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TV recap: How ‘The Flash’s’ second-season villain just got far more interesting fast

Just who’s Zooming who on this season of “The Flash”? (courtesy of the CW)

IT’S TAKEN nearly this entire second season, but Zoom is at last becoming one of the most entertaining characters on the CW’s “The Flash.” Ever since Zoom was unmasked (and revealed to be Jay Garrick/Hunter Zolomon), the black-clad villain has become far more interesting.

After a few weeks off, “The Flash” returned Tuesday night, and finally gave us Zoom’s origin story: a scary Earth-2 tale that mirrors the origin of the Flash, but which has an even darker starting point and ending.

As a child on Earth-2, Hunter Zolomon saw his father murder his mother. Hunter was placed in a creepy orphanage, as the profound trauma warped him psychologically, till he grew to become a serial killer. Eventually apprehended as an adult, Hunter was subjected to electric punishments when the Earth-2 particle accelerator went boom — giving birth to Zoom and his super-speed.

Since Zoom’s unmasking, Team Flash has been focused on taking down Garrick. Caitlin told the team that Garrick had revealed to her his Earth 1 doppelgänger (Hunter Zolomon). So with the help of Earth 2 Harrison Well’s knowledge of Zolomon’s dark origin, Team Flash used Hunter’s back story against him.

After closing all the breaches to Earth-2, Barry/The Flash has become obsessed with getting back there to take on Zoom. Wells has helped Barry get faster, and Barry wants to use his new speed to take down the villain. The problem is getting to Earth-2 without a dimensional breach.

Turns out that Cisco’s vibing powers can open a new breach. Although reluctant at first, Cisco opens a new breach to Earth-2. Zoom senses the breach immediately and, in an instant, is back on Earth-1, confronting the Flash.

The two speedsters race, and Zoom notices Flash’s improved speed. The Flash is finally at the level he needs to be at. Zoom needs more speed to survive.

Barry traps Zoom, using pop-up photos of Zoom’s parents to catch him off guard. The two fastest men alive unmask themselves and have a heart-to-cold-heart convo. Barry wants to know why Zoom would try to be a hero in the Flash’s image. Zoom says that he loved giving people hope through his speed (as Jay Garrick), just so he could then take it away.

It is in these dark, unmasked moments that Teddy Sears shines, giving his best performance of the season. As Jay Garrick, he was a charismatic, if not a bit bland version of the Flash. But unmasked, Sears as Hunter Zolomon approaches the intriguing greatness of Season 1’s Reverse Flash.

Next, Zoom escapes Barry’s trap (because somehow, Barry thought bringing Zoom back to his world was a good idea). Zoom takes Wally West captive. Zoom offers a simple trade-off: Wally in exchange for Barry’s speed. Barry has no choice but to agree to save Wally (who is still nowhere close to possibly becoming Kid Flash).

After a quick run on his high-tech treadmill, Barry’s speed is bottled up and ready for the taking. Zoom wastes no time loading up on the speed. He instantly moves on to take down Barry.

Caitlin pleads with Hunter/Zoom that if anything they shared romantically was real, then he should let Barry live — for her sake. Hunter agrees, but he runs off with Caitlin. Now Barry must somehow save Caitlin without his speed and go up against Zoom powerless.

Almost lost in Zoom’s origin tale is Iris West, who is trying to put her personal life back together after fiancé Eddie Thawne’s death. Iris has a date set up with her editor at the newspaper, but cancels — not because she’s not ready to move on, but because she’s got Barry on the mind. She knows that on Earth-2, she and Barry are married and that in the future, they are supposedly destined to be together.

She’s been looking at Barry differently — even Caitlin has noticed. But Barry is too consumed with Zoom to notice for now.

Any Barry/Iris coupling may have to wait until Zoom is taken out. And with Zoom now the fastest he’s ever been — and with Barry no longer having super-speed — that task just got a lot more difficult.

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