Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Flash Season 2, Episode 14: Escape From Earth-2

This episode of The Flash was the conclusion to the awesome Earth-2 storyline that began last week.

The first half of this two part epic was absolutely loaded with Easter eggs and call outs to various DC comics and previous episodes. This episode, not so much. Now that Earth-2 is established, Part 2 got right down to business and dealt with the plot.

Zoom has been the Big Bad of Season 2, but surprisingly the show hasn't dealt with him all that much. The writers certainly haven't given us much in the way of clues as to Zoom's identity, causing viewers to speculate wildly as to just who's under that mask.

That all changed this week, as the show just dropped a huge hint as to Zoom's true identity, as a mysterious new character literally spells out a possible answer!

I've always been a sucker for stories in which the heroes are forced to team up with the villain, so I enjoyed seeing the Flash and Co. interact with Killer Frost. She's too good of a character to be a one-off, so hopefully we'll see her again at some point.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
On Earth-2, Zoom is searching for Harry. He even tells citizens and the police to turn him in or else. Cisco goes to STAR Labs-2, and tells Harry that Barry was captured. Suddenly they hear the Earth-2 Barry yelling from within a closet, and remember that he's still there. They free him, just as an alarm goes off. It's Zoom!

Harry, Cisco and Barry-2 hide in the STAR Labs-2's Time Vault. Why Harry has a Vault as well is never explained. Harry activates a holographic wall that hides them from Zoom as he searches the room. Zoom eventually leaves, and they tell Barry-2 what's happening.

In Zoom's lair, we see Barry, Harry's daughter Jesse, and the man in the iron mask are still being held captive. Barry tells Jesse not to worry, because Harry will save them. Zoom appears and tells Jesse he's only keeping her alive so he can kill her in front of her father. He tells Barry once he steals his speed, he'll kill him as well. Iron Mask doesn't get a threat.

On Earth-1, Caitlin finishes inventing Velocity-8, which will give Jay his speed again. She says it's still harmful to his cells or something. 

Back on Earth-2, Barry-2 meets with his wife, Iris-2 (confused yet?). She's furious with him for staying out all night after Joe died. He takes her to see Cisco and Harry, who explain the whole multiverse thing to her, and that the Barry she met last episode wasn't her Barry. Amazingly she accepts this ludicrous explanation!

Harry wants to find Zoom's lair so he can rescue Jesse and Barry. Cisco says they need to find Killer Frost, because she'll have the lair's address. Barry-2 uses his sweet computer skills to locate her. Harry, Cisco, Iris-2 and Barry-2 all go to find her. Back in the lair, Iron Mask keeps tapping on his glass cell, which annoys Jesse. Barry realizes he's using prisoner of war "tap code," and is trying to tell them something.

On Earth-1, Caitlin develops Velocity-9, which should give Jay his speed without any unpleasant side effects, like killing him. Note that she whips up these amazing drugs that bestow super speed in about the same time it takes the average person to make Nestle's Quik. Just then Geomancer attacks Central City, and Jay has no choice but to take the Velocity-9. He instantly gets his speed back, and saves several people from a crumbling building. He returns to STAR Labs winded, and says he's going to take a nap, which is a perfectly normal thing for a superhero to say after rescuing people, and not the least bit suspicious.

In Zoom's lair, Barry figures out that Iron Mask is tapping out "J-A-Y." When Barry asks if he means Jay Garrick, he nods enthusiastically. Barry just doesn't get it, and says Jay's alive and well over on Earth-1. Iron Mask slumps down and looks defeated. Zoom arrives and tells them to knock off all the tapping. He then vibrates through the glass wall of Barry's cell and beats the crap out of him, which seems unnecessary, but I guess that's why he's a villain. Zoom then, er, zooms away. Barry tries vibrating through his cell wall like Zoom did, but can't go fast enough.

Harry and the others track down Killer Frost in a forest. They ask her to help them find Zoom, but she predictably tells them to go eat paste and starts shooting at them with her ice blasts. Iris manages to put a gun to Frost's head, and after Cisco makes an impassioned plea to her, she finally agrees to help.

They arrive at Zoom's lair, which is in a cave in the side of a high cliff. Killer Frost creates an ice ladder to help them reach it.

Geomancer attacks STAR Labs while Jay's napping (sure... napping), but Iris and Caitlin manage to knock him out. Joe arrives and takes him into custody. Jay finally wakes up and Caitlin tells him that even though the Velocity-9 wore off, it's somehow repairing his cellular damage. Just then the Speed Cannon breaks down yet again, due to the tremors caused by Geomancer. They have just an hour to fix it (again) or Barry and the others will be trapped on Earth-2 forever.

