Flash – Season II – Seaon Finale (ep. 23) “The Race of His Life”: (A Review)

Posted: 05/25/2016 in Uncategorized

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Wow. Ok. I am duly impressed. Up until the half way point, I had all but given up on the finale delivering. I became crabby and there might have been some colorful language used liberally. My wife assured me that all would be well. She knew that show-runners Berlanti/Kreisberg/Guggenheim would come through and come through they did in mind blowing fashion. Now – on to my review.

After the unbelievable Season 1 finale in which a major character sacrificed himself along with the Flash’s own intervention leading to the opening of a singularity and him racing to stop it; the expectation of a killer season ender was high. This season’s villain, Zoom/Hunter Zolomon (Teddy Sears) was amazing. He is vile, power mad and a psychopath without empathy. His attempt to make Barry (Grant Gustin) “just like him” takes away the one aspect that kept the Flash grounded after his time in the Speed Force allowed him some closure regarding his mother’s death. Zoom’s merciless action sets the stage to determine how far the Flash is willing to go. The follow up sequence in which Barry wails on Zoom but is unable to finish him yields further insanity as Zoom “kills” Zoom. This is trippy as hell but pays off grandly at a later point. The notion of the “time revenant” offered in earlier episodes, namely when Zoom killed “Jay Garrick/Earth Two Flash” gains incredible traction within the plot of the finale.

While watching this episode and watching Barry suffer once more, a notion occurred to me. The show is treading dark, dangerous ground as this is not “Arrow” and the light throughout the series is set up as in jeopardy of being extinguished. What galled me the most, however, was the action of his friends. My mind raced to the comedic foray that was Paul Rudd’s “I Love You Man” in which he declares, “I’ve got to get some @#$%in friends….” I will take that template and modify it to, “Barry’s got to get some new @#$%in’ friends…” Wow….. After the funeral, Zoom challenges Barry to a race, on either world, with the victor getting to be declared “fastest man alive.” Should Barry win, Zoom will back off and let him and his family/friends be.  Should the Flash decline his terms, Zoom promises to take more from him. We all know there is much more to it, particularly with Cisco’s continual vibe image of Earth Two being torn apart. Zoom’s end game is formidable in scope.

Barry approaches his friends and asks for their help in brokering a plan. His decision to race Zoom in any case is unchangeable….which leads to the AYFKM (Are You Frickin’ Kidding Me) play of the night. The team led by Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) and Harry Wells (Tom Cavanaugh) determines that Barry is too angry and distraught to properly engage his nemesis. They opt to act against him for his own protection. During a father and son one on one, Joe questions Barry as to his motives. The Flash having incurred another grievous loss tells him plainly, “Of course I want to hurt Zoom and worse, I want to take from him what he took from me….” Joe then takes what he deems to be an appropriate response via Wells zapping the Flash and then locking him up in S.T.A.R. Labs’ meta-human vault. What the @#$$! They then approach him, including Iris (Candice Patton) who only just finished giving him a pep talk encouraging him to press on. The team, including a sheepish Cisco* (Carlos Valdes) advise him that they came to the decision unanimously. Grant Gustin kills his scenes, conveying betrayal, anger and near despair in moments.

The master plan of the group is to take Zoom out on their own, using Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) as a lure since she was able to “reach his human side”. You don’t need to watch much tv or have read a single comic book to realize this is not going to go in their favor. She reaches out to him citing the “darkness” within her and he reacts consistently with his character – which was perfect. The team particularly Joe and Wells, with Cisco as mvp, actually execute their plan terrifically well, which was impressive. The cost, as always, is high as they manage to push Zoom back through the breach, but he takes Joe with him.

Here’s where things start to get silly.  All the team had previously agreed that if anything should any of them fall, they would not deviate from the plan. Long and short, Zoom has Joe and I guess they can live with that. Enter Wally West (Kieynan Lonsdale) who gains incredible improvement with this episode for two reasons. The first, after finding out that Barry is the Flash- he makes no big deal about the others keeping him out of the loop; opting instead to thank him for all he has done for him and the city. He also offers both his respects for Barry’s loss and the offer of help should he ever need it. Scenes between the two are solid and the fact the show-runners have acted as I hoped and held off making Wally Kid Flash immediately works, allowing for an organic, inevitable ascension next season or beyond. The second mass improvement is that he is the voice of reason, duly flipping out upon discovering that his recently found father has been lost and that Team Flash locked up the only man capable of defeating Zoom.

The episode stood purely on its denouement. The earlier advice given to the Flash by Zoom regarding ‘being ready’ to win is acted upon and pays off both visually and thematically. The battle sequence and planning within it is so masterful that the question, “does the Flash need his team anymore?” warrants asking. We learn the identity of the man in the iron mask and it is terrific, presenting a due homage to the earlier 1990s series in spectacular fashion. Wells and Jessie (Violet Beane) opt to return home and the last moment sequence where Barry is on the outside looking in is telling. Iris’ declaration of her feelings, complete with shining light (a little on the nose – but ah well…) illuminating both of them is nicely romantic. Barry’s eyes, however, and declaration afterward illustrate that he is about to do something off the rails. Had his friends not so readily betrayed him and shown him the proper faith he has earned, he might not have had the motivation to do what he does next. The Season ender opens the field to well….anything and everything and with FLASH…that is the POINT.  Flash season II ends with a bang and not a whimper and remains incredibly outstanding and well worth your time.

 

*Comedy line of  the night as always goes to Cisco Ramon as he works with Harry Wells who crankily asks him:

“You have worked with tools before?” Wells

“I’m working with one now.” Cisco.

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