Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of The Flash! Proceed with caution, speedsters. For reals, if you haven’t yet watched this week’s season finale, “The Race of His Life,” we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.
At long last we come to the end of this wildly uneven sophomore season of The Flash. In “The Race of His Life,” the Scarlet Speedster confronts Zoom one final time, when the two race to see who’s really the fastest man alive. Or at least that’s why Zoom says they’re racing. Turns out, it’s really just to provide himself with a means of power to conquer every Earth in the multiverse. With the notable exception of Earth-1, which turns out to be at the center of the everything. (Sorry, Supergirl, I guess your Earth just doesn’t cut the mustard. No worries, though, since you’ll soon be moving to Earth-CW.)
Naturally, Barry has nothing on his mind but bloody vengeance since Zoom killed his dad last week, and threatens to kill someone else close to him if they don’t race. His friends soon notice he’s not exactly thinking clearly and lock him up at STAR Labs, lest he get his damn fool self killed. Which means it’s up to ol’ Wally to free his hero, just in time for him to rescue Joe by agreeing to the race.
The race itself offers some nicer-than-usual effects work, which become a part of the story when Barry goes back in time to grab a remnant of himself to thwart Zoom’s makeshift Death Star while our boy beats the bejeezus out of the rat bastard. Unfortuantely, that’s when the show starts to cheat. Big time.
Although Barry’s hellbent on killing Zoom, we never see if he’d actually go through with it, since a pair of time wraiths arrive at the last second and whisk the villain away to what we can only assume is the Speed Force equivalent of Hell. The really frustrating thing is that the exact same scenario was presented in the second season of Arrow, and Oliver Queen was allowed by that show’s writer to make his own decision regarding his enemy, Slade Wilson, who had just killed his only surviving parent (his mother Moira). Oliver was presented with the perfect opportunity to finish off his foe, but he refused, passing the final test in his season-long trial to become a hero instead of a mere vigilante. Sure, it might be a little unfair to compare the two series, but it’s almost impossible for those of us who watch both (and since they share the same creators, network, and multiverse they most definitely want us to watch them both) not to notice when they parallel, or, in this case, when one falls short of the other.
The aftermath is that Barry feels as though the world (or the Speed Force) has stolen another parent from him, and he feels entirely justified in stealing one back for himself. So in this episode’s final scene, after telling Iris he’s torn apart and in desperate need of peace, he races back to the night of his mother’s murder and prevents Thawne from slaying her.
All kinds of repercussions are guaranteed in the show’s third season, be they narrative, psychological, or temporal. With his mother alive and his father not imprisoned for her murder, does this mean he’ll be raised by his parents instead of Joe? Without the motivation to find his mom’s murderer will he not become a police scientist? Will he get his powers if he’s not in a laboratory full of chemicals the night of the particle accelerator explosion? It’s enough fuel for an entire season, but part of me wishes the show wouldn’t go down this route, and would move forward instead of looking back. Especially since Barry’s parental issues have informed a full two seasons now.
For all this season’s faults, most of which came from repeating the major villain arc of season one—i.e., a good mentor is revealed to be an evil one with a hidden agenda—there were moments in the last handful of episodes where Barry demonstrated more independent thought than the show often allows him. Coming up with his own ideas, for example, to defeat the villain of the week rather than relying on his friends at STAR Labs. That’s the Barry I want to see more of in season three. But it’s hard to accept anyone as an adult responsible for his own decisions if one is forever reminded of the child inside him.
— As many of us suspected, the real Jay Garrick was the man in the iron mask; and he was played by John Wesley Shipp. Longtime fans can now breathe a sigh of relief that one of the most beloved characters in the DC Universe is not, in this show’s continuity, a serial killer. I know I exhaled deeply when the new Jay donned the fake one’s helmet.
— “One pulse to destroy them all.”
— Was it just me or did Iris seem weirdly fine with leaving her dad to die on Earth-2 at Zoom’s hands?
— “Ramon, did you ever work with a tool before?” “I’m working with one now.” Cisco and Wells were the MVPs again this year.
— Since the real Jay (who looks much more like his comic book counterpart, by the way, than the fake one) says his home is Earth-3, does this mean the Justice Society of America could reside there? If so, might they play a role in the mega crossover that was recently announced to feature all four of the CW’s DC superhero shows next season?
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).
Images: The CW