[This article contains SPOILERS for The Flash season 1, and POTENTIAL SPOILERS for season 2]
It’s hard enough for the average TV fan to learn the ins and outs of a superhero’s unique science fiction, but adding in time travel, alternate time lines and parallel universes is another level entirely. And for that very reason, season 2 of The Flash may be a hard one for non-DC Comics fans to wrap their head around. The season finale left audiences wondering what consequences Barry Allen and his Central City friends would face as a result of messing with the Speed Force (and history itself), but the showrunners have since revealed that they’re just getting started.
With not only another famous DC Speedster joining Barry and co., but a version of The Flash from a parallel universe, viewers might have assumed that a single ‘villain’ wouldn’t be needed to supply the drama. But that was before fans learned that in just weeks, Zoom would be coming. The announcement – and the enemy referenced – has intrigued and confused fans, but clues have been dropped as to how the Speed Force, Barry’s new powers, and the deadly Zoom all connect.
We’re operating on the same information and theories as any Flash fan, but in the interest of clearing up confusion and telling the less diehard comic readers what they might be able too look forward to, we offer our own Zoom theory for season 2 of The Flash.
Where Season 1 Left Us
It took more than half a season for The CW’s writers to sink their teeth into the Speed Force – an element of “Flash” comics mythology as well known to DC fans as Krypton is to Superman. Simply put: the lightning bolt which struck Barry connected him directly to the extradimensional energy source, granting him superspeed (at first). With coaching from Harrison Wells and thousands of lives in danger, Barry pushed himself so hard, he tore through time itself, erupting – out of a blue wormhole, we point out – one day in the past.
Realizing his connection to the Speed Force meant Barry could tunnel through the fabric of space time, he travelled back to the night of his mother’s murder – eventually realizing the past wasn’t for him to change. Along the way, he saw glimpses of the future – again, bathed in blue light – but still couldn’t avoid disaster. The singularity gained size, threatening to swallow all of Central City into its swirling blue maw. To prevent it, Barry leaped in head first.
The Speed Force Clues So Far
It shouldn’t be too difficult to spot the potential clues and building mythology the show’s creative team has sprinkled throughout the first season. While it’s true that the three primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) may not contain ALL the information fans need, the message seems clear: the yellow lightning is Barry’s (good), the red is/was Eobard Thawne/Reverse-Flash’s (evil) and the blue is the mark of the Speed Force itself. Knowing that The CW hopes to bring even casual comic fans along for the ride, that division is simple enough to follow – and a much clearer introduction to the Speed Force than most “Flash” comics offer.
To see the road being followed by The Flash so far, the answer seems clear: look to the blue. In hindsight, the first appearance of a blue tear in space was a sign of something completely new – introduced along with Barry’s first run-in with time travel. Further exploration showed “the blue” wasn’t just tied to time travel, but a sign that someone had accessed the time-bending reality of the Speed Force, where past, present and future all coexist.
The arrival of an iconic hat from the pages of DC Comics teased that it was a force (and color) that crossed parallel universes, as well.
The secret of Jay Garrick – also known as the Golden Age Flash of “Earth-Two” – was spilled not long after, with producers confirming that he and Barry would cross paths (and universes) exactly as they had in the comics. But how? At this point, the most obvious explanation is the ‘singularity’ opened above Central City. Well, what’s referred to as a “singularity” in the show – but seems more likely to be a tear in the Speed Force linking two worlds occupied by two different Flashes. Different heroes, who share the same energy source.
That’s speculation at this point, and if Jay Garrick is going to remain a permanent resident of Barry’s (and the show’s) universe – not return home through a hopefully less destructive means – then the writers’ long term plan is hard to pin down. But if Barry’s new powers being teased in the show’s season 2 marketing are any indication, the Speed Force will continue to be the real star of the series. Barry’s channelling of blue lightning could mean anything, but looking at the use of the color so far, a few conclusions can be drawn.
Thinking purely in terms of a serialized TV show, the need to demonstrate Barry truly stretching his abilities has already proven difficult. As much as the writers got by with Barry asking “how fast I’d need to run” to accomplish specific tasks, the acceleration into blue has been the only clear barrier he has broken with his speed.
One thing is clear: if Barry is going to keep getting faster, then tapping into the Speed Force (the blue lightning), as opposed to the yellow lightning which changed his own cells and metabolism, seems to make sense.
But the network isn’t getting fans talking by promising that “Faster Speeds are coming.” That honor goes to Zoom. So… who is he?
NEXT PAGE: Who is Zoom?
Who is Zoom?
For those not already well-versed in the DC Comics history, the season 2 tagline “Zoom is Coming” may be confusing. It was Eobard Thawne a.k.a. Professor Zoom (Tom Cavanagh) who was already used as the villain for the show’s first season (and presumably, killed in its finale). But Thawne was only the first to use the ‘Zoom’ moniker to strike fear into the hearts of the Flash family. When Wally West took up the mantle following Barry’s death, he was given his own version of the Reverse-Flash – with a far more tragic origin story.
