The Flash: Welcome to Earth-2 review
The Flash delivered an episode so full of DC Comics Easter Eggs that we're not sure where to fit the review in.
This The Flash review contains spoilers.
The Flash season 2 episode 13
I’m usually careful about doing this, but I feel this week it’s unavoidable. This review is going to be relatively short (well, for me), but don’t worry, there’s so much craziness in the Flash Facts section down below that we’ll still have plenty to talk about.
“Welcome to Earth-2” is a solid, smart installment. It’s one of those episodes that could only work in season two because it draws so nicely on the entire history of the show so far. If you’re not a regular viewer, well, there’s no way this one is for you. But if you are, it’s mostly rewarding.
I say “mostly” instead of “completely” for a couple of reasons. One of these reasons isn’t really the fault of the episode itself, it’s a problem I’ve had with the Earth-2 rules as they’ve been established. I don’t like the idea of Earth-2 being used as the “you might have a villainous doppleganger over there” world. It feels like a bit of lazy shorthand. Earth-2 should be full of mystery, and there should definitely be parallels, but just having evil and/or slightly “off” dopplegangers of everyone (and we’ve now seen them for the entire cast of regulars and recurrings) just doesn’t sit right with me.
But that aside, it does utilize all of this stuff that I admittedly do not totally love to its best advantage. If you read me regularly, you know that I try not to let the fan service sway me too hard with these shows, and instead I try to judge each episode on its individual merits. And my little gripes about how they’re utilizing Earth-2 aside, this was a pretty effective deployment of the whole parallel universe thing. What’s more, it feels like part one of a proper two-parter, and not a 45 minute story being stretched out over two episodes. I reserve the right to change my mind if “Escape From Earth-2” doesn’t measure up, but whatever.
I very much love the look of Earth-2. It’s clever. It plays with a certain expectation from the old comics, which is that the heroes of Earth-2 were active around World War II and the mid-20th Century. Obviously, the time differential isn’t in play here, but I do like the strange mix of mid-century styles that have taken root and evolved here as opposed to our world. It leaves me wanting to learn more, and that’s really the most we can ask for.
Danielle Panabaker is on the money as Killer Frost. But again, I really hope this isn’t just a way for them not to make a beloved character have to through a heel turn at some point. Everyone loves Ms. Snow. They’ve done a great job making that happen organically. So y’know what? Take a season or a season and a half and make her go through this stuff and make us hate you for doing it! Just using the “Earth-2 Cait is evil” thing is a cheat. Also, I realized this week how much I do not miss Robbie Amell’s Firestorm.
On the flip side, I’m enjoying watching Grant Gustin and Carlos Valdes play with their Earth-2 personalities almost (but not quite) as much as Tom Cavanagh. Enjoyed “Joseph” West’s crooning, too. His kinda maudlin death scene not as much.
“Welcome to Earth-2” is paced quite well, though. Even the stuff that would normally be filler (the utterly disposable Geomancer) is being used to effectively move a b-story along that desperately needed it, in this case, Jay Garrick and his issues. There still needs to be more work done on this in the next episode before I can really make a call on it, but considering everything else going on, I thought this was pretty efficient storytelling.
But for cryin’ out loud, can Jay catch a break? Please? This is one of my favorite characters, and his weird mid-life crisis/impotence metaphor thingy is starting to bring me down. As long as it’s just a set up for him to get that speed back deliver the feel good ass kicking of the year before this season ends, I’ll be cool with everything.
So, yeah, I might be giving this one a slight bump in the right direction because of the general world-building and the absurd amount of DC Comics stuff hidden in the margins (and in plain sight). I know I shouldn’t, but “Welcome to Earth-2,” while far from perfect, was easy viewing, and I’d like to spend more time exploring this little corner of the Multiverse. I mean, c’mon, Mayor Snart? I’d vote for him over Donald Trump, that’s for damn sure.
Speaking of which…
Hoo-boy. Where to begin? This will probably be the longest Flash Facts ever!
– My issue with everyone having an evil/disgruntled doppleganger is partially (but only partially) rooted in a little comic book purism. See, the world that’s supposed to be the darker reflection of ours isn’t Earth-2, but Earth-3, where the Crime Syndicate is from, damn it!
However, I’ll give them a pass since there’s a great Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely story called JLA: Earth-2, which took the Earth-3 concept and ported it over to Earth-2 and, oh…don’t worry about it. It’s a good comic, though. You should totally read it.
