‘The Flash’ Season 2 Episode 13 Review: The Flash Battles Killer Frost In ‘Welcome to Earth-2’
Recap and review of The Flash – Season 2 Episode 13 – Welcome to Earth-2:
One of the fun things I love most about The Flash is how often it finds new approaches to exploring traits we already know about characters. Whether it’s Barry’s guilt about failing to protect Iris last week, how the loss of his mother continues to motivate him (even across worlds), or even how Jay continues to fight for what’s right even when he’s technically no longer The Flash he once was. These are all defining traits for these characters, and “Welcome to Earth-2” digs into those traits by taking us to another world, in one of the most fascinating episodes of the show’s run.
So Barry (Grant Gustin), Wells (Tom Cavanagh) and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) go through the portal to Earth-2 to find and defeat Zoom, with a deadline of just 48 hours to get in, save Wells’s daughter, and get out. However, things go haywire right off the bat, as the portal was miscalibrated. Now, Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker), Jay (Teddy Sears) and Joe (Jesse L. Martin) have only 48 hours to fix the device before Barry and co. are trapped on Earth-2 forever. These parallel storylines are brilliant from a structural perspective, because the deadlines give these stories an immediate sense of urgency. Even as they run into parallel obstacles that impede their ability to meet the deadline, the storylines still work exceedingly well because the characters’ decision to pursue those obstacles are rooted in their character traits. For example, Barry was too slow to save Iris (Candice Patton) last week, and it nearly got her killed. When the Iris of Earth-2 is imperiled, Barry sees this as his chance at redemption, even though it means temporarily ignoring the objective to save Jesse and get the hell out of Earth-2. Meanwhile, a metahuman attacking Earth-1 prompts Jay to reveal that Zoom never took his speed: he lost his speed after abusing Velocity 6, which is why he’s so vehemently opposed to taking the drug now, and why he’s even more urgently opposed to allowing Barry to take the drug himself. In essence, the drug is slowly killing him, and unless Caitlin can come up with a new Velocity formula, Jay is toast. This all ties into why he decides to put the barrier repair on hold to fight Geomancer. This is his chance to prove he’s still a hero, despite having made considerable mistakes in the past. He tells Caitlin that he isn’t worthy of the high esteem in which she holds him, but his desire to do what’s right in the face of questionable odds suggests otherwise. In both cases, our respective heroes get distracted from their main goal, but the reasons are far from arbitrary, because they develop and elaborate upon their character in compelling ways.
But beyond the parallel story structure, getting to see Earth-2 in detail was really cool, particularly having Barry pretend to be his own doppelganger, a nerdy, effete nerd who geeks out at the first sight of the legendary Dr. Harrison Wells. Seeing our Barry awkwardly try to play the role without tipping anyone off — especially Iris, who’s not only a detective here, but also Barry’s wife — was really entertaining. And seeing Joe as a lounge singer was such a delightful new wrinkle on that character, especially his antagonistic relationship with Barry stemming from Iris having joined the force to help pay Barry’s way through college. These are all details we don’t necessarily need to know, especially since Earth-2 Iris and Joe won’t be sticking around for the rest of the season. But these details are important in helping the Earth-2 characters feel like real people, every bit as authentic as the people back on Earth-1. And while Caitlin as Killer Frost and Ronnie as Deathstorm come across as cliche, cackling supervillains, it’s cool to see traditionally heroic characters portraying bad guys. In fact, Caitlin as Killer Frost quietly stole the show, in my opinion. I loved watching her fight Barry throughout the episode alongside Ronnie. It was just kind of surreal to see, particularly after Killer Frost and Deathstorm ultimately end up being responsible for killing Joe. It truly feels like Earth-2 is this completely different, alien world that shares only surface level similarities with ours. Good people on Earth-1 can be villains on Earth-2, and vice-versa (as seen with Deadshot and Henry Hewitt), while relationships that are thicker than water on Earth-1 are completely in shambles on Earth-2. The surreal nature of it all is boosted by the solid visual effects on display this week, as Killer Frost and Deathstorm look as imposing as they’re portrayed. And this depiction added to the emotional collapse at the end of the episode when Zoom kills Ronnie for failing him. In that moment, Killer Frost essentially reverts back to our Caitlin, mourning over Ronnie and showing that she’s a scared loner in search of companionship. Essentially, there’s more complexity to the character than the evil we see.
Cisco coming face-to-face with his own doppelganger, a near-omnipotent metahuman named Reverb, is similarly compelling, since this Cisco is planning on betraying Zoom and using his immense powers (which include shutting down a person’s nervous system with his mind, and shooting powerful kinetic blasts from his hands) to take over Earth-2. That said, trying to turn Cisco to the dark side by promising to teach him how to maximize his potential is a fascinating plot direction that ends way too soon. We rarely get to see anyone interact with his or her doppelganger, so it was a bit disappointing not to see that storyline get explored more. Reverb had the potential to be a really cool villain, but he’s killed by Zoom just minutes after we meet him. It’s the biggest waste of potential this season, especially since Cisco doesn’t get too many great solo stories. Carlos Valdes is one of the best performers on the show, and I was hoping he’d get the chance to flex his acting muscles a bit more. My other issue with the episode is that, for all its excitement and genuinely engaging character moments, it’s pretty damn cluttered. There’s just so much going on that nothing really gets a chance to breathe. One minute, Jay and Caitlin are just learning about Geomancer. Next moment, Jay is taking a new Velocity formula to battle the metahuman, and only barely making it out alive. Granted, this is a two-parter, so it makes a certain kind of sense why every storyline ends on a cliffhanger. But the episode just felt so rushed, for lack of a better term. With that said, I can’t pretend that the structure didn’t work, since I’m pretty damn excited for next week. In short, Zoom captures Barry and imprisons him alongside Jesse, vowing that this prison cell will be the last place he’ll ever see. It’s an ominous way to end the episode, which is why it works as well as it does. Overall, “Welcome to Earth-2” is excellent television, but I’m hoping next week’s episode takes its time a bit more.
But what did you think of The Flash Season 2 Episode 13, “Welcome to Earth-2”? Sound off in the comments!
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