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The Flash, Ep. 2.14: “Escape from Earth-2” makes good use of its time on Earth-2

the flash escape from earth-2

The Flash Season 2, Episode 14 “Escape from Earth-2”
Written by Todd Helbing & Aaron Helbing (story), David Kob (teleplay)
Directed by JJ Makaro
Airs Tuesdays at 8pm ET on The CW

After the adventurous affair that was “Welcome to Earth-2”, The Flash gets back to the basics as it brings its protagonists back to Earth-1, offering a much more straight forward Flash episode – even despite telling stories on two different earth. With such grand ambitions for a two-hour event, it’s not really a surprise some of “Escape from Earth-2” feels rushed, or glossing over important moments to keep the plot moving. And yet, given how the third act plays out in Ascension Cliffs, “Escape from Earth-2” is still effective at juggling two timelines, hinting towards what’s to come as it closes off some of its early season two arcs.

Surprisingly, the most satisfying of those stories comes with Earth-1 Cisco reaching out to Killer Frost, and trying to appeal into the Earth-2 Caitlin somewhere inside her. The power of friendship always runs strong on The Flash, and how Cisco utilizes that on a different planet, with a completely different person, offers an existential bent to The Flash we haven’t seen before. We know the speed force exists across all dimensions and universes, but season two of The Flash is proving emotional bonds have no allegiance to follow the space-time continuum – and that’s kind of a powerful message, one we’ve already seen play out with Earth-2 Harrison Wells and Jay Garrick (hey Jay – is that you in the iron mask? If so – WTF is going on, man?!). Translating that theme to Earth-2 takes on completely different connotations – one might say Caitlin and Cisco’s connection vibed on a different frequency here, with him pleading to the humanity in a stone-cold killer – but it remains a powerful cornerstone of this season’s arc, and plays out wonderfully as the team makes their way to Ascension Cliffs.

That Cisco/Killer Frost scene really kicks off the episode’s third act; unfortunately, act one and act two aren’t particularly up to the challenge of delivering the same emotional material. I’m going on record as saying the Jay/Caitlin dynamic on Earth-1 just isn’t working for me – both in how quickly it leads to new versions of Velocity being created (we get to the infamous Velocity-9 in this hour), and in how conveniently their romantic relationship fades in and out through the course of an episode. Their romantic commitment makes him a character worth investing in, but it seems the romance is there to serve as an emotional tether to the audience, and really nothing else (be honest – if they broke up, would you remember their relationship two episodes later?).

We can forget about Geomancer, too: he’s disposed of quite quickly in the first half of “Escape”, leaving plenty of room for Caitlin and Jay to get back to fixing the breach stabilizer that’s been screwed up for any number of reasons since everyone left to Earth-1. This leads to the most desperate attempt to create moving drama on Earth-1; when the breach won’t stabilize, Jay has to run circles around it, creating a vortex while Joe hits the reset buttons on each reactor – and boy, does Joe struggle against the wind of Jay’s running to hit that final switch, flashing back and forth between shots of Joe reaching and Iris looking stressed, all to manufacture a tension the episode didn’t need. They were already working against the clock to get them back before Zoom got through; Caitlin yelling “Velocity-9 is wearing off!” out of the blue while Iris stares is not exactly The Flash at its tension-creating finest.

But boy, those scenes with Zoom; from phasing into Barry’s cell and kicking his ass, to pulling Jay Garrick back to Earth-2 by putting his hand through him, Zoom finally makes his arrival as a Big Bad in this episode, and it’s fantastic. The Flash’s attention to detail with his character design really shine through in this hour, his menacing voice and suit (man, that blue lightning looks awesome) bringing such a physical presence to a mostly-alluded to power up to this point. “Escape” certainly finds silly ways to delay a showdown between him and Team Arrow, but not before throwing the fear into everyone with the articulate proclamations of death he makes through the eternally-creepy mask of his. And besides filling out the world of Earth-2 a bit, isn’t that the whole goal of this two-parter?

There’s nothing more exciting than watching the episodes of a season when things start happening:  the sheer potential of what The Flash has set up for itself in the back half of season two is impressive. Each character has a definitive arc heading into next week’s “King Shark” (which looks to be a fun, brief return to meta-of-the-week stories), and that depth of character across the show offers a compelling set of narratives to follow, even outside the central Zoom/Earth-2 material. “Escape from Earth-2” is a prime example of this season’s potential; in an episode full of obligatory moments and necessary scenes, The Flash still feels as fun and energetic as any show on television, able to deliver satisfying emotional arcs for major and minor characters alike in the course of 42 minutes.

Other thoughts/observations:

  • Earth-2 Barry is hilarious: “I’m wearing wingtips here… I don’t have much tread.”
  • why were their only three people in that entire building? The stakes of Geomancer suddenly became incredibly small at the beginning of “Escape”; it’s the one place where this two-parter really lacked balance.
  • There’s a new editor at the paper who wants to trash The Flash – what is it with these newspaper types?
  • Earth-2 Iris and Barry are going to Atlantis – unfortunately, we need Earth-1 Aquaman before we get Earth-2.
  • When Barry-2 first sees Ascension Cliffs, you can see him in the background just shaking his head, going “No, no, no”: Grant Gustin is just amazing on this show, isn’t he?
  • I love how they address Barry kissing Earth-2 Iris for 24 hours, playing husband: and then immediately drop it, Barry-2’s anger dissipating immediately off-screen.
  • It’s been a blast covering The Flash as it crossed over to Earth-2; next week, Sean Colletti will be speeding through to resume normal coverage of the show. But like Reverse-Flash, I’ll be back!
  • The Case for Cisco Ramon as Best Character on TV, Part V: “I can’t believe you! Just so you know, you would be very disappointed in you right now.”

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