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Recap / The Flash (2014) S2E23: "The Race of His Life"

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Who will be the "Fastest Man Alive"?
Barry, to avenge his father, is determined to take Zoom down once and for all. But can he when challenged by Hunter to the race of his life with the multiverse on the line, determine once and for all, who deserves the title: "The Fastest Man Alive"?


  • Adaptational Heroism: Not a character, but an entire Earth. Earth-3 in the comics is a Mirror Universe Crapsack World, ruled by super villains with only a small number of heroes (Who are doomed to always fail) to fight against them. Here, Earth-3 seems to be more like the comics' Earth-2.
    • In fact, it seems that the designations have been reversed for the show, given that the show's depiction of Earth-2 has a lack of heroes and is populated by supervillains who are Evil Counterparts to Earth-1 characters.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Barry may have been told by the Speed Force that he's not immune to tragedy, but he's so broken by Henry's murder and by the real Jay Garrick's resemblance to Henry that he doesn't listen.
  • Arc Words:
    Zoom: Run, Barry, run!
  • Ambiguous Situation: Although he's hesitant to actually do it, Barry really seems like he's ready to kill Zoom at any moment.
  • Asshole Victim: What the Time Wraiths do to Zoom is absolutely horrifying, but there's no doubt Zoom deserved it.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Subverted. Barry chases Zoom in his funeral attire, but nothing physical happens.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Barry does not kill Zoom directly, but leaves the Time Wraiths to take care of him instead.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: Barry uses Zoom's "time remnants" trick against him.
  • Big "NO!": Zoom gives one when Barry stops his Doomsday Device.
  • Break the Cutie: Zoom killing Henry was bad enough, but the real Jay being Henry's Earth-3 doppelgänger sets Barry over the edge.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When Barry enters the wormhole we think he's going back to save his dad...but instead he's going back to save his mom instead.
  • Bittersweet Ending: While Zoom is finally defeated, the real Jay Garrick is rescued, and Iris finally returns Barry's feelings, Barry is so utterly broken by his dad's death that he decides to go back in time to save his mom just to give himself some hope.
  • Bookends:
    • The season began with a posthumous video recording from Thawne telling Barry that he would never be happy. Sure enough, Barry lets his depression reject the family he currently has to save the family he wants to have.
    • The Season premiere features Henry finally getting out of prison. This episode features the same regarding his Earth-3 counterpart, Jay Garrick.
    • Both this episode and the the Season premiere features The Team being introduced to Jay Garrick, except this time it's the real one.
  • Bored with Insanity: Zoom explains that he decided to take Jay Garrick's identity and play the hero role because he was getting bored being the villain. Played With, as he's still absolutely nuts regardless and only did so for kicks rather than any benevolent reason. More specifically, he wanted to invoke Hope Spot: give people hope only to rip it away.
  • But Now I Must Go: Harry and Jesse leave back to their home of Earth-2 (with the real Jay Garrick from Earth-3 in tow), although presumably they can meet again thanks to Cisco's powers.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Cisco gives a Take That! to the Transformers Film Series. Tony Todd, who voices Zoom, also voices its second installment's Big Bad. note 
  • Chekhov's Gag: The Mythology Gag regarding the maiden name of Henry's mother being "Garrick" pays off after The Reveal of the Masked Man's identity.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The holographic device that Cisco made for Barry when he lost his powers is used by Team Flash to stall Zoom.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Time Wraiths who chased Barry when he traveled back to Season 1's time became essential in defeating Zoom.
  • Clones Are People, Too: Barry and the others are well aware of the fact Barry's Time Remnant is as much him as he is and consider the clone a hero for his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Clothing Damage: Barry rips off Zoom's mask during their Final Battle. He doesn't pull off the entire thing over the head, as it is made to, but rather rips the facial part off.
  • Cosmic Retcon: Barry majorly rewrites time by saving Nora.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Barry delivers one to the Reverse Flash in the very last scene, saving his mother. Justified as Barry caught the drop on him after he had just been in a battle with the future Flash and that he just went on equal footing with Zoom, who is much faster than Thawne.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Making a Time Remnant involves travelling through time and convincing an earlier version of yourself to come forward with you and help you out, at the cost of their own existence. To an Ax-Crazy Sociopath like Zoom, that's not much of a problem, but Barry's explanation of it after using it to defeat Zoom makes it clear he's fully aware of the implications of this ability and doesn't take it lightly. He and the others even state they consider the clone a hero for his Heroic Sacrifice. In addition to the moral issues, it also runs the risk of attracting the Time Wraiths, which is ultimately what does Zoom in.
