The Flash Versus Zoom: Barry's Selfish Decision
The Flash is one of my favorite shows on TV. I almost always enjoy it. I like the characters and I like the writing. Which is why I was so frustrated by some of the decisions made in the episode that came out today. (Season 2, Episode 18 "Versus Zoom"). But before I can get there I want to point out what I like about the what the show did and warn everyone that there will be spoilers.
First, I really like that Barry isn't willing to just let Zoom go because he's on another world. The willingness to risk himself to protect other people is what makes him a hero and not just a vigilante. It's that attitude that makes the character and the show special and when it gives up on that for the sake of story convenience it becomes a far bigger problem than it otherwise would be.
Beyond that I like most of the character moments in the show. Barry continuing to grow in his connections with the people on the show and the idea that he makes the people around him better is important. Whether it is Wells, Cisco, the Wests or even Zoom I believe that is what makes him a good character and they showed that.
And then they threw all of that away and had him make a decision that was selfish to the point of being borderline evil. They went out of their way in this episode to make it clear that Barry knew that Zoom was a serial killer and that he was willing to cross dimensions in order to stop him from tormenting his entire world. And then he decided that he was willing to save Zoom's life and make him much stronger so that he can hurt far more people in order to protect one person simply because he knows him.
I know that the impression you're supposed to have is that Barry is sacrificing something in order to protect Wally. The problem is that it just don't work. Zoom is a murderer who is going to keep murdering people. Barry is a hero that is supposed to save people, but instead he made the selfish decision to let who knows how many people die in order to save one person because he knows that person. That's the type of decision I'd expect Mr. Freeze to make. One that is borderline understandable but also clearly wrong. It would be like crashing a plane into a mountain with hundreds of people in it because someone had a gun to your mother's head. It's duress but it's still killing people.
Now of course it is unlikely that any of this is going to really happen because Barry has to get his speed back in order for the show to continue. It's also possible that the characters on the show know something that I don't. In the case of the later in which they gave zoom the power because of some deeper plan then I take this back. But if he simply gets his speed back without it being part of any bigger plan then he just got lucky and getting lucky doesn't mean it wasn't an extremely selfish decision.
I'm not the type of person who turns on a show because it makes a bad decision and the truth is I think this is basically just an excuse to take away the flashes powers so he has to use other skills to stop Zoom. But in many ways that makes it worse. This isn't a logical character decision, it's lazy writing. You could have got to the same place without having to make Barry look bad or you could have made it clear that it was a selfish decision. But instead the show wants us to buy into the idea that this was an unselfish and brave idea and it just wasn't.