The Flash "The Race of His Life" (Season Finale REVIEW)
written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
warning: there will be spoilers
Tragedy never seems to leave Barry Allen alone as Zoom mercilessly kills Henry at the close of the last episode “Invincible,” hoping to fuel Barry’s anger and make Central City’s hero just like him. It’s like his life is an ever revolving cycle of death and tragedy, and despite his best efforts… poor Barry Allen just can’t catch a break.
What this final episode of the second season boils down to is essentially a race, from the very beginning Zoom was obsessed with being the fastest speedster alive on any Earth, this race with Barry further fuels Zoom’s massive ego.
Of course the destruction of Earth 2 sits firmly on the minds of Team Flash after Cisco vibes on what he can assume is the future. This theory is further proven when the true nature of Zoom’s race with the Flash ultimately reveal the details of his master plan. The destruction of the multiverse, the plan to wipe out any other speedsters or potential speedsters from ever existing. To accomplish this, Zoom needs Barry to race him in order to power a magnetar stolen from Mercury Labs.
With the Arrowverse’s Earth 1 sitting firmly at the center of the multiverse, much like how Earth Prime from the comics acts as the center of the comic multiverse, this makes this world the prime origin point to unleash a destructive shockwave through space and time… creating a veritable crisis on infinite Earths and destroying the rest of the multiverse save for Earth 1.
Zoom’s ups and downs as a villain are felt in his final plot. He went from an unreal Speed Demon, as if he was pure speed incarnate… to a fractured, broken man. While Henry’s death was indeed tragic, this cemented Zoom not as the personification of death and speed… but rather the type of psychopath who’d step on ants while frying them with a magnifying glass. He wasn’t terrifying anymore, Eobard Thawne was terrifying… Hunter Zolomon, when it was said and done, proved to be a paltry (though OP) imitation of the Reverse Flash.
I felt like the writers kept their cards too close to their chest this entire season, especially near the season’s end when it seemed like every episode felt like they were lightly peppering in details of Zoom’s ultimate plot. I feel that if Zoom had revealed that he wants to destroy the multiverse 2 or 3 episodes back, that would have given his the finale and the subsequent final race/battle the tension it sorely lacked.
I feel that when comparing season finales on The Flash, it’s unfair to try and compare it to the sublime television watching experience of the first season’s finale. Last year’s “Fast Enough” was the perfect text-book finale of what a comic book TV show should be, while the season 2 finale was indeed “The Race of His Life,” it didn’t hit many of the same emotional beats that made “Fast Enough” such an exciting final episode. While the heartfelt goodbyes shared between Earth 1 denizens and the Wells family from Earth 2 made for some of the more bittersweet moments of the finale; it can’t hold a candle to Barry’s “goodbye” to Joe or the moment he decided not to save his mother.
As far as the big reveals, the man in the iron mask was finally unmasked. Judging by the clues peppered in this season, from Zoom’s prisoner trying to communicate “JAY” during Barry’s capture, to Henry Allen revealing that his mother’s maiden name was Garrick… it wasn’t that surprising when upon being unmasked we see that Zoom’s prisoner was in fact the REAL Jay Garrick… who turns out to be Henry Allen’s double… from Earth 3… played by JWS himself! As someone in the know, it’s nice to see John Wesley Shipp don the lightning bolt again… he’s an actor who had the distinct privilege to play The Flash on two different shows (the 1990 series and now the Arrowverse).
In finally taking down Zoom, this ever powerful Speed Demon who terrorized Barry and Central City all season fizzled near the end. When instead of taking the killing blow himself, Barry baits a pair of Time Wraiths by creating a time remnant… hoping that they would be more interested in taking Zoom instead. It’s funny how in one of the lowest points of the episode… Zoom’s ultimate defeat… it creates with it a feeling of elation for the future of the series. With half of Zoom’s mask torn off, the Time Wraiths eat away at Zoom until he withers to resemble the face of death. Judging by the visual cues and taking into account my comic book knowledge, this isn’t the last we’ll see of Teddy Sears on The Flash… if my theories are correct, Zoom has now become Black Flash, the personification of death to the speedsters of the multiverse.
As for the final big twist, the season closing scene, a now broken Barry Allen seeks some semblance of peace. Though Iris West’s feelings are expressed, mopey ass Barry Allen pulls the tried and true I-can’t-be-good-enough-for-you argument before dashing off to take care of something he has to do. This of course ends up being what he tried to do in “Fast Enough.” Jumping through space and time, Barry takes down the Reverse Flash… saving Nora Allen and presumably preventing Henry Allen from being incarcerated. Face to face with his season 1 self, that Barry vanishes as season 2 Barry tries to comfort Nora. This is the basis of the Flashpoint Paradox event that rebooted the DC Universe in the comics, creating the New 52. Season 1 Barry vanishing right before season 2 Barry’s eyes could spell some serious implications for next season… could the entirety of season 1 not happen?
In the comics, when Barry saves his mother, he sends ripples across time… slightly altering the state of the DC Universe as a whole. This creates a altered reality where Barry never became the Flash and heroes like Batman, Superman, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman have dramatically different origins. What this spells for next season could be huge, we already know that Berlanti and co are planning a mega crossover event next season. With the success of Legend’s of Tomorrow and Supergirl moving from CBS to CW (as it should have been in the first place), the Arrowverse can devote an entire week of tv watching goodness to this crossover. Could Barry’s ill-advised act be the basis of next season’s crossover event? Will it affect the other series? Those are some the questions the finale left me with.
In closing, while it missed a few steps… this finale does deliver on much of what was promised all season. While it did leave behind more questions and an incredibly painful cliffhanger (like last season) I’d say I was satisfied with it. The Fall can’t come fast enough, and with how robust CW’s lineup of DC Comics properties will be, next season is going to be quite the ride. It’s moments like this that make me wish I could travel through time. DC Comics properties on the CW… one of the few things that can make the Summer unbearable. Till next season!