[Review] The Flash (2014) Episode 2×14: “Escape From Earth-2”

This week, I heartily recommend this Season Two episode, although you might find the ending a little disheartening. I’m glad we had this little heart-to-heart before getting into this recap of CW’s The Flash.


GEORGE

Welcome back to the heartwrenching conclusion to the Earth-2 storyline.

Spoilers under the cut.


…maybe I should rephrase.

When we last left our heroes, Barry was in the clutches of Zoom, all the Earth-2 doppelgängers save Killer Frost were deceased (as was Joe’s *sigh* “poppelgänger”), and Jay couldn’t keep his speed up, even with Momentum Dysfunction Tablets…er, Velocity-7.

Where the last episode was all setup, this one is the payoff, and it is so satisfying because of it. Zoom is hunting for Harry (why wouldn’t he just look for him at S.T.A.R. Labs?), so Harry, Cisco, and Earth-2 Barry hide in the time vault (why does this Harrison Wells have a time vault?) and aren’t discovered. They go find E2-Iris and explain the predicament off-camera. Together, they figure out that the only person who would know where Zoom is would be Killer Frost, and E2-Barry knows how to track her down.

Meanwhile, Barry and Jesse are in Zoom’s prison, bonding with the man in the iron mask who keeps knocking on the glass. They figure out that he’s tapping a prisoner’s code – a 5×5 grid which corresponds to the alphabet – with C and K being identical (which begs the question of which one is eliminated, because that would change the grid). He taps out “J-A-Y”, and acts despondent when Barry says that Jay’s okay and on Earth-1. Zoom shows up and kicks the crap out of Barry, but in doing so shows Barry that he can phase out.

Then there are the happenings on Earth-1. Caitlin is skipping V-8 (insert your own jokes here) and moving directly ahead to V-9. Iris meets her new editor-in-chief and…oh God, I forgot about this plotline. Excuse me.

*repeatedly bangs head into wall*

Okay, where were we? Anyway, he’s an “all power is corrupt and we have to expose the metahumans!” type. He orders Iris to write a story about how people can’t count on the Flash. She counter-offers with an exclusive about the new speedster. I’m sitting here wondering what to do with all these ham fists.

The Earth-2 gang track down Killer Frost and take her prisoner after she refuses to help them (“Her name starts with Killer! This comes as a shock to you?” is a great line). They finally get her to help by poking at the emotional hole this Caitlin would have after Zoom killed her Ronnie Raymond. Barry’s trying to phase through the glass, but is just beating his head against a wall. He must have seen the part with Iris and her editor, too. Jesse comes up with the theory that Barry has to compensate for the different vibrational frequency of Earth-2, but he’s still not going fast enough.

Geomancer shows back up and wrecks a building. Jay uses V-9 to get all the people out of there, but is completely drained by the end. Poor boy has no stamina. Geomancer uses this time to get to S.T.A.R. Labs (how did he know to go to S.T.A.R. Labs?) and nearly wreck it all before Caitlin Snow saves the day. Killer Frost, meanwhile, takes the Earth-2 gang to Zoom’s lair (“He’s a bad guy, we’re calling it a lair.”) and even builds them an ice bridge to get to the entrance. Aww. She really is a nice girl. She has also alerted Zoom to their presence…okay, maybe not that nice. Meanwhile, Harry finally rescues Jesse and E2-Barry gives our Barry the inspirational speech which allows Barry to escape. They can’t get Iron Mask out before Zoom arrives, but Killer Frost decides vengeance should be served cold and allows the others to escape.

Jay and Joe fix the stabilizers by manually realigning the warp core and everyone gets back to Earth-1. Then Jay…wishes he could’ve had that V-8.

I found this episode a much easier sit than last week. It’s dark, but with fantastic comedy bits to lighten the tone. Grant Gustin is clearly having a ball as Earth-2 Barry and I would love to see what happens to him in the future. Until next week, when…

…does anyone else hear the Jaws theme building up?


BECKY

This is the second half of our trip to retro-futuristic Earth-2, where we remember there were about a half dozen plot conflicts last episode, one of which they both introduced and murdered in the last five minutes. It’s been a rather overloaded narrative. Let’s see how they manage to wrap up.

Zoom is apparently running around the city, distributing creepy fliers and setting skyscrapers on fire in the shape of letters with a Tyler-Durden-from-Fight-Club-meets-serial-killer sort of aesthetic, demanding Harrison Wells be handed over to him. Which seems kind of overkill since, last we saw Harry, he was in his CEO office suite at the company he famously owns. Y’know, maybe check the obvious spots, knock on a door or two before doing all this, Zoomy boy?