Harry and the others, including Killer Frost, infiltrate Zoom's lair. Harry frees Jesse, but they can't release Barry because his cell's made of carbyne, whatever the hell that is. Barry-2 gives Barry-1 a rousing pep talk, telling him if he believes in himself, he can do anything. Oy. Apparently it works, because Barry manages to vibrate out of his cell.

Just then Zoom arrives. Apparently Killer Frost double crossed them, and somehow tipped him off to the fact they were coming to his lair (despite the fact that she's been with the group the whole time). Zoom grabs Jesse and is about to kill him in front of Harry as he said he would. Killer Frost apparently has a Return Of The Jedi  redemption moment and changes her mind again. She blasts Zoom with her ice powers, temporarily incapacitating him.

Barry doesn't want to leave Iron Mask, but there's no way to free him in time. Barry promises he'll come back for him. The group (sans Killer Frost) goes back to STAR Labs to regroup. Barry tells Barry-2 and Iris-2 that Zoom will be after them, so they say they'll hide out with relatives in Atlantis. Harry tells Jesse they have to go to Earth-1 to be safe.

On Earth-1 Jay and Joe repair the Speed Cannon just in time. Barry brings Jesse and Cisco through the breach. He goes back for Harry, but Zoom is there, holding him hostage. Harry manages to stab Zoom with a needle, which distracts him long enough for Barry to grab him. Barry and Harry come through the breach. Jay throws a tech bomb at the breach, closing it forever. 

Unfortunately a split second before the breach closes forever, Zoom's arm reaches out, goes completely through Jay's chest, and pulls him in. Yikes!

Thoughts:
• On Earth-2 we see a news report on Channel 52. This actually popped up in last week's episode as well, but I forgot to mention it. In fact later on Iris is watching Channel 52 over on Earth-1. 

This ubiquitous channel is no doubt another reference to DC's New 52, an event that revamped their entire comics line a few years ago. In fact the various Arrowverse shows are all peppered with occurrences of 52s (much like the newer Star Trek series were all lousy with the number 47).

• I'm not even going to try and understand why Harry has a Time Vault inside the Earth-2 STAR Labs. Wasn't the Earth-1 Vault built by the Reverse Flash/Eobard Thawne? They've never mentioned an Earth-2 Eobard, so why would there be a Vault there as well? I'm starting to get one of my sick headaches trying to figure this all out.

• I don't think I've ever mentioned it yet, but that Zoom costume is very well done. The way those vertical mouth slits stretch and expand when he speaks is downright creepy and unsettling. Whoever designed the suit earned their pay that week!

• I realize they had a lot of plot to cram into this episode, so there was no doubt a need for story economy. That said, Iris-2 seems to accept the concept of the multiverse and Earth-1 doppelgangers very, very quickly. I guess since she lives in a world filled with superpowered metahumans, the idea of parallel worlds isn't too much of a stretch.

• Kudos to Grant Gustin for his wonderfully eccentric performance as the Earth-2 Barry Allen. His uptight, nerdy portrayal of the alternate Barry was a hoot, and he completely convinced me that I was watching a totally different person.

• We didn't learn much about Earth-2 this week, but there were a few interesting tidbits.

Barry-2 watches Commander Carl: Space Marshal Of The Galaxy on his vertical TV. That sounds amazingly similar to the Commando Cody: Sky Marshal Of The Universe serial that we have in our world.

Patty Spivot also exists on Earth-2, where she's already a CSI.

• During the course of this episode, Caitlin develops both Velocity-8 and Velocity-9, seemingly in the space of just a couple of hours. That's pretty impressive, considering the two drugs somehow alter a person's body so they develop super speed. Eh, who needs FDA approval?

• In Zoom's lair, Iron Mask uses "tap code" to spell out the name "JAY." This involves quite a lot of tapping, plus a five by five grid that Jesse has to somehow draw out on the floor of her cell. That was all much, much easier than just tracing the letters in the air, or "writing" them on his glass cell with dirt or something.

• In the dungeon, Zoom vibrates through Barry's inescapable glass, er, I mean carbyne cell. Later Barry says Zoom just showed him how to escape. Um... Barry's vibrated or phased through objects before. In fact he did it just last season in Tricksters. I guess he must have forgotten he has this ability already and needed Zoom to remind him.

• When Harry and the others find Killer Frost and ask for her help, she makes fun of Cisco's lack of control over his powers. Cisco says, "It's a work in progress, Elsa." Apparently Cisco's a big Frozen fan.

