The Flash S02E14 “Escape From Earth-2” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on: Sky 1, Tuesdays, 8pm
Writers: Todd Helbing, Aaron Helbing (story), David Kob (teleplay)
Director: JJ Makaro
Essential Plot Points:
- ON EARTH-2…
- Zoom is leafletting Central City encouraging people to bring him Wells.
- Wells and Cisco prepare to flee STAR Labs when they remember they left Barry-2 tied up. They free him.
- Barry-2, Wells and Cisco make it to the CCPD where Barry-2 tells Iris-2 that she snogged an imposter last episode.
- Iris-2 believe this whole multiworlds shtick quite readily.
- Team Flash-2 decides to track down Killer Frost because she’ll know where Zoom’s lair is.
- They do this using a plot device. It’s literally a device that Barry’s invented that shortcuts a whole load of plot and pinpoints where Killer Frost can be found in the woods… (quite why she likes hanging about amongst the ferns is never quite made clear).
- After some quibbling she leads them to Zoom’s lair and helps them inside.
- There they find Barry, Jesse and the Man In The Iron Mask.
- Barry and Jesse have spent the episode so far giving each other pep talks and trying break the Man In The Iron Mask’s tapping code.
- The managed to get as far as “Jay Garrick” (they don’t understand why he’s telling them that) before Zoom came in and slapped Barry about a bit.
- Zoom, y’see, can phase through the walls of Barry’s cell but Barry can’t. Barry’s not… – can you guess? Yep, that’s right – fast enough.
- Anyway, when Team Flash-2 arrives at the lair Zoom is handily off leafletting again. Or something.
- They free Jesse with Killer Frost’s reluctant help.
- Barry-2 then gives Barry a stirring pep talk that hypes him up enough to phase out of his cell.
- Nobody, oddly, makes a “talking to yourself” gag. This is The Flash – the show that never lets an obvious gag get away. Yet it does this time. It’s clearly too busy recycling all the Mr Freeze gags from Batman And Robin.
- Before they can free the Man In The Iron Mask, Zoom returns. There’s a fight but Killer Frost attacks Zoom to let Team Flash-2.02 escape.
- ON EARTH-1
- Iris’s new editor wants her to write “Trash The Flash” articles. Iris is not happy.
- Caitlin develops Velocity 9 just in time for Jay to save some people from a disaster caused by the Geomancer.
- This leaves the poor thing so knackered, he naps through the Geomancer’s later attack on STAR Labs.
- Luckily Caitlin defeats him with a gizmo. STAR Labs is full of handy gizmos. Smart villains should steer clear.
- Jay wakes up in time to repair some damage to the breach. With Joe’s help they fix the breach in the nick of time.
- Wells, Jesse, Barry and Cisco leap through the breach then Jay closes it…
- But as it closes, Zoom’s arm appears through the breach, vibrates through Jay’s chest (presumably killing him) and yanks his body back to Earth-2.
So, having had fun with all the parallel world doppelgänger tropes last week, this Earth-2 two-parter can settle down and get on with the plot this week, yes? Well, it could if there was much of a plot to get on with. While “Escape From Earth-2” is jam-packed with enjoyable moments and entertaining set pieces they never quite cohere into the gobsmacking epic you want. It does, however, have a sting in its tail – or rapidly-vibrating hand – that will be difficult to forget.
The Earth-2 plot is basically “rescue Barry and Jesse”, which involves going down the woods to find a local guide to help find and scale Mount Zoom. That guide is Killer Frost who pays lip service to being surly but is quickly won round when Cisco promises to stop using all the “cold” gags that Leonard Snark hasn’t copyrighted already. Um, hang on – actually it can’t be that. Cisco’s still doing the “cold-hearted” shtick well into the rescue attempt. Oh yeah, they point out that Zoom killed Ronnie and he’ll probably kill her too. So, putting on her bestest blue pout she leads them to the unscalable cliff at the top of which Zoom lives. And guess who has just the right powers to make it easily scalable? Yep, Killer Frost. This isn’t exactly challenging our heroes. The biggest problem facing them is the lack of grip on Barry-2’s wing tips. And not murdering Cisco for another “cold hard truth” gag.
Barry and Jesse, meanwhile, have been decoding the code being used by the Man In The Iron Mask when he could probably have sent them the message “Jay Garrick” quicker through a game of charades. There are some nice heart-to-hearts between Barry and Jesse but the highlight of this section is when Zoom goes postal on Barry. It’s uncomfortably brutal but just what’s needed to remind you that Zoom is a villain to be feared (as opposed to Vandal Savage on Legends Of Tomorrow who’s a gas bag buffoon). Indeed, Zoom is even scary when he’s leafletting Central City earlier in the episode, while his flaming message on the side of a building is one of those comic book visuals that The Flash does so well in reproducing on screen.
