The Flash S02E02 “Flash Of Two Worlds” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on: Sky 1, Tuesdays, 8pm
Writers: Aaron Helbing & Todd Helbing
Director: Jesse Warn
Essential Plot Points:
- Barry isn’t convinced about Jay’s story that he’s The Flash on an alternate Earth.
- The Zoom-enlisted Barry assassin of the week is Sand Demon, who is clearly The Sandman in an alternate comic company.
- Jay finally convinces Barry and they defeat Sand Demon together. Jay becomes Barry’s new mentor.
- Jays tells everyone about how Zoom is his arch enemy back on his world.
- Patty Spivot joins Joe’s Metahuman taskforce and flirts with Barry via the medium of Monty Python.
- Cisco reveals to Stein that he’s been having “vibes” but asks him to keep it secret.
- Stein collapses.
- Harrison Wells is alive and well and like a rock’n’roll Steve Jobs on some alternate Earth.
Back in 1961, The Flash #123 boasted on its cover, “A spectacular story that is sure to become a classic.” At the time, that kind of hyperbole wasn’t exactly unusual. Editors would boast that a comic featuring Batman battling a nasty bout of flu was “sure to become a classic.” But 54 year later, that particular claim on The Flash #123’s cover – in its not-particularly-large font, not-particularly-hyperbolic language and not-particularly-lurid colours – actually feels like it’s underselling the issue. Because this is the comic that spawned DC’s multiverse, and which, over a quarter of a century later, has inspired an episode of a TV show that has got fanboys worldwide excited. That episode has the self-same title as the story inside that comic: “Flash Of Two Worlds”.
The Flash has a lot to pull off here, and mostly it manages to do so with its usual cheery charm. It’s not just introducing the multiverse, but also the season’s big bad and another version of the Flash too. If you want to be pernickety all three were actually introduced in episode one, but this is the first episode that has to really get to grips with them. It’s no surprise, then, some elements of the episode get short shrift. The result is a good episode, then, but not a “classic”. There’s plenty of “Ooohhh” but not much, “Wow!”
The main creative choice that prevents the potential “wow” factor in a Flash-meets-Flash episode is having Jay Flash* lose his powers on entering our universe. It’s also an understandable choice because it gives the episode some dramatic meat to chew on, with Barry mistrusting this new potential mentor after his Harrison Wells experience. Gustin turns in yet another brilliant performance in a role that could have made him come across as merely a sulky git. His perfectly sells Barry’s doubts about this “speedster” who can’t actually prove his powers.
(*Okay, we won’t call him that again – it makes him sound like a cleaning product.)
The writers may also be playing a game of delayed gratification, hoping we’ll appreciate the spectacle of Jay and Barry in superspeed action together even more when it does eventually happen. But the fact remains that it’s a little bit disappointing it doesn’t happen here: it’s more of a “A Flash-And-Half Of Two Worlds”.
It doesn’t help that Teddy Sears is a little stiff as Jay. Perhaps the intention is to make him feel more like a Golden Age superhero (which is what the Jay Garrick Flash was) by having him act like the square-jawed star of a 1930 cinema serial. Well, fair enough, but even on that level he’s not swashbuckling enough. He just a teensy bit dull. Hell, he doesn’t even flirt with Caitlin and she gives him every opportunity. Sears is doing a decent job, but on a show that has brought so many other Flash characters so vividly to life he’s not quite so full of va-va-voom. Maybe that’ll come back with his speed force.
There’s also the usual Flash problem of an underwhelming villain. The fact that the show rarely considers its villains-of-the-week more than cannon fodder is shown in the way they’re usually killed off or captured ten minutes before the end of the episode. Smallville used to do this too. Luckily, The Flash puts that extra time for good use; all we used to get on Smallville was Clark and Lana (or later Lois) either snogging or arguing, but The Flash usually delivers some of its best moments in those final scenes, whether it’s advancing the arc plot, giving us a massive surprise or having a character development no one expected.
That’s what we get here, with Stein collapsing, Cisco worrying about his news powers, Barry and Jay bonding and, of course, Harrison Wells popping up in an alternate universe, clearly with a stake in the new season, though at the moment we have no idea if he’s good or evil. Great stuff.
As usual, it’s a solidly entertaining, pacy, great-looking episode laced with wit and wonderful lines (“I’ve been poked, prodded, I even subjected myself to a full body scan,” grumbles Jay. “I was being thorough,” shrugs Caitlin.) There’s not an awful lot wrong with the episode, it just feels a little bit of a missed opportunity to create a real TV landmark. Season one was a massive success because it delivered more than just polished comic book action. It’d be a shame if season two doesn’t continue to push the boundaries.
