The Flash Recap: Powerless

Grant Gustin as The Flash. Photo: Dean Buscher/CW
The Flash
The Flash
Episode Title
Enter Zoom
Editor’s Rating

A superhero is nothing without a great villain. We’ve only gotten brief glimpses of Zoom thus far, which left me wondering if he’d have the same impact that Harrison Wells did in season one. We’ve heard a lot more of Zoom than we’ve seen until the last ten minutes or so of this episode. Here’s what we learn: He’s damn near demonic. He’s more powerful than anyone Barry has faced. But we still don’t really know his endgame besides the loosely defined desire to be the most powerful speedster in any universe. Which isn’t a compelling goal for a villain. But Zoom proves himself to be a fascinating new foe — everything we learn brings up even more questions, which Team Flash is hoping to answer by trapping him. And their plan is not only dangerous, but dumb as hell. After all, how can you try to beat a villain you know basically nothing about?

“Enter Zoom” begins with a flash-forward of Barry losing a fight to Dr. Light. Standing above Barry’s lifeless body, she takes the emblem off his chest and says, “Zoom always wins.” We quickly learn this isn’t exactly what it seems when the show goes back three days to explain how we got to this point.

Barry decides to reason with Dr. Light, who is imprisoned in the STAR Labs pipeline, hoping she’ll help him in taking down Zoom. Despite stressing that Zoom is unbeatable, she agrees to help him capture Zoom and even gives him some valuable intel. Team Flash comes up with a plan where they’ll use Dr. Light to lure Zoom after faking a fight where she beats Barry, in order to capture him using a speed dampening serum Earth-2 Wells created.

If you’re thinking she agrees to this a bit too easily, you’re right. They learn this the hard way when Cisco goes to check up on her later on, only to find an empty room with her clothing crumpled in the corner. But the pipeline isn’t exactly empty. Dr. Light can also turn invisible. And when Cisco opens the pipeline, an invisible Dr. Light knocks him over and tries to escape. Which she does because their security system is trash. Seriously, they need to work on that. It remains way too easy for people to just walk in and escape. Also, is this show ever going to address the morally questionable imprisonment of metahumans at STAR Labs? Her escape makes their plan go from questionable to completely idiotic.

Linda, who is rightly paranoid about seeing her own doppelganger, is staying at the West house with Iris. And Iris is the one who suggests the harebrained idea to have Linda pose as Dr. Light to keep the plan (mostly) in place. Which Barry agrees with because his determination to capture Zoom is woefully myopic. The Flash has always been wonderfully emotionally realized in the ways it approaches the cross-section of masculinity, and what it means to be a superhero. But here, Barry shows the toxic underbelly of this. Sometimes heroics turns into blind vengeance, and when that happens there is always unforeseen collateral damage.

The new plan is to have Linda pretend to be Dr. Light by using pair of gloves that allows her to mimic (some of) her Earth-2 counterparts' abilities. She doesn’t quite get the hang of being a supervillain, which puts this hasty plan in even more peril.

But what was Barry really expecting? He can say it’s about stopping Zoom from hurting anyone else, but it’s obviously not as altruistic as he’s making it seem. Somehow everyone is down with this idea except Joe, who provides a much-needed dose of common sense. Barry wants to get Zoom so badly he’s willing to put Linda’s life on the line. Which is just wrong on so many levels. Would a hero really do that? Joe echoes many of my issues: They really have no idea about the extent of Zoom’s powers. The plan relies on trusting Wells, which is a shaky proposition at best. Putting Linda’s life on the line is a very bad idea since she’s likely to get killed.

Despite all these points, Barry desperately wants the plan to work and speeds over to Linda for a pep talk in hopes of convincing her to go through with this despite the fact that this whole plan is insane. Barry tells her he believes in her, and she’s one of the strongest women he knows. Linda doesn’t believe him until he takes off his mask. “Holy crap, I’ve made out with the Flash” was not the reaction I was expecting from her. Priorities, girl. But Barry’s the real problem here.

Barry, my sweet summer child, what is the point of a secret identity if you keep telling people about it? I’m always surprised at how easily Barry lets his identity slip (except for the one person it made sense to tell quickly last season: his supposed best friend, Iris).

Director JJ Makaro’s first time directing on The Flash has proven to be stellar. I hope to see him direct more of the show because he found a way to balance the drama, humor, and action wonderfully. But there are so many questionable leaps in logic and common sense that continued to bug me.

The plan doesn’t work. Surprise, surprise. Linda’s dialogue is atrocious (blame that on Cisco, he wrote a script for the mock fight). She comes across as a parody of a supervillain more than anything else. And Zoom doesn’t even show up. (Side note: They don’t capture Dr. Light and her escape soon becomes an afterthought as the episode goes on. But they’ll have to address her eventually, right?)

Meanwhile, Cisco seems to be embracing his burgeoning metahuman abilities by trying to get a vibe off of Wells. Which is a smart thing to do because that dude is definitely shady. It seems Barry is the only one who trusts him in the slightest. Cisco keeps having to find an excuse to touch Wells in order to get a vibe from him, which finally works after a few tries. The vision gets him up close and personal to Zoom and his hostage, Wells’s daughter. Although of course he doesn’t know who she is quite yet, until Wells’s reaction when Cisco says her name later on.

