Season Two, Episode Thirteen — “Welcome To Earth-2”
By Jarrod Jones. As a person who spends the majority of their time on the internet writing about superheroes, it can be quite a task to not succumb to hyperbole. And when we’re talking about a show that frequently squeezes the dweeby dopamine right out of my brain like The Flash unquestionably does, well. You’ll forgive me if I indulge in my baser instincts by saying that “Welcome to Earth-2” was everything I wanted out of a superhero TV show. Now. *clears throat* Let’s get objective.
“Welcome to Earth-2” is that sort of next-level episode few series ever actually accomplish. It participates in the requisite game-changing that should come with a long-winded, twenty-two episode season run, while simultaneously offering a level of shameless fanservice that would make George Lucas blush. And yet, amid all this narrative havoc, it still works. In fact, it works beautifully.
But this is still The Flash. And whether our lovable S.T.A.R. Kids are on Earth-1 or Earth-2, there has to be time set aside to let an appropriate amount of tears stream down their adorable faces. So “Welcome to Earth-2” takes the hard-won love and respect we viewers have amassed for certain characters and pawns it off to their parallel-Earth doppelgangers in the hopes that their world-shattering subplots might mean something to us too. (Jesse L. Martin, apparently you can make me sob in any dimension.) And because this is The Flash, that ends up working as well. *scoffs* Cue that sepia tone Instagram filter. We’re going to Earth-2.
WHAT WORKED: The introduction of the Earth-2 doppelgangers was reliably insane — we’ll get to that in a minute — but there’s a particular moment of time that introduced so much insanity that the internet can’t help itself from farting out quickie think pieces about the ramifications left in its wake. In approximately twenty seconds, the thirteenth episode of The Flash‘s second season went and laid the floor plans for the next year’s worth of storytelling in the DC TV Universe (or, the “Arrowverse”, but that just sounds ridiculous). It accomplished what the first season finale of The Flash pulled off in the middle of an already deliriously good second season. I can’t think of another show capable of such a thing. By setting fan expectations on fire, The Flash has inarguably become one of the best shows on television. (Oof, that hyperbole.)
Detective West. Iris West. Loved Candace Patton’s moxie this week as the Earth-2 parallel of her lovely, intrepid self. As Central City PD’s ace detective, Patton got to flex an earnest machismo and unabashed sexuality not commonly associated with her character. (Watching her throw that milksop Grant Gustin against the wall is one for the record books.) But there’s also the crooning Joe West — when was someone gonna tell me he could sing? Ooh-ooh! Then there was Reverb, the spooky, smoky, dark-as-hell analogue to none other than Cisco Ramon. (Cisco, after seeing what Reverb can do: “You mean I can do that?” Reverb: “I can show you.”) And Killer Frost! Holy smokes! (Oh, and Ronnie Raymond, but… eh.) This episode allowed everyone to have a tremendous amount of fun with their characters, and boy howdy, was it infectious.
WHAT DIDN’T: So we’re kidnapping our doppelgangers and assuming their identities now, Barry? I wonder if The Time Masters over on Legends of Tomorrow are working on a big-ass RICO case against the S.T.A.R. Kids in order to bust them all as temporal criminals of the highest order. Run that checklist of wrongdoing so far on this show: Kidnapping. Aiding & Abetting/Accessory. Assault/Battery. Drug Possession (Velocity 7, anyone?). Conspiracy. Drug Manufacturing. Fraud. Homicide (You mean Wells-2 ain’t getting busted for killing The Turtle?). Identity Theft (Especially this week). Unlawful Imprisonment. And I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if a podunk operation like S.T.A.R. wasn’t paying all of their taxes. Is the writing team of The Flash a crew of felons, or what.
So we’ve been given another Geoff Johns villain with whom our heroes may contend. I’m always down for that, but Geomancer’s schtick was some seriously awful shit. Can we please not revisit this character? Between actor Adam Stafford’s shameless hackjob interpretation of Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold, the way those dopey goggles gave him near-permanent duckface, and that throwaway “let’s get ready to rumble” line (because earthquakes), Geoff Johns’ Geomancer arrived to The Flash as its lousiest supervillain yet. And we just got done barely putting up with Tarpit.
Wells-2: “Just remember, Allen: clocks tickin’.” Barry: “It always is.”
“You’re the most selfish person that I’ve ever met. And I’m a musician, we’re all selfish.” – Joe-2, to “Bartholomew”.
“So, Caitlin and Ronnie’s doppelgangers are evil? *sighs* Them’s some dope names, though.” – Cisco.
“I’m not sure what’s worse: the fact that you’re part of Zoom’s gang, or that weird samurai situation you’ve got going on the top of your head, there.” – Cisco.
BEST MOMENT: Barry gets to talk to his mom. Holy cow, what a moment. With an episode stacked with jaw-dropping moments for almost an entire hour (as this one decidedly was), it was a quiet moment with Grant Gustin that nearly caused my heart to implode. There were so many emotions flickering across the young actor’s face when he listened to the voice of Nora Allen: hope, relief, joy, sadness, regret, fulfillment… pardon the pun, but Gustin runs the gamut in but a few fleeting seconds. When the rest of the hour was name-checking important changes for the ever-expanding DC Universe, there was only one name that truly meant something for the beating heart of The Flash.
EPISODE’S MVP: The whole damn ensemble. Everyone brought their A-game this week, and the show rightfully gave everyone a moment in which to shine. We got to see Jay Garrick don his Flash gear. Danielle Panabaker and Jesse L. Martin pulled double-shifts on parallel worlds, and were both incredible. Grant Gustin and Carlos Valdes got to contend with their lesser selves. And Candice Patton was as vital as she’s been all series long. I guess what they say is true: teamwork does make the dream work.
– Dig the Twizzlers in Cisco’s nerdvest.
– Okay, so let’s get that wacky wormhole out of the way: in foreshadowing the DC TV agenda for the rest of the year, oh my jesus, we got confirmation that John Wesley Shipp’s run on CBS’ The Flash is officially multiversal canon; we saw our first look at what is probably Connor Hawke (Oliver Queen’s son) and what is definitely Johnathon Schaech’s Jonah Hex; Grodd will return; and that was most definitely a Legion Flight Ring (which, ahhh!).
– But more importantly, Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl made her first cameo appearance in the CW DC TV Universe, and holy cow this is really happening.
– Hey, Henry Hewitt! Pretty sure when I told you not to let the door hit you on the ass on your way out, you knew that applied on all Earths! No, I don’t care how nice you purportedly are. Beat it.
– Mayor Snart. Leonard must have done something right in another life.
“A Free And Just Society”. Cheeky. That was Geoff Johns’ idea, wasn’t it.
– Detective Deadshot. Floyd Lawton’s on the right side of the law in Earth-2, and it seems he traded in hours at the shooting range with hours at the barber shop. The hell’s up with that hair.
– Detective Iris West. Can this be the new normal, please.
– Oh, boy. Just when Barry thought he was over Iris, Earth-2 went and putzed all that up. Expect to see some Season One-level yearnin’ and sighin’ once Barry makes it home to Earth-1.
– That’s one hell of a speed-dial list: “Bruce”? “Hal?” “DIANA???”
– Atlantis? I guess King Arthur is pretty savvy on the terran tourism dollar over on Earth-2.
– Glad Joe got to sing, but he needs to iron out that vibrato toot-suite.
– I wonder if we’re the only one who sees the significance of Barry being referred to as “Bart”.
9 out of 10
Next: “Escape From Earth-2”, soon.
Before: “Fast Lane”, here.