  • Death Glare:
    • Joe gives one to Zoom while hang up in his dungeon complete with Kubrick Stare when Zoom tells him that after defeating Barry he intends to imprison him just like the real Jay Garrick.
    • Barry gives Zoom several, but the most haunting one comes as he watches Zoom being dragged away by the Time Wraiths.
  • Deus ex Machina: The Time Wraiths come to enact their wrath on Zoom. Weirdly, this is foreshadowed by Zoom mentioning them being a problem for him because of his abuse of time travel, but he mentions it to Joe; Barry had no idea that the Wraiths even cared about Zolomon.
  • Despair Event Horizon: When Barry sees that the real Jay looks just like Henry he dies inside.
  • Doomsday Device: Zoom has built one by altering a stolen device to release a pulse that will destroy the multiverse except for Earth-1 if it goes off.
  • Double Subversion: Last season heavily teased the Flashpoint storyline only to not do it in the Season Finale. This time, it's really happening.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: Essentially what happens to Zoom when he is dragged away by two Time Wraiths.
  • Dramatic Irony: In the previous episode, Barry just started to accept his life as it was, until Henry's death broke him further, resulting in him going back to save his mother for real to prevent all the tragedies he's suffered.
  • Dramatic Unmask: How The Reveal of the real Jay Garrick happened, as he is the doppelganger of Henry Allen from Earth-3.
  • Earth Is the Center of the Universe: The writers finally give a valid reason why the universe where most of the show takes place in is designated "Earth-1": namely, it is the "hub" that can connects to all the other parallel universes. According to Zoom, anyway.
  • The Earth-Prime Theory: The reason Zoom is preparing his endgame on Earth-1: he needs to fire his Doomsday Device on it because it's the 'door way to the multiverse' for this reason.
  • Expendable Clone:
  • Event Title: The Race is Zoom's Evil Plan.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Zoom's demise involves him being subjected to Rapid Aging until he looks like a shrived up corpse before being dragged off screaming by a pair of Time Wraiths.
  • Fake Shemp:
    • John Wesley Shipp has confirmed that it wasn't him throughout the season playing the masked man—only here, when the mask is finally taken off.
    • It is also unlikely that Matt Letscher is in the Reverse-Flash suit at the end of the episode (he is not credited anywhere), although this has been neither confirmed nor denied.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Whatever the Time Wraiths plan on doing to Zoom (which looks a lot like they're turning him into one of them), his scream of horror shows that he probably would have preferred it if Barry had killed him instead.
  • Final Battle: For season 2, we have a race battle between two speedsters: Barry Allen - The Flash, the Scarlet Speedster and Hunter Zolomon - Zoom, the Speed Demon, for the title "The Fastest Man Alive". Barry/The Flash wins.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Season 1 Barry gives an approving smile to Season 2 Barry for saving Nora right before being Ret-Gone'd.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: Henry's funeral is as gloomy as you'd think.
  • The Hero Dies: Technically, Barry's time remnant is also Barry, so this trope stands. He pulls a Heroic Sacrifice. Same goes for Season 1 Barry, who witnesses his future self save his mother right before being erased from existence.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The time-remnant Barry is quite aware that in order to prevent the destruction of the Multiverse, he'll have to sacrifice himself.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: A sad example. Barry rebukes Caitlin's idea of telling Quentin and Sara about Laurel's Earth-2 counterpart, stating that seeing the Doppelgänger of your deceased loved-one can be cruel. Barry is reduced to Manly Tears after seeing that the masked man is his recently deceased father's Alternate Self from Earth-3.
  • Iconic Item: "Jay"'s winged helmet is once again in the spotlight near the end of the episode. However, the real Jay reveals that the helmet is one of the few things that Hunter didn't steal from him (the helmet really did belong to Hunter's war vet father). After Harry mentions that, on his world, this helmet was a symbol of hope (intentionally done by Hunter in order to rip that hope away as Zoom), Jay decides to wear the helmet as a way to both get back at Zoom and maintain its image. Of course, the helmet is the iconic image of Jay Garrick from the comics.
  • Identity Impersonator: Turns out, Hunter Zolomon was never Jay Garrick at all. He just stole the name from the real Jay, the Flash of Earth-3.
  • Irony:
    • Back on Episode 2, Hunter, still impersonating Jay Garrick, said to Barry: "Let's see what you're made of, Flash", at the time (we thought) as an ally and friend. He repeats those words right before the start of their final race, now as a rival and enemy.
