Do you remember last year when The Reverse Flash pulled off his mask, revealing himself to be Harrison Wells, but then we had to wait a month to see the next episode? Well, The Flash did it again. “King Shark,” the last new episode before the show goes into a month of re-runs, went out with a bang, using its final moment to unmask Zoom. Turns out he’s….
STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE FLASH’s “KING SHARK” (S2,EP15) YET
Actually, truth be told, we don’t know who the heck Zoom is. We just know that he’s played by Teddy Sears:
“I knew it!” shouted everyone who’d picked up on Jay Garrick’s shiftiness, what with his constantly changing back story, long mysterious absences and preoccupation with inspiring Caitlin to design a formula to make him faster. Plus, from a sheer aesthetic level Jay sure is tall, just like Zoom. Then there was that business last week in Earth-2 with the man in the mask tapping out the name “Jay”:
But, wait, hold on a second. We watched Jay die, and though that could have been explained away as a speed force mirage “King Shark” ended with Zoom carrying Jay’s lifeless body to his lair, dropping it to the ground, unmasking and declaring, “This…is a complication.”
No shit. This whole thing is complicated, and Andrew Kreisberg’s explanation doesn’t exactly clear things up for us. He told EW:
“Zoom’s identity has been revealed: He is Hunter Zolomon, a.k.a Jay Garrick… How [the twist] plays out and what’s actually happening, we’ll leave for after the break.”
Hunter Zolomon, of course, is Zoom’s civilian name in the comics, and it’s the name Jay Garrick told us belonged to this Earth-1 counterpart. However, now we have to question everything fake Jay told us.
Kreisberg felt a little more chatty with Variety:
“For us, it could only happen because of what happened last season. For Barry and the others, as much as they were stung by Wells/Thawne’s betrayal, he had been their mentor and friend and they all felt that vacuum when he was gone. Jay had been watching them and knew that so he was able to masterfully step into the role each of them needed. He became a friend and mentor to Barry. A love interest to the heartbroken Caitlin. He skillfully played them all.
“We knew there’d be a fair amount of the audience who would know who Jay Garrick was and would take the character and anything he said at face value because of his past history. With this, we were better able to hide the ball as it were as to Zoom’s true identity. Who would suspect the big bad was the classic hero from the comics?”
Jay/Hunter has been playing them this entire time. Cool. Got that. But if Jay/Hunter is Zoom then who exactly did he kill last week? Obviously, it’s his counterpart from an alternate dimension, but if Zoom has been the one playing them then who exactly was that Jay Garrick-looking dude who threw the glorified nerf football into the dimensional rift and then got pulled into it by Zoom?
Screw it. Trying to make sense of all this is not what I set out to write about. Let’s just say that Zoom has been collecting his counterparts from all kinds of alternate dimensions, not just Earth-1. The guy he killed was one of his counterparts who was actually working with him, getting up to Patty Duke Show/Parent Trap shenanigans. The guy in the mask is one of Zoom’s counterparts who didn’t want to play his games. Eventually, Zoom will collect so many of his counterparts that his lair will be as overrun with different versions of himself as The Matrix was with Agent Smiths at the end of Revolutions:
I imagine the show’s actual explanation for Zoom’s identity will only kind of make sense, but that’s okay. Grant Gustin will deliver a heartbreaking speech. Jesse L. Martin will cry. Candace Patton will look fierce. Carlos Valdez will make a meme-able one-liner. All will be right in the Flash-iverse.
Regardless of the specifics for how this will play out and how it forces us to re-evaluate every scene “Jay Garrick” has been in, my biggest takeaway at the moment is that Teddy Sears and, by extension, The Flash really needed to make this move.
I think of it in wrestling terms. Whoever Sears has been playing this whole time, he’s been like a babyface (i.e., good guy) with no pop (i.e., audience reaction). It’s similar to when WCW tried to make Chris Jericho into a babyface at the start of his career, turning him into a pretty bland character whose sole appeal was his undeniable ability in the ring. As Jericho himself has joked, when he was told that the organization’s writers were turning him heel (i.e., make him into a bad guy) he exclaimed, “Finally! Thank God.”
Given the freedom to finally display some personality, Jericho quickly became one of the WCW’s funniest heels. If there was a babyface whose gimmick was that he was “The Man of 1,000 Holds” Jericho immaturely insisted that he was “The Man of 1,004 Holds,” even taking a printed list of those 1,004 holds with him to the ring and reading them to the crowd until the live broadcast mercifully cut to commercial.
It’s an odd comparison for me to make in this situation, I admit. Even if you follow the babyface/good guy, heel/bad guy terminology, and get the gist of “turning heel made him better,” there are probably better examples to be found in the world of wrestling. Jericho became funny; Zoom’s not going to do that. However, it’s where my mind went because I remember Jericho’s relieved “Finally!” moment from a documentary about his career, and that’s how I imagine Teddy Sears reacting when he was told that his time on Flash was about to get a lot more interesting.
Back at mid-season, WhatCulture singled out Jay Garrick as one of the most disappointing parts of the season:
During the first season finale, fans everywhere collectively lost it when Jay Garrick’s helmet came flying out of the rip in time. With Eobard’s quip saying it was his signal to leave, it was assumed he knew who Jay was and was ready to high tail it out of there before he had to deal with a speedster well beyond his ability. At the start of season two however, we’ve found that Jay isn’t anywhere near the fabled hero he should be.
Outside of putting on his hero costume and standing in the way of danger once, he really hasn’t done anything heroic.
Of course, that changed with the recent Earth-2 two-parter, but Jay hasn’t really been around enough to truly register as a significant part of the season. The notion of him serving as a mentor to Barry was briefly explored and dropped. The same goes for his conflict with Harrison Wells. His romance with Caitlin has been a nice diversion, but still felt like something the writers did to give two side characters something to do for a while. He’s just been a relatively bland character, perhaps because he is drawn from the Golden Age of comics, or perhaps by design.
Of course, due to Jay’s comic book lineage some might scoff at the notion of making him (or whoever he’s supposed to really be) the bad guy. I look more at the bright side: at least this finally gives him something to do. He’s been moping about most of the season while Barry just capped off an episode running on water and throwing a lighting bolt at a half-man, half-shark. Top that, old Flash and your dumb helmet.
What’s that you say? You’re actually Zoom? Well, shut my mouth. You just topped Barry and King Shark.