This week, our hero traveled to an alternate dimension and fought evil versions of his best friends. Ladies and gentlemen, The Flash!
Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my review of the previous episode of The Flash here.
“Welcome to Earth-2” was one of the best episodes of The Flash ever, second only to the Season 1 finale in my eyes. Any concerns about Season 2 falling short of Season 1’s greatness were quickly put to rest, and most of the problems I had with the past few episodes were wiped away. It was an incredibly fun hour that weaved in drama and emotion seamlessly, and was loaded with so many Easter eggs that you didn’t dare to blink.
A lot of what made this episode so enjoyable was simply getting to explore Earth-2 in full. It was a world we’d only seen glimpses of, which we’d analyzed endlessly while salivating for more. And now here it was, in all of its retro-futuristic glory. Every scene was infused with details and divergences, some subtle, others decidedly less so. Go to S.T.A.R. Labs? See Henry Hewitt as a mild-mannered scientist. Go to the police department? See Captain Singh as a stylish criminal and Deadshot as a cop who is, ironically, a terrible shot. Turn on the TV? Hear a reference to “Mayor Snart”. “Welcome to Earth-2” was brimming with these tidbits. It’s clear the writers wanted to make the best of this alternate Earth.
And then there were the Easter eggs. Early in the season I joked that Earth-2 was the offscreen home of the DC references that Earth-1 couldn’t afford on a TV budget, from Jay namedropping Aquaman to the brief glimpse of Gorilla City. Now that we’re there, those references only intensified. Atlantis was brought up again. Barry’s phone had the names Bruce, Hal, and Diana on speed dial. Not to mention the brief flashes we got of other Earths while our heroes traveled to Earth-2, which included a look at an alternate, robot-armed Green Arrow (not Oliver Queen), Jonah Hex, and Supergirl—setting up the crossover episode—among others.
It’s not all fun and games on Earth-2, though. “Welcome to Earth-2” emphatically announced early on that it wasn’t going to go easy on our heartstrings, as Barry realized that his mother is alive on this Earth. Barry’s final goodbye to his mother last year was the emotional pinnacle of Season 1, and similar tearful emotions were conjured up as he spoke to her on the phone this week. Once again, Grant Gustin knocked it out of the park.
Another emotionally poignant moment was the death of Earth-2 Joe. Having Iris not only be Barry’s wife but also Detective West on this Earth was a great twist that allowed Candice Patton to explore a different take on Iris—and one that was admittedly more likable. The downside was that Earth-2 Joe (a lounge singer!) and Barry had an entirely different and more antagonistic relationship than their Earth-1 counterparts. It legitimately made me sad watching Barry deal with being hated by his closest father figure, and start to reconcile with him only to have him die. Alternate universe or not, Barry getting to speak to his mom and watch Joe die in the same episode was very heart-rending.
One of the letdowns this season has been Danielle Panabaker’s significantly reduced presence on the show, but this episode thankfully remedied that. The Killer Frost hype had been building since last year and it lived up its promise. Panabaker demonstrated a lot of range playing both versions of Caitlin Snow, and she hammed it up with the best of them as Killer Frost. I couldn’t be happier that she’ll be back next week, and I hope Earth-1 Caitlin gets more to do this season. It was also nice to have Robbie Amell back, even though he didn’t really do much.
Killer Frost and Deathstorm were the heavily marketed villains, but it was Cisco’s doppelgänger, Reverb, that was the best surprise. The episode handled the twist really well. The absence of Cisco’s counterpart for most of the episode was touched on enough to set up the reveal without giving it away, and him stepping out of the shadows was a suitably shocking moment. Kudos to Carlos Valdes for playing both characters and selling their confrontation so well. Reverb also represents how powerful Cisco could potentially become, and I’m excited for that possibility.
And if that wasn’t enough, Zoom showed up at the end and made short work of Reverb and Deathstorm, who were conspiring to betray him. I’d mentioned before that Zoom’s absence ever since his terrifying introduction in “Enter Zoom” had dampened the threat he posed. His entrance in “Welcome to Earth-2” reminded us exactly how dangerous he could be and brought him back into the thrust of the season in a major way. And with Barry kidnapped and imprisoned, the main conflict of Season 2 seems to finally have started gaining steam.
Back on Earth-1, Jay is finally becoming useful again. The Earth-2 speedster had been relegated to the background for a long time, so having Barry be absent was a great way to make him step up and deliver. After all, crime doesn’t take a break until the Flash comes back. The villain Jay faced was forgettable as usual, but I’m very okay with it this time, what with all that was going on. He was just a plot device to make Jay heroic again and reintroduce Velocity 6 into the show, an element I’m sure will be of importance in the future. It also revealed that Jay lost his speed thanks to Velocity 6, not Zoom. This added some shades of grey to Jay’s character, but more importantly explained why Zoom had to rely on Wells to steal Barry’s speed. This alleviated my complaints about that plotline a little bit.
No TV episode is entirely flawless, but “Welcome to Earth-2” was the ultimate fulfillment of The Flash‘s potential as a show, both in concept and in execution. And for that, I’m giving it a perfect score.
Rating: 5/5 (Perfect)
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