Caitlin is evil! Barry is married! And Joe can sing! Earth-2 is full of surprises — and death.
The Flash decided to slow things down this week, with a small, low-key episode of little consequence to the overarching plotline.
Or at least, that would have been the episode of The Flash that aired in Earth-2, because our Earth’s “Welcome to Earth-2” delivers such a jam-packed episode of Easter eggs, role reversals, and enough repercussions to affect not just the CW-verse of DC shows but indicate just how a certain superpowered girl on CBS could factor into things.
It all starts with Barry, Cisco, and Harry taking a trip to Harry’s world after they decided to travel to Earth-2 in “Fast Lane,” bringing the fight to Zoom. The interdimensional ride over comes with a host of little nods to the multiverse, including John Wesley Shipp as The Flash from his original live-action series, a character that looked like a certain emerald archer, and Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) on CBS’ Supergirl. It seems the word of her crossover with The Flash came not an episode too soon.
But the trio makes it out to the other side, a dazzling world mixing retro Americana and futuristic, advanced technology unlike anything Barry and Cisco have on Earth-1. Barry and Cisco are initially delighted by their new surroundings, taking in all of its eccentricities and unique attributes, but Harry reminds them they’re not there to see the sights.
They’re on a mission, but the first sign this mission will not be an ordinary one is when they meet the doppelganger of their world’s Henry Hewitt, a.k.a. Tokamak. Here, he and Harry are friends, forcing Barry and Cisco to have to reorient their approach this world.
But the problem of seeing double only continues once they make it to S.T.A.R. Labs. On TV, they see Earth-2’s version of Barry Allen, bowtie and nervous demeanor immediately setting him apart from the Barry watching him in the lab. The speedster Barry goes to grab his Earth-2 counterpart, bringing him to the lab, only to electroshock him until he passes out.
Barry assumes the identity of this world’s Barry, heading over to CCPD, where he expects to see Joe West on the job. But the makeup of this police department is quite different, including Earth-1’s captain being brought in as a criminal. Here, it’s not Joe who’s the officer; it’s Iris, much to Barry’s surprise. And her captain? Why Earth-2’s version of Deadshot, Floyd Lawton, of course. (Here, he’s got some rough aim.)
Barry is met with another surprise when Earth-2’s Iris pulls him aside and starts making out with him in a hallway. Confused, she explains to him (and to the audience) that there’s nothing wrong with a wife kissing her husband. Yes, Barry and Iris are married on this Earth, and they even head to their home, which is Joe’s on Earth-1.
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The hits keep coming for Earth-1’s Barry as Iris informs him his mother called for him earlier. And Barry has the opportunity he likely never imagined he would have again: He speaks with his mother. They share a phone call in which Barry can barely keep himself together. He’s just so happy to know she, too, is happy, even if it has to be another universe in which she lives out the life he’d want for her. It’s another beautifully acted scene by Grant Gustin, who from early in season 1 has proved mightily adept at tackling Barry’s grief, hope, and the many other emotions swirling around in regard to his mother and her death.
After the brief pit stop at home, Iris and Barry head out to Jitterbugs, the jazz club version of Earth-1’s Jitters, where Joe West so happens to be a musician in residence. This Joe, however, can’t stand Barry, a far cry from their usual relationship, but before Barry can dive into this Allen-West family anger, two new but old baddies arrive on the scene. Caitlin and Ronnie, as Killer Frost and Deathstorm, respectively, start wreaking havoc in Jitterbugs.
Looking for a “breacher,” someone who doesn’t quite belong to their world, Caitlin notices Barry trying to stop Iris from launching into cop mode, but she does, allowing the other patrons to flee. Deathstorm and Frost don’t mess around, though, knocking out Joe, whose side Iris rushes to. While she’s momentarily distracted, Barry grabs Frost and speeds her away so they can fight on new turf.
