On The Flash, the “big bad” of the season has been a speedster known as Zoom (voice of Tony Todd), who isn’t satisfied to be much faster than Barry Allen (Grant Gustin); he wants to be the only speedster.
At the end of last season, the Flash inadvertently opened up a portal into alternate Earths, including one designated “Earth 2.” Zoom has been sending meta humans from Earth 2 to battle the Flash, with the intent of taking his speed for Zoom to possess or otherwise weaken him. Fortunately, Barry has assistance not only from his allies at S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes)— to say nothing of his surrogate father, Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) and best friend Iris West (Candice Patton),but also from Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears), the Flash of Earth 2, and the Earth 2 Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh).
Of course, there are complications. Wells’ daughter, Jesse (Violett Beane), is Zoom’s prisoner and Wells was secretly working with Zoom to steel Barry’s powers in exchange for Jesse’s life until the truth emerged. A forgiving Barry, understanding that Wells had a metaphorical gun to his head, not only continued to accept Wells as an ally, but lead a mission to Earth 2 to rescue Jesse.
That rescue mission ultimately succeeded, but Barry discovered that Zoom had another prisoner, a man in an iron mask whom he wasn’t able to rescue. The man tapped out in a “prisoner code” the name Jay.
In the comics, Zoom is Hunter Zolomon, a friend of the Wally West incarnation of the Flash, who believes the actions he takes, however cruel they may appear, are in Wally’s best interests. In The Flash, while Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale) has been introduced (as Iris’ brother, not her nephew, as in the comics), there’s no connection between himself and Zoom. He also doesn’t know (yet?) that Barry is the Flash. We have, however, “met” Hunter Zolomon. He is the Earth 1 counterpart of Jay Garrick, whom Jay pointed out to Caitlin.
So, is Hunter Zolomon Zoom in the TV series? Could be. After “killing” Jay and subsequently unmasking in front of his prisoner, Zoom turned out to be Jay’s doppelganger. Jay claimed that Zolomon wasn’t a meta human, but he could have either been mistaken or lying.
I put “killing” in quotes because I believe the man in the iron mask is the real Jay Garrick. For two reasons: One, Jay Garrick is too significant a character to be killed off, even allowing for changes between comics and TV series continuity; two, the man vehemently shook his head when Barry told him that Jay was safe on Earth 1.
So who is this ersatz Jay Garrick, if not the Flash from Earth 2? He’s a speedster, at least. Could he hail from another alternate Earth (the gang at S.T.A.R. Labs established that the breach opened portals to 52 of them)? Or could some sort of time travel paradox be at work? I’m betting on the former. It doesn’t explain why he’d claim to be the Flash of Earth 2, however.
I suppose it’s also possible that Zoom is also (or has access to) a skilled plastic surgeon and altered a man to look like Jay Garrick, gave him super speed and sent him to Earth 1 as a double agent, but there’s nothing to indicate “Jay” was working at cross purposes with Barry and the others.
We might start to get some answers to some of the season’s mysteries in tonight’s episode.
Speaking of the various alternate Earths, next Monday, the Flash will be making an appearance on Supergirl. From what I’ve read, she lives on yet another alternate Earth. Perhaps tonight’s episode of The Flash will explain how and why he came to travel there.
We know that Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) doesn’t hail from either Earth 1 or Earth 2 because not only is she active on her Earth, but so is Superman. Neither has been mentioned on either The Flash or Arrow, even in passing. Human-looking aliens who can fly under their own powers would at least get a passing mention. Likewise, if Supergirl hailed from Earth 2, either Jay or Dr. Wells would have mentioned her by name or hinted that not even she or her cousin had been able to stop Zoom.
Supergirl finds the eponymous hero trying to make a name for herself, both as Supergirl and as Kara Danvers, in National City. Her allies include James (not Jimmy) Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), who, in this incarnation, knows that Clark Kent is Superman) and Winn Schott, Jr. (Jeremy Jordan), who work with her at Catco Worldwide Media; her boss, Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart), who, unlike James and Winn, is unaware of her dual identity; her adoptive sister, Alex (Chyler Leigh) and J’onn J’onzz, the manhunter from Mars (David Harewood), who has assumed the identity of Hank Henshaw, head of an alien-tracking government agency known as the DEO.
Alongside their biological daughter, Alex, Kara was raised by Jeremiah and Eliza Danvers (Dean Cain and Helen Slater) after coming to Earth. As in more recent depictions of Supergirl (including in Smallville), Kara Zor-El had been sent from Krypton to keep her younger cousin Kal-El safe on Earth, but a mishap along the way caused her to arrive after Kal-El had already grown to adulthood and become Superman. However, other than in the flashback to Kara’s arrival, Superman has only appeared on screen once (and in both instances not shown in detail). Within the fictional universe of the TV series, he respects Kara’s wishes to solve her own problems.
J’onn J’onnz, a shape-shifter, assumed the identity of Hank Henshaw after the real, xenophobic Henshaw died after (apparently) killing Jeremiah Danvers (in the most recent episode, J’onn comes to believe Jeremiah may still be alive). He took on Henshaw’s identity as part of his promise to Jeremiah to protect the latter’s daughters. Earlier in the season, he revealed his identity to Alex and Kara. More recently, the DEO and the military in general learned “Hank Henshaw” was an alien. The reaction was typically xenophobic, but J’onn has at least one ally in Major Lucy Lane (Jenna Dewan Tatum).
Supergirl carries on a tradition running through the various “Super” radio, TV and movie incarnations— nods to previous incarnations. Dean Cain was Superman in Lois and Clark and Helen Slater played Supergirl in the 1984 movie.
Smallville’s Supergirl, Laura Vandervoort, also recently made an appearance as Brainiac-8/Indigo.
In the comics, Hank Henshaw was an astronaut who later became the villainous Cyborg Superman during the “Reign of the Superman” storyline following Superman’s apparent death in 1992. If the Henshaw of Supergirl survived, could he re-emerge in some villainous capacity?
Tomorrow, I’ll discuss Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow.
Copyright 2016, Patrick Keating.