The Flash is incredible, but the mystery of Zoom is annoying.
Though exciting and well made, this week’s episode of the CW series “Versus Zoom” left a large portion of its audience members scratching their heads. Promising a major, revelatory episode, The Flash ultimately presented more questions than answers.
Zoom, this season’s bad guy who’s giving Barry Allen (series star Grant Gustin) and S.T.A.R. Labs hell, revealed his identity as Hunter Zolomon. But it’s more complicated than that.
Here’s a refresher, in case you need it. Because admit it, you do. Also, you might want to bring snacks, because this is a long one:
Barry Allen, The Flash of Earth-1 discovers the multiverse and meets The Flash of Earth-2, Jay Garrick, played by new series regular Teddy Sears. Jay has lost his Speed Force, and says he’s stuck on Earth-1. In Jay’s world, his arch-nemesis is Zoom, a speedster in black, who terrorizes Central City. While on Earth-1, Jay Garrick gets close with Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker), and shows her his Earth-1 doppelgänger, an unassuming man named Hunter Zolomon.
After fighting Zoom, Barry visits Earth-2 and meets a mysterious man in an iron mask, held prisoner by Zoom. During their encounter, the Masked Man could only communicate through POW tap codes, and spells out only “Jay” before Zoom stops him. As of “Versus Zoom,” the Masked Man is still captured by Zoom.
While on Earth-2, Central City of Earth-1 is under attack, forcing Jay Garrick into action. But without his Speed Force, Caitlin makes him a drug, Velocity-9, essentially a speed steroid. It temporarily gives Jay his powers back.
In “King Shark” Flash and S.T.A.R. Labs successfully close all the breaches to Earth-2 that have allowed Zoom to roam free on Earth-1. But just before closing the final breach, Zoom kills Jay Garrick and brings him to Earth-2. He he unmasks and reveals (to the TV audience) that he is Jay Garrick! But maybe not.
During “Trajectory” a scientist named Eliza (Allison Paige) becomes addicted to Velocity-9 and disintegrates into blue lightning — a unique feature of Zoom. This hints to S.T.A.R. Labs that Zoom got his speed from Velocity-9 and conclude it’s Jay Garrick.
Then, in the episode “Versus Zoom,” we learn Zoom isn’t Jay Garrick. Jay Garrick is a false identity. Jay’s real name is Hunter Zolomon, who isn’t some schlub on Earth-1, but a notorious serial killer on Earth-2. Zolomon was orphaned after his father (inexplicably wearing Jay’s Earth-2 Flash costume, complete with the goofy helmet) murders his mother — or so we’re led to believe. Nevertheless, Hunter Zolomon grows up and racks up a staggering body count of his own. During electroshock therapy, a freak accident kills the doctors and gives Zolomon his Speed Force. According to Hunter on Earth-2, he posed as The Flash to pretend to be a hero while he secretly caused terror as Zoom. “To give them hope and take it away,” he explains. But Zolomon/Zoom is dying, and he needs more Speed Force to live. He devises a plan to steal Barry Allen’s, helping him to become faster and fattening him up like a Christmas goose.
To convince S.T.A.R. Labs, Zolomon uses his Time Remnant — a younger, past self — and convinces him to pose as Jay. This Time Remnant, according to Hunter, was the “Jay Garrick” he killed before the breaches closed.
Are you exhausted yet? Because I am.
After a day and exhaustive Reddit theory surfing, the mystery of Zoom is still barely comprehensible. There are still crucial questions that The Flash maddeningly left unanswered. Such as (and here we go again):
- Why didn’t Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) recognize Zolomon? For that matter, why doesn’t anyone on Earth-2 recognize their Flash — who wears no mask, unlike Barry Allen — looks like That Really Bad Guy? According to Wells, serial killers are rare on Earth-2 so a murderer like Zolomon gets a lot of attention. Is it a Superman/Clark Kent kind of deal, where the glasses make all the difference? Zolomon has long hair and a beard while Jay is clean cut. But is that enough? A simple nod to this would have sufficed.
- Doesn’t your past self dying mean your present self dies too? The Flash spent a whole episode explaining Time Remnants but failed to explain consequences like your past self dying. And that should be obvious — you die — but it didn’t effect Zoom. Huh?
- If Hunter Zolomon is his name, then where did he get Jay Garrick from? This is crucial, because in DC Comics Jay Garrick is the original Flash (introduced in Flash Comics #1 in January 1940) and sometimes mentors Barry. Like Zack Snyder shooting Jimmy Olsen in Batman v Superman some fans were outraged The Flash would turn a beloved figure like Jay Garrick into a psychopathic killer, but executive producer Greg Berlanti tweeted that isn’t happening. So Jay Garrick will end up the real deal as we know him, but how remains to be seen.
- Who is the Masked Man? This is still a mystery and any answer brings up simple questions like “Why?” or “How?” When Barry asks, Zoom replies “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” So who is it? Barry’s dad? Ronnie? This Redditor theorizes the Masked Man has no clear identity but will adopt “Jay Garrick” and continue to inspire Earth-2 as The Flash for real, unlike Zolomon. I like it, but why then did he try to spell out “Jay” when Barry and Jesse (Violett Beane) were with him?
I wrote earlier how these bothersome questions detract from the otherwise compelling and stellar “Versus Zoom,” a legitimately huge episode of the best superhero series on TV.
I’ve spent most of the day perusing Reddit trying to find answers, or maybe just company in misery because of how befuddled a comic book show left me. Not only was I not alone, but others have put forward sensible theories and ideas that make “Versus Zoom” much easier to swallow. Like this Redditor, username Mr. Cho, who puts forward a great theory:
If the real Jay Garrick is under the mask, then it will be his dad. How? Zolomon is his mom’s name. He took it after his dad “killed his mom.” Why the quotation marks? Because Hunter lied. He killed his mom and his dad took the fall because Hunter lied to the prosecutors. His dad is actually a hero and a good guy. Both him and Wally will get powers via Speed Force leakage (or some comic books science). Walt becomes Kid Flash (or Impulse because he’s really not a kid) and Jay Garrick becomes the speedster of Earth 2.
Great theory, Mr. Cho. I’m going to go with that. I’m also going to stop thinking about this until next week, because goodness it’s wearing me out.