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"I've become distracted by this Earth, its problems, its people. But the one thing I never lost track of was you, Jesse. You are my conscience, my beating heart. You're the reason I made it this far in my fight against Zoom, and now I just need you to hang on. Hang on a little bit longer because I'm coming to get you, and this time... I'm not coming alone."
This week's journey to Earth-2 is precisely the shot in the arm The Flash has needed this season, energizing a second half oddly bereft of joy on such a joyful show. Who would've thought that adding even more characters (or versions of characters) to this already over-crowded mix would be the necessary ingredient in helping The Flash cohere once again, but "Welcome To Earth-2" did the trick in a way nothing else has since the mid-season finale.
Maybe it's just that Earth-2 is a blast. It's warm and golden where Earth-1 is chilly blue, and it's a world where we can watch Jesse L. Martin croon "My Funny Valentine" in sleeve garters. It's a world in which Detective West is a fast-talking Iris with moxie, and where Barry Allen is a stumbling nerd in bowtie and spectacles, and where we can enjoy that these two characters are married without any funny feelings about their adopted siblinghood - because it's also a world in which Nora Allen is still alive and happily married to Henry! In fact, Earth-2 would be just about perfect if not for the fact that this Joe West hates Barry (say it ain't so, Joseph!), and Cisco and Caitlin are too busy plotting diabolical schemes as Killer Frost and Reverb to be the world's most charming superhero support team.
It was a true delight to see Danielle Panabaker and Carlos Valdes try their hands at villainy, and both were remarkably successful. This made for a particularly satisfying reveal for the oft-underwritten Caitlin, but it was nearly as satisfying to see a version of Cisco reach his ultimate potential, though in pursuit of evil over good. Imagine what our Cisco could do with that power in service of humanity! Though I agree with Harry that Barry should stay out of all of this and stick to his real goal of confronting Zoom and rescuing Jesse (or at the very least, let Iris grieve the death of her father with her real husband), the more we get to see of Earth-2 and its mirrored denizens, the better. It's such a relief, by the way, that Harry has come clean and everything is on the table among Team Flash - now their alliance can be riddled with small, honest arguments based on temperament, rather than haunted with deceit.
Of course the benefit of a parallel universe episode is the fun it allows its actors, each trying on new character idiosyncrasies and motivations, and every member of the Flash cast held up admirably- with the one minor quibble that Grant Gustin isn't given the same chance after Barry-2 is so quickly dispensed with. But "Welcome To Earth-2" has a second perk, in that it invigorates the Zoom storyline better than any other episode this season. The conclusion of the episode leaves Barry in a cell next to Jesse in Zoom's lair, and suddenly this plot feels a lot more urgent. And it's gratifying to know that we'll get to spend more time on Earth-2 next week, because I'm not ready to leave this golden world of nostalgia just yet.
Meanwhile, on Earth-1:
Caitlin and Jay are left to repair the speed cannon and fight a particularly unmemorable meta-villain, and while nothing in our plain ol' Central City can compare with the thrill of Earth-2, it's fun to see Golden Age Flash do some actual Flashing for once.
Coolest moments this week:
How about when Cisco, Caitlin and Barry all bragged about their low PE grades? Right there with you, guys.
Barry and Iris - Earth-1 Iris - share a wonderful conversation in which she ensures that he's not just escaping himself by taking the last remaining breach to Earth-2. I don't know what's changed over the past few weeks, but mopey Barry is gone. Finally.
"I got no spit." "Jaws." Harry joining a pop culture conversation is a fun novelty topped only by panicky Cisco.
There were dozens of Easter eggs in this episode, many of them buried in the speed force, but I got actual goosebumps at this one: