Friday, February 12, 2016

The Flash Season 2, Episode 13: Welcome To Earth-2

Yeah, the recaps are late this week. These things happen sometimes.

This week's Flash was a hoot and a half, as the characters finally pay a long-awaited visit to Earth-2, and the audience is rewarded for sticking with the show for a season and a half. The entire episode was absolutely loaded with tons of little Easter eggs to reward the fans who've been paying attention since the beginning.

It's obvious the actors are having a blast, as everyone's firing on all cylinders here. Alternate world stories tend to bring out the best in actors, as they get to cut loose and do things with their characters they wouldn't normally be allowed to do.

The episode also shone some long overdue spotlights on the cast. Danielle Panabaker finally gets something to do here besides stand around looking worried, as she plays both Caitlin Snow and Earth-2's Killer Frost. Kudos also to Candice Patton, who gets to play a cop as the Earth-2 Iris West-Allen. And who knew Jesse Martin, aka Joe West, was a crooner?!

Jay Garrick even got his super speed back, if only for a few moments. The return of his powers is long, long overdue. I was also very surprised to see the return of Robbie Amell as Firestorm, er, I mean Deathstorm, especially considering he left the show at the end of last season.

The rest of the cast didn't exactly phone it in either. Carlos Valdez was obviously having a ball playing not only Cisco, but his man-bunned evil twin. And the scene in which Grant Gustin as Barry Allen phones the Earth-2 version of his mother was an emotional punch in the gut.

This episode was so jam-packed with crunchy goodness that I barely know where to start, so let's get to it!

BIG, WHOMPIN' SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Plot:
Using the sci-fi grenades he and Harry invented last week, Barry zips from place to place closing all the breaches to Earth-2. Except for the one in STAR Labs' basement, that is. Once that's done Barry, Cisco and Harry prepare to visit Earth-2. Their plan is to rescue Harry's daughter Jesse from Zoom.

Jay and Harry both warn Barry and Cisco not to get emotionally attached to anyone they may meet on Earth-2, which virtually guarantees they'll do so. Barry tells Jay and Caitlin that if the team's not back in forty eight hours, it means Zoom has them and to close the breach forever. Barry, Cisco and Harry use the Speed Cannon to jump through the breach. Unfortunately the instant they're gone, the Cannon falls apart! D'oh! Isn't that always the way! Jay and Caitlin now have to figure out how to fix it, or the others will have no way back.

Barry & Co. successfully jump to Earth-2. Barry and Cisco are amazed by the place, with its art deco aesthetic and advanced science. They're surprised when they spot a few familiar faces who were villains on their world, but are upstanding citizens here.

Cisco tries to vibe in order to detect Zoom, but can't (don't worry Cisco, it happens to all guys now and then). Apparently Earth-2 is on a different frequency or something. Barry sees his doppelganger on TV and gets a bright idea
— he'll kidnap his Earth-2 self and take his place as a CSI at the CCPD, and use their records to locate Zoom.

He does just that, but the plan goes south when he meets the Earth-2 Iris, who's a police detective
— and his wife! Before he knows what's happening, she takes him to their home! There he discovers his mother is still alive in this world, and actually gets to phone her. Why, it's like Barry-2 has everything our Barry's ever wanted.

Meanwhile two familiar looking villains, Killer Frost and Deathstorm, intercept a couple of bank robbers and steal their stolen cash. Killer Frost bears a striking resemblance to our own Caitlin Frost, while Deathstorm looks just like Ronnie Raymond, Caitlin-1's late fiance and former superhero Firestorm! The two appear to be working for Zoom, and have somehow detected the presence of Barry & Co. He orders them to find the Earth-1 intruders.

Back on Earth-1, Jay and Caitlin work to fix the Speed Cannon. They're interrupted by Joe, who says a new metahuman called Geomancer is threatening Central City. Joe suggests Jay take the Velocity 6 drug to temporarily regain his speedster powers, but he refuses. Jay confesses to Caitlin the real reason he lost his powers (don't worry, Jay, it happens to all guys now and then). He began taking Velocity 6 in order to become even faster, but it had the opposite effect, rendering him speedless. And now it's killing him. Caitlin promises to solve his problem.

