The Flash – Season 2 Episode 13
“Welcome to Earth-2”
The Flash finally takes members of Team Flash over to Earth-2 on a mission to track down Zoom and rescue Harry’s daughter.
Who doesn’t love an alternate universe story? The idea of seeing familiar characters portrayed differently is always fun to explore and it lets the actors cut loose with an alternate take on their normal performance. This idea has been explored to great success in Star Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Fringe and countless others. The Flash has been developing Earth-2 all season but outside of flashbacks and brief glimpses it has mostly been people crossing over to Earth-1 so it’s about time that it went the other way.
The chosen group are Barry, Cisco and Harry (who already comes from there) which makes sense as Barry’s powers are needed to fight Zoom, there’s a plan to use Cisco’s abilities to find out where he is and Harry has a personal stake since his daughter has been kidnapped. It turns out that Cisco’s powers don’t work on Earth-2 because both universes vibrate at a different frequencies but his technical knowhow will still come in handy.
It doesn’t take long for Barry to meet himself, leading to a pretty fun scene as he kidnaps his Earth-2 counterpart and assumes his identity. The alternate Barry gets really star struck when meeting Harrison Wells and finds the fact that he has a double pretty terrifying. He reminded me of Barry back at the beginning of season 1 when he was more naïve and excitable. That makes sense as this Barry doesn’t suffer the burden of responsibility that the Earth-1 version does so his life has gone in a completely different direction. Barry taking his counterpart’s place makes a lot of sense as it allows him to move around freely without anyone getting suspicious.
Exploring Earth-2 through Barry worked really well as it allowed the viewer to discover the difference alongside him which really puts the audience in his position. Seeing him react to the various differences provided a lot of humour as Barry constantly forgot to play it cool and roll with the changes despite him risking breaking his cover. This really grounded the insanity of the episode as Barry’s reaction to it all felt very real.
There are a lot of surprises for Barry such as finding out that the other him is married to Iris who is a detective in this universe. Making it more insane is that Floyd Lawton AKA Deadshot is her partner which was a nice surprise as the powers that be have forbidden his –and the rest of the Suicide Squad- use on Arrow due to the upcoming film. It’s also amusing that he is a terrible shot despite how obvious a joke it is.
His reaction to being married to Iris was hilarious. They have moved away from them getting together on Earth-1 at this point and it appears that Barry has gotten over the idea so he is visibly uncomfortable when she kisses him. The dynamic between them is flipped in this universe as he clearly supports her while she handles the action side of things. It really works as both actors are able to sell it and I have no problem admitting that I like this version of Iris better than the usual one.
Even though the episode was fairly light in tone, it didn’t cut back on emotional beats. Barry’s conversation with the Earth-2 version of his mother was very powerfully acted by Grant Gustin. It was nicely reminiscent of the tearful goodbye in the season 1 finale but brought a new spin to it. I like that Nora was acting normally but Barry struggled to hold it together as it created a really effective contrast between what was considered normal for this world but was extraordinary for Barry.
Another big surprise was Joe’s changed role as a lounge singer. Jesse L. Martin is clearly having a blast with this alternate take that lets him showcase his singing talents. Barry and Joe’s relationship is very different on Earth-2 as they don’t like each other and disagree over what is best for Iris. It’s a bit of a blow for Barry to hear that as he is used to he and Joe having such a close connection. This also serves as a reminder that Earth-2 isn’t necessarily better, merely different.
Joe’s death was another really moving moment. It was powerful and effective despite it not being the Joe we are used to. The different relationship between Joe and Barry in this universe adds a lot to the scene as it becomes about what is best for Iris once he’s gone. In his last moments Joe puts his differences with Barry aside for her benefit and it resonates really powerful. Joe was only killed in an attempt to kill him so this makes Barry feel responsible for this happening albeit indirectly.
Earth-2 boasts a huge difference for Caitlin who has become Killer Frost and Ronnie is her partner in crime as well as life in the identity of Darkstorm. Robbie Amell is playing a cheesy villain version of his Earth-1 version but Danielle Panabaker gets to fundamentally change everything about Caitlin from her performance to her mannerisms. She is sadistic and enjoys it which proves to be a good fit for her acting ability. It’s fun to see such a massive contrast to the reserved Caitlin we’re so used to seeing. Her acting is a little hammy but having them both perform in such a theatrical way fits the tone of this reality.
