Welcome back to Up To Speed, in which Flash TV show veteran Dylan Todd and newbie Ziah Grace break down the latest episode of The Flash, dispense some Flash Facts, and talk about what works, what doesn’t, and where the series might be headed.

This week, Zoom makes his first big appearance, Patty Spivot continues to be delightful, and Cisco shows us how easy it is to make friends. ‘Enter Zoom' was directed by JJ Makaro and written by Gabrielle Stanton and Brooke Eikmeier.

 

Ziah: First off, this episode was rad as heck. This was an all-time episode, barring some awkward dialogue in the middle, and the surprise possibility of my apartment getting sold and me getting vacated halfway through! (I am not getting vacated.) Cisco once again takes the gold for best line deliveries, and I think we get a solid contender for Dumbest Use of Non-Science, when Dr. Light hacks Star Labs with light. Dylan, how great was this episode?

Dylan: This episode contained the best and also the dumbest scenes in the entire series so far. It went all out in every way that it could have and I’m honestly pumped at what they pulled off here and I’m really curious to where they’re heading next. But let’s back up a little bit. The main plot this week involved the Flash Gang trying to trick Zoom into crossing the Breach by faking the Flash’s demise. But like anything else these people undertake, it goes off the rails in like a million different ways.

Ziah: Let’s just say it. This plan was insane.

Dylan: That plan was so stupid. I loved it. And Joe being Joe, he said it every chance he had. First they try to get Doctor Light to pretend to kill Flash, but she gets buck naked and turns herself invisible, escaping STAR Labs because… fiberoptics?

 

 

Ziah: Again, she hacks the computers of the lab by just… by just lighting super hard. She lights the lab so hard, all of the locks fail. This was wonderful. I love dumb science in superhero shows, because it’s superheroes. The science isn’t there to begin with.

Dylan: But it’s okay, because conveniently, they have a Doctor Light look-alike in Linda Park. Ziah, please tell these people about her amazing training montage.

Ziah: Oh my gosh, Dylan, this was honestly incredible. Cisco has apparently had a secret hobby of building cardboard replicas of every single one of the STARios, including Joe West with his Business Beanie, just on the off-chance someone needed training. There is nothing about Cisco developing a secret training factory with weirdly candid cardboard pictures of his friends that I don’t love. Linda Park does her best Iron Man impression, blasting holes in everyone’s Earth-Cardboard doppelganger, while Flash and Cisco try to focus on the positives: that this scene exists and is wonderful.

 

 

Dylan: There is no reason why she needs to be able to determine the other targets from the Flash. No reason at all. The Flash is the only other person who will be on the docks. Why are they doing this? There is literally no reason. It is honestly the dumbest thing this show has ever done and I love it so much.

Ziah: No part of this plan makes sense, and honestly, I’m totally okay with that. Normally I get annoyed at major plot holes in genre shows, but when it’s this fun to watch, who cares? Why does Linda need to be able to shoot blasts or convincingly act or do anything more than just stand there? Why does their plan hinge on Zoom being both omnipotent and easily fooled by Malese Jow and Grant Gustin’s terrible/perfect good-pretending-to-be-bad acting? Why does Barry need to reveal he’s the Flash to give Linda the extra boost to light up the night at all?

 

 

Speaking of the identity reveal, Patty is now officially the only character on the show with a speaking role who doesn’t realize Barry’s the Flash, and it really threw into perspective how terrible Joe and Barry are. They lie to her all the time. Patty even gives both of them a Get Out Of Jail Free card to just come clean, and they completely ignore it. How are you feeling about this not-so-secret identity?

Dylan: Yeah, I mean, now Linda knows, so it’s just Patty and the lady who gives the tours at the Central City museum that don’t know Barry’s alter ego.

Ziah: I don’t know, Dylan, maybe Barry wanted to check it out, and lost his wallet and just let her in on it for a free tour. “I promise you’re the only one who knows, please don’t tell anyone, I trust you.”

Dylan: No way. That lady is hard as nails. No free tours. Period.

So the B-plot here involved Earth-2 Wells/Twells and his daughter, Jesse Quick, who Zoom has taken hostage.

Ziah: Along with a C-plot of Cisco trying to figure that out by… vibing it. I have a love/hate relationship with how awkward the phrasing is of “vibing”, but I did really enjoy Cisco trying to accidently touch Twells the whole time. There was more, “Oops, sorry, I didn’t mean to touch you” than a fifth-grade dance.

Dylan: Yeah, his not-at-all-subtle attempts to “vibe” Welles were some of the more intentionally funny moments of the episode. I’m not sure that Wells’ flashbacks worked as well as they’d hoped. The Jesse/Wells scene was pretty schmaltzy and the newscast zooming in on her phone --- complete with a call screen that reads “Daddy” with Wells’ face on it --- when reporting on her kidnapping was just dumb, and not in a good way.

Ziah: Yeah, it’s the guy who invented meta-time pieces (not Mark Waid), and you don’t recognize him on Earth-2 TV?

 

 

Dylan: Yeah, it’s some BS. Also, Earth-2 TVs are vertical as opposed to horizontal and that is so dumb. Just unforgivable. Finally, a part of that universe that’s worse than Earth-1.

Ziah: Well, the comics references are definitely worse than Earth-1. I groaned the first time Twells said, “You’ve always been quick”, but following it up with literally “Jesse Quick” was a bit much.

