'The Flash' Breaks All the Rules with Zoom's Identity and King Shark

"King Shark" should have been fun and ridiculous. Instead, it's the biggest and most important episode yet.

The CW

The following article contains spoilers.

King Shark is a giant shark and he’s awesome. Diggle is awesome too, as one of the last great things about Arrow, which has become a drag to watch. But neither had a chance against the utterly gigantic reveal of Zoom, the obsidian speedster making Barry’s life hell all season long. When Zoom unmasked to reveal he’s Jay Garrick, I was slightly furious and totally confused (along with Reddit). Ultimately, though, I was impressed. The Flash took a gamble against TV custom using what would have been a fluffy filler to reveal its biggest mystery, and it won big.

In the closing scene of “King Shark,” Zoom returns to Earth-2 with the body of Jay, picking up from the ending of “Escape From Earth-2.” The masked man in the cell looks on in horror as Zoom takes off his mask, and … it’s another Jay Garrick. Actually, it’s Hunter Zolomon, Garrick’s doppelgänger from Earth-1, which executive producer Andrew Kreisberg confirmed in an Entertainment Weekly interview posted just after the episode aired. Kreisberg said the logistics of how and why will be answered eventually, and for now we know only that Zoom is Hunter Zolomon.

Before “King Shark,” I hated the popular fan theory that Zoom is Zolomon. I thought it was bunk. No way The Flash would let the season’s villain be an unassuming extra character, who was introduced sitting on a park bench far away. That’s just bad, unconventional storytelling without much of a chance for a payoff.

But The Flash is anything but conventional. This is a family drama with giant sharks, time travel, and people who control the weather, and it makes sense and is compelling. Using King Shark, who is, in fact, just a giant, walking, talking great white, is a meta reminder that The Flash can do what it pleases and we’ll go along because we know it will tell something emotionally fulfilling. Zolomon may not be the answer some of us wanted — certainly not what I wanted — but it brings up so many good questions (How did he hide his Speed Force? If Zolomon has been with S.T.A.R. Labs, how did he “kill” himself? What is the role Caitlyn’s Velocity 9 drug played?), and I have nothing but fun thinking about them.

That The Flash made its big reveal in what could have been a throwaway mini-crossover (David Ramsey and Audrie Marie Anderson play their characters from Arrow in a supporting role) with an utterly ridiculous antagonist being the hook of its marketing is a testament to the strength of The Flash and its ability to push genre boundaries. This is a superhero show that doesn’t need to go dark to win an audience. We’re right there every step of the way.

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