'The Flash' 2×18 Roundtable: Discussing 'Versus Zoom'

Every week, Fangirlish writers will be discussing new episodes of The Flash and sharing their thoughts, feelings, and speculation about the hour’s hot topics in a little something we like to call Fangirlish Roundtables.
Today, we’re breaking down episode 18 of The Flash, “Versus Zoom,” where we discuss the parallel between Barry and Zoom’s childhood, why Barry ultimately failed, and how long before Barry regains his speed.

What were your overall thoughts on “Versus Zoom?”

ALYSSA

To be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect with this episode, but it proved to be a solid episode coming back from hiatus. We haven’t really gotten to explore The Flash and Zoom’s dynamic with each other much this season, but every time they are together and we get to do that it’s great to watch. My favorite thing about this episode was how shocking evident it was that both of these men were one or two factors away from becoming the other. Their journeys paralleled each other, and that made this storyline and dynamic all the more intriguing as we head into the final five episodes of the season. This was one of those episodes that we’ll look back as a defining one for Barry in his journey this season. He had to fail so that he learned his lesson – that it’s not all about speed when it comes to defeating Zoom. It’s about strategy, as his green mentor in Star City told him last season.

LIZZIE

Well, hello darkness, my old friend. Who said The Flash was just light and fun? Because this episode is the opposite of all that. And, well, that’s to be expected. This where shows usually ramp up the intensity. “Must be May” and all that. I think it was a good, emotional, and at the end, devastating episode that, ultimately, sets the stage for what’s coming. And, on the plus side, unlike last episode, I didn’t want to strangle Barry, not once.

LYRA

It was surprising and enjoyable. At first it was a little messy. I couldn’t understand where the flashback fit or where they were going. But as the episode progressed I could see them piecing everything together. It made sense and painted a picture I never thought of. I also really enjoyed the shift in how we perceived Jay. He’s no longer the gentle man we were presented with before. He’s insane and I absolutely love it. I’m ready for another villain with no redemption arc. Just give me the bad guys and I’ll be happy.
The Flash -- "Versus Zoom" -- Image: FLA218b_0022b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West, Candice Patton as Iris West and Grant Gustin as Barry Allen -- Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

This episode paralleled the lives of Flash and Zoom and how they went from troubled childhood to where they are today. What were your thoughts on that?

ALYSSA

I absolutely loved that The Flash showed how you are one decision away from becoming your worst enemy. This was the show illustrating how really Barry Allen and Hunter Zoloman could’ve just as easily become the other due to the environments that they grew up in. You are ultimately the product of your environment and your experiences.
Just as Barry had witnessed his mother being murdered right in front of him – albeit by an unknown force at the time – we saw Hunter witness the same only there was a substantial difference: Barry’s father fought to protect him and his mother while Hunter’s father was the one that killed his mother and made him watch. And you wonder why the guy grew up to become a serial killer. But even then it also comes down to the environment that each grew up in. We saw as Barry was embraced by Joe and Iris West while Hunter was sent to a dark, depressing orphanage. Had he been in a loving environment chances are he might not have grown into the monster that we now know as Zoom.

LIZZIE

I think Barry’s voiceover hit the nail in the head – he’s who he is because of Barry and Iris and Hunter Zolomon is who he is because of his upbringing. However, I do think that’s the superficial way of looking at it, as well. We decide who we want to be, and though, yes, the people around us have a lot to do in that decision, in the end, it’s a personal thing. Though they might be similar on the surface, Barry wouldn’t have made the same choices as Zolomon, and that’s not just because of Iris and Joe, that’s because of who he is.

LYRA

I…actually enjoyed it. It showed us that the smallest things can change our lives exponentially. Barry could’ve been a completely different person if he ended up in an orphanage with everyone telling him that his father killed his mother. Luckily enough Joe came around and saved him from that fate. It’s food for thought. If Zoom had someone who cared, he might’ve never become the villain.

Barry was so sure that he was ready to face Zoom in this episode given he had become even faster than Zoom. Why did he ultimately fail?

ALYSSA

Barry failed because despite his belief that he was prepared to face Zoom, simply put he was not. Barry might’ve had the super speed – enough that he eclipsed Zoom’s speed even – but Barry ultimately failed to fully estimate Zoom, which led to him losing his speed. When it comes to defeating Zoom it’s not all about who’s the fastest. It’s about who has the right combination of skills – speed and a mental edge – to defeat the other. Right now Zoom has outsmarted Barry on several occasions – with this most recent meeting resulting in the loss of Barry’s speed – and Barry has to learn that it’s going to take more than speed to defeat this sinister villain. I love Barry, but poor baby needed to learn his lesson.

LIZZIE

This is the stereotypical it is darkest before the dawn episode, because the message that this episode seems to send is that guy guys don’t win. And, yet, that’s, obviously, not the message of this show. Good guys do win. But it’s not easy, and that’s what this episode is about. About knocking Barry down in the worst way possible. But, in a way, by doing this, Zoom also brought Barry closer to his family, gave him and them more of a reason to want to defeat him. Before it was about saving strangers, now it’s about survival. And there’s nothing that pushes you farther than that.

LYRA

Love. It’s a weakness as much as it is a strength.
The Flash -- "Versus Zoom" -- Image: FLA218A_0224b.jpg -- Pictured: Grant Gustin as Barry Allen -- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

So Barry has lost his speed. How long until he gets it back? And how do you think that happens?

