TV Review: The Flash - Season 2 Finale "The Race of His Life"
EPISODE 23: "The Race of His Life"
SYNOPSIS: After Zoom reveals his true plan, Barry vows to do whatever it takes to stop him.
REVIEW: The end of season one of The Flash brought the entire Reverse-Flash arc to a close while setting up the multiverse concept for season two. The bulk of this year has been focused on Zoom who, in many ways, was like Reverse-Flash 2.0: meaner, faster, and more vicious. By giving us the concept of the Multiverse, The Flash was able to stay incredibly fresh and deliver a season that was almost on par with last year despite a few narrative hiccups along the way. But, this closing episode of the season does manage to open up some pretty hefty questions for next year that leave the future of our hero in flux in the best way possible. But, before we dive into what comes next, we need to discuss the finale and how our main story was wrapped up.
Picking up with the death of Henry Allen, we finally learn what Zoom's master plan is: destroy every alternate Earth and leave our world under the control of the villainous madman. By using a device from Mercury Labs that can simulate a pulsar, Zoom needs Barry to race him. While a race certainly seems lame for such a momentous finale but the writers found a way to make the stakes significant. Zoom needs Barry's speed to charge the device. If Zoom wins the race, he destroys all alternate Earths. If Barry wins, Zoom will concede and walk away. If Barry quits, Zoom will kill Joe. With Barry enraged by the death of his father, Zoom proves our Flash doesn't have the guts to kill. Zoom kills his own time remnant to make his point. The rest of the team know Barry is not in his right mind and they lock him in STAR Labs and try to stop Zoom themselves.
Zoom manages to escape to Earth-2 with Joe West which prompts Wally to release Barry from his cell. Barry tells his friends that he has to race Zoom as it is the only way to stop him once and for all. Barry is confident that he can finally stop his foe and they race. Barry's speed helps charge the pulsar, but he has a trick up his sleeve. Barry generates his own time remnant who counteracts the rotation of the pulsar and disintegrates. The original Barry then fights Zoom long enough for a pair of time wraiths to come through the Speed Force due to Barry's meddling with the timeline. But, with Zoom's offenses much more dour, the wraiths take him through the portal, killing him once and for all. Barry has finally been victorious against Zoom and the Multiverse is now safe.
Back at STAR Labs, the team frees Zoom's prisoner. When the iron mask falls, we get to meet the real Jay Garrick who is a doppelganger of Henry Allen. Overcome with emotion, Barry cannot face his father's double. We soon learn the real Jay Garrick is from Earth-3. It is cool to see John Wesley Shipp don the costume of The Flash once more even if it is brief. Harrison Wells and Jesse decide to return to Earth-2 and will in turn send Jay back to his world. Wells bids farewell to his friends and Jesse says goodbye to Wally before they head home. Something tells me this will not be the last we see of the characters, but the inclusion of Wally into the team adds some much needed blood to the squad. But, that may be short lived.
In the final scenes of the episode, Barry and Iris talk about what comes next. Barry is not ready to be with Iris until he has dealt with the loss of his father. The anger and resentment in his heart makes Barry unable to be The Flash he needs to be. Iris is accepting of Barry needing to go on a journey to find himself. Alone, Barry apologizes for what comes next: heading back to the night of his mother's death, Barry kills Reverse-Flash and saves both of his parents. Barry then looks on at himself watching the events and sees himself disappear from the timeline. The episode ends with Barry consoling his now living mother. How this will affect the timeline and the events of season one and two remains to be seen, but the third season is going to start with a wholly different world for The Flash.
On the whole, season two of The Flash represents one of those rare sophomore seasons that is as good as the first. While I found Zoom a bit derivative of Reverse-Flash, the multiple mysteries layered on this season and the brilliant handling of the Multiverse concept helped make this one of the most balanced years of any superhero show. Barry definitely grew as a character and the doppelganger concept allowed our cast to play with variations of themselves which worked well for Harrison Wells as well as Cisco and Caitlyn. There were a few too many Legends of Tomorrow-centric episodes in the first half of the season, but Zoom remained a truly evil opponent who lived up to what a comic book nemesis should be. I am a little concerned that everything we have been invested in was wiped out by Barry's final act in the finale, but I trust the showrunners have a juicy idea for how next year will play out.
NEXT ON THE FLASH: Season 3 begins Fall 2016