Over on Earth-2, Barry and Iris go to Jitterbugs, a swanky jazz club. Barry's shocked when he sees the Earth-2 Joe there, singing his little heart out. Unfortunately this version of Joe hates Barry because he's "selfish," which makes no sense, but just roll with it because there's a lot better stuff coming up. Just then Killer Frost and Deathstorm enter, looking for Earth-1 intruders. Iris tries to shoot them, and in the resulting confusion Joe's hit in the chest by a fireball from Deathstorm. Barry uses his powers to take the battle outside (after the horse is out of the barn) and chases off the villains.

Back at STAR Labs-2, Harry is livid with Barry for doing the thing he warned him no to do, namely getting involved in his counterpart's life. He says now that he's revealed his powers, Zoom will know he's here and will most likely kill Jesse. Barry calls him a big stupid head and storms off. Well, he doesn't actually, but he comes close.

Barry goes to the hospital to see Joe, which is the least he can do since he's responsible for getting him injured in the first place. Joe tells Barry to take care of Iris, and promptly dies. Iris vows to go after the metahumans. Barry says he's coming with, and brings Cisco along too, as he has some sort of weapon that can neutralize Killer Frost's powers.

On Earth-1, Geomancer attacks again, and suddenly Jay Garrick appears, his speed powers restored. Apparently Caitlin
— in the space of about twenty minutes— whipped up a batch of Velocity 7 (all the powers, none of the side effects) for him. He attacks Geomancer, and as he's about to finish him off he sputters and slows down to normal (don't worry, Jay, it happens to all guys now and then). Geomancer gets away. Caitlin promises to come up with Velocity 8. Comic fans all shake their heads solemnly, as they know she won't succeed until she gets to Velocity 9.

Cisco, Iris and her partner Floyd Lawton (who's the villain Deadshot on Earth-1, but here is a cop who can't shoot straight
— wakka wakka!) enter a warehouse, looking for Deathstorm and Killer Frost. The two metahumans appear, and there's much trash talking between the groups. Eventually the metahumans' boss appears and it's not Zoom, but Reverb, who's the evil Earth-2 version of Cisco!

Reverb tries to tempt Cisco into joining him, saying that with their combined powers they could be gods. Just then the Flash appears, but Reverb blasts him with powerful vibration waves or something. Deathstorm joins in the fun. Lawton is killed by a stray blast, as the two pummel Barry to within an inch of his life, Suddenly Zoom appears.

Zoom kills Deathstorm and Reverb (we hardly knew ye!) because they were under strict orders not to harm the Flash (so he could steal his powers, see?). He snatches up Barry and zips away.

Barry wakes in a cell. He sees a man in a metal mask in a cell opposite him, and Jesse in the one beside him. He tells Jesse he came to Earth-2 with her dad, and they're going to rescue her. Zoom returns and says nope.


Thoughts:
• As Barry and Cisco prepare to go to Earth-2, everyone treats them like they're condemned men, and are going off to their deaths. Why all the hand wringing? Harry and Jay traveled from one Earth to the other and they're fine, so it can't be that big a deal. I guess maybe everyone's worried because Barry & CO. are going to confront Zoom on his own turf?

• As the group is about to leap into Earth-2, a nervous Cisco says, "I got no spit." Harry correctly identifies this as a Jaws reference, although Cisco claims he was just speaking the truth.

So does that mean Jaws exists on Earth-2? I'm gonna say yes, since Harry doesn't seem very interested in Earth-1 pop culture.

• In last season's finale, Barry ran so fast he broke through the time barrier. Inside the vortex he saw glimpses of the past and possible future events.

The same thing happens in this episode when he and the others jump over to Earth-2. Apparently the time stream and the vortex containing the multiverse must be related, because they look exactly alike.

The scene in which they travel through this energy corridor lasts just a few seconds, but it's a treasure trove of cameos and upcoming character appearances.

