Ladies and gentlemen, we are truly living in a golden age of television. If you’re all caught up on the latest hour of The CW’s The Flash, then you watched as a team of Central City’s finest scientists and resident superhero took a trip through a breach between parallel worlds, encountering unexpectedly shocking alternate realities and mirror-image doppelgangers, with the aim of rescuing an Earth-2 scientist’s daughter from a super-villain speedster named Doom. That’s just crazy. And it was only the tip of the iceberg.
In “Welcome to Earth-2”, which is essentially Part One of a two-parter that will presumably finish up with next week’s “Escape from Earth-2”, we saw a lot of familiar faces in very different places. We also saw a lot of surprise appearances by characters who are presumed to be dead, or at least out of the picture, back on Earth-1. And the eagle-eyed among you probably spotted quite a few Easter eggs throughout the hour. Feel free to share them in the comments section at the bottom of this recap.
Tonight’s cold open resolved a problem that the S.T.A.R. Labs team had been working to solve all season so far: Barry used the newly designed implosion devices to close all but one of the breaches between worlds. While doing so, Harry Wells is recording yet another journal entry (and doling out exposition) about his commitment to save his daughter, who is in the clutches of Zoom in Earth-2. What seems like it should have been a fairly straight-forward plan to find Zoom and rescue Jessie soon spirals into chaos as Barry gets emotionally involved with the mirror images of his family and friends in the parallel world.
Barry became surprisingly emotionally compromised within a few minutes of stepping through the breach to arrive in Earth-2. He was warned of the dangers, of course, by Jay Garrick, who cautioned against getting wrapped up in the world’s people and problems. (Interestingly enough, that same sentiment was echoed by Harry in the opener since he’s become admittedly distracted by his Earth-1 compatriots.) So while Barry, Cisco, and Harry travel to Earth-2 without a hitch (except of course for the Speed Cannon that keeps the doorway open breaking and preventing their return…), everything quickly unravels.
Barry’s trip to Earth-2 was front-loaded by concern on behalf of Joe West (who also wanted to make sure that Barry told his actual father what he was up to) and Iris as well, who thought that perhaps he was running away from a life that he felt was empty and unfulfilling. Barry denied that, but soon found himself in a very tricky situation on Earth-2, having taken the place of his bowtie-wearing doppelganger. Sticky situation #1: Barry is married to police captain Iris West in this world. Sticky situation #2: Father-in-Law lounge singer
Joe Joseph West really dislikes Barry Bartholomew. Getting caught in the middle of that awkward relationship triangle would be bad enough for our buddy Barry without the knowledge that his Earth-2 mother is alive and well (which offered Grant Gustin a chance to act out a very emotional scene), but things go from weird to worse once the Earth-2 versions of Barry’s friends Caitlin and Ronnie show up to wreak havoc.
Let’s pause a moment and catch our breath since a lot was packed into this episode. While Barry is getting his bearings on Earth-2, his friends and family back on Earth-1 are having their own issues. Not only is the Speed Cannon in a state of disrepair, a meta-human named Adam Fells, calling himself Geo-Mancer, has started causing trouble for the Central City folks. Unfortunately, the majority of meta-humans are real jerks and apparently 100% of the good guys with powers have taken a one-way field trip out of town. So it falls to the Central City Police Department and a speed-less Jay Garrick to neutralize this new threat. Teddy Sears gets a great moment where Jay confesses that it wasn’t Zoom who stole his speed, it was Jay’s own obsession with gaining more speed that led him to develop the drug Velocity-6 that came with an unforeseen speed-robbing side effect. This was a wonderful opportunity for Jay and Caitlin to reinforce their relationship as she makes Velocity-7 to allow Jay a temporary speed boost in order to suit up as The Flash and take down Geo-Mancer. It didn’t work out as intended, but with some cooperation from Jay, Caitlin, and Joe West, they chased the meta-human away and in order to fight him another day.
Now, back to Earth-2, a very shiny, classically designed cityscape that conjures up images of 1950s futuristic sci-fi, but is plagued by Zoom’s terrorism and that of the villains who work for him. Yeah, that’s right, Zoom’s got henchmen! You may have heard of them. It’s Caitlin Snow and Ronnie Raymond’s doppelgangers, known here as the very villainous Killer Frost and Deathstorm respectively. (You can learn more about both of their comic book versions here.) They’re not just acting with Zoom’s blessing to terrorize the city, they’re doing it with impunity, thanks to the absence of the Earth-2 hero, Jay Garrick. The latest casualty of this fallout is none other than Joe West himself. His death was one of many shocking moments in this episode, though it was a clever way to give Jesse L. Martin a death scene without affecting too much on the Earth-1 side of things. And it was the final push needed to snap Barry out of his hypnotic stupor in order to help Cisco, Iris, and Floyd Lawton (!) take down the dastardly duo and smoke out Zoom.
