The Flash's second incredible season drew to a close, as Barry and Zoom had their final, epic showdown. So many questions were answered, so many feels were felt, and for a few moments it seemed like this season might just wrap up nicely. Then, of course, Berlanti and co. dropped a cliffhanger ending like no other right on our heads.
Last week's episode, "Invincible," ended with Zoom murdering Barry's father in front of him in his childhood home (where Barry's mother was also killed). It was a brutal ending, and one that would bring Barry and Zoom's ongoing battle to a head.
Time To Mourn
The first moments of the episode are some of the most emotional, as Henry Allen dies in Barry's arms. His anger nearly overwhelms him and he chases Zoom around the city in a rage — something that Zoom is more than happy to see, as he claims that now that Barry has given in to his anger, they are the same.
In the first of multiple battles with Barry and Team Flash, Barry manages to catch Zoom, but in his hesitation to kill his nemesis another Zoom appears and kills the time remnant version of himself. Barry — shocked, confused and heartbroken — backs away.
At his father's funeral, Barry is clearly distraught, unable to give a eulogy. Team Flash stands around the grave and we all take a moment to weep for what Barry has lost. Back at the house, Barry and Wally have a brief conversation about his role as the Flash, but a very subdued one, for obvious reasons. The team try and talk about what they can do to stop Zoom. Even at Henry's funeral, Zoom is on everyone's mind.
It's not long before he reveals himself, either. As Barry and Iris sit outside the house, Zoom speeds by to tempt Barry out. When the two stop, Zoom lays out an ultimatum: He wants to know who the fastest man alive really is, and he wants them to race to find out. If Barry refuses, Zoom will keep killing the people he loves.
Of course, that's not the extent of his evil plan. Zoom also wants to use the stolen Magnetar designs from Mercury Labs as a pulsar to destroy the multiverse. To do so, all he needs is for Barry to race him — at which point, the energy Barry creates when he runs can power his device.
Team Flash's Plan
Despite knowing that Zoom is trying to use his speed to power his world-destroying device, Barry wants to accept his challenge. Not just to save the world, but to kill him. Talking to Joe, Barry seems on the verge of giving into his rage, and tells Joe that he can't be talked out of it — at which point, Joe and Wells shoot him with a tranquilizer.
Barry wakes up in the pipeline to discover that the team has deemed him too angry to take on Zoom — and they all agreed to imprison him. Obviously feeling betrayed, Barry rails against the walls of his prison, but the cells were built to hold any metahuman, including him.
Without the Flash, the team have decided to take Zoom on alone. Their plan is surprisingly simple — after tracking the Magnetar's location, the team rolls up to call Zoom out. With the rest hidden, Caitlin will distract Zoom long enough for Wells and Joe to use the "boot" on him (one of Cisco's gadgets that slows speedsters), and for Cisco to create a breach and push Zoom through. With him off Earth-1, the team will take down the Magnetar, thus removing the threat.
The Best-Laid Plans
Unsurprisingly, the plan doesn't exactly go according to plan. It starts well, with Caitlin telling Zoom that she has changed her mind and wants to be with him. The two seem to be connecting, but Zoom is pretty much pure evil, so we can't expect him to be kind, even to a woman he used to love. He attempts to kill her, before realizing that it's not actually Caitlin — she's using the same hologram technology that let Barry continue to act as the Flash when he lost his speed.
Cisco manages to open a breach, Wells gets the boot on, but Joe's tranq gun misfires, and he has to race forward to tranq Zoom by hand — getting dragged into the breach along with him. On top of which, it turns out that Zoom has altered the Magnetar and they can't disable it without destroying the planet.
In a heartbreaking twist, Wally comes to the lab to learn that Joe is missing, and Iris tells him that there are no rescue plans in place. The team agrees to close all the breaches for good and finally get rid of Zoom.
The Man In The Iron Mask
Back on Earth-2, Zoom has taken Joe to his lair as bait for Barry. In the grand tradition of super-villains, he kills some time by talking to Joe about his evil plans and his evil past. Jay Garrick wraps up everything we have learned about Zoom so far — how he got his powers, took over Earth-2, learned to cross the dimensional barrier, his addiction to Velocity serum, stealing Barry's speed, all of it. He adds one new detail, though: Earth-1 isn't the only Earth that Zoom visited. On another Earth, he found another heroic speedster. He brought him back to try and steal his speed, but failed. Instead, he stole his name and posed as that hero: the real Jay Garrick.