ALYSSA

Seeing as there are only five episodes left this season my assumption is not for long. And if The Flash is maintain the same timeline with Arrow then this week Barry is set to speed over to Star City for Laurel Lance’s funeral the falling day. I mean we’ve seen Barry struggle with his paralysis after Zoom kicked his ass the first time, and that only lasted not even an entirety of an episode. Seeing as Barry only has a short time to defeat Zoom left, he has to retrieve his speed within the next couple of episodes. But how he gets his speed back is another question. I mean obviously Barry has to get his speed back from Zoom, who stole it in the first place. But how? The only person that could catch Zoom before was Barry, and he was a speedster. Well, I guess we’ll have to see how this plays out.

LIZZIE

I don’t anticipate this will be a quick and easy thing, like the other times he’s lost his speed for one reason or another. No, I think this is going to take two or three episodes, and it’s going to take a toll on him. Or at least I hope so? They’ve toyed with this idea of Barry without his speed before, but never really capitalized on it. Now it’s time to do it. Show me a truly broken hero. It’s that time of the year.
As to how he’ll get it back, I presume from Zoom. So, for that, they have to somehow catch him? And eh, get it ….and they have to do that without Barry’s’ speed? Maybe we could call up the Legends of Tomorrow gang? Feels like this the time for superpowers.

LYRA

I think it’ll take an episode or two. They’ll show the difficulties of being “normal.” He’ll work hard to try to overcome his doubts but still work as a hero. Right when he’s gaining an understanding of how his life has changed since becoming The Flash…someone will come up with a weird and brilliant solution to gain back what he’d lost. See? Easy Peesy! The wildcard solution is Zoom suddenly gaining a heart and returning Barry’s powers because that’s the right thing to do. Either way, it’s going to be easier than expected.

Cisco was worried about the pull of the light and darkness due to his doppleganger’s lure to the Dark Side. Does Cisco need to worry?

ALYSSA

Cisco doesn’t need to worry about him becoming like his doppleganger on Earth-2. Like we’ve seen with the parallels between Earth-1 and Earth-2, while there might be certain similarities between you and your doppleganger that does not make you like them. We’ve seen several dopplegangers, and they are nothing like the versions we know. But with that said, I understand why Cisco feels that way. This isn’t the first time that Cisco has been afraid that he might ultimately turn to the dark side – the other time being when his powers first originated – and there’s always a lingering voice in the back of his head that is questioning whether or not he’ll become someone he’s not. But Cisco – our Cisco – has something that his doppleganger didn’t have: family in Team Flash.

LIZZIE

I think the fact that he worries is a good thing. If he didn’t, then that would probably put him closer to the person he was on Earth-2. But I think Cisco has got one thing that that Cisco probably didn’t have, and that’s a great support group. He’s got people who’ll go to bat for him, people who believe in him. Barry made that clear in this episode, and I think, even if Cisco does take a dip in the dark side at some point in the future, that’s what’ll bring him back to the guy we know and love.

LYRA

Cisco’s worry is understandable. They’re the same people with only micro differences that changed their lives. But he doesn’t have to worry. The micro differences between him and his dark doppelgänger are enough to make him a completely different person. His darker side didn’t have the family, friendship, or support that our Cisco has. He won’t fall apart because they won’t let him. The love in his life will keep him from going dark side.
The Flash -- "Versus Zoom" -- Image: FLA218A_0177b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow and Grant Gustin as Barry Allen -- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Zoom essentially got what he had wanted all this time: Barry’s speed. Why do you think Zoom took Caitlin?

ALYSSA

After seeing the effect that Caitlin had on Zoom – as she was able to get him to stop choking Barry – I believe Zoom took her because he views her as a weakness of his. Like we saw, Zoom got what he came for: Barry’s speed. With Zoom for so long he’s been someone that hasn’t had any weaknesses that Team Flash has been able to use against him. Then we discovered his mother and father’s faces had an effect on him long enough for Barry to get the jump on him. But as we saw with Caitlin as she reasoned with Jay to let Barry go – and he obliged – we saw that Caitlin has the ability to get through to Zoom. And that’s dangerous. Caitlin is a weakness of his – that time they spent together wasn’t all for show – and Zoom is not going to let her be his downfall.

LIZZIE

More importantly, why didn’t he kill Barry when he had the chance? And what were they all expecting? Zoom to just take a few laps to show them how fast he was and then leave them alone forever?
But, back to Caitlin, I think there’s something there, for Zoom, maybe not real feeling, but something he hasn’t felt before. Caitlin did try to help him, and she did it out of the goodness of her heart and because she cared for him. That’s something that he hasn’t really had much of, in his life. And though, superficially, that might sound like a good thing for Caitlin, it probably isn’t. *sighs* It probably isn’t.

LYRA

Because he saw an piece of the love, caring, and understanding that his mother held, inside of Caitlin. During the time he was undercover, she was open and honest with him. And she worked hard as hell to help him because she thought he deserved it. A treacherous part of him connected with her. Now that he wasn’t going to die, maybe there was a chance that he could connect with her again. Crazy right? But the mind of a mad man doesn’t work like ours. He still believes he has a chance.
What are your thoughts on “Versus Zoom?” Sound off in the comments to keep the discussion going!
Join us for another The Flash roundtable next Monday.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.
 
 



 

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