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The Flash, Ep. 2.13: “Welcome to Earth-2” takes on the series’ greatest challenge yet

welcome to earth-2

The Flash Season 2, Episode 13 “Welcome to Earth-2”
Written by Greg Berlanti & Andrew Kreisberg (story), and Katherine Walczak (teleplay)
Directed by Millicent Shelton
Airs Tuesdays at 8pm ET on The CW

An entire episode (or two, apparently) on Earth-2 presents The Flash with a unique set of challenges; how do the writers incorporate alternate versions of characters, and find ways to make them interesting beyond easter eggs or nods to source material? Two hours isn’t a whole lot of time to fill in the emotional blanks for alternate versions of our favorite characters, and the risk of turning the whole affair into a shallow gimmick was high, even with the underlying narratives of Zoom and Harrison Wells offering some propulsion between worlds. And yet, like any other time I’ve briefly doubted The Flash throughout its impressive early life, “Welcome to Earth-2” delivers, not only finding ways to make the alternate versions of main characters compelling entities of their own right, but finding moments and ideas in them that will have major repercussions on the Earth Barry, Cisco, and Harrison Wells (hopefully) are bound to return to in next week’s conclusion.

It’s clear The Flash writers were prepared for this moment for a long time; everyone from Killer Frost (despite some of her lame-ass punchlines; “I’m so hot right now”…?) to Reverb feels alive the moment they step on screen, characters with their own unique sets of problems that offer fun twists on their Earth-1 counterparts, in ways that are both clever and essential to reforming them as new, whole characters of their own. Reverb is a murderous badass with an impressive amount of ego, Deathstorm won’t let Martin Stein talk or exist, and Barry Allen and Joe West hate each other because of Barry’s selfishness; those three stories alone would be enough to carry through this two-parter, but “Welcome” also offers up Iris West-Allen, an intriguing Killer Frost, and a hilarious cameo from Deadshot, Iris’s gun-fumbling partner at the Central City PD.

There’s almost too many interesting characters at times; so much so that “Welcome” has to speed through (sorry, first time here – had to do it) a number of big moments, like Joe West’s death, Iris and Barry’s marriage, and Reverb’s supposed rise to power in Central City. Then again, we don’t really need to; Barry and Joe’s dynamic on Earth-2 is handled so well in Jitterbugs (which is now a jazz club, featuring Joe the lounge singer), I’m willing to forgive the trite “every song is for you” moment The Flash pushes in Joe West-2’s second and final scene.

It’s obvious to see The Flash has wanted to do all this for a long time, so the overwhelming energy with which it delivers each and every moment helps support whatever moments may feel lacking in the development department. Barry-2’s amazement over being in Harrison Wells’ office is a particular highlight among these; it’s not really doing anything but repeating the Earth-1 introduction of Harrison and Barry, but the excitement “Welcome” delivers it with is everything; often times, the sense of excitement and conviction underlying The Flash stories (even the most minor and insignificant, like last week’s Metahuman of the Week encounter) is enough to pull a viewer in, always ready with a quick one-liner or wink-wink moment, where its network counterpart Arrow would go with a Screwed-Up Ollie face or another ‘dark’ moment.

The only real flaw of “Welcome” (save for those weak K. Frost punchlines) is how it abandons the people left back on Earth-1; the only real story of consequence here is Cait and Jay, where somehow we get from Velocity-6 to Velocity-7 without any sense of how it happens: Jay just shows up as The Flash like “Hey, Velocity-7 isn’t killing me so bad!”, does a cool trick with his hat, and then falls. Understandably, the priorities of this episode are on a completely different planet, but the amount of attention given to their story in the interim moments begs for a little more development, the adventures of Geomancer and the failing speedster chasing him hardly compelling against the backdrop of Barry taking Zoom, killing a bunch of dopplegangers, and scaring the hell out of everyone else in the room.

So it turns out Zoom has his own prison; who knows what he’s up to in there – all I know is The Flash closes with Barry more scared than I’ve seen him since Reverse-Flash first came to town (speaking of; where is he on Earth-2?), and that kicks season two into high gear, even knowing that Barry will inevitably delay his showdown with Zoom during next week’s (also inevitable) escape. Even considering those facts, it’s a terrific little cliffhanger, the perfect cherry to an episode as focused and awesome as The Flash has delivered all season.

 

Other thoughts/observations:

  • Who said The Flash and Arrow are the only ones allowed to do cross overs? A few times during the back half of this season, you’ll see me writing about The Flash, and the esteemed Sean Colletti will take over Arrow duties.
  • WHERE IS PATTY SPIVOT ON BOTH EARTHS. We miss you, Patty.
  • Leonard Snart is the mayor of Earth-2? Whoo boy.
  • Hey, there’s Supergirl!
  • This episode was directed by Millicent Shelton, best known for directing a bunch of awesome R&B videos (including three Aaliyah videos). Needless to say, she does a fantastic job here (though those repeated shots of the Central City-2 train was a bit silly).
  • Deadshot’s cameo was so awesome.
  • Barry’s got Bruce, Hal, and Diana on speed dial. #humblebrag indeed
  • “This one is for you, Iris.” *groan*
  • I really love The Flash‘s ambitions to not only play with time in complex ways, but the fabric of space-dimension itself. What an accomplishment.
  • Zoom is such an awesome villain. Still think it’s Barry’s father on Earth-2, though.
  • The Case for Cisco Being the Best Character on TV, Part IV: “Dopple…. ganger.”

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