Warning: Spoilers ahead for tonight's episode of The Flash, titled "Escape From Earth-2"
One of the most persistent notes I'll get on The Flash this year has been some variation on "do you think Jay Garrick could really be _______?"
Often, it's Zoom. Sometimes it's another hero, another villain, another player in the grand cosmic mystery of the DC Universe...but for whatever reason, a lot of people don't seem to believe Jay Garrick when he says he's...well, Jay Garrick, at least as we know him.
There's some reasoning behind this: in the TV show, Jay is repeatedly written off as a coward, and now it turns out he lost his powers after becoming power hungry and tampering the Velocity drugs. In the comics, Jay is a well-regarded hero with more than 70 years of crimefighting under his belt, and has rarely been diminished in order to build up other Flashes, be it Barry Allen or Wally West.
And, frankly, there's the fact that this is a show chock full of surprise reveals, uneasy alliances and the like...and Jay appeared seemingly out of nowhere from Earth-2, the same place so many villains have hailed from -- and the home of Zoom.
Up to now, I haven't really put a ton of stock in these conspiracy theories, but tonight's episode got me thinking. Here's some of what poured through my brain, and you can let me know if any of it makes a lick of sense...or if I've missed any along the way.
IS JAY GARRICK ZOOM?
With an Earth-1 counterpart named Hunter Zolomon, the question of whether some version of Jay could be Zoom is one that's been more pressing in the last few weeks.
This week, the show definitely seemed to be pointing us in that direction.
Zoom and Jay never seemed to be active at the same time until very late in the episode -- a coincidence (?) most notable when Geomancer attacked S.T.A.R. Labs, and Jay was totally AWOL even after Caitlin called him. Meanwhile, Zoom was busy with Barry on Earth-2, and Jay reappeared on Earth-1 after Zoom had vanished from Barry's cell.
Of course, this feels pretty unlikely. First of all, we did see the two of them in action on different earths at the same time at the end of the episode, while Jay was waiting to collapse the breach and Zoom was holding Harrison Wells hostage.
That -- as well as the actual physical interaction between Jay and Zoom -- could obviously be faked; super-speed can play tricks on the eyes, and we saw Harrison Wells being beaten up by the Reverse-Flash last year just moments before learning that the two were, in fact, the same guy.
Still, this doesn't feel like that, and Team Flash would be unlikely to fall for the same trick twice...right? Also, with all the tests Caitlin has run on Jay over the last few months, you'd think something would have come up to make her suspicious.
That said, Jay did kind of stand oddly close to the closing breach while looking proud of himself for a really long time, which brings us to theory #2...
IS JAY WORKING WITH ZOOM?
Everyone on Earth-2 is scared of Zoom.
Wells has gone out of his way repeatedly to call Jay a coward.
Zoom has shown that he has no problem getting others to do his dirty work for him, and/or killing those people.
So is it possible that Zoom has been manipulating Jay to work for him this whole time? It would be a step beyond the Machiavellian turn he took in recruiting Wells to sap Barry's speed...and it's not entirely implausible.
If Jay is really who he says he is, that would make it hard to believe he would work with Zoom. That concern goes away, though, if...
IS HE NOT REALLY JAY?
What if Jay isn't really Jay?
In the Golden Age, Jay had his own Reverse-Flash, for a start -- and that character, whom we once thought was the odds-on favorite to be Zoom, hasn't come up at all.
What if he's actually the one who's been here the whole time, and Jay Garrick has been...somewhere else?
This one might be difficult to explain, only because other Earth-2 breachers (including Wells) have come over and recognized Jay as The Flash -- but there could be an in-story explanation for that.
Even notwithstanding The Rival (Jay's Reverse-Flash), it could be a shapeshifter, for example -- one who operates at a genetic or molecular level so his DNA tests wouldn't throw flags for Caitlin and the Velocity serums could work for him.
And, if it's somebody impersonating Jay on behalf of Zoom, it could explain why he seemed to stand so close to the breach, and why Zoom knew just where and how to strike...maybe Zoom didn't really kill him, and this is just the next step in their master plan together now that Barry and Jesse are both beyond Zoom's reach.
If all that were true, though, where is Jay?
IS JAY THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK?
What if the man in the mask wasn't asking about Jay, but warning Barry about Jay?
Particularly because the man in the mask is Jay Garrick, and he knows the impostor isn't going to help Barry against Zoom in any meaningful way?
"J...A...Y" is the only message we got from the man in the mask -- and it's pretty clear that he was working on Barry's behalf, and he was happy when Barry managed to escape. He stood tall and brave when Barry told him that he wasn't going to save him now, but would be back later.
If that isn't Jay, it's gotta be Max Mercury, or another Justice Society member, or somebody else who's in Zoom's clutches for good cause.