAR is a lot less friendly, but a great deal more secure, than the place Barry Allen and his friends work. This episode starts very shortly after the events of that one, with Zumbado battling assorted STAR guards (and there are a lot of them) as a dazed Naomi tries to recover from Dr. Bell’s machine. The two of them find a place to hide for a bit, and Zumbado is remarkably concerned about Naomi, especially given what we’ve seen of their interactions on the series so far. As it turns out, there’s a lot more to several stories than we’ve known so far. Naomi, while grateful for the rescue, is still annoyed that Zumbado evidently has answers to a lot of her questions, and isn’t sharing. Finally, Zumbado decides the time has come, although I’d argue the midst of an escape from an enemy stronghold is maybe not the best timing.
One of them, and I think it’s Zumbado but it’s never made entirely clear, demonstrates a new ability as Naomi actually experiences some of Zumbado’s memories. The ability is apparently called “mental teleportation,” which seems like a really cumbersome name. At any rate, we see some of Zumbado’s life back on Earth-29, both before he had powers and when a strange event triggers, or causes, his gifts. Some of what we see him do we’ve never seen before, and the gifts of his we’ve been before don’t show up, so either he has a lot of different powers or they shift over time. We see fragments of his life, but then the present danger interrupts. This will be a pattern throughout the episode.
The two debate what Naomi has heard from Akira, the blonde woman who clearly knows and doesn’t like Zumbado. The need for escape outweighs the debate for now, and Zumbado has an interesting way out. It’s a spin on the old “You can get anywhere through a ventilation duct” premise, but this one both makes a bit more sense and it a lost more dangerous. Naomi doesn’t like it, but there’s not another option. Back at the McDuffie home, Mom and Dad are making pizza (Dad’s apparently quite a cook) when Annabelle wanders in. She proves almost as bad at lying as Naomi is, but Mom and Dad just sort of go with what she says, which happens a lot on this show. Annabelle satisfies the parents, for now at least, but is clearly worried about her friend.
In the middle of the most dangerous part of their far-from-safe escape, Naomi and Zumbado stop for another rest break and memory exchange. We see Zumbado’s origin story, and it certainly has some pretty visuals. Naomi, witnessing all this, has a lot of questions and is surprised to learn this occurred years before her birth. They talk about how Naomi felt when she first began manifesting her powers, and Zumbado shares some similar feelings, then shows another turning point in his life. In a bar, Zumbado meets Akira for the first time, and she displays a really cool little power for him. They talk about powers, fate, their place in the grand scheme of things, and believing in that or not. Finally, the present catches up with them and they realize this isn’t a good place for Flashback Theater.
While they barely manage to escape, Annabelle goes to the only place she can think of to get help: Dee’s shop, which is apparently, as ever, unlocked. She wanders around until Dee startles her by appearing suddenly. A jittery Annabelle at first denies anything is wrong, and then finally admits she doesn’t know where Naomi is and is worried. In probably the most entertaining scene in the episode, she tries to talk around Dee’s powers without actually mentioning them, including some really odd Charades. Finally, they manage to actually start communicating with each other, and Dee realizes how much trouble Naomi is in. Naomi makes a few mistaken assumptions about Earth-29, and Zumbado corrects her. Not only were powers rare on that world, there were, in fact, only 29 people who had them. Zumbado relates some of what he and Akira did, and corrects Naomi that they were NOT superheroes. No masks, no uniforms, just people trying to do some good, but not everyone liked what they were doing. In more flashbacks, we see Zumbado running from hunters with high-tech weapons. We also hear about the power behind the hunters, and then they use their combined powers to at least get a bit closer to the exit. Either this particular STAR Labs is absolutely enormous or the pair of them are really not making good time. I suspect the second.
Stopping for yet another rest break (Naomi really needs to get in better shape. I guess Dee hasn’t been pushing her hard enough), there are more flashbacks, and we see a much less friendly meeting between Zumbado and Akira. They end up on opposite sides of something, and Zumbado is left with no option but to flee. Dee and Annabelle go to Zumbado’s dealership, which is oddly unlocked and open. They rummage around and find some plans, and Annabelle proves once again she’s a horrible liar. Finally nearing the exit, Zumbado gets very heroic and is prepared to sacrifice himself to let Naomi escape.
Apparently she takes a while to decide to go back for Zumbado, although it doesn’t look like it, since when next we see him, he’s not only been captured, but strapped down in Bell’s lab. Bell goes into supervillain mode, with smug gloating and boasting. Her machinery spins up with some climactic sound effects and lighting, but then Bell gets a big surprise as Naomi makes a dramatic entrance and takes out the machine. Before, she couldn’t manage this, but somehow now she can, and the two flee once again, as Dr. Bell seems to get injured by some flying bits of her invention, which sounds like a supervillain origin in the making to me. Naomi and Zumbado manage to get to the lobby a lot quicker than the majority of the episode it took before, and then their escape gets a lot of help when Dee turns up to fight at their sides.
Finally free of the never-ending building, Dee and Naomi end up in Dee’s car with Annabelle. Annabelle babbles a lot about carpooling, hero team names, and future plans, which Dee does his best to discourage. They drop Naomi off and each agree Naomi is lucky to have the other in her life. Naomi gets home what must be ridiculously late but all her parents do is offer her pizza. Again, they are either really bad parents, have a remarkably lax attitude about Naomi’s comings and goings, or she has some kind of pheromone power, which would explain a lot about a great deal of what we’ve seen of the show.
The next morning, Naomi brings Zumbado coffee at the dealership, and they are clearly on better terms. Over coffee and car waxing Zumbado fills in a few more very important details about Naomi’s past, and why he’s on the same world she is. There’s at least one more really big coincidence that isn’t explained, but those just keep piling up. Finally, Zumbado reveals what he hopes for from Naomi, and she looks utterly shocked as the episode ends. To be fair, I’d be pretty shaken in her position as well.
What I liked: We finally got a few answers about Naomi’s past. The scene with Annabelle and Dee was really entertaining. Bell is a decent obsessed scientist character. It was interesting learning some more details about Zumbado’s past and what his world was like. I’m glad they had at least a somewhat more believable version of “escape through the air vents.” Dee had some great timing in helping out with the rescue, and Annabelle is definitely a very loyal friend. Once again, most of Naomi’s Scooby gang was missing, and it was a good choice to not drag them in, as they really wouldn’t have fit in the story.
What I didn’t: Naomi’s parents really don’t seem to care at all about when she gets home or what she’s up to. The differing times it took to get out of the building were ridiculous. Stopping for the flashbacks in a place they knew was really dangerous was just dumb.
Some answers, and a lot more questions. I’m intrigued enough to give them to the end of the season, but if some things don’t get explained by then, I’m out. I’ll give this a low 3 out of 5, mostly saved by Annabelle, Dee, and Dr. Bell.