One good thing that comes out of the multi-week, periodic hiatuses with The Flash is that in most cases, the show proves that the wait was worth it. After a Flash drought for three-weeks, Versus Zoom definitely allowed the show to hit the ground running, even if it did stumble in the end. The episode ramped up the tussle with villain-of-the-season Zoom as it shed light on his past and left our beloved Team Flash in a very weak and vulnerable position only a few weeks before the season finale. If there is one thing that we learned from this episode of the show was that Hunter Zoloman is the Earth-2 doppelganger of Barry Allen.
Of course this doesn’t apply to appearance, but it does refer to their life. Both these people had terrible and traumatic childhoods and the particle accelerator incident is responsible for transforming their lives as they ended up as meta-human speedsters. However, there is a fundamental difference between the two; the kind of men the two eventually became. Hunter became a sociopath and a sadist while our Barry is noble and selfless. From what we saw, the only thing that separated the two from their individual tragedies is that Barry had a support system to fall back on in the form of Joe and Iris, but Hunter had no one.
Hunter was all alone so he was unable to rise from the tragedy in a good way. Therefore, it didn’t come off as a surprise that this episode highlighted the importance of family because it can shape a family and help them in getting stronger. This family theme also applied to the struggle that Cisco had to go through because he was afraid that he would become corrupted by his power like his Earth-2 doppelganger so he was unwilling to explore it. But, Barry being Barry, reminded Cisco that his family aka the team is there to keep him grounded.
This family theme also seemed important for keeping the whole episode together because it ventured into a lot of dark territory. Not only did we explore Hunter’s tragic past, but Barry also went through an emotional and physical wringer. While darkness might worry some fans in the wake of Batman vs Superman, but it was balanced through emotional depth and heart. In fact, there was an interesting level of tension as things seemed to be going Team Flash’s way this time around. They were able to tap into the tachyon device and use it for boosting Barry’s speed to make him even faster than Zoom.
Things definitely seemed to be working in their favor as Cisco was able to master the ability of breaching between different worlds. It seemed that they would be victorious over Zoom and everyone felt a sense of satisfaction when they saw Barry outrace his nemesis and lure him into a trap for a change. Nevertheless, there was a tickle at the back of the head that this was only the buildup and the crash would come later, which it most certainly did. There are still a few episodes of the season to go, which meant Zoom couldn’t be defeated in this one.
Even if that didn’t play a factor, Barry’s overconfidence was always going to slow him down. All season long, Barry has made the mistake of underestimating Zoom and paid the price as he did so, once again in this episode. Before moving onto the climax, there are some things worth noting about the episode. Grant Gustin did an excellent job at taking Barry through the highs and lows and Joe also shined in his attempts to bond with his biological son. The heart-to-heart scene between Cisco and Barry was also impressive work from the actors. It had the potential of being a complete disaster due to the Star Wars reference, but Carlos Valdes managed to pull it off successfully.
Back to the climax, the showdown between Team Flash and Zoom comprised of some of the best and weakest material of the whole episode. Watching Hunter Zolomon unmasked was very entertaining and it was great to see him interacting with his former friends without any secrets. The undisguised contempt and malice of the character made his seem completely different than the Jay we have known. With that said, it was painful to watch how a bunch of smart people like Team Flash behaved stupidly in their encounter.
They didn’t develop any contingency plan for taking on Zoom. Their plan failed as Zoom kidnapped Wally and bargained for Barry’s speed. They got Wally back and Zoom took The Flash’s speed. But, there were so many things that could have been done. For instance, why didn’t Wells damage the speed extractor so Zoom couldn’t steal Barry’s speed? Or why did the team decide to stick to their bargain of letting Hunter take the speed when Wally was back with them? It seemed like a situation where intelligent characters are forced to act like idiots for furthering the story.
Also, Wally isn’t that important a character as yet so Zoom could have kidnapped someone else like Henry Allen who would mean something to Cisco and Caitlyn as well. This would also have taught Barry a lesson for being foolish and overconfident. Regardless, Zoom got what he wanted and Barry is now a normal human, which means no more speed. The exchange didn’t go well as Zoom immediately decided to kill Barry, but Caitlyn was able to talk him down by referring to the moments they had shared when he was pretending to be Jay. The result? Zoom decided he misses Caitlyn and he whipped her away with him.
The Team Flash has suffered a major setback once again and now they don’t have The Flash to help them out. Barry is at his lowest ebb and it seems that there just might be a bit of humanity left in Hunter Zoloman. The real mystery is finding out exactly who the mystery masked fellow is who has talked to Barry and now Wally.