Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Flash Season 2, Episode 2: Flash Of Two Worlds

This week The Flash introduces Jay Garrick, the Flash of Earth 2, as well as the whole multiverse concept, which has long been a staple of DC Comics.

Even though I'm enjoying the season so far, something about these first two episodes seem a bit... off. I think maybe it's the fact that the STAR Labs gang has ballooned from just four to a whopping seven. It's getting positively crowded in there. It's tough to find something for each of those people to do, so most of them end up just standing around posing. They look like they're in a play!

The herd may be getting thinned a bit soon though. Professor Stein is going to star in The CW's upcoming Legends Of Tomorrow series, so that'll help a bit. Hopefully they'll be able to find something else for Joe & Iris to do.

I'm also a bit fuzzy as to how STAR Labs works now that Dr. Wells is gone. Presumably it was funded by him while he was alive, but last week there was some mention of him leaving the lab to Barry. What the heck does that mean? Is Barry keeping the lights on with his CSI salary? Or did Wells have some well-funded foundation that's keeping the place running.

Barry also got a new power this week (as if running faster than the human eye can see wasn't enough) as he learned to toss the Speed Force lightning his body generates. Shades of Smallville, where it seemed like they added a new power to Clark's inventory every season.


The Plot:
Picking up where we left off last week, Jay Garrick suddenly appears in STAR Labs, and announces he's from a parallel Earth, where he's the Flash. He was battling an evil, black clad speedster called Zoom when a singularity opened above his city too. It sucked him up into it and deposited him on our Earth, where he's lost his super speed. He says our world is in danger, because Zoom is now aware of it and wants to kill Barry.

The STAR Labs Gang believes Jay's story, except for Barry. He's afraid he'll turn out to be another Harrison Wells. Professor Stein says the multiverse is theoretically possible, and dubs our planet Earth 1, and Jay's Earth 2.

Zoom arrives and brings Sand Demon, an evil metahuman who can turn his body into a sand-like substance. Barry battles Sand Demon and is nearly beaten by him. Sand Demon manages to escape, but leaves behind some residue. Cisco examines the "sand" he left behind, and has one of his visions of Barry's fight with Sand Demon.

Officer Patty Spivot petitions Joe to join his Anti Metahuman Task Force. Joe's reluctant to accept her, but eventually agrees. Sand Demon kidnaps Spivot and holds her hostage, knowing this will draw out the Flash.

Barry finally believes Jay isn't a threat, and reluctantly agrees to train with him. Jay shows Barry how to harness the Speed Force lightning that surrounds him when he runs, and direct it as a weapon. Cisco has another vision and discovers where Spivot is being held.

Barry and Jay both confront Sand Demon. Jay, who's still powerless, acts as a diversion while Barry rescues Spivot. Barry then uses his speed lighting on Sand Demon, turning him into glass and shattering him.

Cisco tells Professor Stein about his visions, but swears him to secrecy. The two locate fifty two portals from Earth 2 around Central City, meaning Barry can expect more metahuman company. Professor Stein then collapses on the floor.

We then get a good look at Earth 2, which seems like a retro-future paradise. A school takes a field trip to the Earth 2 STAR Labs, where they meet another version of Dr. Wells.

• Sadly, the West family doesn't come off as particularly intelligent in this episode. Jay Garrick explains that there must be a breach between his world and ours. Iris wrinkles her brow and says, "I'm sorry, a breach?" Jesus, Iris. Yes, that's one of our English words. It means a hole in a wall or barrier.

Her father Joe doesn't fare much better. Jay explains the concept of parallel Earths to him several times, but he just looks bewildered and says he has no idea what anyone's talking about. Professor Stein even draws him a goddamned picture of Earth 1 and Earth 2, and he still doesn't get it.

For frak's sake, Joe! It's really not that difficult to understand. The multiverse concept has been around for a hundred years. Evil Spock with the goatee? The Darkest Timeline?

• Now that Professor Stein has brought up the possibility of Doppelgangers living on parallel worlds, I'm wondering if that's how the show will handle the Caitlin/Killer Frost issue? Killer Frost could be the evil version from Earth 2, leaving "our" Caitlin untouched.

• I have to say I was disappointed when the Earth 2 Flash showed up sans powers. I was hoping to see him and Barry zipping around Central City together. I'm assuming this de-powered thing is only temporary, to give Jay a story arc while he's visiting our dimension. Hopefully he'll get his speed back soon.

