Friday, 22 April 2016

The Flash 'Versus Zoom' Review

This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS for the episode to be discussed, if you do not want certain plot points or story spoilt, please do not read further.

'You can't lock up the darkness.'

After three weeks without any Flash 'Versus Zoom' returns with a bang and gives what could have been one of the best episodes of the season, though it let itself down terribly at the end.

The episode begins with Barry wearing the tachyon enhancer that we saw him wearing in the Flash/Supergirl crossover as he prepares to race from Keystone to Central City and test his new speed abilities.  As he races back to Star Labs Barry pushes his speed faster than he's ever gone before and breaks the dimensional barrier and disappears, before returning a split second later.

The inclusion of the moment that Barry crosses into the Supergirl universe is a neat addition as it explains how he ended up on the other show.  It's a shame that Barry doesn't mention it to anyone, as I'd imagine he'd want to let the others know that he can travel between worlds as well as time, plus I would expect he'd want to try to figure out how he spent days on Supergirl's Earth but a split second passed on his.  The mere fact that his trip is acknowledged on The Flash will hopefully mean that more crossovers will happen in the future.

After realising that he is now fast enough to take on Zoom Barry decides that it's time to try and find a way back to Earth-2, something that Harry is dead set against.  Thanks to some advice from Joe, Harry comes round to the idea of helping Barry, believing that if he's going to do it anyway he might as well help him to win.

Personally I like these scenes of Harry not wanting to help Barry and going to see Joe to get him to help talk him out of it, after months of being willing to do anything to get Jessie back he's done a complete turn around and wants nothing more to do with Earth-2.  It's a big moment that shows the level of fear that Zoom has over people on his Earth.  Harry is willing to completely give up on his old life and any chance of going back to it, willing to stay on a world where he looks exactly like a well known murderer simply to stay away from Zoom.  It gives Harry a new dimension we've not really had much experience with before, as a man afraid.

It also goes a long way to showing the bond that has formed between Harry and Joe.  Joe hated Harry at the start of the season, he just saw him as the same man who caused all of the horrors of season one, but now he's inviting him into his home, sharing a glass of whiskey with him and helping to track down Jessie.  Perhaps having Wally in his life has helped to mellow Joe a little, but the bond that has formed between Harry and Barry has given Joe and Harry a connection as well, and it shows in this scene.

Harry decides to help Barry to find a way of opening a breach to Earth-2, by helping Cisco to tap into his metahuman powers to vibrate open one of the closed breaches.  Whilst some of the moments with Cisco feel a little silly, like his referring to his fears of being consumed by his power to Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars, the deep friendship he has with Barry really shines through here and the acting is honest and earnest in it's execution.

Before opening the breach to Earth-2 Caitlin mentions the name Hunter Zolomon in front of Harry, which lets one of the last pieces of the puzzle to Zoom's identity fall into place.  Harry reveals to the group that Hunter Zolomon was a serial killer on his world, and was responsible for over twenty deaths before being brought to justice.

Using this information the team form a trap for Zoom, and for a moment it actually seems to be working well for them.  Barry lures Zoom to Star Labs, where he is confronted by images of his parents.  This causes Zoom to pause for a moment, giving Barry all the opportunity he needs to incapacitate the villain.

Unfortunately all best laid plans go horribly wrong on this show and Zoom soon breaks free of his restraints and manages to make his escape, but not before passing the West residence on his way back to Earth-2 in order to kidnap Wally.

Everything up to this point has been great, the flashbacks to Zoom's past offer us a really interesting insight into the villain, and thanks to the retro aesthetic of Earth-2 it all looks fantastic.  The fight between Barry and Zoom is great, with some brilliant special effects.  The whole episode is poised to be one of the best yet.  But then Barry makes a deal with Zoom to get Wally back.

Barry agrees to give Zoom his speed in exchange for Wally, and he sticks to the agreement.  They've got Wally back, they could launch a trap on Zoom, or sabotage the speed force draining, but they don't, they actually give him Barry's speed.  I couldn't believe it.  Barry gives up his powers and gives them to a psychopathic serial killer and what, just hopes that everything will work out for the best?

This is without a doubt the dumbest thing that the show has ever done.  It's clear that the writers wanted Barry to lose his speed to Zoom, and they could have come up with a good way of doing this, but the one they've given us just doesn't make sense from the characters point of view.  Other than some bizarre sense of honour of standing by his word there's no reason for Barry to go through with this other than to move the story forward.

It's the episodes big mistake, and it lets the whole thing down.  With Zoom even faster than ever, Caitlin his prisoner and Barry without his powers it's hard to see how the good guys are going to win this time.


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