The Flash season two is really about the fall of a hero, the man who saved Central City, the Flash, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin). Between the multiverse introduction, doppelganger fatigue, and an inconsistent villain, the emotional fallout from both present and past seasons lead Barry Allen to hit the reset button. “Why does it feel like I just lost?” questions Barry during his final moment in the finale with Iris West (Candice Patton). Only twenty-three episodes earlier in “The Man Who Saved Central City” he’s questioning his own heroism. Have no fear the multiverse introduction offers levity
to Barry Allen’s initial emotional distress following opening up a worm hole that could have destroyed his city. After effortlessly introducing time-travel in season one, The Flash writers proceed to tackle inter-dimensional travel. A natural progression, considering the ever-expanding DC TV universe.
Especially considering a majority of the initial season two, nine episode run is spent setting up a fellow DCTV time-travel superhero show, Legends of Tomorrow. Firestorm, Hawkgirl, and Captain Cold are all setup during “Family of Rogues”, “Fury of Firestorm”, “Legends of Today”, and “Running to Stand Still” episodes. This also triggered the series to focus more on the procedural aspect of the show, especially since Zoom is sending over each villain of the week to kill Barry. Actually, he doesn’t want to kill the Flash, just help increase his speed so there’s more for him to take; but it takes us until the midseason finale to learn about this plan. Our real introduction to Zoom is in “Enter Zoom”, one of the best episodes in the entire season. The final ten minute sequence between the fight, Zoom dragging Barry around Central City, and breaking his back are brilliant. We don’t know anything about Zoom, besides that he wants to be the fastest man on Earth. Unfortunately, this initial introduction slowly deteriorates as The Flash writers save his identity reveal until nine episodes later in “King Shark”; a bit too slow for my preference.
The Flash writers pretty much exhaust the Earth-2 breaches plot device before they finally pay-off the Zoom identity mystery. “Gorilla Warfare” allows Team Flash to view the breaches to Earth-2 in a new light, as they send Gorilla Grodd to Earth-2’s Gorilla City. Then Barry and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) take a trip in “Welcome to Earth-2” where they both encounter some pretty disturbing metahumans. Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker), Ronnie (Robbie Amell), and even Cicso are all evil metahumans on Earth-2. I have to admit the Killer Frost, Deathstorm, and Reverb trio were pretty badass until Zoom threw a tantrum. Now, Barry’s not evil on Earth-2, but meeting his doppelganger West-Allen family certainly does a number on him. “They’re my family” cries Barry, after witnessing Deathstorm kill Earth-2 Joe West (Jesse L Martin) and demands that they stay to stop these rogues. Barry’s inability to separate the doppelgangers from his own loved ones is important emotional factor for the writers to establish; considering his reaction to a later reveal involving Henry Allen (John Wesley Shipp). Let’s not forget that both the Earth-2 crossover and emotional fallout tied back to Barry’s grief over his mother’s death.
Zoom becomes a looming presence for a majority of the season, while The Flash writers try to distract viewers with other characters. We meet both an Earth-2 Flash, Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears), and Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh). Following his introduction in “Flash of Two Worlds”, I became really bored with Jay Garrick. Granted he’s competing for attention with an Earth-2 Harrison Wells doppelganger. Following season one, the writers allow Team Flash to make peace with the betrayal felt from their own Wells, “I can’t hate you anymore,” says Barry. Really, the relationship between Harry and Cisco is a silver-lining throughout the entire season, between the bits and acknowledgement that Wells killed Cisco at some point in time. Again, Harry is a constant reminder that Jay and ultimately Zoom have a hard act to follow. Following the reveal that Jay Garrick is actually Zoom, in “Flash Back” our hero travels back in time to learn from his own arch-nemesis, Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne. This is also further evidence about the lines that Barry will cross to beat Zoom. In addition, “The Reverse Flash Returns” episode continues to explore the centuries long rivalry between Barry Allen and Eobard Thawne. Due to time travel, Nora Allen’s death is almost a series long end point, not the beginning.
The big twist is that Zoom is Jay Garrick… actually no… he’s Hunter Zoloman. Suddenly, Jay becomes more of a punch line then anything in terms of the season. Between the multiple identities, and time remnant inclusion, there has to be a less convoluted pay off to such a long awaited reveal. Even before the reveal The Flash writers’ setup a new point of intrigue with Zoom’s masked hostage in “Escape from Earth-2”; again the timing just feels off. We finally receive Zoom’s full story a few episodes later “Versus Zoom” that begin a strong third act episode stretch. I just hope that next season doesn’t include Barry temporarily losing his powers. The vulnerability is needed to push Barry into a place the makes him desperate enough to get his powers back at all costs; even sacrificing himself in “Rupture”. This decision leads us into the most emotional episode in the season, “Runaway Dinosaur”, where Barry sees his mother again within the Speedforce. The closure is short-lived as The Flash writers quickly swap-out one family tragedy for another in “Invincible”. Zoom kills Henry Allen in the exact place that Nora Allen was murdered all those years ago.
This brings us to the season finale, “Race of His Life”, and the decision that will change will change everything. Zoom pushes Barry Allen far enough that our hero adopts the same strategy to win the race; he makes a time remnant. Ultimately, Barry wins the race, while Hunter Zoloman is taken to become the Black Flash. This does not change the fact that Zoom still took Barry’s father away from him. A point re-emphasized during the final reveal of the man in the iron mask being the real Jay Garrick, a Flash from another Earth-three, who happens to look just like Henry Allen. The Flash season one is the rise of Barry Allen, and this is his fall. In “Fast Enough”, Eobard Thawne gives Barry Allen the opportunity to save his mother, but he ultimately chooses not to. The unknown repercussions are too big. But after losing both his parents, despite being the man who saved Central City, Barry just wants to win. Enter The Flash season three beginning with a Flashpoint Paradox arc and possibly ending with Barry becoming the Flash, who prevents himself from saving Nora Allen, during the season one finale. Stay tuned.