As bad as those flashbacks might have been, Twells continues to be a high point in the present day. Him calling Cisco “Ramon” because he refuses to be on a first-name basis with anyone but Barry is hilarious, and he’s just such a helpful jerk, I love it.

Dylan: Yeah, his temper tantrum after their Zoom plan didn’t work because seriously why would it work? was great. I also loved that Joe is like “Meh,” when it comes to trusting him.

Ziah: Again, this is a plan that depends on Zoom being able to see everything except them planning out the plan and the guys on the ship with Slowper Rifles and anytime Linda and Barry mess up their lines or look wrong. This is such a bad plan.

Dylan: It would also help if Zoom wasn’t super-duper fast and could, you know, catch anything you shoot at him, which, spoilers: he totally does.

Ziah: Joe West trusts nobody. Not even wonderful P. Spivot and her pretty good non-STARio deductions.

I did like that even with Jay Garrick gone, we still have a pretty good dad-on-dad conflict with Twells v West, but at least Joe got to look good as the voice of reason this week for reminding everyone that we’re not at the mid-season break, so he shouldn’t fight Zoom yet.

Dylan: Since you brought it up, let’s talk about that fight. It did not go well for Barry. Like at all. Zoom is faster, meaner, spookier, and more brutal. He Bane-s Barry’s back, shoots him with the slow serum that Barry and Twells were planning on shooting at him, and then parades him around Central City, going, “This is your hero? Really? Dude sucks.” Zoom’s been built up as a Big Bad Monster, and he really didn’t disappoint. Ziah?

 

 

Ziah: This fight was raaaaaaaaad. Like you said, he’s been really built up as a scary dude, so for him to just show up in the final ten minutes and wreck stuff up was exactly what this season needed. More than that, they did a great job showing how strong he is, rather than just using exposition. Barry throws a massive lightning bolt, and Zoom catches it like a javelin and throws it right back (solid silver medal for dumb comic book science), catches three Slowper bullets, and outfights Barry in a fair fight.

Dylan: When Zoom threw the lightning bolt back, my wife literally said out loud, “Oh dang! That’s not good!” And you know what? She’s absolutely right.

Ziah: Yeah, cause Jay even said earlier that he never learned how to do that, it was just “theoretically” possible. This is a dude that’s shown to be at just a straight-up higher level than Barry’s at, and it totally works. Another really cool detail is that the transition to the commercial breaks is normally the red flash dust that Barry kicks off, and when Zoom shows up for the final showdown, it’s blue-tinted. I love this stuff, when stuff like openings or expositions or transitions get repurposed by the villain to show how strong they are.

Dylan: There was also a Tony Todd “ZOOM” that accompanied that commercial break outro. Also a nice touch. And as long as I’m talking about it, I just want to point out that Tony Todd (AKA Candyman from Candyman) kills it with Zoom’s voice. Just the right balance of menace and gravitas.

Also, Ziah, our (admittedly very obvious) thought that Zoom is Earth-2 Barry Allen seems to be not at all close to correct. For one, Zoom is physically bigger and the eye colors don’t match. Plus, I feel like the newscaster revealing that Starling City’s Hood was actually Robert Queen was sort of a clue that things in Earth-2 don’t work along the same lines as Earth-1. I’m not saying it’s Earth-2 Henry Allen, but I’m also not ruling it out.

Ziah: Wait, really? Woah, I totally thought this episode confirmed it (or nearly) when he showed up at Linda Park’s house and was lit up like Zoom (with a slightly creepy voice modulator).

Dylan: No, that’s a thing Barry’s done before to hide his identity from people who would look at him and go, “Oh hi, Barry.” It reached some ridiculous heights in season one, with some highly improbable backlighting to hide his secret from Iris.

Ziah: Would you say that it reached……. Iron Heights?

Dylan: Ziah, no.

Ziah: I mean, fair, but the timing of it seemed suspect. Plus, didn’t Zoom say something like, “I want to be you”? On the other hand (the Earth-2 hand), Robert Queen being Arrow/The Hood would point to his dad, like you said. Who knows, man? It’s a good mystery, I guess.

Dylan: IDK man. I just feel like whoever it winds up being will probably be a variation on somebody we’ve seen before? Maybe Earth-2 Ronnie Raymond? But I am literally always wrong when I try and guess at these things.

Ziah: I mean, that’d be the satisfying reveal anyway. At least we know he’s not Twells! I’m pretty excited about that, because Twells the Science Jerk is way more fun than Twells the Possible Sociopath to me.

Dylan: What did you think about the sting at the end?

Ziah: Of Barry possibly losing the use of his legs? That’s a really interesting move for the show to play. It puts him on the recovery bench, puts more focus on the STARios and the police side of things, and establishes Zoom as a dude not to be messed with. Especially with a Next Episode Preview teasing Gorilla Grodd, I’m really excited for the next episode. Do we know if the Slowper bullets were permanent or temporary? I assumed temporary, but I forget if it was explicitly mentioned.

Dylan: I can’t really remember, but I think that injury was due more to Zoom power-punching Barry’s spine into mush than the slow serum. Good thing they hung on to Reverse Flash’s wheelchair, huh? And yeah, bring on “Gorilla Warfare.”

Ziah: Grodd Loves, Man Kills?

Dylan: Save it for next week, Ziah, when you can really… go ape on the gorilla puns.

Ziah: Dylan, yes.