The rescue goes well, to an extent. Barry-2 gives Barry-1 one of those potentially cheesy pep talks that Joe normally has to deliver to jolt the brooding speedster into action. As usual, The Flash somehow makes these syrupy speeches sound like modern Shakespeare. Well, not quite, but it can pull off this sentimental stuff with a deft ease few action shows manage. Good actors help.
Then there’s some fine comic booky action as Zoom returns and Killer Frost sides with our heroes to distract him while they escape. The Man In The Iron Mask is left behind wondering if maybe he should have just written, “The key’s under the mat” in his own blood on the glass. Or something.
On Earth-1 Jay takes Velocity-9 so he can rescue a few people then sleep through the next crisis. You’d think, after all the fuss made about the side effects of taking Velocity, this would be the start of a whole new arc for Jay: evil-Garrick, presumably. But then he goes and gets killed, which is one hell of a twist. We can only assume that Velocity-9 will have another role to play in future episodes. But while Jay’s apparent “death” * is a shocker, it’s difficult to feel sorry for a guy who’s just slept through a supervillain attack.
Then again, that supervillain was Geomancer and he was a bit rubbish. Too forgettable to even detail why he’s forgettable, really.
There was a general listless feeling to “Escape From Earth-2”, as if it never quite worked out how to kick into gear. It did the job, efficiently, with a few moments of flair but never quite taking off. Genuinely great performances all round – even Danielle Panabaker who often looks a bit lost on the show but grasps her moment to shine here – helped a lot, and Earth-2 gags helped keep things fun. And The Flash in second gear is still streets ahead of many show on at their peak performance.
(* We don’t believe in death in comic book shows unless we see the body… and not even then.)
- Killer Frost is about a million times more interesting than Earth-1 Caitlin and doesn’t require Danielle Panabaker to unconvincingly deliver reams of technobabble.
- The scene in which Zoom slaps Barry around inside his cell is pretty strong stuff for this show. Zoom is turning into one of the greatest screen supervillains of all time, no hyperbole intended. Although the fact that seems such a big fan of leafletting kinda lets down the whole scary mojo.
- Was it supposed to be funny when the cops tell Zoom, “Do not move”?
- Although a little irritating at first, Barry-2 was adorable by the end of the episode. His pep talk to himself was a fine moment helped by some sensitive scoring from Blake Neely.
- Great cliffhanger too.
- Jay’s “heroic rescue” set piece was undermined by the fact that it looked like he saved about three people from that falling tower block. Either most of them had already vacated the building in an orderly fashion or new Picture News editor Scott Evans will be running a story about the people he didn’t save.
- Geomancer has to be the single most underwritten villain in the show’s history. It would have been nice to have been given a reason why he felt the need to challenge the Flash so much. Admittedly he struggling for room story-wise with the Earth-2 stuff but on the other hand he did have two weeks to make his mark. And failed.
- While it’s obvious that a show about a speedster should have a fixation on making its hero run ever faster, occasionally the phrase, “I/you need go faster” as the solution to all problems does become a little bit wearying. Such is the case with the way Barry has to get out of the cell here. Occasionally y0u wish there were some more lateral solutions. You even have to wonder if Barry might have a better chance of defeating Zoom if he stopped obsessing about matching his speed and tried to think of an intelligent alternative.
- Not sure about Scott Evans yet. The “editor who wants to discredit superhero” is such a tired old trope you have to hope there’s more to the character in the coming weeks.
And The Random:
- There were wanted posters in Barry-2’s lab for Killer Frost, Reverb, Doctor Light, Deathstorm and a few more we couldn’t quite make out.
- When Cisco called Killer Frost by the name Elsa, he’s referring to the character in Frozen, which, if the puzzled look on Barry-2’s face is anything to go by, was never released on Earth-2.
- However, The Princess Bride clearly was released in Earth-2 because Barry calls the climb to Zoom’s lair, “The Cliffs Of Insanity”.
- We’re still trying to work out if there’s a hidden message in braille in this room…
- In the DC comics universe Velocity-9 was created by Vandal Savage (the bad guy in Legends Of Tomorrow) in The Flash Vol 2 #12 (1988). It did create speedsters but also caused premature ageing, exhaustion, red eyes, staring, salivating and eventually death. It is on the Olympics’ list of banned drugs. Probably.
Review by Dave Golder