The Flash S02E13 “Welcome To Earth-2” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on: Sky 1, Tuesdays, 8pm
Writers: Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg (story), Katherine Walczak (teleplay)
Director: Millicent Shelton
Essential Plot Points:
- Barry races around Central City closing all the breaches except the one at STAR Labs.
- Barry, Cisco and Wells go through the breach to Earth-2 witnessing lots of Easter eggs on the journey.
- The breach collapsed behind them. Can Jay fix it in time for them to return?
- Arriving in Instagram Filter World’s Central City Team Flash starts searching for Zoom.
- This is complicated when it turns out that Cisco’s vibing powers don’t work in this world.
- Barry swaps places with his Earth-2 doppelganger (who doesn’t have much say in the matter) so he can infiltrate the police department and find clues to Zoom’s whereabouts.
- In this parallel life he is married to Iris who’s a cop. Joe is a singer, who loathes Barry. Barry’s mum is still alive. Captain Singh is a criminal. Deadshot is a rotten shot who somehow joined the police force.
- Oh yeah, and Caitlin is a supervillain known as Killer Frost, whose lover – and partner in crime – is a dark version of Firestorm (Ronnie Raymond brand) called Deathstorm.
- Killer Frost and Deathstorm receive orders to find the breacher Flash and bring him unharmed to Zoom.
- In the ensuing fight, Joe-2 is killed. Iris-2 is not happy about this. She wants to say to say to Deathstorm, “Iris-2 for the murder of Joseph West.” Iris-2? I arrest you? Geddit? Oh, never mind… We’re ruining a dramatic moment.
- Iris’s contacts give her a tip-off about where to find Killer Frost and Deathstorm.
- She takes a team there that includes Cisco who has created a weapon that can neutralise Killer Frost’s powers. Barry shies off, but really he’ll be lurking in the shadows ready to pounce as the Flash!
- In the big face-off a Cisco doppelgänger calling himself Reverb reveals himself; he also works for Zoom. He’s an evil version of Vibe with much, much greater powers. He tempts Cisco to join him and develop his own powers so that together they can overthrow Zoom.
- Cisco calls the Flash for help. Barry rushes in and there’s a big fight. Barry is pummelled by Reverb and Deathstorm.
- Zoom arrives and is not happy. He needs Barry alive. He kills Reverb and Deathstorm but spares the distraught Killer Frost. Then he runs off with the unconscious Barry.
- On Earth-1 a new metahuman called the Geomancer is challenging the Flash to a fight.
- Joe urges Jay to take Velocity-6. Jay is reluctant because he used to be addicted to the stuff – which he created – on Earth-2. It was this that robbed him of his speed, not Zoom.
- Caitlin creates an improved Velocity 7.
- Unfortunately it’s not improved enough. It works for a while but then Jay loses his powers. He only survives Geomancer’s attack when Jay shoots at the evil metahuman, who then runs off.
- To be continued…
If nothing else, “Welcome To Earth-2” must have broken the record for most Easter eggs in a single episode of TV. And why not? The Flash has always unashamedly been a show that has geeky fun with in-jokes and juggling the tropes of the superhero genre. Plus parallel world episodes are always an excuse for self-referential lunacy. Put the two together and you were always going to get 45 minutes where the entertainment was in the crazy incidental details rather than the plot.
This is a two-parter as well, which does give the show a licence to play in this new ballpark, leaving the nitty gritty of getting to the point to next week. So we get Barry briefly living a beautiful yet cruelly ephemeral dream in which his mother still lives and he’s married his soul mate (the fact that his father-in-law hates him is a small price to pay). We get inverted versions of known characters parading across the screen like a perverse cosplay masquerade in a hall of mirrors. We get references to Supergirl, to DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow and even to the Legion Of Super-Heroes. There are quotes from 2001: A Space Odyssey and Jaws. Cisco gets a glimpse of what a super-Cisco might be like. Jay does something fun with his helmet. Barry does something fun with Jay’s helmet too. Zoom randomly kills a few people.
Somewhere inside all this is a plot struggling to remain cohesive. It gives up completely by the time the episode needs a final showdown between the heroes and villains and resorts to setting it up with one line from Iris about a tip from a source. Normally you’d complain this was lazy writing. Here it’s a forgivable piece of scripting shorthand. A better explanation could have been found but at a cost to how many seconds of crazy fun?
Occasionally the whistlestop exposition does show the strain. Jay’s big speech about his addiction falls flat because it feels so rushed and Geomancer is even more sketchy than the usual villains-of-the-week. Joe-2’s death bed scene, though, has the opposite problem; it goes on far too long for a character whom we know isn’t the real Joe. Unlike Barry’s phone conversation with his mum – which is so emotional because it’s so understated – Joe-2’s death tries too hard to make an impact.
