This review contains spoilers.
2.2 Flash Of Two Worlds
Buckle in, folks – things are getting complicated. Yes, after teasing the possibility of the multiverse at the end of last season, The Flash has now pulled the trigger by introducing Jay Garrick, wibbly wobbly alternate universes and really everything but the kitchen sink. This episode, more than anything that’s come before, demonstrates just how much faith the show has not just in its own identity, but also its audience.
The sheer amount of stuff Flash Of Two Worlds throws our way is a sign of the show’s very lofty ambitions for its second season. We have Jay Garrick, we have an alternate universe in which Harrison Wells is alive, Cisco is discovering his Vibe powers and we have Iris’ mother back from estrangement to give her character something to do. This is episode two, and we’re juggling a thousand storylines and character motivations.
Starting with the geek-candy served up throughout the hour, The Flash certainly took the opportunity to include as many iconic lines and visuals as possible. The amount of pure joy it takes in its source material rivals even that of episodes featuring Grodd and other characters last year, and is really the most fun a comic book fan looking for their favourite panels on screen can have. No other superhero TV show does things quite like this.
The Flash isn’t going for realism, but as long as it bases itself in real, grounded emotions, then things like this are always going to work. A lesser show would rely entirely on having Garrick and his helmet in STAR Labs, but here it’s framed against Barry’s trust issues following Wells’ betrayal. The personal throughline leads over the campy fun, and it’s the deft balancing act between the two that makes The Flash what it is.
Jay himself is very old-fashioned and gallant in a way Barry never has been. He’s the millennial hero through and through, with Jay flying (not literally) in from a different time and place. He may also step in as a love interest for Caitlin, something I really have no complaints about.
And love is in the air generally, as we also met Barry’s new beau Patty Spivot. She’s great, the swift kidnap and saving of her not so much, and there’s buckets of potential in her becoming part of Joe’s anti-metahuman task force. The danger with characters introduced entirely to be another main character’s love interest is that it’s all they’ll ever be, but getting her involved with the task at hand right off the bat is a smart move.
Patty’s also a hopeless nerd, not just for science like Caitlin, but also for pop culture. A female geek not defined but said geekiness shouldn’t be a rarity, but it is, and she’s welcome.
And, thankfully, the show appears to have shelved any romance between Barry and Iris, at least for now. It says a lot that, even though she hasn’t been doing very much this season, she works so much better as a peripheral member of STAR Labs than as a character completely cut off from the main action. Currently she’s acting as Barry’s wise mentor, someone who knows him better than anyone else and someone who’s not afraid of calling him out. That’s just fine and, though it probably won’t last, it’s also necessary.
The mystery of Zoom is building, following the same pattern that worked for the show in season one. We’ll probably learn of Zoom’s real identity around the mid-season mark and, though Wells’ reappearance in Jay’s world makes me think they could just repeat the trick entirely, it would be interesting to throw in a curve ball.
As much fun as it is to see recognisable characters and storylines from the comics come to life, I’ll always enjoy when Berlanti and co. twist our expectations around just as that perfect moment. The show is in the enviable position of being able to do whatever the heck it wants, consequences be damned, and the decision to introduce the multiverse this early on is certainly paying off so far.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Man Who Saved Central City, here.
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