On your marks, get set, GO! This is it. “The Race of His Life” is the grand finale in a season that opened the Arrowverse to untold possibilities. The villainous Zoom is finally ready to unveil his plans in the epic showdown between the two speedsters that we’ve all been waiting for. Last week, we closed with Cisco vibing the destruction of Earth-2 and Zoom murdering Henry Allen in a bid to make The Flash fall to the same dark path he did.
We begin in the instant that we left. Zoom has just removed his hand from Henry’s chest and Barry can only scream in pain as his father dies. In anger, Barry attacks Zoom and the pair race across Central City. Zoom darts left and loses Barry for a few precious seconds. In that time, another Zoom appears and the two run in tandem, as Barry does whenever he travels in time. Back to one Zoom, Barry catches up with him and starts physically beating him. Although Barry manages to stop short of plunging his vibrating hand into Zoom’s heart, the original Zoom shows up and does it for him. He reveals that Barry could also be in two places at once but he would have to kill the other version of himself eventually. Using the shock of this discovery, Zoom punches past Barry and escapes.
The next day, Team Flash attend Henry’s funeral. Although Barry is unable to speak, his other father delivers a touching eulogy. Later on that night, Wally thanks Barry for being the Flash and offers whatever help he can provide. Cisco is concerned about his vibes of Earth-2’s destruction. Joe reminds them that they need to stop that future from happening as Iris follows Barry outside. As they sit on the steps outside, Barry reveals that his journey to the Speed Force helped him reach a point where he could accept Nora‘s death but now he feels lost. Iris takes his hand as Zoom speeds past. Barry catches up to him at a crossroads and Zoom reveals his final ultimatum: a race. If Barry wins, everybody is safe. If Barry doesn’t race, Zoom will kill all his other loved ones. In a sick and twisted way, it makes sense. Zoom wants to be the fastest there is. If Barry is able to outpace him, any attacks made in the future will be useless as the Flash could catch him.
Back at STAR Labs, the team ponders exactly what Zoom is after with Joe correctly guessing it’s not just a race. Wells discovers that Mercury Labs has developed a magnetar could be used as a pulsar. Although designed as a power amplifier, it could very easily be weaponized. The group realises that using the residual energy from Barry and Zoom when they run, Zolomon plans to destroy all the planets in the multiverse. Barry stakes the future of all planets in the multiverse when he decides to race Zoom. Although Joe tries to talk him out of it, he realises that he doesn’t want to beat Zoom but kill him. He guessed this earlier and had Wells standing by to tranq Barry and put him in the pipeline to cool off. Whilst he was out, they all took a vote and unanimously voted to leave him in his cell. Despite not having a speedster, the group plans to have Caitlin distract Zoom long enough for Joe and Wells to disable him with the Boot. They’ll then push him through a breach and let Cisco and Harry disarm the pulsar. Inevitably, the plan goes sideways and, following an amazing dive-shot by Harry, Zoom pulls Joe with him into Earth-2. This is something that makes no sense to me. Last week, Zoom escaped by creating a breach and diving through. Did they just expect him to give up and stay on Earth-2?
Cisco seems to have gained a better insight into his powers and tries to locate Joe but can’t. Caitlin theorises that the pair must still be moving as Wally walks in. Jesse lets slip that Barry is locked up and Iris reveals the harrowing final step of the plan: close off Earth-2 and never open a breach again. It was Joe’s plan and he made them all agree. Speaking of the senior West, Zoom has him locked up in his prison in Earth-2. He reveals that he had been travelling to other worlds for some time and that the man in the mask is another speedster that he met. He tried to steal his speed but wasn’t able and keeps him as a trophy. When he tried his hand at heroism, he even borrowed the name: Jay Garrick. I love this moment. Henry mentioned that his mother’s maiden name was Garrick and I long waited for the moment we got to see the original Flash. Now, we finally have confirmation that Garrick is more than an alias of a psychotics speedster. Grandpa Flash is alive and kicking.
Wally releases Barry from the pipeline and the pair confront the rest of the team. After talking it over, they manage to convince everyone to let them try and save Joe. Cisco vibes a vision of Barry to Zoom and they arrange a meet. The place in question happens to be the same factory Zolomon was hiding in earlier in the episode. An enormous ring, roughly half the size of the STAR Labs Particle Accelerator, is standing above the pulsar. If Zoom and Barry complete 500 laps, the puslar activates but not in the way Team Flash thought. Earth-1 stands at the centre of the multiverse. If Zoom turns it on, every other Earth will be destroyed and he will be the fastest man alive. If Barry catches him before they complete the final lap, he saves the multiverse. If he tries to quit, he loses Joe. The race is on.
As Barry and Zoom race around the ring, it becomes clear that The Flash can’t beat Zoom. Using the same trick Zoom did, Barry creates a time remnant to join him. The time remnant breaks Joe free and Zoom pulls Barry off the track in anger. Even as the sky splits, one Barry pummels Zoom as the other Barry starts to phase the pulsar. If it reaches the wrong frequency, the device will shatter and the multiverse will be saved at the cost of his life. Even as that Barry dissolves at the effort, a fitting homage to his actions in Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zoom confronts the other Barry about not killing him. The Flash reveals that he doesn’t have to and Time Wraiths appear, drawn by his double’s death a moment before. They carry off Zoom as his costume changes to that of The Black Flash.
At STAR Labs, Barry explains what he did to the others and Caitlin points out that the other Barry was still their Barry. When he died, it was because both Barry’s were willing to die. Cisco and Wells work on removing the mask from the masked man Barry has brought back from Earth-2 only to reveal a brilliant twist. John Wesley Shipp, reporting to duty. Suited up, Jay, the real Jay, reveals that he is not from Earth-2 but what he dubs Earth-3. Jesse and Harry will take him to Earth-2 and work on getting him back to his world. After fond farewells, the trio depart. That night, as the remaining group relaxes at the West house, Barry and Iris talk on the steps again. Even though he saw his father’s double, he is still broken inside and can’t be with Iris right now. She promises to give him time and tells him that she loves him. They manage to share their first kiss (without time resetting) before she goes back inside and he apologises for what he has to do.
Running, always running, Barry finds his way back to the night that his mother died. The Flash that saved him as a child rushes the younger Barry out the front of the house and he runs in, moments before the knife pierces his mother’s heart. After a scarily one-sided battle, The Flash finishes with a single punch. Out in the hallway, the Barry that came back in the Season 1 Finale smiles in relief as he disappears, his timeline never having been written.
There have been highs and lows in this season of The Flash. Sometimes the plot has felt slightly rushed and others it has plodded along. But with the end start of Flashpoint portrayed on our screens, no speed is too great in getting the next season here. CW has dealt with Zoom (for now), created the Black Flash, revived our saviour from his prison and potentially let loose the biggest continuity-changer in all of DC history: the Flashpoint. With CW constantly ramping up its game, I flashback to the first episode when Barry and Iris listen to the disguised Eobard Thawne speak: “The future will be here faster than you think.” We can only hope so.