Review: ‘The Flash’ Episode 18 “Versus Zoom” – Jay Who?

Last night, the Flash returned to Tuesday nights after yet another small hiatus and right back to where it left off. With Barry and Team Flash still seeking an end to their formidable foe, all eyes are set on one thing — to defeat Zoom.

Now, Harrison Wells had a good point. Almost like “why fix what isn’t broken” type of thought, why is Barry so focused on defeating Zoom when they are literally worlds apart and in no immediate danger of the worlds lapsing? Nonetheless, the focus for the Flash, as well as the episode as a whole, are centered around Zoom.

Since the start of this season, we were thrusted into this whole complicated story. Zoom emerges, Barry is faced yet again with a fast foe who eludes him, Barry has been beat up and down in two different Central Cities, but we have always had some question — who IS Zoom?


Now, the real identity question was answered only just a few episodes ago when “Jay” was actually revealed to be Hunter Zolomon after all and then we were really only curious as to how Zolomon became Zoom after all. Which is where last nights episode began. In the vintage camera filter that has accompanied the Earth-2 setting, we see a young Hunter Zolomon awake from his bed and hear banging downstairs and a woman yelling. In a strong comparison to Barry’s childhood and the night that Reverse Flash killed his mother, the only difference is that Hunter’s past takes a darker turn. His father, wearing what we can only assume to be Jay’s Flash helmet later on, is abusing his wife. He sees Hunter looking in on the scene, and does a crazy thing that not many would expect. He heads into the other room, reemerges with a pistol and shoots his mom right in front of his eyes. Now, not being an expert on the psyche of the mind, but I am sure that anything to that sort of a nature does in fact leave a mental strain, causing deep emotional and psychological problems that without any sort of real counseling, can cause a break in the mental spectrum.

Which is exactly what the show does.

We then see a young Hunter head to an orphanage and come to find out that nobody in his family wants him. A young boy who lost his parents, has nobody in the world who wants him and ends up becoming a much more darker person that nobody really could have anticipated. But, this episode takes a weird turn and not a good turn, but more of a very confusing and almost annoying way.

That way is as follows, forget Jay Garrick ever existed folks, because he never truly did.

With all the hype surrounding the multiverse and all the potential that it holds, our dream of seeing multiple Flash personalities now reverts back to one, for the time being. After much digging around and the discovery that Jay is actually Zoom, this episode takes its time to shove it all right back in our faces. The blue lightning, the sudden discovery that “Jay” told Caitlin that his doppelganger on Earth-1 was named Hunter Zolomon and the degenerative disease caused by the Velocity-6 all pointed back to Zoom. Instead, it was decided that Jay Garrick would actually just be a veil for Zolomon in a way to pull a Eobard Thawne and gain trust within the team and cure him or end up stealing Barry’s speed force. I’m sorry, but that just kind of blows a huge hole in all things Flash.

Now, I am not the writers of the show, so what I say has no bearing on this, but why would you take the name of one of the past Flashes and use it in the sense that he doesn’t actually exist, but just so happens to be a made up name by the main villain and even going so far as to use his likeness. A subtle nod, yes, but a fun one? No. Now I am not against the altering of source material, but this just seemed off.

To be honest, I get staying away from other Flashes because of the want to focus on the development of Barry, but come on, you have this blooming world and instead you go and pull that? There are a bunch of different routes to go with concealing the villains identity. Unless the plan is to introduce Jay sometime down the road, this was a small punch to the stomach for those who were ready to see two Flashes exist and hopefully team up against Zoom. Next, are we going to find out that Wally West is actually some random kid who manipulated Francine West and used Wally’s name just to get close to Joe and Iris? Kidding, of course.

In all reality, I hope it’s actually a ploy to hide the fact that Jay does actually exist and Zoom just stole the name. But, the origin story continues. Later on, we find out that Hunter goes on a killing spree and is convicted as a serial killer and it’s when the doctors at the mental asylum are performing electroshock therapy, it is conveniently at the time that Earth-2’s S.T.A.R. Labs explosion occurs, fusing speed powers with Hunter, creating Zoom. All aside my issues with some of the story, I do actually like the concept of a darker villain.

With all the focus on getting back to Earth-2, Barry is continuing to get faster, using the tachyon particles to increase his speed, we get a small sight of Keystone City, which, ironically, is the home to Jay Garrick. Barry is more powerful than ever, clocking four times his top speed, raising some suspicion early on that he might not have his power much longer, or at least, that was my suspicion. With an odd lack of metahumans (are they just all of a sudden not surfacing anymore?), Barry is consumed by the thought of Zoom wreaking havoc on Earth-2, and is adamant about bringing the fight to him.