Speedster vs. Speedster
Wally, furious that the team are not going after Zoom, lets Barry out of the pipeline, and he immediately goes to confront the team. In an emotional scene, Barry claims that he is fine to race, while the team tells him that he needs to stop focusing on anger and revenge. At the end, though, it comes down to Barry giving them an ultimatum: Work with him, or leave him to do it alone. The team pulls together, and Cisco sends him through a vibe to see Zoom and accept his challenge — as long as Zoom brings Joe back with him.
In an epic final race, Zoom explains that he doesn't want to destroy every part of the multiverse, only everything except for Earth-1. The two will race around a giant loop, which will power the magnetar after enough laps. If Zoom stays out of Barry's reach for long enough to power the device, he wins and the multiverse is destroyed. If Barry catches him before then, Barry wins. Simple.
The two begin the race and the magnetar starts to power up, when suddenly a second Barry appears: He made a time remnant. One Barry chases Zoom, while the other frees Joe. Zoom and Barry battle as the magnetar starts to build, while the time remnant Barry runs around the base of the loop, knocking the pulse out of phase and preventing the multiverse's destruction. Sadly though, the remnant is ripped apart by the force of this action, and dies.
Zoom is finally destroyed (not by Barry, who is too much the hero to kill him) but by time wraiths. When he created a time remnant, Barry caught their attention, and as they burst out of a portal, the wraiths descend on Jay, tearing him apart.
The Final Twists
It seems that all has worked out well, but with ten minutes to spare (and as a season finale), we know that this won't stick. First, we finally get to take a look at the man in the iron mask — the real Jay Garrick. Some fans called it when Henry Allen revealed his mother's maiden name. Earth-3 Jay Garrick is the doppelgänger of Earth-1 Henry Allen. The sight of him rocks Barry to his core, as he struggles to cope with seeing his "dad" again. Back in his old uniform, Jay Garrick takes Zoom's helmet, and heads out to try and find his way home.
Harrison Wells and Jesse decide to head back to Earth-2 now that Zoom has been defeated, and after some emotional goodbyes, Cisco opens a breach to send Wells, Jesse and Jay (the real Jay) home. Back at the house, the remaining team members watch the news as it declares that Flash has defeated Zoom, but Barry seems unhappy. He and Iris talk outside again, but this time, he tells her that he can't stop thinking about his dad, and his inability to find peace with this latest loss. Breaking the hearts of West/Allen fans everywhere, Barry tells her that he's not in a place where he can love her. The two confess their love for each other before sharing a single kiss.
However, Barry has a new plan, and it doesn't involve going back inside to be with the woman he loves and the friends that he cares about. Instead, he runs back in time to the night his mother was murdered. Again. Only this time, he stops it. He takes down the reverse flash and saves his mother, even though it means that he may never become the Flash. We see the earlier version of Barry who came back to stop it the first time fade to nothing before our eyes, as Barry tells his mother that she is safe now.
What's Next? Season 3
There are no previews this week, and we have to wait months before we get to discover what this massive new twist means for Barry Allen. On the surface, it looks like Barry has completely re-written the timeline — saving his mother would mean that the events that made him the Flash never take place. Harrison Wells, Eobard Thawne, the particle accelerator explosion — it's possible that none of these will have happened when we get into Season 3, and that is going to mess with Flash fans' minds until then!
Of course, we have to assume that somehow Barry will become the Flash again (after all, that's kinda the point of the show!), but how? Will Season 3 pick up from the start again, or partway through, with the audience finding out how the timeline has changed as things go on? What will happen to the Barry who went back in time? How will this impact the rest of the Arrowverse? We may not know the answers, but we've got until October to have fun guessing.
Things You Might Have Missed
- The Multiverse: It's been mentioned as such before in the series, but we hear a whole lot about the multiverse in this week's episode — which comes straight from the pages of the comics.
- One Pulse: When Team Flash discover what Zoom is planning to do with the Magnetar, Cisco says: "One pulse to destroy them all" — a variation on the classic line from Lord of the Rings, "One ring to rule them all."
- Heroes: Cisco also references Heroes when he says: "Destroy the magnetar, save the multiverse," a variation on "Save the cheerleader, save the world."
- Run Barry: In a callback to the very beginning of the show, Zoom starts the race with the words "Run, Barry" — the same words that Harrison Wells said when Barry first found his powers.
- Cisco's Shirt: It looked like Cisco wouldn't be bringing his usual nerd style to the finale at first, but for the big showdown he wore a hilariously appropriate tee. It reads: Save The Earth: It's The Only Planet With Pizza.