    • Hunter spent the entire season impersonating Jay Garrick. Jay decides that one way to get back at him is by taking Hunter's winged helmet for himself.
    • Harry bids a fond farewell to Team Flash, obviously having become good friends with all of them. Thawne tried the same thing in the Season 1 finale...
    • Thawne was locked up in Season 1 finale after his 3 way fight with Flash, Arrow, and Firestorm. This time, Barry himself is locked up in the Pipeline for his allies' fear of him turning to the Dark Side.
  • It Always Rains at Funerals: Henry's funeral is very dark and depressing which fittingly reflects Barry's mood for the remainder of the episode.
  • I Will Wait for You: Iris makes this promise to Barry, when he reveals he cannot be with her just yet, due to how broken he feels inside.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Hunter muses just how Barry has so many father figures in his life.
  • Leitmotif: The Reverse-Flash's pops up again at the end of the episode when Barry runs back to the year 2000.
  • Lip-Lock Sun-Block: Barry and Iris kiss with a light between them.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Even after Wally becomes part of The Masquerade, Team Flash still decides to keep him in the dark in their plan to defeat Zoom (i.e. the one that didn't require Barry).
  • Love Epiphany: A non-romantic example. Harry realizes how he became so fond of Team Flash during his stay on Earth-1 after Jesse tells him that.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Barry Allen sacrificing himself by disintegrating while running in order to stop an Omnicidal Maniac from destroying multiple universes? Seems vaguely familiar.
    • Like a certain other hero, Barry chose not to kill his enemy but allows him to die anyway.
    • When Hunter Zolomon is being dragged through a portal by the Time Wraiths, his deteriorating appearance causes him to ironically resemble the Black Flash, the "Grim Reaper" of the Speed Force.
    • Much like in The Flash (1990), Barry and Jay Garrick are Related in the Adaptation. In that series, Jay is Barry's older brother. Here, he is the Alternate Self of Barry's father from Earth-3.
    • The real Jay's suit is much brighter in color than Hunter's "Jay" costume, sporting the bright red boots (with golden buttons standing in for the golden Mercury wings), bright blue pants, and bright red shirt from the comics. It also has some elements of Barry's suit and sports some blue on the shirt's lower half, likely as a nod to the New 52's younger version of Jay (who, funnily enough, hails from Earth-2).
  • Never Be Hurt Again: Barry decides enough is enough after Zoom kills Henry and he decides to stop his personal tragedies by saving his mom.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Although they meant well, Team Flash locking Barry up was probably the worst thing they could've done to Barry in his state of anger and depression and is implied to be a factor in what drove him to do a major Cosmic Retcon. Also applies to Barry saving his mom, as while his heart was in the right place, as Season 3 will confirm, the temporal consequences will be catastrophic.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The episode starts off with Barry beating the utter crap out of Zoom's Time Remnant for killing his dad. Barry gives him a second one during the Final Battle before allowing the Time Wraiths take him away.
  • No-Sell: Zoom initially tried to steal Jay Garrick's speed, but he wasn't able to, probably because he didn't have a Turtle to figure out how to sap kinetic energy.
  • Oblivious to Love: A non-romantic example. Jesse notes that her father is unaware of how he became so fond of Team Flash during his stay on Earth-1.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Zoom screams in horror as the Time Wraiths come for him and drag him away.
    • The Reverse-Flash looks quite shocked when Barry arrives and prevents him from murdering Nora.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Zoom is revealed to be one, prepared to destroy the entire multiverse save Earth-1's universe, taking his statement that he'd measure his success by the amount of world's he's conquered and people he's killed to it's extreme.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Zoom wants to destroy The Multiverse, but explicitly states that Earth-1 will be spared, if only because that's where he wants to keep a reign of terror.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Barry gets one before letting the Time Wraiths have their way with Zoom.
    Zoom: You're a hero, Barry. You couldn't kill me before. You won't kill me now.
    Barry: I don't have to.
  • Power Limiter: This turns out to have been the purpose of the iron mask. It kept Jay Garrick from using his speed.
  • Put on a Bus: Harry and Jesse go back to Earth-2 when all is said and done.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Barry saves his mom just like Eobard wanted him to. Unfortunately, this will likely trigger the Arrowverse's version of the Flashpoint Paradox.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Barry does this to Zoom when he finally gets the upper hand on him at the end.
