(Editor’s Note: Please give a warm welcome to Kayti Burt, who is our new Flash recapper! But have no fear, Dave is still with us on Earth-1 and will continue to recap Arrow and The Walking Dead).
From the first seconds, “Escape From Earth-2” had a sense of stake and urgency that The Flash has demonstrated itself adept at providing since mid-Season 1. Frankly, this superhero show makes imbuing midseason filler episodes with stakes look easy. And, as most other 22-episode-ish network TV shows are currently demonstrating, it very much isn’t.
Much of The Flash’s intense sense of urgency has to do with its continued effectiveness when it comes to its supervillain, as well as the graceful extension of scope the show has managed to pull off with its expansion into Earth-2. For most shows, this two-parter would have at least been a midseason finale, but for The Flash, it is just another episode — albeit a really, really good one filled with the exploration of Earth-2 doppelgangers, Barry/Jesse bonding, and enough chilling Zoom moments to fuel your nightmares until he makes his inevitable return.
For now, though, we’ll have to pass the time speculating on the allegiance of the potentially-dead Jay Garrick …
Is Jay Garrick really dead?
A sense of stakes is nothing without a consequence. Any good TV drama knows that if you continue to let your heroes take chances and never fail, the audience will stop feeling that dramatic tension. They will assume that everything will be OK, that all formulas will play out in the same predictable manner, and that only the deserved will suffer. The Flash has never made that mistake. It has killed heroes. So, the price for traveling the multiverse and foiling Zoom’s plans? Jay’s life.
Or so it seems. A speedster’s arm through the chest usually does the trick (amirite, Cisco?), so it doesn’t seem like there is much chance Jay may have made it — but I’ll wait until I see the body. It seems unnecessarily cruel to kill off another of Caitlin’s love interests. (And to add the line: “Cait, I have to try.” Way harsh.) But, given that the mysterious prisoner in Zoom’s other cell tapped Jay’s name out to Barry and Jesse, there could be more to Jay’s disappearance than meets the eye.
Could the mysterious prisoner somehow be Jay? (We know that time travel is possible, of course). Is there any way that Jay could have survived the arm-through-the-heart? (He is a speedster, and had the untested Velocity-9 in his system.) Or is the mystery man some kind of soothsayer, trying to warn Barry of Jay’s impending doom?
Another big question revolved around Jay’s allegiances. There was the occasional hint in this episode that Jay could potentially be working with Zoom. Could he be this season’s Harrison Wells? Whatever the answer, tonight’s episode presented an intriguing alternate world for The Flash to draw on in future episodes. For the immediate future, we’ll have to make due with another visit from King Shark. Not a bad compromise…
Harry and Jesse join Earth-1’s population.
Well, at least we don’t have to say goodbye to Harry. In fact, we may be privy to a whole new side to the curmudgeonly billionaire scientist now that he has his daughter back. (Just kidding — Harry will always be grumpy). Though Jesse seemed overjoyed to be rescued from Zoom’s clutches — and who wouldn’t be? — she seemed less taken with the idea that she would have to relocate to Earth-1. Something tells me there is a boyfriend, particularly close mother, or adorable puppy somewhere on Earth-2 that is going to cause some Jessie Tries To Escape Back to Earth-2 shenanigans.
Regardless, it was incredibly gratifying to see Harry and his daughter be reunited after all of this time — as well as Jessie’s understandable doubts. Kudos to director J.J. Makaro (also stunt coordinator on Arrow) for those reaction shots of Cisco and Barry. They know how far Harry was willing to go for his daughter (“Every decision that he’s made, every action that he’s taken since we’ve met, it’s been to save you.”), and they were the perfect in-world audience surrogates for this moment.
What will happen to Killer Frost?
Killer Frost is far too awesome a character for this to be the last we see of her. Presumably, Zoom will be incredibly angry that she sabotaged his master plan, but will he kill her? I doubt it, though she may wish death as an alternative to whatever Zoom probably has in store for her.
Comparing Earth-2 characters to their counterparts in Earth-1 may be a fool’s game, but it is a fun one to play — and paid off for Cisco regarding his encouragement of Caitlin. Cisco’s faith in Killer Frost’s love reminded me just how little we’ve gotten of the Caitlin/Cisco dynamic in Season 2. When we first met these two characters, it was clear that they are best friends. They do everything together. As the show has evolved and expanded, it has understandably spent time developing other, newer dynamics, but I’d love to see more time spent on the Caitlin/Cisco friendship as we move towards the end of the season. Perhaps Jay’s apparent death might prompt some Cisco/Caitlin hang out time?
After all, we did get this rather ominous line from Cisco to Killer Frost: “I know the Caitlin Snow on my Earth. I know that when she loves someone, that person is her world.” Awkward.
Grant Gustin’s Earth-2 Barry is the comedic element we need.