As they travel through the vortex, the first image that flashes (heh) by appears to be a hooded Green Arrow. It's hard to tell though if it's Oliver Queen, or his son Connor Hawke. A future version of Ollie is scheduled to appear soon over on Legends Of Tomorrow, so it's possible this is him (especially since it looks like he has some sort of bionic arm).

Next up we see John Wesley Shipp as the 1990 version of the Flash, which is pretty darned awesome.

We also got a brief glimpse of Supergirl, who's currently starring in her own series on CBS. The Flash is supposedly making a crossover appearance on her show soon, so could this be her way of reciprocating?

Next up we see DC Comic's resident Old West antihero Jonah Hex, who'll also be appearing on Legends Of Tomorrow. Hex has a unique facial deformity, and from what I can see here it looks like they absolutely nailed it! Kudos!

The most surprising glimpse was what appears to be the Legion Of Superheroes! 

For non comic fans, the Legion was (will be?) a futuristic team of superpowered teens from various planets and space colonies, who fight crime in the 30th Century. That circular object in the middle right of the image is a Legion Flight Ring. The rings give anyone who wears one the power of flight (hence the name).

I'm assuming their presence here means they'll be appearing on one of the Arrowverse shows soon. Maybe Supergirl, since she and Superboy were very closely associated with the Legion in the comics.

The last flash we get is of an angry Gorilla Grodd, who's currently hiding out somewhere in the jungles of Earth-2.

• Once again we see that Earth-2 is very... golden.

• There were dozens of fun little shoutouts and references in the Earth-2 scenes. Here are the ones I caught.

At STAR Labs-2, Barry and Cisco meet Henry Hewitt. He's a well-adjusted scientist here, but on Earth-1 he became the supervillain Tokamak.

An Earth-2 news report mentions Mayor Snart, So would that be Leonard Snart, aka Captain Cold on Earth-1, or his sister Lisa? I'm guessing Leonard, since he's the better known of the two and has his own show right now.

The Earth-2 version of CCPD Captain Singh is some sort of criminal with amazing facial hair. He reminded me a bit of Gaff from Blade Runner (in fact now that I think of it a lot of the Earth-2 costumes have that Blade Runner retro look).

On Earth-1, Floyd Lawton is the supervillain Deadshot. On Earth-2 Lawton is a cop who can't shoot straight. Comedy ahoy!

Earth-2's Central City has a Royal Bank. So does that mean they have a King or Queen instead of a President? Also, Earth-2 money is square instead of rectangular! I bet that's hard to fit into your wallet.

The HDTVs on Earth-2 are vertical instead of horizontal. I wonder what their movie theater screens look like?

Atlantis exists on Earth-2, and one can fly there (Jay Garrick mentioned this a few episodes back).

The Earth-2 version of Jitters is Jitterbug's, and it's a nightclub.

Joe West exists on Earth-2, but instead of being a cop, he's a lounge singer (!). And a pretty good one, I might add.

Cisco has an Earth-2 counterpart as well, who's a supervillain who calls himself Reverb. * Cisco's E-2 counterpart calls himself Reverb. His vibing powers are much more advanced than Cisco's, as he can project sonic blasts, just like Daisy over on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Reverb was actually in the DC comics, but there he was the brother of the Earth-1 Vibe.

Possibly the bombshell is that the Earth-2 Barry Allen and Iris West (who's a cop) are married!

 After the Flash leaves Earth-1, Adam Fells, aka Geomancer, attacks Central City. He's actually appeared a handful of times in DC Comics.

The lobby of the Earth-1 CCPD features a bas-relief of the Greek Gods, which correspond (more or less) to the members of DC Comics' Justice League Of America.

On Earth-2 the bas relief is a bit different. Instead of gods it features various soldiers and military leaders. The "Truth-Liberty-Justice" motto is replaced with "A Free And Just Society." That's obviously a not-so-subtle reference to the Justice Society, the precursor to the Justice League.

 Iris-2 takes Barry back to "their" home. Despite all of Earth-2's many technological advances, apparently they still use landline phones.