  • Ret-Gone: Because Barry saved Nora from the Reverse-Flash, Season 1!Barry fades away out of existence.
  • The Reveal: The Man in the Iron Mask is revealed to be the real Jay Garrick from Earth-3, who is the doppelganger of Barry's late father.
  • Season Finale: The second one.
  • Shoot the Dog: Barry is so hellbent on going after Zoom that Team Flash decides to tranq and lock him up, since his rage makes him blind to Zoom's plans.
  • Shout-Out: The black-clad antagonist pulls a Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred! on The Hero, who launches a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown but eventually rejects The Dark Side. Sound familiar?
  • Spoiler Opening: Averted. Even though Zoom killed Henry Allen at the end of the previous episode, John Wesley Shipp's name is still in the opening credits. But since Shipp has a very brief death scene at beginning of this episode, one could assume that's the reason for the credit, so his reappearance as the Earth-3 Jay Garrick is not spoiled.
  • Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred!: Zoom attempts to invoke this on Barry in hopes of turning him into a monster just like himself. Barry ultimately doesn't do it, instead leaving him to the non-existent mercy of the Time Wraiths.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Barry creating a time remnant, who then sacrifices himself, summons the Time Wraiths, who he was counting on being angrier at Zoom than himself.
  • Take That!: Cisco says that his visions of Earth-2's destruction are like "watching Transformers in 4-D, but like, ten times more realistic. And with much better acting."
  • Take a Third Option: Zoom wants to race. Barry agrees, but creates a time remnant, so that: 1) one Barry races Zoom to keep him distracted while the other frees Joe and protects Team Flash and 2) once Zoom notices, one Barry fights him while the other performs a Heroic Sacrifice to nullify the Magnetar.
  • Tele-Frag: Barry strongly considers using this technique for the first time to execute Zoom, but ultimately leaves him to the Time Wraiths instead.
  • Tempting Fate: Zoom mocks Barry for not being able to kill him. Cue the Time Wraiths who do worse.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: In nearly exactly the same way as Hunter pretended to be Jay Garrick, Barry splits himself to a "time remnant", which appears to be running so fast that he is literally in two places at the same time, rather than seeming to be. This would be odd enough on its own...but then the remnant disintegrates into nothing by running too fast, and Barry remains there, seemingly unharmed. Zoom also creates and kills another time remnant earlier in the episode. Though it's implied this is why the Time Wraiths show up and come for him.
  • Together in Death: Henry is laid to rest next to Nora.
  • Tranquil Fury: Jay Garrick seems calm while he cuts the iron mask in half with a vibrating hand.
  • True Companions: Barry begs his friends to return to STAR Labs where they would be safe, but they adamantly refuse.
    Cisco: We're not going anywhere. We've got eyes and ears right here.
    Caitlin: Either he goes, or we all die together.
    Harry: We believe in you.
    Iris: Barry, kick his ass!
    Zoom: If at any point you decide not to race anymore, dear old dad number 2 dies, as does your little fan club.
    Barry: They're not my fan club, they're the reason I'm doing this!
  • Villainous Breakdown: Zoom's smug bravado disappears and he's reduced to screaming horror when the Time Wraiths arrive to drag him off to a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Wham Episode: Zoom is deadnote , the Man in the Iron Mask is revealed to be the real Jay Garrick (and also a doppelgänger of Henry Allen) and, most importantly, Barry travels back in time...and prevents his mother's murder. Counts as a Wham Episode for the entire Arrowverse since this will follow the Flashpoint storyline, though to a different (by Arrowverse standards) conclusion than one would be familiar with.
  • Wham Line:
    • Zoom delivers one to Joe when explaning the Man in the Iron Mask's origins.
      Zoom: I got so tired of being the villain. So I decided to be the hero too. I even borrowed his name: Jay Garrick.
    • Barry delivers on to the audience after telling Iris he loves her and watching her sit down with the rest of his friends and family.
      Barry: That's why I'm so sorry. But I have to do this.
  • Wham Shot: They finally rescue the Man in the Iron Mask...and it's a doppelgänger of Henry Allen.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Wally calls out Team Flash for locking Barry up and not including him or Barry in their plans to stop Zoom.
  • You Killed My Father: Barry towards Hunter for murdering Henry in front of him. Part of why the rest of the Team locks him up in the Pipeline is because Barry admitted he wanted to kill Zolomon for what he did.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Zoom taunts Barry: "You couldn't kill me before. You won't kill me now." He's right. Barry let him be dragged away by a pair of Time Wraiths.