Except there were many more surprises in store for our heroes! Killer Frost and Deathstorm get the drop on the less-than-superpowered do-gooders, and it’s then that their own boss comes out of the shadows. No, not Zoom, but Cisco’s own doppelganger, a villain calling himself Reverb. Admittedly, this was a pretty cool reveal, even if the character differs slightly from his comic book counterpart of the same name. What follows was a pretty one-sided battle in which Barry swooped in to the rescue but was soon double-teamed by Deathstorm and Reverb. In yet another surprise, Zoom himself showed up to put a stop to the beating by killing Deathstorm and Reverb outright, leaving Killer Frost alive only because she tried to warn her cohorts not to kill The Flash. (It’s a pretty badass villain who inspires fear and loyalty in other powerful badass villains. Tony Todd’s voicework continues to be perfectly menacing; Danielle Panabaker killed it as Killer Frost, too.)
While Cisco, Iris, and a presumably unconscious Floyd stood by, helpless to do anything, Zoom spirited The Flash off to his basement prison. The final moments see Barry in a glass cage next to a man in a metal mask (who kind of looks like John Diggle/Spartan) who is pounding on the divider (possibly in Morse code?). In another nearby cage, Jessie Wells awaits her rescue at long last. Too bad Zoom has other plans.
This was an absolutely insane episode of The Flash, and that’s saying something since this show is normally fast-paced and full of Easter eggs even on a relatively slow week. We got Michael Rowe back in action as a can’t-hit-the-broad-side-of-a-barn version of Deadshot, Joe West as a lounge singer, Captain David Singh as a criminal, and a friendly version of the previously villainous Henry Hewitt. We glimpsed (possibly) a future Arrow, a former Flash (John Wesley Shipp), an other-world version of Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), Gorilla Grodd, Jonah Hex (Johnathon Schaech) and even a nod to Mayor Snart!
For the shippers out there, they finally saw Barry Allen and Iris West come together, along with the reunited Caitlin Snow and Ronnie Raymond, even if it had a villainous edge to it. Somehow the writing team managed to get all this fan-candy into the hour while also advancing the central storyline. With The Flash in Zoom’s clutches and the doorway home currently broken, the S.T.A.R. Labs team on both sides of the divide are going to have their work cut out for them next week. I just hope we’ve all recovered by then!
Rating: ★★★★ Very good
Harry Wells: “Hang on a little bit longer because I’m coming to get you, and this time, I’m not coming alone.”
Barry: “I’m not trying to escape. I promise.”
Joe: “I hope you get your daughter back.” Harry: “I’ll make sure you get your son back.”
Cisco: “I got no spit.”
Cisco: “What’d you do? What’s wrong with you? Have you become an evil you?”
Tonight’s Easter eggs: The Justice Society of America (“A Free & Just Society”) seal at the police headquarters (I think), anniversary tickets to Atlantis (?!), and probably a lot more that I missed.
Deathstorm: “What’d I tell you about watching your behind?” Killer Frost: “I thought that was your job.”
Killer Frost: “It’s a good thing the only man I can kiss is the only man I want to.”
Killer Frost: “You know my favorite thing is to kill people from other Earths.” Deathstorm: “Today’s your lucky day.”
I may have laughed out loud at Cisco calling out Elon Musk’s RBF, ie resting bitch face, if I heard that right.
Jay: “I like the way you look at me, with warmth and pride.”
Killer Frost: “God, this is making me so hot.”
Cisco: “So Caitlin and Ronnie’s doppelgangers are evil? Cool names though.”
So anyone else wondering where they stashed Earth-2 Barry this whole time?
Joe: “Are you hurt?” Jay: “Just my pride … and my body. My pride and my body.”
Velocity-6 was temporary, Velocity-7 was buggy, Caitlin’s working on Velocity-8 … not too long until we hit Velocity-9, and then things could get crazy.
Zoom: “It’s not wise to make promises you can’t keep. Look around. This is the last place you’ll ever see.”