We also meet the alternate Cisco who has mastered his abilities and goes by Reverb. Carlos Valdes impresses in both roles at the same time and makes the evil Cisco feel really distinct with a measured delivery of his lines that makes him seem quite menacing. I like that Cisco is somewhat impressed with his counterpart and has to remind himself that he’s evil
It’s interesting for Cisco as he gets to see the real potential of his abilities and gets some idea of where he could take them. He has been worried about turning evil before so it’s clever to have him literally faced with that possibility taken to the extreme. I hope this will inspire him to develop his powers further.
On Earth-1 Jay, Caitlin and Joe are holding down the fort but there is a complication when a metahuman threatens Central City. The villain is Adam Fells aka Geomancer (Adam Stafford) and he’s about as weak as most of the villains on this show. This wasn’t an issue as there was no attempt to add a half-baked backstory for him so his presences was only supposed to function as a means to an end and on that score he works really well.
His presence allowed the episode to explore Jay’s loss in abilities and his hostile reaction to the Velocity 6 that was created a while back. It is revealed that Jay always wanted more speed so tried to artificially enhance that using Velocity 6 which eventually took away his speed and is now killing him to top it off. Jay has received really harsh punishment for his greed and it’s interesting that it is heavily implied that he is addicted to the speed force. This adds more weight to my theory from last week that the same is true of Zoom.
Caitlin makes it her mission to help him and identifies the velocity formula as the way to do that. She improves it into Velocity 7 and it briefly gives Jay his powers back. I can see why the formula started with Velocity 6 as there will be a clear progression until it gets to the Velocity 9 from the comics. This should be the key to restoring Jay’s powers and I look forward to that. It was cool to see him in action for the short time that he was. The move where he sent out harmful sound waves by vibrating his helmet was really cool.
The other action sequences in the episode were no slouch either. Barry’s engagements with Killer Frost and Deathstorm were really well put together. I like that he was overwhelmed in both cases to the point where he was almost defeated. Clearly they have more experience and far less restraint than he does which makes them a really formidable team. The appearance of Zoom was a surprise as the episode could have left him out and been no worse off. Zoom’s appearance does a lot to restore the menace that has been lost somewhat along with the momentum of his story. Having him suddenly show up created an effective cliffhanger but the next part has a really tough act to follow.
The only real flaw in the episode came from Earth-1 Iris’ conversation with Barry before he left for Earth-2. For reasons that are completely unknown Iris has come to the conclusion that Barry is going to Earth-2 as a way to escape his break up with Patty. I never once got the impression that Barry was considering moving universes. It was a pretty unnecessary scene but at least it shows that Iris is written as someone who consistently misses the point of things.
This episode was an absolute treasure trove of Easter Eggs. I probably won’t manage to cover them all but if I miss anything that you noticed then feel free to mention them in the comments and we can build up a list.
Barry, Cisco and Harry’s trip through the portal provided a good amount of visuals to chew on. John Wesley Shipp’s 90s Flash made an appearance as did Jonah Hex (Johnathon Schaech) and an older version of Oliver Queen with a metal arm. Both of these are due to appear in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow in the coming weeks. There is also a brief glimpse of Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl that gives the biggest clue of what form the crossover in March will take. It seems that Barry will find himself on Earth-3.
Barry’s phone has some interesting names on speed dial. We see Hal, Diana and Bruce which of course hints at Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Batman. I also got a kick out of Mayor Snart being mentioned as well as a further mention of Atlantis.
Lastly, whether intentional or not I felt that Barry sneaking around hiding his identity from everyone was a reference to Clark Kent. It was the glasses that made me make the comparison and it was made more obvious by the dramatic removal of the glasses.
An excellent episode that takes full advantage of the alternate reality premise and has some real fun with the established characters. It has great action and also manages to have some really solid emotional beats that resonate powerfully. The second part of the story has a really tough act to follow.
• the fun alternate takes of established characters
• really exciting action sequences
• the powerful emotional beats
• Easter Eggs aplenty
• A confusing conversation between Iris and Barry