THE FLASH: “Enter Zoom”

A light and breezy episode of The Flash turns into a gale-force wind as Zoom arrives.

Ostensibly the second half of a Dr. Light themed two-parter, “Enter Zoom” begins with Barry entreating the good doctor to help him take down Zoom. She seems receptive, until she isn’t, and soon afterwards she somehow hacks her way out of confinement at STAR Labs and escapes into the city, never to be seen again.

Which leaves her Earth-1 counterpart alone, confused, and more than happy to step in. While there’s some understandable hang-wringing on Joe’s part about why, exactly, Barry thinks it’s OK to use an unpowered and vulnerable version of Linda Park to lure potentially the most powerful being in the universe into a fight, the show itself is generally unconcerned with the idea, and for good reason: this is a fun episode.

The subplots tonight were perhaps just as fun (in different ways) as the main one, and were all very well integrated. Namely, Cisco trying his hardest to consciously utilize his Vibe powers by touching Earth-2 Wells and learning all of his secrets. Eventually, after several awkward attempts — each eliciting a prized response from Harry (please never stop calling him this) — it works, and Cisco learns what we have: that Wells has a daughter, Jesse (Quick!), and that Zoom has taken her captive for some nefarious reason. It’s why Wells came to this Earth, to help the Flash that he considers the superior Flash take down the enemy his Flash never could. The enemy he claims to be responsible for. Tom Cavanagh was already the best thing about this show last year, but at this point he’s just showing off. Wells-2 is a thoroughly different person (as he should be) while still recognizably holding true to the idea of Harrison Wells as a paragon of science, a balancing act that seems very difficult to maintain, no matter the quality of the writing.

As only the 6th of the season, this episode never truly seems to buy into the idea that Zoom could possibly be defeated or even confronted here, this early in the story, and it seems to have its fun at Barry’s expense. Linda’s fumbling attempts to master Cisco’s “light glove” invention that I won’t even begin trying to comprehend here, the entire staged fight between Barry and Linda, Patty’s general existence, even Wells’s grumpy consternation all combine to provide a very light episode of television, one that while certainly not great, is great fun at times and was generally a joy to sit through.

And then Zoom actually shows up at the end, and wrecks everyone’s entire day. This is our first real look at his costume, which is somehow even better than Reverse Flash’s last year. The effects that go along with Zoom’s speed are just jerky and unnatural enough to imply something nearly demonic underneath the Scarecrow-style mask, and it’s remarkably unsettling to look at.

After Barry and Wells (Barry and Harry!) scramble to save our Linda (whom Zoom successfully uses as bait just after Barry failed to), they seemingly have the drop on him. Until they don’t, and Zoom parades Barry’s nearly lifeless body around like a trophy, frightening Joe and Iris and taunting this entire universe with their inadequacy. “You just weren’t fast enough,” he growls, seeming — as Cisco describes him — “not entirely human,” before bringing Barry back to Star Labs and seemingly paralyzing him. Cisco manages to chase him off with a well-timed suppression device, but the damage is done.

This episode felt just as important as last year’s “The Man in the Yellow Suit” did, and a solid 75% of the episodes after that one were essential. Similarly to that classic, this episode firmly establishes the main threat. RF was a concept before he showed up and fought Barry in an empty stadium last year. Zoom was just a name before he pummeled Barry nearly to death. In fact, much of this episode deals with how hung up Barry still is on his old buddy Eobard. If nothing else, his focus should be entirely on the man in the black suit now. While the non-Zoom villains this year are noticeably blander than the Earth-1 Rogues, that hardly matters anymore. Zoom is here. And he is pissed.

(But is he as pissed as GRODD? GRODD NEXT WEEK. FEAR GRODD.)

Episode Grade: A-

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