Tonight’s episode of “The Flash,” titled “Race of His Life,” brought to culmination the race that Barry has been running this entire season against Zoom, and what he has been running from his entire life: the death of his mother. While it seemed like his time in the speedforce helped him emotionally move past her death, the sudden death of his father showed Barry that he would never be truly able to see past that moment in his life when she died. While the the main race this week was a literal race against Zoom, Barry was running the race of his life which he decided to take into his own hands in the final moments of the episode. Harry and Jesse also made a tough decision at the end of the episode that will shape season three, and the man in the iron mask was finally revealed. There were a lot of satisfying moments in the episode, but it did not end at all as I had imagined. That final twist will change the direction of the show forever, and season three might look very different in the fall. It will definitely be hard to wait four months to see how everything plays out, especially that last scene. This episode was a tour de force in acting, writing, directing, stunt choreography, visual effects — absolutely everything was on point — so much so that the outcome of Barry’s race against Zoom wasn’t even the craziest thing that happened.
The episode kicked off right where last week concluded: with Zoom (Teddy Sears) standing over the dead body of Barry’s (Grant Gustin) father Henry Allen (John Wesley Shipp). Zoom gloated over Barry, telling him that now Barry is just like Zoom. With Henry Allen dead, Barry laid into Zoom and a fight all over Central City ensued. This scene was very much a tribute to “Star Wars” and Luke Skywalker’s struggle between using the light side of the force, or giving into his hatred and his anger by using the dark side. Zoom was even saying similar things to Barry about using his anger to beat him. At one point in the fight it seemed like Barry had won, but then Zoom killed his own speed mirage. How many times has Zoom killed his own self this season? After this Barry and Team Flash all grieved the death of Henry Allen. Wally thanked Barry for saving his life and apologized for Henry’s death. While Barry and Iris (Candice Patton) shared a tender moment outside, Zoom challenged Barry to a race to see who really was the “fastest man alive.” When Barry told Team Flash he was confident that he could beat Zoom the team completely freaked out. Then Wells (Tom Cavanagh) and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) discovered that Zoom only wanted Barry to run so he could use their speed to power up a device that could completely demolish every earth in the multiverse, except Earth-1. Joe (Jesse L. Martin) dissuaded Barry from joining the race, but Barry decided to run anyway. Unfortunately Barry’s decision led to an intervention, and all of Barry’s friends, Iris, Jesse (Violett Beane), even Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) agreed to tranqualize Barry and imprison him in the pipeline so they could handle Zoom on their own. While their logic that he’s too angry and dangerous was sound, this was a shocking move on their part. Barry is the only one with superpowers, he’s a hero with a pure heart, and they locked him up. This was something extremely unexpected.
Unfortunately this Team Flash decision backfired on them, and Joe was thrown back to Earth-2 with Zoom. While the plan seemed to be working, with Caitlin pretending to tap into her dark side to lure Zoom towards her, he was able to grab Joe as he was pushed into the Earth-2 portal. This landed Joe in chains, imprisoned next to the mysterious man in the iron mask. While locked up in Zoom’s lair, Joe was able to ask Zoom about the identity of the masked man. As many people had theorized, the masked man was the real Jay Garrick. While Zoom and Joe were on Earth-2, Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) found out that his dad was taken and that Barry had been locked up at S.T.A.R. Labs. Wally was appalled that his friends and family not only shut Barry out, but thought that they could ever beat Zoom on their own. Wally let Barry out of the pipeline, and Barry sent a message to Zoom that he would race him if Joe was returned unharmed.
With the pulse device ready and the multiverse at stake, Barry and Zoom began to run. It didn’t seem like Barry would be able to stop the pulse from destroying the earths even if he was faster than Zoom, until he created his own speed mirage. With one version of himself racing against Zoom, and one version rescuing Joe, he was able to literally be in two places at once. While Zoom was technically beating Barry’s speed, he didn’t account for Barry’s speed mirage double to interrupt the polarity of the pulse weapon. Speed mirage Barry then sacrificed his life to destroy the pulse, and the real Barry then attacked Zoom. With the multiverse saved, all Barry had to do was kill Zoom and the nightmare would be over, but he couldn’t do it. Thankfully he had some speed wraiths up his sleeve, who came and destroyed Zoom once and for all. Barry was reunited with Joe and his race against Zoom was finally over.
Barry’s race with Zoom concluded with about five minutes of the episode life, which seemed a little strange. What other loose ends could this episode tie up now that Zoom was dead? This is where the big stuff happened. With Joe safe and Zoom gone, Team Flash was able to rescue the man in the iron mask. Finally we got to see who was under that mask. Drumroll — it’s the real Jay Garrick! Also known as Earth-3 Henry Allen! Wait, what? When Barry saw that the unmasked man standing before him was his father, or at least that man that looked his father, he completely freaked. Joe and Wells cleaned him up and got his suit back to him — it was absolutely incredible to see John Wesley Shipp in a Flash suit again — considering he was The Flash back in the 1990s. Harry and Jesse then both announced that they would be heading back to Earth-2, which led to a very tearful goodbye. It felt like the cast wasn’t just saying goodbye to Wells, but to Tom Cavanagh, as it seems unlikely that he’ll be returning as a series regular next year. Wells and Jesse then agreed to take Jay Garrick back to Earth-2 as well, with the hope that they could one day return him to Earth-3. The final moments of the episode focused on Barry and Iris’ relationship. Despite Iris being ready to take the next step with Barry, Barry said that he was too broken and needed time to heal. They beautifully both said that they loved each other and shared a very sweet kiss. The episode could have ended here, but the finale had one more ace up its sleeve. As Iris went back inside the house Barry sped off down the street and surprisingly back to the night his mother was murdered. In last season’s finale Barry went back to this night, but another version of himself told him to let her die. This time Barry was not going to let that happen, and he got between the Reverse Flash and Nora Allen, and saved her life. The version of himself from the season one finale who was watching from the door disappeared, his mother was finally saved, and the episode ended.
What does all of this mean going forward into season three? For anyone who has read the “Flashpoint” comic, when Barry goes back to save his mother he loses all his powers and his timeline is drastically changed. In that comic, Barry has to team up with Batman (who was actually Thomas Wayne, since in that timeline Bruce had died) to give himself his powers back. They partially played out this story line this season when Wells recreated the particle accelerator explosion to give Barry his powers back. This ending though could trigger a ripple effect for next season, which could leave Barry powerless. It could also change whether or not his father was imprisoned, if he ever became The Flash, if the Reverse Flash never killed Harrison Wells in the first place. It’s hard to say what this decision will mean. Tom Cavanagh could actually be back next season playing the real Dr. Wells from Earth-1, which would be amazing, but what would that mean for all the other characters? Will Nora Allen be a series regular? Will the season start out with Barry living back at his parents house? If you have any theories on what this could mean for season three, please leave us your comments down below. Also let us know how this finale held up against season one’s finale. One thing is for sure, seeing John Wesley Shipp in a Flash suit again was completely satisfying and now we can celebrate because Zoom is finally done terrorizing both Central City and Earth-2.
“The Flash” will return Tuesdays this fall on The CW.
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