[WARNING: This article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for The Flash Season 2, Episode 15.]
After spending over half a season wondering just who it was under the mask of the show’s big bad, the showrunners of The Flash: decided to let the secret be spilled just as they head into their second break of the season. And, as is usually the case, they managed to offer the answer that every fan was demanding… but opened up an entirely new batch of questions and mysteries in the process. So, the question remains: have they finally answered every question, or none of them?
We’re inclined to believe the latter, since the introduction of time travel, and now alternate universes have given the writers a crowded bag of tricks (and created a show in which “it’s me from the future” is actually a plausible explanation). But after “King Shark” picked up where the last episode’s cliffhanger left the audience, the villain known as Zoom was actually unmasked. And even if the face beneath the ghoulish mask was one fans expected to see, an official explanation from showrunner Andrew Kreisberg seems to raise more questions than ever (and not necessarily the good kind).
To make sure that fans who were sent spinning, confused, or just unclear about the episode’s twist can ask the right questions, we’re going to break down the big reveal, Kreisberg’s complete explanation, and the new questions that will likely carry The Flash to its second season finale. Needless to say, MASSIVE SPOILERS lie ahead. You have been warned.
After “Escape From Earth-2” concluded with the breaches between the Earth of the show’s main characters and Earth-2 being permanently closed – and Jay Garrick pulled through with a Zoom-arm through his chest – fans were left hanging. For most of “King Shark,” the cliffhanger was unresolved, until the stinger scene blew the doors off the fan theories. Yes, Jay Garrick had apparently been killed, with Zoom finally unmasking himself and revealing the face beneath to be that of… Jay Garrick.
Or, perhaps more accurately, the face of a Jay Garrick. The reveal isn’t as clear-cut as one might think, since the shot alone reveals two versions of the character in one place (and fans will remember that there is yet another ‘Jay Garrick’ doppelganger residing on Earth-1 as Hunter Zolomon). Dropping the limp, red-leather-clad speedster onto the floor of his Earth-2 lair, Zoom is unfazed, simply stating what most Flash fans and Zoom theorists were already thinking: “this… is a complication.”
Rather than spinning off into our own explanations or suspicions, and how this new reveal both confirms and refutes our previous theory, we’ll leave it to the showrunner to put the scenes in context. But we’ve got a warning first: those Flash viewers who enjoy plotting out or breaking down time loops and alternate universe possibilities are going to find one MAJOR problem with Andrew Kreisberg’s description of the season so far, offered to 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. But we wanted to go out on this run of episodes with a big reveal, just the same way we did at the end of episode 9 in season 1, where we revealed that Harrison Wells was the man in the yellow suit. Zoom’s identity is finally revealed.”
But it isn’t just the face of the villain that’s been revealed, according to Kreisberg’s further comments to Variety. And here’s where things get… interesting:
“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?”
Kreisberg goes on to make it clear that Jay Garrick’s actions were the definition of deceitful and malicious, giving the entire season a sense of tragic irony, as the one person who has doubted Jay – Harrison Wells – was ignored, since it was him who was being regularly doubted. So, there you have it: Jay Garrick has been Zoom all along, lying, cheating, and manipulating the entire cast to his own ends.
And now that Zoom has thrust his arm through Jay Garrick’s chest, yanked his lifeless body back through the breach, and dropped him in his lair, all the questions have been answered.
Wait – something doesn’t add up…
The Big Problem
The problem, and an obvious one at that, is that Kreisberg’s comments seemto be completely paradoxical: Zoom is actually ‘Hunter Zolomon’… also known as ‘Jay Garrick’… who has been deceiving the S.T.A.R. Labs team this entire time… until he was killed by Zoom. Instead of immediately jumping to the conclusion that Kreisberg is trying to intentionally confuse or mislead the fans instead of explaining the twist, let’s take his quotes and compare them to what we know so far.
Zoom’s true identity is Hunter Zolomon. That’s the same name sported by Earth-1’s version of Jay Garrick, adopted and raised by the Zolomons after his mother died in childbirth. Jay took Caitlin to see Zolomon reading quietly in the park – but what were audiences actually looking at? Going by Kreisberg’s comments, the Hunter Zolomon they witnessed was of no importance: Jay is Hunter Zolomon, operating under a false name. So alright, fine: Jay Garrick isn’t Jay at all. He’s Hunter, bearing a false name and moving the show’s characters like pawns in his larger game, operating as Zoom when needed.
But that still leaves one massive problem.
Jay was apparently killed by Zoom as the final breach closed. Just moments after Jay closed the breach from Earth-1’s side, while Zoom simultaneously held Wells hostage on the Earth-2 side, we would add. Since the show is based more on fantasy than actual science, it was possible that speed mirages were one solution, allowing Zoom and Jay to be in two places at one time (with some lightning quick costume changes happening on a constant loop). But the final scene of “King Shark” changed all that.
No speed mirages, no trickery or clever deception at work, since Zoom arrives at his lair with the lifeless Jay Garrick in his arms. Without that scene, a single man could have been responsible for both sides of the character.
We would offer that it’s still possible that Hunter Zolomon subjected some poor Garrick doppelganger (perhaps the oblivious Hunter reading in the park?) to the kill, but even that seems to be a stretch.
So there you have it: there is no Jay, there is no Zoom – only Hunter Zolomon, playing both parts. But that still leaves one character shrouded in mystery. A character who, from the first moment he was introduced to the show tapping a mysterious message that seemed to be the key – is still looking like the biggest mystery yet to be solved.
The Man in The Mask
As a pleasant surprise, the not-quite-neat-and-tidy explanation offered by Kreisberg does seem to solve the problem of multiple Jay Garricks, as many fans and fan sites (including Screen Rant) voiced suspicion that it was the ‘real’ Jay Garrick beneath the metal mask, held prisoner in Zoom’s lair. With Zoom and Jay Garrick one and the same, and hailing from Earth-2, then Earth-1’s doppelganger could make a perfect stand-in for a convincing kill. Which means it’s a completely different character under the mask.
Kreisberg seems to confirm that the new question is going perfectly to plan, as he explains to EW:
“Just when we solve one mystery, we like to set up another one. The identity of the man in the mask is, in some ways, probably an even bigger surprise than this one, if you can imagine it. It’s a new mystery to pull you through the season. Barry swore he wasn’t going to leave him behind. Something tells me Barry’s going to make good on that promise.”
We can’t say we doubt Barry’s commitment, either. But if it is Jay Garrick – or rather, a Jay Garrick – underneath the mask, then where did he come from? Jesse Wells’ claim that he had been in the cell since Zoom’s extortion scheme had kicked off means he couldn’t be Earth-1’s Zolomon, but his determination to tap out ‘Jay’ to his fellow prisoners seems to be the first clue to the mystery.
Obviously, that mystery is one the showrunners hope to keep intact until the end of the season. But with fans already hot on the trail of a new riddle, who knows how much they’ll uncover?
What do you think of the big reveal of the man underneath the black mask? Did you expect it to be a familiar face, but with an alternate-Earth twist? Or are you holding off any speculation or theories until there’s more information to work with? We look forward to hearing your theories on the comments, and watching as the real mystery of ‘Zoom’ unravels…
The Flash returns March 22nd @8pm on The CW.