• Caitlin's heavy-handed and obvious infatuation with Jay Garrick came awfully close to sexual harassment. It also seemed a bit rushed (heh), considering that her husband Ronnie just died. Although to be fair, in the characters' lives Ronnie actually died six months ago. But we just saw him die last week.

This is the danger of doing these "six months later..." kind of episodes. The characters have ample time to process and deal with events, but we viewers don't. This is TV, writers! You need to show, not tell us.

Apparently it doesn't occur to Caitlin that since Jay was sucked into the vortex and deposited into another dimension, the same thing could have happened to Ronnie.

• Barry can't find it in himself to trust Jay's story, so he keeps him in the STAR Labs Secret Super Jail until they can confirm his story. I thought Jay accepted this incarceration much more genially than I would've.

Speaking of the Super Jail, Joe tells Sand Demon that Iron Heights prison can hold metahumans now. So are they still illegally holding people in the STAR Labs basement like they did last season?

• This week's disposable villain is Sand Demon, who's pretty much a carbon copy of Sandman from Spider-Man 3. Sand Demon is from Earth 2 here, but in the comics he was from Earth 1, and began as a Firestorm villain.

• Officer Patty Spivot is introduced this week as a potential love interest for Barry (and to complicate his relationship with Iris). She was in the comics as well, but there she was Barry's lab partner.

• You may have recognized actor Tony Todd (from the Candyman and Final Destination movies) as the distinctive voice of Zoom.

• Why is Iris constantly hanging around STAR Labs if she's still a journalist? Shouldn't she be at the newspaper writing stories and, you know, earning a living?

• Joe asks Officer Spivot why she wants to be part of his Anti Metahuman Task Force. She says it's because a metahuman named Mark Marden killed her father, and she wants to prevent anything like that from happening ever again.

Marden appeared a couple times last season, better known as the Weather Wizard.

• Sand Demon kidnapped Officer Spivot to call out Barry so he could kill him, right? But then he never contacts or taunts Barry to indicate where he is. Luckily for Sand Demon's plan, Cisco had a vision and told Barry where to find him.

• Cisco tells Barry that Sand Demon is holding Officer Spivot at the Woodrue Grow House. Um... a "grow house" is used for the sole purpose of growing marijuana. I'm betting Cisco probably meant to say "green house" here. Or did he?

I'm assuming the name of the grow house is a reference to Jason Woodrue, aka The Floronic Man. He was originally a villain of the Atom, who transformed himself into a half man/half plant hybrid. He could also control plants.

• As Jay suits up for the mission, Cisco hands him his helmet that fell through the singularity last season. Jay stares at it in wonder, saying he never thought he'd see it again.

He also says his father wore it in the War Of The Americas. Apparently Earth 2 has quite a different history than ours.

• There's a fun moment where Barry says the Flash's nickname is the Scarlet Speedster, and Jay says his is the Crimson Comet. Jay then asks, "What is it about alliterative nicknames?"

• When Sand Demon sees Barry in the grow house he says, "This must be my lucky day. I get to kill the Flash of two worlds!"

OK, I know what he means there, but he said it in the most confusing way possible. Each Flash is from a single world, not two.

• Barry uses his newfound lightning power to zap Sand Demon, who turns into glass and topples over, shattering into a million pieces.

Um... did Barry just murder Sand Demon? Kind of looks like it, doesn't it? Heroes killing people is par for the course on a grim show The Walking Dead, but it's a bit jarring on a light-hearted one like this. Maybe Sand Demon isn't really dead, and will reconstitute himself later.

• After murdering Sand Demon, Barry and Jay rush toward the fallen Officer Spivot, awesomely recreating the cover of The Flash Of Two Worlds comic.

It's one of the most iconic covers in comic history, and was the issue that started the whole multiverse concept over at DC Comics.

• Professor Stein notices somethings wrong with Cisco and asks if he's OK. Cisco says, "I get a vibe, and then a vision of something that's already happened, and then it's gone."

He said it! He actually said "vibe!" In the comics, Cisco Ramone is the superhero known as Vibe. Looks like this is really going to happen on the show too.

• Cisco and Professor Stein discover there are 52 breaches in Central City. That's a very obvious reference DC Comics' The New 52. If you don't know what that is, Google it. I don't have the time or energy to try and explain it here.

• So there's apparently another Dr. Wells living in a Tomorrowland-like parallel Earth. So many questions. Was that Earth 2? Who is this version of Wells? Is he the real Dr. Wells? Is he Eobard Thawne disguised as Wells? Is he secretly Zoom? Whoever he is, he says, "Hello, kids," in the creepiest manner possible.

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