But let’s talk about those Multiverse visions we saw! And just for a note about DC acknowledging their multimedia Multiverse, I direct you to this article that I breathlessly wrote in 2014, and now all of my nerdy little dreams are coming true.
– That appeared to be the Smallville version of Green Arrow. I doubt that was actually Justin Hartley, but it sorta looked like that costume, didn’t it? Or it might be the Connor Hawke Green Arrow that we’re going to meet on Legends of Tomorrow later this year. Regardless, that was a Green Arrow that most certainly was not the one we see every week on Arrow!
– That was absolutely 100% John Wesley Shipp’s Barry Allen from the original Flash TV series from 1990, though! I may or may not have shed a tear of happiness. Be quiet.
Does this or does this not possibly add a little fuel to the fire that maybe, just maybe, the Tina McGee we’ve met on this show is actually the SAME Tina McGee from that show, just one who has managed to travel between dimensions? Yes? No? Anyone?
– And yes, we now can say with complete certainty that Supergirl on CBS exists in a different corner of the Multiverse from The Flash. Barry won’t be running to National City for their crossover, he’ll be getting there via interdimensional shenanigans.
– That was another look at Grodd, which makes me all the more certain that Gorilla City will return…but probably not until The Flash season 3.
– That was absolutely our first look at Johnathon Schaech as Jonah Hex. He’ll be showing that scarred face of his on an upcoming episode of Legends of Tomorrow. More details on that can be found here.
– Was that a Legion of Super-Heroes flight ring? Yes. Yes it was. If you want to see me hyperventilate about my love of the Legion for a few paragraphs, click here. Long live the Legion!
– So we finally got to spend some time with Killer Frost. There have been three different versions of this character throughout DC Comics history, and Caitlin is only the most recent. They’re all roughly the same, though, but thanks to this show (and ONLY this show), Caitlin is by far the most interesting one.
– Deathstorm has shown up in two different DC Comics events. One was Blackest Night, the not-as-cool-as-it-sounds DC Universe vs. zombies story, where he was a zombified Ronnie Raymond. The other was during Forever Evil, which dealt with the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 (see above!) invading “our” world, where he was the evil and evil-looking Firestorm of the Crime Syndicate. Trust me, you aren’t missing much.
– The Barry of Earth-2 wears a bow tie. The bow tie was traditionally the fashion accessory (or fashion faux pas) of Barry in the comics.
– The CCPD mural isn’t of a thinly disguised Justice League. Instead, this celebrates a “Free and Just Society.” The comic book forerunners to the Justice League of America were the Justice Society of America, the original super team, who counted Jay Garrick among their members.
– Barry and Iris are pretty much destined to get married anyway. Sorta. It’s gonna happen for the Earth-1 versions, too. Maybe. Unless something else from the comics happens.
– Barry and Iris have “Bruce, Hal, and Diana” on their speed dial. Certainly that’s a coincidence, right? No? Anyway, this is one of those things that’s strictly fun for us to spot, unless these two are involved in higher profile cases than we thought! Eddie Thawne is still alive here, too.
– In the comics, Reverb isn’t Cisco’s doppleganger, but rather his brother Armando.
– Geomancer was as disposable in the comics as he is on this show. Another Geoff Johns co-creation destined for background villain status, he was a villain during Johns’ excellent tenure as writer on JSA in the late 20th/early 21st Century (don’t you love that we can make distinctions like that now?). Geomancer is lame, but those JSA comics are awesome.
– Geomancer is making a scene at “Pasko and 4th.” Martin Pasko was a DC Comics writer and editor in the ’70s and ’80s, and I’m a fan of some of his Superman work in particular.
– Remember when Jay said he knows all about Atlantis because he has a good pal from there? Yeah, Atlantis is a tourist destination here. That’s kinda cool.
Finally, a quick Zoom note: remember when I said we’ve now seen Earth-2 versions of pretty much everybody important on this show? There’s one exception: Henry Allen. They went out of their way to mention Henry at the beginning of the episode, too. He’s far from my favorite suspect in the “Who is Zoom?” race, but if you want to read more, this is where it’s at.
If you’d like to tell me stuff I missed, or even speculate what the Earth-2 Mike Cecchini might be like, you can give me a shout on Twitter.