It was only a year ago when Reverse-Flash opened a portal in the middle of Central City, changing the landscape of the DC TV universe forever. It was also a year ago when Barry Allen said goodbye to his mother Nora in a tearful moment that solidified The Flash as the superhero show of the era. The stakes were never higher, nor were the emotions more intimate. These elements returned, amplified, in “The Race of His Life,” the breathtaking Season 2 finale of The Flash, a stunner of an episode that will change everything once again.

Since exploring Earth-2 and beyond (Hey, Supergirl!) the stakes for The Flash became a helluva lot bigger as Zoom/Hunter Zolomon (Teddy Sears) challenges Flash/Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) to one last race, with the DC multiverse as betting chips. There’s a colossal MacGuffin that would let Zoom conquer every planet, but a fair loss would let Zolomon recede into the shadows. Fat chance, but Barry will do anything to get the SOB who killed his father, Henry (John Wesley Shipp). There have been a lot of funerals this year, and Barry refuses to see another, unless it’s Zoom’s.

There are a ton of obnoxious sci-fi concepts The Flash introduced throughout its second season that resurfaced in the finale: time wraiths, remnants, and of course alternate Earths prove unforgiving for exposition. The show never did a solid job explaining how killing your time remnant (your younger version) doesn’t cancel your current existence, but The Flash suggests thinking too hard into this stuff shouldn’t be the point. It’s the emotions that matter, and while that’s unfortunate, playing by the show’s rules does yield a fulfilling, exciting showdown.

Heartstring tugging is The Flash’s modus operandi. It was smart that “The Race of His Life” began with Barry mid-scream like Pacino in the end of The Godfather Part III. The death of Henry drove Barry all episode long, and its pay-off was another stunner: the masked man, revealed to be Jay Garrick — the real Jay Garrick, the Flash from Earth-3. And Henry Allen’s doppelgänger. Properly aged like in modern Flash comics, Garrick’s identity was stolen by Zolomon (as many correctly predicted), and that mask prevented Garrick from using his powers. Barry finds Jay Garrick’s reveal tough to swallow, and it sends him emotionally spiraling into a drastic act that will change The Flash forever.

For two seasons Barry and Iris (Candace Patton) have played out the typical will-they-won’t-they that by the time they kiss as a “couple” it already felt like well-tread ground. But The Flash toys with that as Barry undoes his whole history, going back to the night his mother was killed by the Reverse-Flash. He stops Harrison Wells from murdering his mother, sparing her life. She’s saved. The fulfilling Season 1 finale is undone, disappearing before Barry’s eyes forever. Nora is safe, but the world of The Flash may have just become perilous.

Photos via The CW