‘The Flash’ Season 2 Episode 14 Review: ‘Escape From Earth-2’ Is a Turning Point
Recap and review of The Flash – Season 2 Episode 14 – Escape From Earth-2:
On the best weeks, The Flash feels like a blockbuster movie, and this is never more evident than in the spectacular “Escape From Earth-2”. The entire Zoom saga has felt a bit stunted as of late. It’s still a lot of fun, and pretty compelling thanks to all the different elements introduced into the story, such as the doppelgangers and a host of cool new metahumans. But it feels we’re still no closer to learning who Zoom is, and we’re actually getting some new mysteries on top of all that, to further compound what’s been a fairly obtuse story. And yet, episodes like this are the very best of what The Flash does, illustrating tremendous heroism in impossible circumstances. Moreover, this represents a turning point for the season, as the episode ends with the status quo shaken — possibly beyond all repair.
So the overarching story of the episode involves Wells (Tom Cavanagh) and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) assembling a team to rescue Barry (Grant Gustin) and Jesse (Violett Beane). And that means not only bringing in the Earth-2 versions of Barry and Iris (Candice Patton), it means getting assistance from Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker). Cisco believes that Frost holds a grudge against Zoom for killing Deathstorm, since that’s the kind of thing that would upset his Caitlin. As a result, what we get is a fairly straightforward, heist-style plot that never really lags, because it isn’t given time to. The team assembles, recruits Killer Frost, and then they’re suddenly ascending an ice staircase to Zoom’s secret base. But even if the plot hadn’t been so breezy, a series of mysteries help drive the narrative forward. For instance, will Caitlin stay true to the mission, or will she sell out the gang to Zoom? Who is the mute man in the iron mask who’s imprisoned with Barry and Jesse, and why can’t he speak? And why was his one communication to Barry and Jesse the name “Jay”? We don’t get answers to all of these questions, but simply having them in the mix helps give the narrative purpose beyond just the stated goal of rescuing Barry and Jesse. And as an added bonus, we get a lot of cool moments, both big and small, scattered throughout this rescue mission. Killer Frost is still an awesome villain, showing us a side to Caitlin we’re unlikely to get any time soon on Earth-1. Her clear internal struggle over her allegiance to Zoom is one of the strongest elements of the episode, particularly since it factors so significantly into the conclusion. The climax is a good news/bad news scenario: bad news, Killer Frost was aligned with Zoom the whole time, and led the group right to the slaughter; good news, she has a change of heart when Zoom decides he’s going to kill Jesse in front of her father. Killer Frost can’t stand idly by and watch Zoom kill another person’s loved one, and so she blasts him with ice, rendering him vulnerable for the first time. This gives the group enough time to escape, albeit at the cost of being able to save the man in the iron mask. Guess that’s a mystery for another day. Luckily, the episode has other highlights centered on strong character development.
Earth-2 Barry is a strange mix of tiresome and delightful, and I found him to be one of the highlights of the episode. Grant Gustin has been playing the hero for so long that it’s kind of refreshing to see him play a guy who’s basically scared of everything. Granted, he persists in sticking by Iris’s side despite his own fears, which makes him a kind of hero anyway. But it’s clear from the start that he isn’t really cut out for adventuring. However, this disconnect between Earth-2 Barry and our Barry results in one of the best moments of the episode, as Earth-2 Barry gives a pep talk to our Barry that should be ridiculous: Barry is trapped in a cell made of a material he can’t vibrate through, but Earth-2 Barry essentially tells him that he can phase through anything as long as he believes he can. It’s absurd, on its face, but Gustin makes an amazing scene partner with himself, so this never feels disingenuous or silly. “I’m Barry Allen, but you’re The Flash,” Earth-2 Barry says, as if to say, “Me? I don’t matter. But you could save the world.” It’s a speech that wouldn’t be anywhere near as effective unless we’d seen how this Barry fails to measure up to ours in the heroics department. And yet this Barry is still a hero, because — as our Barry states — he risked his neck to save people he’s never even met before. In some ways, it’s almost uplifting how Earth-2 Barry evolves over the course of the episode without really knowing it.
This week’s B-plot also focuses on innate heroism, and how heroes will always find a way to be heroes in spite of adversity. Caitlin manages to synthesize a strain of Velocity 9 that is strong enough to potentially cure Jay (Teddy Sears) while also giving him back his speed. We don’t find out just how successful it has the potential to be until late in the episode though, meaning Jay takes a huge risk when he demands Caitlin inject him with the serum early on, since he can’t know how the formula will react to his biology. But superheroes don’t always get the luxury of careful consideration, and so it was in Jay’s case: Geomancer went on live TV and set off a tremor that caused a nearby building to begin collapsing. Jay is quick to leap into action, and the Velocity 9 holds long enough for him to save the day. It’s a hell of a sequence, for as brief as it was. And it wasn’t even the end of Jay’s heroism, as he helped Joe (Jesse L. Martin) to stabilize the gateway to Earth-2 so Barry and co. could come back. And yet, what I liked most about the B-plot this week is that Jay isn’t the only person who gets to be a hero. Caitlin is the one who stops Geomancer with one of Cisco’s guns after the metahuman breaks into STAR Labs to cause more trouble. It’s an anticlimactic end, but also kind of awesome, because it somewhat mirrors the big hero moment for Killer Frost in Earth-2. Granted, this doesn’t exactly end well for Caitlin, as she ends up suffering a heartbreak of her own. Barry, Cisco, Wells and Jesse successfully make it back to Earth-1, but Zoom reaches through the portal before it closes, impales Jay with his fist, and then pulls him back through the portal to Earth-2. Caitlin is understandably mortified, but I’d be kind of shocked if this was the last we saw of Jay Garrick. Still, that was one hell of a cliffhanger, since Earth-2 now no longer has a speedster. Well, presumably. But I’m still on Team Jay Is Alive. Might be a foolish hope, but The Flash kind of inspires that brand of hope. That said, the status quo for the first half of the season has been changed, possibly beyond all repair. Jay is possibly dead, Jesse is rescued and staying in Earth-1 with Wells, and Zoom is gaining strength with each episode. Everything has to come to a head, sooner rather than later.
I thought “Escape From Earth-2” was fantastic TV, not just from an action and adventure standpoint, but from a storytelling standpoint as well. The Flash works because it cares more about character than about pure plot for its own sake, and this was an episode that got a lot of its narrative import from the development of characters we might not even get the chance to see again, like Earth-2 Barry and Killer Frost. As far as genre TV goes, this is as good as anything on television right now, and it illustrates that a show can have the colorful action and plotlines of a comic book, while also having the nuanced character development of a more high-minded drama.
But what did you think of The Flash Season 2 Episode 14, “Escape From Earth-2”? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on The Flash, read our review of last week’s solid “Welcome To Earth-2”!TV 2016RecapReviewThe Flash