So yeah, if you want to be picky you could pick away at “Welcome To Earth-2” mercilessly. But why bother? Embrace the fun. See the wonderfully wacky wood not the trees. Because with Barry now Zoom’s prisoner we’re guessing next week might be a lot darker.
- Lots of fun with all the usual doppelgänger tropes.
- All the Easter eggs and in-jokes (see below)!
- Killer Frost and Detective West are both brilliant twists the Earth-1 characters. Danielle Panabaker and Candice Patton look they’re having a whale of a time. Hopefully this two-parter won’t be the last we see of them (presuming neither of them die next week).
- Barry’s phone call to his “mum” is such a wonderfully sweet moment. Oddly, it feels like it’s much more effective by not having her there in the room with him. It emphasises the yawning gap between the reality and unreality of the moment.
- Cisco having a glimpse of his potential power… but still refusing to be “Cloud City Vadered”.
- Barry using the helmet from the statue of Jay as weapon (shame he didn’t know about Jay uses his helmet in battle).
- Zoom swooping in and casually killing Reverb (in the same way Reverse-Flash killed Cisco) and Deathstorm just to prove how bad-ass he is.
- Honestly, what was the point in Wally’s cameo? Was it contractual?
- When Iris’s metahuman detecting watch goes off when Barry’s around she dismisses it as malfunctioning. Fair enough. But how come he didn’t set off anybody’s else’s detector? There were dozens at Jitterbugs.
- Come on, guys, a wee bit over the top in this pic here.
- Was Robbie Amell always such a plank of wood as Firestorm/Deathstorm? Danielle Panabaker, normally not the greatest actor on the show, totally embraces Killer Frost, but Amell looks thoroughly bored throughout.
- Aside from the main characters, too many of the alt-characters are simple opposites of their regular characters. It’s more fun when the writers subtly twist them rather than have good guys going evil and vice versa.
- Jay’s revelation that he lost his powers through Velocity 6 addiction feels like a major revelation that gets a little bit lost in the mix here. Also, Caitlin seems to formulate Velocity 7 in unbelievably quick time.
And The Random:
- Right, before we get to the zillions of Easter eggs we just have to ask, has Joe sat on a whoopee cushion in this scene?
- The journey to Earth-2 was chock full of Easter eggs, some of which also served as teasers.
- The most interesting one is this glimpse of Supergirl. We all know now that a Flash/Supergirl crossover is happening and that in the episode it will be explained that Barry and Kara are from different parallel worlds (which will handily write off any number of potential continuity problems). So this glimpse of Supergirl here tidily sets up the excuse for the crossover.
- Oooh, a Legion of Super-Heroes flight ring! DC Entertainment CCO Geoff Johns recently teased that there will be some kind of reference to DC Comics’ 30th century superhero team the Legion Of Super-Heroes in a DC TV show (see here). Presumably this is it? But since many of the other Easter eggs during this trip are also teases, are there plans for more to come from DC’s superteam of the future?
- Hah! We like this one. Now the old 1990 series of The Flash has been retconned into the new series’ continuity. So that means there’s a parallel universe where Barry look exactly like his dad!
- Over there on the left is a brief glimpse of Jonah Hex, who’ll be appearing on an upcoming episode of DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow.
- That’s a hint of Grodd, presumably lording over his own planet of the apes.
- And there’s Green Arrow! But it doesn’t look like Oliver Queen. Without spoiling things, we reckon this is another shout out to another upcoming episode of DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow.
- Barry-2 has “Bruce”, “Hal” and “Diana” on speed dial, but the producers have confirmed this is just an in-joke and he hasn’t got a hotline to Mr Wayne, Mr Jordan and Ms Prince.
- Barry has bought his parents tickets to Atlantis. Jay mentioned that Atlantis was still around back in episode 2.05 “The Darkness And The Light”. He has a friend there, apparently.
- Barry-2 wears a bow tie, a piece of neck furniture that defined the comic book Flash’s alter ego for many, many years.
- “A free and just society” is the motto of the Central City Police Department on Earth-2, which is also the world that the Justice Society of America comes from in the comics. It’s a nice parallel to the mural Earth-1’s Central City Police Department which references the Justice League.
- Jesse L Martin has appeared in musicals, most notably Rent, which is probably why the show gave his this opportunity to let loose with his voice.
- Did you spot the name of the mayor in this version of Central City? Snart. As in Leonard Snart presumably.
- The fact that Cisco is seen munching on liquorice sticks in an episode set in a parallel universe has to be a reference to Fringe’s Walter Bishop, surely?
- In case you don’t watch Arrow, the cop who can’t shoot is the Earth-2 version of Floyd Lawton, the alter ego of Deadshot in The Flash’s sister show.
- Jay’s attack move where he uses his helmet to generate a concentrated sonic attack may be new to Joe but he has used it in the comics.
- Cisco really needs an “OH MY GOD THEY KILLED CISCO!” T-shirt printed up.
Review by Dave Golder