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"Now, I don't know you, and you don't know me, but I can tell you that today I did things that I never thought possible, because I needed to prove to my wife and to myself that I could. And if I can do the impossible today, so can you."
Last week's "Welcome to Earth-2" delivered - and quickly killed off - surprising alternate versions of many of our favorite characters, but we weren't able to spend much time with Earth-2's Barry thanks to his rapid imprisonment. This week that oversight was remedied, and Grant Gustin spent an hour cracking us up with his nervous, squirrelly Barry-2. It took some time to have any idea what this Earth's fierce Iris could see in such a little nerd, until we see him risk his life again and again to stand by - or more often behind, and respect to him for deferring to Iris in combat - his wife. (And Iris probably digs the fact that Barry-2 is a metadata genius who looks like Grant Gustin.) In the end, Barry-2 shows great courage and strength in staying behind to convince our Barry that he can phase his way through Zoom's impenetrable cell, an especially gracious move considering that all he knows of Barry-1 is that he abducted him, impersonated him and kissed his wife.
The only storyline in "Escape From Earth-2" that is equally compelling is that of Killer Frost. Last week we saw Danielle Panabaker chomping the scenery as a vainglorious baddie, and that was a delight to behold, but her performance this week carried so much more weight as we watch yet another Caitlin Snow grieve yet another Ronnie Raymond. Of course it's Cisco who gets through to her, who knows that she will be the key to finding Zoom's lair and rescuing Barry and Jesse. A universe apart, and he is still Caitlin's best friend and the person who understands her better than anyone. What we learn in "Escape from Earth-2" is that The Flash's main characters and their multiverse variants always have some crucial qualities in common: Barry-2 is a hero underneath his glasses and bowtie, much like Barry is a dork underneath his red suit. We will likely soon learn that Cisco has Reverb's power, just as Reverb had Cisco's knack for naming. Killer Frost has a soft spot beneath her villainy, and Caitlin is a badass in polite scientist's clothing.
Because of course Caitlin's dispatching of Geomancer was by far the best part of the Earth-1 action this week. It's always a pleasure seeing Iris and Caitlin working together, but Geomancer continues to be a lackluster bad guy and Iris' jerk editor added very little to the proceedings. I would be ready to throw in the towel on Jay Garrick if it weren't for the masked man in Zoom's lair spelling out his name. What could that mean? We know Jay's Earth-1 doppelganger is named Hunter Zolomon - is the masked man trying to tell us that Zoom is another Jay Garrick, or that he, the masked man, is a third Jay? It's a fascinating conundrum that The Flash has paced very effectively throughout the season. Jay's a nice character but one who seemed to offer zero intrigue, and all of a sudden I am intrigued. Of course, that happens just in time for Zoom to punch his fist through Jay's chest and drag him back to Earth-2.
But better him than Harry, whose life seemed in real danger in this episode. After their beautiful and complicated reunion this week, Harry's relationship with Jesse is an element I'm eager to see expanded in future episodes. This is the first week where we really get to know Jesse Wells, and it seems as if she'll be a strong addition to this already over-stuffed group. Suddenly, we have four (four? more?) potential Speedsters in Earth-1's Central City, and just in time for Caitlin to perfect Velocity 9.
What will this mean for Team Flash? It could be that it will take all of these speedsters running at full capacity to keep up with Zoom, whose viciousness seems to grow with every episode. "Escape From Earth-2" opens with a sinister Zoom voiceover in place of Barry's usual ponderings, and it's not hard to picture a world where Zoom is the fastest man alive, a dark shadow of The Flash speeding his way to ultimate power.
"Welcome to Earth-2" and "Escape from Earth-2" made for the strongest two-parter of The Flash yet. Season 2 has been a bit shaggy, but fourteen episodes in, it finally seems that we're on an unstoppable trajectory toward the finale and the culmination of all of these seemingly disparate arcs.
Coolest moments this week:
"Nice shot." "I was aiming for his leg." More Action Caitlin, please.
"I'm sorry, he got frisky with you?" Barry-2's prim outrage is hilarious but also completely justified. Barry-1 took some real liberties last week.
Harry's Time Vault fake wall is GENIUS.
The location of Zoom's lair made for an exciting reveal - "Cliffs of Insanity" indeed, Cisco - and of course there are budgetary limitations on an episode this expansive, but it would have been awfully neat to see "Elsa" build those ice steps.
Next week: King Shark, baby!