We see several names on Barry-2's speed dial. Among them are "Dad," which is obviously Joe, and "Mom & Dad," meaning Barry's parents, who are both alive on this world.

The names get a bit more interesting after that. Next is "Eddie," meaning Eddie Thawne is alive and well on Earth-2. Then Bruce, Hal and Diana.

That's no doubt Bruce Wayne aka Batman, Hal Jordan aka Green Lantern, and Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman. I'm pretty sure those names are just thrown in for observant fans, and doesn't mean those heroes actually exist on Earth-2.

It's too bad they couldn't have persuaded Rick Cosnett to stick his head in the door for a quick cameo as Eddie Thawne, but he's probably too busy filming Quantico right now.

 Ever since the series started, I've been wondering how they'd handle the whole Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost thing. I actually like Caitlin, so I was hoping they wouldn't make her turn evil.

Once the series introduced the concept of Earth-2, I thought, "That's it! They could have Killer Frost originate from Earth-2, which would preserve the Caitlin we all know and love." And that's exactly what they did!

 When I first saw Deathstorm, I just assumed he was an evil version of Firestorm created just for this episode. Turns out he's actually from the comics (sorry, I haven't been keeping up with DC for a long time now). He has an incredibly complicated origin that would take about an hour to explain, so I won't go into it here. 

 So how do Killer Frost and Deathstorm know the Flash is on Earth-2? Did Zoom tell them to be on the lookout for him?

 At the Earth-1 CCPD, one of the policemen says Geomancer has been spotted at Pasko and Fourth.

This is no doubt a reference to Martin Pasko, a long-time writer of DC comics and animated series.

 So what's up with the whole Velocity 6 through 9 thing? 

In the comics, Velocity 9 was a drug manufactured by Vandal Savage (!). It gave the user super speed, but at a high cost side effects included exhaustion, premature aging and eventually death. There's a lot more to the story, but eventually the drug was perfected and the side effects removed.

 When Joe-2's in the hospital, a doctor holds up what I assume is supposed to be an x-ray, but it looks more like a sonogram. Is Joe pregnant?

 At STAR Labs-2, Cisco imagines that his Earth-2 counterpart is a wealthy inventor, ala Elon Musk, "but with less RBF."

I'm not too proud to admit I have no idea what "RBF" means. A big of googling reveals it means "resting bitch face." Cisco seriously needs to stop reading Buzzfeed. Last week he said, "Bye, Felicia," and now this.

 When Iris confronts Killer Frost and Deathstorm, why does she say, "You killed my father, you evil bitch!" Deathstorm was the one who killed him. He was hit in the chest with a fireball, for frak's sake. Does she really think someone called "Killer Frost" shoots flames out of her hands?

 You know, for a guy who calls himself Zoom, he speaks very slowwwwwwly.

 Reverb, we hardly knew ye! I was actually sorry to see dispatched so quickly, especially since he could have taught out Cisco how to properly use his powers. 

Note that Zoom kills Reverb in exactly the same way the Reverse Flash killed Cisco (in an alternate timeline, of course).

Man, this episode had a seriously high body count. Joe, Lawton, Deathstorm and Reverb all bought the farm. And most of their deaths could be laid at Barry-1's feet.

 At the end of the episode, Barry wakes in a cell in Zoom's dungeon. Jesse's there of course, along with a mysterious man in a metal mask. I have no idea who Helmet Guy could be. Leonardo DiCaprio maybe?

• Although this was one of the best Flash episodes ever, they did drop the ball in one particular area— the costumes. This week we got not one, but two, but three, count 'em 3 villains decked out in the standard boring black leather. Yawn! Again with the leather! 

The first X-Men movie started this ferkakte trend back in 2000, and apparently that film's arm is long indeed, because it's still influencing costume designers sixteen years later.

What I wouldn't give to see some actual comic book costumes on this show. Something featuring an actual color besides black. And if the producers think the audience can't handle such looks, or might laugh at the characters, might I remind them their show already features a villain named Zoom and a goddamned telepathic gorilla? 

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