• Near the end of last week's episode, Iris-2 confronted Killer Frost and said, "You murdered my father, you evil bitch!" I commented that Frost did no such thing, as Joe-2 was killed by a fireball to the chest from Deathstorm.

In this episode Iris-2 accuses her of the same damned thing. What the hell? Look at that photo above. It's kind of hard to see, but that's Joe-2 getting hit in the chest with a fireball. KILLER FROST DID NOT KILL YOUR GODDAMNED FATHER, IRIS-2! HOW THE HELL COULD A WOMAN WHO CAN SHOOT ICE OUT OF HER HANDS GENERATE A BALL OF FIRE AND KILL A MAN WITH IT? WHY DO YOU KEEP BLAMING HER FOR THE ACTIONS OF HER BOYFRIEND?

• At one point in the episode, Geomancer waltzes right into the Cortex of STAR Labs. No alarms, no intruder alerts, nothing. So much for Cisco's enhanced security that he bragged about at the beginning of the season.

• After Caitlin and Iris knock out Geomancer, Joe arrives and has him taken away to Iron Heights prison. Wow! That's one of the very few times anyone's ever sent a metahuman to actual prison, instead of illegally holding them in the Secret STAR Labs Super Jail.

• Iris-2 asks Barry-1 if her father Joe is still alive on Earth-1. Barry says yes, and she says to give him a hug for her.

Luckily Iris-2 doesn't realize that Barry caused Joe-2's death. If he'd avoided getting involved in the lives of the various Earth-2 residents and stuck to the original plan, Joe-2 would likely still be alive.

It would also have been a nice touch if Barry had told Iris-2 to give his Earth-2 mother a hug for him as well.

• At least seventy five percent of The Flash episodes have featured a scene in which Barry fails at something, receives a patented, inspirational pep talk from someone and then finds it within himself to succeed. 

It happens in this episode as well. Barry can't phase through his carbyne cell until he gets a "Believe In Yourself" speech. But this time there's a twist— he gets the speech from himself. Literally!

• After freeing Jesse from Zoom's dungeon, she and Harry head to Earth-1 forever. I was wondering how they were going to manage to keep Harry on the show after the Earth-2 storyline, and now we now.

• So let's talk about Zoom's true identity, shall we? I'm pretty sure this episode just dumped a huge clue in our laps. It's starting to look like Iron Mask is the real Jay Garrick of Earth-2, and the Jay Garrick that's currently hanging out over on Earth-1 is secretly Zoom!

Evidence:

When Iron Mask is tapping his message to Barry, he spells out "J-A-Y." I think it's pretty obvious he's tapping out his own name here. Especially when he starts shaking his head and pounding on the glass when Barry doesn't comprehend what he's trying to tell him. Why else would he do that unless he was frustrated at Barry's lack of understanding?

The fact that he's wearing a helmet is also telling. Whenever a character wears a mask and has a distorted voice or no voice at all, that means their identity is supposed to be a huge surprise. It's Screenwriting 101. None of the other prisoners have to wear a mask, so Zoom singled him out for a reason— because his identity is a shocking secret. And what would be more shocking than if he's the real Jay Garrick under that mask?

After Jay rescues the civilians from the crumbling building, he tells Caitlin that he's exhausted and is going to go take a nap. Whaaa...???? That's such a bizarre thing for him to say that it has to be a clue. And of course right after he lays down for his "nap," Zoom appears back on Earth-2. Convenient, eh? 

Jay's explanation as to how he came to Earth-1 is dubious at best. He said he was fighting Zoom and was sucked into the breach that we saw in last season's finale. He also told everyone that Zoom stole his speed. He later admitted that wasn't true, and that he lost his speed because he was addicted to the Velocity drug. So Jay's a big fat liar, and everything he says is suspect.

My official theory is that Jay Garrick was indeed the Earth-2 Flash, and did fight Zoom, who was obsessed with becoming faster and faster. Zoom then stole Jay's speed and for some reason imprisoned him in his lair instead of killing him. He then somehow disguised himself as Jay and traveled to Earth-1, where he's passing himself off as the Earth-2 Flash until he figures out how to steal Barry's speed.

The only thing I haven't figured out is how he appears to stab himself at the end of this episode. But I'm working on it!

Of course I could be completely off base here, as the Iron Mask and Jay taking a nap stuff might all be a giant red herring. If so, then kudos to the writers for fooling me so well.

Next week: The return of King Shark! What a time to be alive!

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