- Caitlin’s unsubtle attempts to get to see as much of Jay’s body as possible.
- The introduction of the multiverse is enticingly full of potential.
- Lots of really pretty effects courtesy of three different lightning energy producers in one episode…
- Great performance from Grant Gustin again.
- The final scene with Harrison Wells is a pleasant surprise.
- Barry and Patty bonding over Monty Python: “Or like the Bridge keeper protecting the Holy Grail!”
- Cisco calling Stein “beautiful mind”.
- He’s not bad, exactly, that’s a bit mean, but Teddy Sears is a little stiff as Jay.
- Week two of the new season and already Zoom’s MO seems like a cliché: why try to kill off a rival yourself when you can get some schmuck to bungle the attempt for you?
- While Cisco gives an explanation for why he’s scared of his powers and wants to keep them secret it still seems an unlikely character choice after he told everybody about his “dreams” last seasons. Cisco seems like the kind of guy who’d want all the help he could get understanding what’s happening to him, especially if he might get a cool code name out of it by the end.
- Is Iris going to have a role other than chief motivator this season?
- Patty is sweet and sparky but it’s a shame her main plot function in her debut is to get captured.
- Barry’s spinny-arm thing still looks very silly.
And The Random:
- 52-Spotting: Aside from the team watching Oliver Queen’s TV announcement from last week’s Arrow on Channel 52 (lovely little crossover there) there’s also a more intriguing use of 52 this week. When Stein and Cisco discover multiple breaches, Cisco says, “Of course there’s not just one breach, there’s 52 of them scattered throughout the city.” Well, yeah, of course there’s 52. Stein may have suggested earlier in the episode that there could be infinite universes, but in the DC multiverse – after a mini series event called “52” in 2007 – there were only 52 universes. So is the fact that there are 52 breaches just another nod to DC’s favourite number? Or could each breach lead to one of those 52 alternate universes? Which is a great theory, except the mathematically-minded of you might be thinking, “But our universe is one of those 52, so there would only need to be 51 breaches.”
- Patty Spivot was introduced to the DC comics universe in DC Special Series #1: “5-Star Super-Hero Spectacular” (1977) as a lab assistant for Barry. She has been romantically linked with Barry at various times, and in the current New 52 continuity she is Barry’s main girlfriend.
- Thinking that the image at the top of this article looks a little familiar? That’s because it’s a clever homage to the cover of The Flash #123 (1961).
- Sand Demon was a short-lived villain first introduced in Firestorm #51 (1986). He was killed off a mere two years later.
- Patty says she went to Hudson University. This fictional institution has been mentioned on the show before in season one’s “Revenge Of The Rogues” and “All Star Team-Up”. In the DC comics universe it’s where Dick Grayson and Martin Stein studied, among others. There’s also a fictional Hudson University that’s been used in various TV shows including Law & Order and its spin-offs, Castle, Beauty And The Beast and Murder, She Wrote. It’s unclear if the comic and TV Hudson Universities are supposed to be the same place, but if they are, think of the crossover potential! Somebody get Angela Lansbury’s agent on the phone!
- Jay mentions, “the war of Americas”. The Flash’s executive producer Greg Berlanti worked on a series called Jack And Bobby back in 2004-5, which was about two teenage brothers, one of whom was destined to become president of the United States in 2041. In the final episode a faux documentary features a conflict called “war of Americas”.
- Blimey, a crim in The Flash who wasn’t sent to Iron Heights! Instead, Eddie Slick spent time in Blackgate Penitentiary, which is situated on an island in Gotham Harbour. It was introduced in Detective Comics #629 (1991) and has also been seen or referenced in Gotham, Batman The Animated Series and the Arkham games.
- Central City has a Woodrue Greenhouse, which must be named after the comics villain Jason Woodrue, aka, the Fluronic Man or Plant Master, introduced in Atom #1 (1962).
- Remember those international trailers that showed a speedster with blue lightning trail (see here)? Zoom in this episode has a blue lightning trail so that explains that. It’s also leading internet punters to suspect Zoom might be Edward Clariss, aka The Rival (see here). However, Jay also describes Zoom as, “an unstoppable demon with the face of death,” which does make us wonder if he could be Black Flash, a kind of Grim Reaper for Speedsters (see here).
- INNUENDO OF THE WEEK: “Took me a lot longer to learn how to toss lightning, believe me.”
Review by Dave Golder