Last night’s “Enter Zoom” episode of The CW‘s The Flash finally brought Barry Allen face-to-face with the big baddie of this season, Zoom. The villain that we have seen so far may not be as close to his counterpart on the comics page as some would like, that doesn’t mean that the creative team behind the hit CW show have blown it. On the contrary, I believes they have taken great care to construct a speedster villain that is not only fast, but downright frightening.
Given that this is arguably the most powerful villain in the canonical history of The Flash, there was undoubtedly a ton of pressure to make an impact. Rather than recap last night’s episode, we’re going to examine what steps that Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, and the maverick individuals in the writers room have taken, and why they seem to have paid off.
Just sit tight folks, and we’ll zoom through this one quickly. Seriously, it’ll be over in a flash! (Okay, enough of that!)
The first few glimpses we got of Zoom gave us quite a different character from Reverse-Flash, who served as the primary antagonist last season. In my opinion, the build up for Reverse-Flash / Eobard Thawne / Harrison Wells was almost flawlessly executed. That kind of effect would be nearly impossible to duplicate. Thankfully, they didn’t bother trying. Instead, they’ve gone about building up Zoom in a much different way.
For the diehard fans, it may not seem fair to compare the two. Reverse-Flash has been antagonizing heroes like Barry Allen and Wally West for decades. Zoom didn’t make it onto the pages of the comics until 2001, and even then he was just Hunter Zoloman, an F.B.I. profiler who was crippled at the hands of Gorilla Grodd. When the Flash refused to help him, he grew bitter. He finally became Zoom in 2003 when an accident gave him the use of his legs, as well as the ability to control time. It is that time shifting that gives him the appearance of super speed.
While a part of me still misses Tom Cavanagh as the bad guy, this is a great change. Zoom is much more powerful than Reverse-Flash. Even if they decide to dismiss the time abilities and make him a traditional speedster, they have done enough right to give us something truly scary.
Now normally, Tony Todd’s voice would be all that is needed to scare the living hell out of us. Instead of copying the yellow suit he wore in the comics, we have a black suit that almost looks like it’s a living extension of his body. The eyes are like black pools, and his pointed fingertips look like something out of a horror movie. The look is theatrical and imposing; exactly what we need. It’s important for us viewers not just to worry about the welfare and safety of our heroes, but to utterly fear this new adversary. And it’s working. When I looked at him staring down our hero, I didn’t see another meta-human. I saw a freaking monster.
Another thing that has gone well is the reveal. Last season, we were cued into the secret identity of the Man in Yellow very early on. This time around, we’ve only seen glimpses and hints. It wasn’t until last night’s episode that we finally got a good look at him. For the first few weeks, we actually learned more about his personality than his looks.
Rather than face Barry head on, he preferred to sit back and watch as he tested him over and over again with meta-humans from Earth-2. While he probably wouldn’t have minded if Sand Demon, King Shark, or Doctor Light had succeeded in killing Mr. Allen, I believed that he was also watching to see how he handled himself. Later on in last night’s episode, this was proven to be true.
For Eobard Thawne, it was all about getting back to his own time period. If he had to kill people along the way, he did, but it wasn’t personal. People were merely obstacles on his path home. And no matter how much he hated Barry, he was willing to let him live just to go back to his time. Zoom however, seems to be obsessed more with personal gain and ego. He stole Jay Garrick’s speed, and won’t stop until he is the last speedster left standing. If there’s more to it at this point, we don’t know it.
It may not be the intensely personal motivation we saw last year, but that doesn’t mean he’s not capable of inflicting pain and suffering. On the contrary, it makes him even more dangerous. Harrison Wells might step on some toes along the way, but that didn’t mean that he enjoyed it. This new baddie seems to be the type who enjoys inflicting suffering, even going as far as to kidnap and torture the daughter of Earth-2 Harrison Wells, Jesse Quick, and throwing Linda Park off of a roof.
Despite Barry’s best efforts, Zoom gained the upper hand quickly. As of right now, the Flash is just not fast enough. Everything that he threw at the villain, including lightning, failed. When it was over, Barry had been beaten, paralyzed, and utterly humiliated by a much more skilled opponent.
It’s been a slow build over the first few weeks, but that doesn’t mean that it has been boring. I have loved watching the subtle hints and teases drop, knowing that it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Zoom is the type of evil who isn’t content with just beating Barry. He had to humiliate him in front of everyone he knew, carrying around his paralyzed body like a trophy. He had to have been watching Allen for quite some time to know where and who to show him off to. It also shows us that he is just as sadistic as he is fast.
To paraphrase one of my favorite movies, Zoom isn’t the punk who needs a little lesson in manners. He’s the freak who just enjoys it. Of course, Wells didn’t need a lesson in manners either. He was probably the most polite serial killer we’ve ever seen, but I digress!
The writers and producers had one job, and that was to create an even more terrifying villain than the one we all loved last season. From where I’m sitting today, it seems that they’ve succeeded. This guy is the stuff of nightmares, and it’s exactly what the show needs in order to continue growing.
I for one cannot wait to see where they go with the show from here. How will Barry regain the use of his legs? How will he do the second time he faces Zoom? When will we learn the identity of the black speedster? Let me know what you think in the comments section below.
Well, time to zoom on outta here! (D’oh!)