Welcome to Earth-2
Today’s episode of the Flash has been one of the most exciting ones in awhile, with the trip to Earth-2 finally happening at full speed. This week’s episode is far more successful in juggling the multiple plots that have culminated up to this point: the trip to Earth-2, and Jay’s attempts to restore his speed. Getting this out of the way though: Barry has been the large weak point since the show’s return. Grant Gustin is a great actor, no doubt there, but the writing for Barry has been ham-fisted or alternatively self-indulgent and creepy for the character. While the “disguising yourself as your doppelganger” trope has been around forever, the execution here runs towards making Barry even more irresponsible and creepy than ever.
Part of the preparation for this episode has been Harry’s reinforcement that Earth-2 is a place where they’ll see entirely different people with the same faces, and that they’re there for a singular mission, Barry dashes headlong into indulging himself in his analogue’s life. His attempts to explore his relationship with Iris, Joe, and even his mother come off as less melancholy and more selfish, especially once his actions lead to Earth-2 Joe’s death. The show has never really done much to hold Barry accountable for his actions in the past: either with Patty or here, and it continues to drag what’s been an otherwise seasonal plot down. Which is a shame, since when things are a little more fun, Gustin does bring the game home, and his likability is a large part of what makes Flash a joy to watch.
Now with that said, there’s a lot of fun in the rest of the Earth-2 story. Robbie Amell gets to return as Earth-2’s analogue to Firestorm: Deathstorm alongside Danielle Panabaker’s Killer Frost. While quite a bit different from the two versions of Deathstorm from the comics, this version of Ronnie Raymond and Caitlin Snow gives both actors a chance to do what all the best DCTV villains do: ham it up. Which isn’t to lessen their threat as villains, they do a great job establishing themselves pretty quickly, especially as a reminder of just how nice the Earth-1 counterparts of their characters are. The other Earth-2 counterparts are pretty great in that regard, while it’s mostly an excuse to have a parade of cameos for characters from DCTV’s past. But the best ones aside from the villains are the Earth-2 duplicates of the show’s leads like Barry, Iris, and Joe. The emphasis on different ends of their performances like with Barry being more of a nerdy stiff like in the Silver Age, Iris being more confident and take-charge, and best of all: Jesse L. Martin getting to break out his singing voice into Joe’s Earth-2 career as a crooner. While that is kind of marred by the episode’s plotline, the performances Candice Patton and Martin get to give are worth that.
The other major plotline with Jay and Caitlin’s struggle to restore Jay’s powers with an expanded Velocity-7 takes an interesting route with the introduction of Geomancer. While Jay’s attempt to stop him almost goes fatally without Joe’s intervention, it’s nice to see more of Ted Sears’ performance as Jay when he’s in full superhero business as opposed to the role he’s adopted on Earth-1 as Barry’s superhero coach. And it’s a credit to the writers in this regard how much they’ve been able to build up to the excitement of Jay becoming the Flash again, even if only for a few minutes.
Aside from the flaws in this episode, the trip to Earth-2 is as exciting as promised. The buildup that’s happened throughout this season has sprouted into something wonderful. While there have been some bumps on the road, the Flash is still as exciting a show as ever, and next week’s episode has the potential to be perhaps even better than it has been so far.
4 out of 5 Earths
- I didn’t cover it in the review proper since there wasn’t much to chew on, but Reverb is Cisco if he were a bit more of a jerk. And cared a little bit more about being pretentious I guess. Hope we see more of him.
- Also hope we finally see Zoom unmasked, because honestly he still feels more like a poor man’s Reverse Flash in a gimp suit.
- Also doesn’t being a crooner suit Joe? Anyone?
Review by Slew