Barry might have been a brilliant forensic scientist and detective, but Wally wasn’t anywhere near as skilled at deduction. In that field he was outmatched by profiler Hunter Zolomon, a man who had devoted himself to understanding and tracking serial killers, with a knack for metahuman Rogues. A friendship formed between Hunter and Wally, which would turn out to be the former’s undoing.
When an attack by Gorilla Grodd left Hunter confined to a wheelchair, he asked Wally to use the Speed Force to change the past (just as Barry had) and prevent his paralysis. But Wally refused – since altering history for personal reasons is a no-no – and Hunter took it personally.
Attempting to use Wally’s time-travel-enabling Cosmic Treadmill himself, an accident exposed Hunter to the Speed Force, and tore him out of the normal timestream. Able to speed up or slow the passage of time around him (appearing like impossibly fast superspeed to anyone around him), Hunter set out to give Wally a tragic history of his own, in hopes that it would make him a better hero. Realizing his similar methods and motives, Hunter took the name of the previous Reverse-Flash – shortened to simply ‘Zoom.’
Knowing how important it is to the showrunners to honor the source material, some viewers might feel that introducing Hunter Zolomon (or a similar villain so clearly tied to Wally West, not Barry Allen) would be a poor decision, it wouldn’t be the first example of a departure from the comics. But if it’s the writers’ goal of keeping the spirit of the comics alive, and not every detail, it’s possible they’ve told a similar origin story for Zoom already.
Zoom’s ‘True’ Identity?
We now know that actor Tony Todd will be supplying the sinister voice of Zoom for season 2 (instead of simply modulating a voice to keep up the mystery, as was done previously). But the identity of the man or woman under the actual suit looks to be the central mystery or conflict of the show’s next chapter. Because of that, any predictions or speculation is just that – and subject to change.
That being said, the promise that “Zoom is Coming” seems straightforward enough. And if taken at face value, comic fans have one logical explanation: Hunter Zolomon is coming. More broadly, a close ally of The Flash who suffered a terrible fate as a direct or indirect result of the speedster’s actions is coming. A former ally who feels personally betrayed or wronged by The Flash, who has somehow been exposed to the Speed Force, and presumed dead before he returns with new powers and revenge on his mind.
Every fan knows that idea describes Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett) perfectly, and any doubts that he was truly a hero were silenced in the season finale. Realizing that his descendant would go on to destroy Barry’s life, and history itself, Eddie made the tough call, and ended his own life (and those of his descendants) centuries before the events could take place. The move was a shock to viewers, since his last name – Thawne – had been seen as a clue that something sinister, not noble, lay ahead for his character.
But those same speculative fans likely raised an eyebrow when Eddie was actually left for dead – presumed dead, as far as viewers know. Barry, Iris, and the rest of the STAR Labs team didn’t have time to actually bury Eddie, since the singularity forming in the bowels of the facility soon pulled the building around it into its vacuum – including Eddie’s unconscious body. It’s not strange for any TV show to leave a character’s fate somewhat ambiguous (even Arrow is resurrecting a character killed and buried), but for whatever reason, the decision to have Eddie lost to the Speed Force seemed as much of a set-up as it was a conclusion.
It would be too unbelievable for Eddie to simply “become evil” because of his relationships with Barry, Iris, and Joe, or even perceiving his clearly heroic sacrifice as one he shouldn’t have had to make. But as far as any viewer knows, there’s no telling exactly what happened to Eddie once his body was swallowed up into the Speed Force singularity. Who knows where he might have ended up – or when?
It’s far too early to start predicting exactly how the writers will work an evil Thawne into the story, but some unresolved plot threads still remain. Did Thawne’s sacrifice wipe the often-highlighted future “crisis” from history? Will wiping The Flash’s greatest enemy from existence mean Barry becomes a lesser hero in the future? Is Eddie to blame for an even more terrible future, and forced to take up the mantle of Zoom to right that wrong?
There are more questions than answers, but fans would rejoice at seeing Eddie return to the show’s fiction. And considering how many pleasant surprises were delivered in the series’ first season, fans have every right to hope that whoever Zoom may be, their origin story and justification will not be a simple one. Fingers crossed.
Those are our thoughts and predictions heading into The Flash season 2, but they’re not the only ones fans are sure to be debating and hoping for. Be sure to let us know what you think of our points and predictions, and let us know your own ideas and plot holes in the comments below.
The Flash returns for season 2 on Tuesday, October 6, at 8pm on The CW; Arrow returns for season 4 on Wednesday, October 7, at 8pm on The CW; DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is expected to air on The CW in early 2016.