Excited to have found a speedster, they attack, but Barry finds some help in Jay Garrick…well, a statue of him anyway. Grabbing the hat off a statue of Jay, Barry uses it to deflect Deathstorm’s fireballs and injure Frost, causing the loving duo to flee.
NEXT: Deaths, doppelgangers, and Zoom
Joe ends up in the hospital, and Barry’s good nature kicks into gear. He wants to help this Iris and Joe like they’re his Iris and Joe. Harry attempts to disabuse him of this notion, but Barry refuses to abandon them. His world or not, they’re still some form of his family, and he’s going to do what he can to help them.
In doing so, though, Barry is in the hospital with Joe as he dies, asking the man he thinks to be his daughter’s husband to keep her safe (as if this Barry needed any further motivation).
And while Barry is dealing with the death of a West, Cisco, Iris, and Lawton are on the hunt out in the field. They encounter Frost, Deathstorm, and their boss, who is essentially the middleman between them and Zoom.
That middle management metahuman is a guy named Reverb…who happens to be Earth-2’s Cisco. (Naturally, Cisco thinks he could have done at least a little better with the name and the samurai hairdo he’s sporting.)
Reverb is a wily one, promising Cisco he can help him learn to truly harness his powers, to rule Central City, to become a god. They could be gods together, he posits, showcasing a bit of his might, and the true fear he instills in someone like Killer Frost, in the hopes of convincing Cisco. (Unfortunately, his showcase comes at the expense of Lawton, who unloads a clip on Reverb, only to miss every single time. Deadshot, he most certainly is not.)
But Cisco is too firmly on the side of good to be swayed by such temptation. He instead calls out for Barry to help them, and the speedster zooms in to save Iris and Cisco, but Barry is only one man. He’s eventually hit in battle, as Deathstorm and Reverb lay into him with a flurry of blasts. Frost yells for them to stop, saying Zoom wanted any speedster they found unharmed, and they soon learn how right she is.
The Earth-2 Big Bad finally shows up, and Zoom isn’t afraid to dispose of workers who aren’t quite up to snuff. He kills Deathstorm and Reverb, letting Frost off with a warning since she understood where in the hierarchy she fell.
Zoom appeared to do more than clean up his ranks, though, as he grabs the unconscious Barry and whisks him away to the villain’s lair. There, he spots Harry’s daughter Jesse and a man with a mask banging on the wall of his cage. Zoom taunts his new capture, promising this will be the last room Barry ever lays his eyes on.
But Barry may be trapped in more ways than he knows. Back on Earth-1, Caitlin, Joe, and Jay come to the realization that unless they fix the transporter, Barry, Harry, and Cisco may be stuck on Earth-2.
Without Barry around, though, Earth-1 presents another set of problems, including a metahuman, Geomancer, terrorizing the town with abandon now that no Flash is around to stop him.
Luckily, Jay is still on Earth-1, and with some goading from Caitlin, he leaps into action, though not before some hard truths are revealed. Jay admits to lying about Zoom. The baddie didn’t steal his speed; it was the Velocity 6 that Harry developed that harmed him. The serum is the cause of his deteriorating health, a byproduct of his hubris and desire to gain more speed on Earth-2.
Caitlin is willing to forgive him (though if he’s lying about this, could Jay have some more secrets yet to be revealed?) and even fashions a new line of the serum. It restores his speed…for a time.
Jay faces Geomancer by using a neat vibrating wave trick with his helmet that even impresses Joe, but he loses a grasp on his speed mid-dash, collapsing in his foe’s path. Jay luckily survives the ordeal, but that leaves him and Caitlin with figuring out how to save Barry, Cisco, and Harry. And they’ve only got 24 hours to do so.
What did you think of the first half of this Earth-2 two-parter? Rather than run down all the Easter eggs and series nods here, I thought I’d leave that to the convenient list EW already has up, but sound off on your favorites below or let me know on Twitter @jmdornbush.
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