Harry is still in his CEO office, freaking out about Zoom hunting them all down as Cisco arrives to update him on the murder/resolution of the S.T.A.R. Labs evil doppelgängers. Really, the fact that this is not only Harry’s hiding place, but that it’s working, does not speak well of either Harry or Zoom. I mean, I can buy narrative convenience to a point, but this seems silly.

After Zoom goes on his highly visible jaunt around town, he decides to check to see if Harry is at the office. Why do villains have to be so stupid to be so extra?

We check in with our Speedster Glass Menagerie of Jesse “Quick” Wells (not a speedster here, but she is in the comics), Barry Allen, and the man in the iron mask (who, given the rest of Zoom’s collection, seems likely to be someone who is normally a speedster in the comics even if he isn’t one on the show).

Back on Earth-1, Jay and Caitlin are working on the latest iteration of the Velocity drug. Jay is suddenly and strangely about twenty times more gung-ho about it, even though the last one wore off quickly and increased his cellular degeneration problem. Iris gets another plot conflict with her new editor at Central City Picture News pushing her to write more aggressive pieces about the currently-MIA Flash. I’m delighted to see more focus on Iris’ journalism career.

I’m a little torn on Earth-2’s Iris. I love seeing her get to be the hard-nosed police detective, but it’s frustrating to watch her be slow to wrap her head around last episode’s Barry being from an alternate universe, despite everything she saw backing up his claim.

Barry and Jesse make a great team back in the Speedster Menagerie, figuring out that Iron Mask is using a 5×5 tap code historically used by Vietnam and WWII POWs. This is an interesting choice since the first comics Flash, Jay Garrick, was a WWII veteran. However, we already have this Earth’s Jay Garrick hanging out with Caitlin on Earth-1. Then again, doppelgängers are a huge theme this season. Feel free to proceed with squinting suspiciously at the need to mask one of Zoom’s prisoners. You’d have good cause, since a couple of scenes later he taps out “J-A-Y”, nods vigorously when Barry asks if he means Jay Garrick, then gets upset when Barry confirms Jay is safe on Earth-1. If Iron Mask is the real Earth-2 Jay Garrick, who is our deteriorating speedster trapped back on Earth-1?

I can’t recall if vibrating through solid objects is a new trick for TV Barry or not, but it has always been one of my favorite tricks in the comics because of how every speedster mastered it differently. For the longest time, Jay couldn’t get to a high enough speed; Wally would blow up anything he phased through; and Bart – the baby of the Flash family – did it as easily as breathing. Barry’s having trouble due to vibrational frequencies being different on Earth-2.

Back on Earth-1, Iris and Caitlin end up being the ones to take down Geomancer, while Jay seems to be mysteriously absent. He’s had mildly suspicious behavior before, previously attributed to hiding his cellular degeneration from the team, but now he’s looking fishy again.

Earth-2 Iris and Barry work with Cisco and Harry alongside Killer Frost to locate and launch a rescue operation on Zoom’s Speedster Menagerie. They rescue Jesse, but it seems like they’ll have to leave Barry behind, trapped in a cell he can’t phase out of. But Barry Allen being who he is in every universe, a pep talk from his wimpy doppelgänger gets our Barry to phase through. Zoom shows up to threaten everyone, sidelining the escape until Killer Frost holds him in revenge for Ronnie. Caitlin’s constant, as Cisco said to get through to her earlier in the episode, is how deeply she loves. Even without Ronnie, Caitlin’s devotion to those she loves is as universal a constant as Barry’s hopeful heroism.

The episode ends with Cisco, Barry, Harry, and Jesse escaping to Earth-1 with Zoom hot on their heels. Our Jay stands triumphantly before the final breach…and then Zoom shoves his hand through Jay’s chest and drags him back, killing him just before the breach is closed. With so much of Team Flash’s success this episode having hinged on Caitlin’s love, to end the episode on her newly-budding love being murdered in front of her – in cruel parallel to the Earth-2 Killer Frost’s Ronnie being murdered by Zoom – is one heck of a cliffhanger. It serves to either distract from Jay’s identity or draw it into further question: why cast doubt on Jay’s identity only to remove him now? Like Cisco’s doppelgänger Reverb, we’re given a tantalizing bit of plot, only to have it immediately ripped away. It seems likely these mysteries will come back sooner rather than later.

George Hatch will find a way to reference either Jaws or Star Wars into everything. He finds your lack of a bigger boat disturbing. He can be found on Twitter at @Raeseti.

Becky Shire is everyone’s favorite Flash Guru, cosplayer and all-around badass. You can find her on Twitter at @ElfGrove.

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