We also get to see a few flashbacks to Wells on Earth-2 interacting with his daughter, including the moment he learns she was kidnapped by Zoom, which was through a clumsily written newscast. I couldn’t stop laughing at the image of her phone in the rubble with Wells's face near the name “daddy” as he tried to reach her. The highlight of the newscast was learning that Oliver Queen is dead and his father is the Green Arrow on Earth-2. Here’s what I wasn’t expecting: Wells’s daughter is named Jesse Quick. In the comics, Jesse Quick is the daughter of speedster Johnny Quick and Justice Society member Liberty Belle, and she becomes a heroic speedster herself. The Flash likes to play with the comics canon loosely so I’m not sure they’re going to reveal this background for her. But giving her that name obviously means she isn’t just going to be a damsel in distress waiting to be saved. Plus, the show needs more superheroes on Team Flash. The highlight of this episode, besides everything with Zoom, is watching Cisco and Wells interact. The dynamic is very different than what we saw in season one, but the two still have great chemistry.

Speaking of chemistry, Barry and Patty still don’t have any. I don’t want to hate Patty, but every time she comes onscreen I’m just bored. Part of it is she doesn’t have chemistry with any of the other actors on the show. The other issue is the writing is forcing her in directions that don’t make sense and have her come across like she has the emotional intelligence of a walnut. She pushes Joe into being “transparent” with him. But the thing is you can’t force a connection. And most of the secrets Joe is holding onto aren’t really his to share. I really want to like Patty and I’m always down for more female characters, but not when that means they push others to the side or when their writing is lacking. The Flash doesn’t need it’s own version of Felicity Smoak. It needs to dedicate itself to creating female characters that stand on their own and don’t come across as a knock-off of others.

After their original plan to capture Zoom utterly fails, Barry mentions that the reason he’s hell-bent on capturing him goes back to Earth-1 Wells and the confession video he left. Barry worries Wells was right, that he did win, and Barry will never be happy because of the effect of his mother’s murder on his life. “He may have stalked you for ten years, but I raised you,” Joe says. Continuing to prove he’s one of the best dads on television, Joe gives Barry some real talk: Barry needs to go after what makes him happy. He’s in control of it, not Wells. So, Barry goes right into the arms of Patty. Sure. Honestly, seeing Barry interact with Linda again proves to me that I’d be fine with him getting back with her. I actually see chemistry between them. Maybe in an alternate universe this show has Barry with a woman he actually has chemistry with?

We get to see Iris and Linda interact a lot in this episode, which I’m very happy about. Iris still doesn’t have much of a story line of her own, but her presence is welcome nonetheless. The joy of seeing them joke around with each other after hours in the newsroom is quickly dashed when Zoom confronts Linda the moment she walks outside. Finally! Some development with Zoom’s story line!

Barry gets a call from a freaked-out Iris, but before they can even finish talking, the alarms at STAR Labs are in high alert (so they actually work?). Zoom is on the roof and he’s dangling poor Linda off the edge. I love the design of Zoom. He looks straight-up demonic, unbeatable even. When Caitlin mentions that she can’t imagine Zoom as human, Wells mentions he is ... or was at least. But who is Zoom? There are a lot of theories going around. Is he the Earth-2 version of Henry Allen? Another version of Wells? Earth-2 Barry Allen? I definitely think things are personal based on the fact that he doesn’t kill Barry, but seems more hellbent on proving he’s not a hero to the people of Central City.

Seeing Barry and Zoom face off for the first time was worth the wait. Barry’s first move is one Jay taught him (who really needs to show up, this show is utterly wasting him) — to throw lightning. It looks pretty badass until Zoom effortlessly catches it and throws it back. It only gets worse from there for Barry. Zoom quickly gains the upper hand, catching the serum Wells shoots toward him and stabbing Barry with it. He then drags Barry around the city like a kid who won’t let go of his favorite teddy bear. First at the newspaper then at the police station where he pulls a Wonder Woman with the bullets the cops shoot his way. At each location, Zoom denigrates an unconscious, bloody Barry saying he isn’t much of a hero at all. It’s an oddly personal tactic for a villain who apparently only cares about gaining more speed — his identity has to be personally linked to Barry. Zoom’s final stop is at STAR Labs. Cisco is able to shoot Zoom with the speed dampening serum, but while it looked painful, it doesn’t seem to affect him that much.

Zoom had ample opportunity to kill Barry. But instead he drags him around the city to wreck his image as a hero and pull a Bane by leaving him paralyzed. Also, my theory that Barry would lose his powers came to fruition much sooner than I thought. I hope Jay tells everyone “I told you so” when he pops up again. Side note: Did anyone else find it weird how Iris wasn’t at his bedside considering everything Barry went through?

I’m glad Zoom isn’t just a retread of Reverse-Flash. He’s far more powerful and his motivations even more elusive. The voice work from Tony Todd goes a long way to communicate exactly how much of a threat he is. I was worried Zoom would be boring since his introduction left much to be desired. But he’s become an interesting mystery. The more we see him, the more questions arise. Why did Zoom send metahumans over to kill Barry when he could easily do so himself? Was he just testing his abilities? Why didn’t Zoom kill Barry? But the question that’s staying with me is this: How will Barry gain his powers back? And when he does, how will he defeat someone as powerful as Zoom?