The Flash has always had its share of glorious, light-hearted camp, but in an epic two-part story that felt much more urgent than a metahuman-of-the-week installment, Earth-2 Barry gave even the most dire of situations a delightful twist. Grant Gustin knows how to do physical comedy, and is given ample chances to demonstrate that here as the clumsy, bowtied Bartholomew. Earth-2 Barry is like an overgrown boy, all knees and elbows. But his gawkiness isn’t unfamiliar. It is the same over-kineticism that we see in our Barry, which is what makes this character work so well.
It also helps that Earth-2 Barry has the same loyalty to his loved ones (especially Iris) as our Barry does. First, he commits to helping the team go after Zoom because the supervillain killed his father-in-law — the one he didn’t particularly like. Then, when faced with climbing an ice tower up Ascension Cliffs, Earth-2 Barry did it — for Iris. (“You are my wife. I’m not leaving your side.”) Hopefully, this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Earth-2 Barry and Iris, and it will be fascinating to see how Barry’s observation of them — not to mention those romantic moments he shared with Earth-2’s Iris — will affect his relationship with his Iris.
Earth-1 is left to deal with Geomancer.
With so much else going down in this episode, it was easy to forget that there was a whole metahuman storyline going down on Earth-1. (One with terrible villain motivation: “I like to watch heroes fall… and never get back up.” Way lame, Geomancer). With Harry, Barry, and Cisco on an Earth-2 field trip, STAR Labs felt uncomfortably empty — but it was great to see Iris and Caitlin hang out. Not to mention save the day. I’m not sure what Jay was up to when Geomancer broke into STAR Labs (can one really nap through an earthquake? — seems potentially suspicious), but he was superfluous. Caitlin and Iris can be their own heroes.
In other news, Iris has a new, snarky boss. Points for calling Iris’ piece on Jay saving Geomancer a “fluff piece” (because what else could her pieces be when her reporting involves watching Jay stumble back from saving the day and saying something heroic?) No points for just going to vilifying The Flash for not being there. There is nuance between hero and anti-hero, Scott Evans. (Though, admittedly, not always in the comic book world. Carry on, baseball hater.)
Rating: ★★★★ Very good
— It’s been four months since Harry left Earth-2. Has Jessie been wearing the same outfit that entire time? Talk about cruel and unusual punishment. Someone get her a change of clothes.
— Cisco’s description of Earth-2 Cisco: “Super evil guy. Super evil powers.”
— Cisco: “I’ve seen Heat like 50 times. I know how to shake a tail.”
— Cisco: “You have a time vault?”
— Harry: “Yeah, I’m an enemy of Zoom and I need a palace to hide when something like this happens.”
— Zoom knows how to deliver a threat: “Believe what you want, but the only reason you’re still alive is so I can kill you in front of your father.”
— The Barry and Jesse stuff was really great. For an episode filled with faces we knew well — even if they were attached to characters we didn’t – it was fun to spend time with a character who is mostly an unknown. I’m excited to see how Jesse integrates (or not) into Team Flash.
— Scott Evans, Iris’ new boss: “I don’t know how this is possible, but you somehow made basketball sound more boring than baseball.”
— Patty Spivot is a CSI on Earth-2. That’s nice.
— Barry-2 on his favorite show, Commander Carl: Space Martian: “Oh, it’s a seminal episode, you should check it out.”
— Caitlin on Velocity-9: “You know what they say? Ninth time’s the charm.” Anyone else waiting for Velocity-9 to bring Jay back from the dead or something? # Zombie!Jay
— Killer Frost: “You really don’t know how to use your abilities, do you, Breacher?”
— Cisco, closet Frozen fan: “It’s a work in progress, Elsa.”
— Earth-2 Barry: “Her name starts with Killer. This comes as a shock to you?”
— Earth-2 Barry: “I’m wearing wingtips here. They don’t have much tread.”
— Was anyone else kind of hoping Team Flash would have to leave Barry in Zoom’s prison. Sure, it would have been sad, but it would have been epic. It also would have ruined The Flash’s Flash-fights-a-metahuman-of-the-week formula that it still somewhat relies upon. But I would watch a whole episode with a subplot involving Barry and the Mysterious Prisoner tapping messages to one another while Zoom plays some pointed versions of Hangman.
— “I’m just Barry Allen. You’re The Flash.” Barry gives Barry a pep talk. This show shouldn’t work — but it so, so does.
— Iris: “Nice shot.”
Caitlin: “I was aiming for his leg.”
— Barry: “I can’t get out of this cell. I’ve tried. A lot.”
— Cisco to Killer Frost: “Just so you know, you would be very disappointed in you right now.”
— “Give him a hug for me, will you? “Still not over Earth-2 Joe’s death.
— This show loves mentioned Earth-2’s Atlantis, huh? I’ll let it slide because I love it, too.
— Zoom is still one of the best villains on TV right now. I thought that, the more we saw him, the less impactful he’d become. But between scrawling the “Bring Me Wells” message all over Central City, hunting Harry & co. in the time vault, and beating up Barry (again), he is just as scary as ever.