Without having the accessibility of the breaches to transport between worlds, the team must find a way to open a door to the parallel planet. Despite the obvious burst in strength and speed, Wells is wholly against the idea, fearing the outcome of Zoom reentering Earth-1, Jesse is out in the world somewhere, hiding under the radar and that is all that Wells is focused on. Through trial and error, the team is out of ideas, the last being setting off a nuke near Central City’s power grid. Without a plan, the team begins talking about Cisco’s doppelganger and his ability to tap into the vibrations between worlds and manipulate them to emit blasts and other powers.

Without hesitation, Barry immediately spurs the idea of using Cisco to do the exact same thing. What obviously concerned Cisco was his hesitation to explore his powers, regardless of what he knows he is capable of. Nonetheless, he goes along with it. Using the goggles that Wells developed to wield the energy and begins to open a portal out of thin air. On the receiving end was a distraught Zoom, who immediately perks up when he realizes what is happening. This lasts only for a moment before Cisco breaks, refuses to proceed further and dips away. Unknown to his outburst, we discover that Cisco’s temptations to further his power is outweighed by his fear to the “dark side” and becoming “Darth Vader.”

Side note, I audibly laughed due to Disney owning the Star Wars universe, and also the Marvel universe.

Struggling to hone his skills for fear of becoming the evil part that he was face to face with on Earth-2 is enough reason to refrain, but it’s the assurance that Barry gives him that he will be there every step of the way that brings him back from the basement. With Cisco back in the game, it was time for the end game, defeat Zoom. Using the energy, Cisco opens the breach for Zoom to travel through, setting up a big game of cat and mouse through Central City.

Setting off, Barry out runs Zooms the whole way through, coming close, but ultimately pulling through. He leads Zoom back into the labs, in an open warehouse, ready to spring the trap. Zoom runs into the warehouse and is stopped in his tracks by familiar faces, once by a cutout of his father and the other by his mother. Shell shocked by the nightmarish scene, Barry manages to cuff him to the ground, seemingly capturing him. Barry goes through this whole I got you scenario, but Zoom thwarts him once more, going full “darkness” and vibing through the shackle and speeding off.

Doing what he does best, Zoom takes another prisoner, Wally West.

In another subplot, Wally and Joe are clearly getting better and better, developing a relationship as a father and son versus strangers with the same name. Wally brings laundry over one day, saying that he isn’t living on campus anymore because of costs and it goes over Joe’s head that he is hinting at wanting to move in. Joe says that he can help out financially, but it’s not until Barry reveals Wally’s intentions that Joe does a complete 180. Wally comes back later on to Joe offering him a room, further closing the gap between them and inching closer to a true relationship.

Realizing that Zoom has taken Wally, the obvious trade is proposed, Barry’s speed for Wally. Tormented by the keep his powers or return Joe’s son to him is one that seems like it would be a hard decision, but Barry wastes no time debating and instantly offers his force to Zoom. His goal is to protect the ones he loves, and he spared no time in doing that again. Through Cisco yet again, he uses the helmet to open communicates with Zoom that the deal is on, and he promptly delivers. With Wally in tow, they make the handoff. Using the device to tap into Barry’s speed force and drain it, he proceeds to do so and hands over his speed to Zoom, who shoots up on the literal speed and shows signs of massive power. Weakened by the sudden mortality and return to human form, Barry is blindsided by pure aggression, as Zoom attacks him. Caitlin pleads out to Zoom, claiming that he doesn’t have to do it. Their relationship is still in there, somewhere, and Zoom feels it.

Then, another eye-rolling thing happened, Zoom took Caitlin.

Just like that? Like, come on, it’s not even like they’re trying. It’s basically just a giant game of tag with Zoom, he just selects people to take hostage, and just does it.

Overall, this episode has some good points, but just seemed to fall short of anything resembling how the DC shows have operated this late into the season. There was some obvious drama, laced with just shrugging moments and “why?” moments. The lack of any real conflict is just simply causing this show to, ironically, slow down and a massive pace.

Obviously the bust out of Jay being real is the tipping point, but it’s the two hostages in a matter of 10 minutes that really just show a level of naivety. If I had my one change, I would have Zoom take Barry and have a more dramatic episode of the team attempting to find Barry or concoct a plan to boost his speed again and have a by dynamic playoff between Zoom and Barry. That simple change would have created an actual want to see what happens. Of course I want to know, but I wasn’t left with the craving for more, just a small curiosity how they open things up for the remaining episodes.

Side bar, Greg Berlanti has tweeted that viewers should keep watching regarding Jay Garrick, so fingers crossed I guess?

What were your thoughts? Comment below!

Sean McGrath
Sean McGrath
2015 Journalism graduate of State University of New York at Fredonia. Loves sports, movies, TV, video games, cold drinks on hot nights and hot drinks on cold nights, and anything thats classified as nerdy. Married with two cats.