NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “The Flash” are present in this review
The Flash kicked off its two-part Earth-Two event this week, with, “Welcome to Earth-Two”, which could be a contender for one of the best episodes in this show’s entire history. Everything about this episode was sublime, representing a bold step forward for the series, and giving us a shocking new look at the kind of personalities that our established leads could have been, in another life.
Of course, before that, we get another dip into the schism of the DC Television Multiverse, as Barry takes Cisco and Wells through the Speed Cannon that launches them into Earth-Two, where they have 48 hours to locate Zoom’s lair, rescue Jesse, and return to Earth-One, closing the final breach between the two worlds for good. Here, we get a Season One finale-style peek at a bunch of cool teases for things of the past and future of DC on television, including visions of John Wesley Shipp’s former Flash from the 1990 The Flash series, peeks at an older Green Arrow and Jonah Hex that are set to come to The Flash’s sibling series, Legends of Tomorrow later this season, and most exciting of all, a cameo by Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl, flying through National City! Supergirl’s appearance in the schism seems to confirm speculation that CBS’ Supergirl series takes place in a parallel universe to Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow on The CW, and obviously foreshadows The Flash’s confirmed guest appearance on Supergirl at the end of March, which is very cool.
When the trio arrives on Earth-Two, audiences are immediately treated to a very cool vision of the parallel universe. Exceptionally tapping into the Golden Age of DC Comics’ history, where Jay Garrick’s Flash debuted back in the 40’s, Earth-Two seems to function as a retro-chic golden-tinted future, with Central City being a utopia of scientific advancement and ingenuity, where S.T.A.R. Labs is a world leader in research, and rustic technology like vintage cars and rotary phones are still commonplace. C.C. Jitters is even a classy jazz bar called Jitterbugs, while Earth-One villains like Captain Cold and Deadshot are actually upstanding, law-abiding citizens! A non-Captain Cold version of Leonard Snart happens to be the mayor of Central City on Earth-Two, while a very non-Deadshot version of Floyd Lawton is a detective for the CCPD, and happens to be the partner of the Earth-Two Iris West, who is actually the best detective in the city!
The way that the series plays with alternate, sometimes trippy reinventions of the show’s personalities is very appealing, particularly in the case of Deadshot (even if he is technically an Arrow personality in this case), who is a comically crappy shot on Earth-Two, and makes a welcome return, despite Warner Bros. seeming to want to bury the Suicide Squad-themed personalities in The CW’s DC Television Universe, due to the release of the Suicide Squad movie in August. It’s too bad that we don’t get to see Mayor Snart in the flesh actually, considering the idea that the Captain Cold version of Snart from Earth-One was directly told by Rip Hunter that his life is largely meaningless in Legends of Tomorrow. An interaction between the Earth-One and Earth-Two Snart would no doubt be amazing, but alas, that’s probably pie in the sky.
Of course, with the good character re-inventions comes the bad ones for Barry and co. to discover, which Barry begins to encounter as he disguises himself as his Earth-Two doppelganger, an extra geeky, mousy and arrogant version of himself, complete with goofy bow tie and glasses. This version of Barry is married to Iris, though Joe now despises him, and apparently Barry despises Joe right back. That’s the least of Barry’s problems however, as he ends up in the crosshairs of the Earth-Two Caitlin Snow and Ronnie Raymond, who are hunting the illegal breachers on Earth-Two at Zoom’s behest. Yes, at long last, we get to see Caitlin’s transformation into her villainous DC Comics identity, Killer Frost in this episode (even if it is her Earth-Two doppelganger), while Ronnie also operates as an evil version of Firestorm called ‘Deathstorm’ on Earth-Two, albeit one without the Black Lantern affiliation that Deathstorm has in DC Comics lore.
Naturally, Barry gets thrown for a loop by the appearance of Caitlin and Ronnie’s evil doppelgangers, while Cisco and Wells desperately try to fix Cisco’s Vibe goggles, which need to be re-calibrated for Earth-Two’s altered vibration frequency, so that they can track down Zoom’s lair and find Jesse. The conflict of Barry inevitably getting involved in matters of Earth-Two is portrayed extremely well, particularly as we see things like Barry get emotionally impacted by the parallel Joe being gravely injured by Killer Frost and Deathstorm, and eventually dying from his injuries, as well as having a tearful phone call with his dead mother’s doppelganger, who is alive and well with Barry’s father on Earth-Two. The way that Barry gets enticed by the ‘what if?’ scenarios, naturally taking to the missed opportunities and better results that are given life on Earth-Two, is something that perfectly capitalizes on this bold change in setting. Wells’ warnings of not getting involved almost feel cold, even if they’re probably correct. Still, it’s unlikely that we would do anything different if we were in Barry’s position, perhaps being able to reunite with people we’ve lost, or have great experiences that we’re now ineligible for in our own lives.
Naturally though, Zoom eventually catches up with the team, after Barry and Cisco talk the Earth-Two Iris and Lawton into finding Killer Frost and Deathstorm, with the two actually answering to Cisco’s Earth-Two doppelganger, Reverb. Reverb is an especially powerful, frequency-manipulating bruiser, and both he and Deathstorm easily take down Barry in full Flash gear, before Zoom rushes in and ‘reprimands’ them for going against his orders of not harming a speedster. By ‘reprimand’, I naturally mean, ripping out their internal organs and killing them, with Zoom sparing Killer Frost, since she was the only one who followed orders. It’s too bad that we didn’t get to see more of Reverb attempting to tempt Cisco with greater power beyond his one ‘vibing’ trick so far, especially since it’s a nice tease of Cisco better embracing his DC Comics identity as Vibe more directly down the line. Regardless, the episode ends with Barry captured by Zoom, leading into the second part of the Earth-Two story next week, by having Barry in a fantastically unsettling position, despite being mere inches away from Jesse!
As superb as the Earth-Two material was, we also got a strong storyline back on Earth-One to further tie together the episode. A new metahuman named Adam Fells, a.k.a. Geomancer, another C-list DC Comics baddie, starts terrorizing Central City, trying to provoke The Flash. Since Barry is stuck on Earth-Two for the time being, Caitlin and Jay try to use the experimental Velocity-6 drug to give Jay artificial speed, with Jay’s abuse of the drug coming out as what’s actually killing him, not the apparent loss of his speed at the hands of Zoom. Seeing Jay in full Flash gear was pretty satisfying, even if the drug quickly wore off, leading to Detective West having to shoot Geomancer a couple of times and scare him off (he’s heavily armoured), and leaving Caitlin and Jay with the Geomancer problem, right as they have a very limited time to rebuild the Speed Cannon so that Barry, Wells and Cisco can eventually return to Earth-One.
Obviously, this episode couldn’t have concluded better, as it perfectly lays the groundwork for an exciting and tense conclusion to the two-part Earth-Two event. All in all, the episode pretty much did everything nigh on flawlessly. One could nitpick about the quick death of Deathstorm and Reverb for example, but ultimately, it really doesn’t matter, given how fun, exciting and clever that this episode was! The change in setting was far more than a cosmetic shift, and nicely upped the stakes and scale of the show beautifully, as Barry embraced a whole new set of potential directions that his life could have moved in, had he never become The Flash. This episode will prove to be a very tough act to follow next week, but here’s hoping that the conclusion to the Earth-Two trip can be just as excellent as its kick-off!
- Fun easter eggs galore (especially Supergirl!)
- Barry's undercover trip through Earth-Two
- Jay's dark Flash secret coming to light