Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The Flash 'Escape From Earth-2' Review

This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS for the episode to be discussed, if you do not want certain plot points or story spoilt, please do not read further.

With last weeks 'Welcome to Earth-2' being such a good episode it would be easy to expect that quality to dip with this weeks follow-up offering, as two-part stories haven't always been the best for The Flash in the past.  'Escape From Earth-2' doesn't drop in quality at all though, and works so well with last weeks episode that it might just make the two-part story one of the best the shows ever done.

The episode opens with Zoom terrorising the Earth-2 version of Central City, searching for Harrison Wells, and it's one of the most tense and creepy sequences the show has ever given us.  Zoom is scary, from his demonic look to his evil voice (so much credit for Zoom's presence should be given to Tony Todd for his voice work) to the frightening use of his powers there's no denying that if Zoom was looking for you you'd be terrified.

The opening moments of the episode help to capture that fear as Wells, Cisco and Earth-2 Barry are forced to run for their lives from the demonic speedster.  The best moment comes where the three of them hide in Harry's time vault, only to be followed by Zoom who phases through the very walls searching for them.  It's only through trickery and luck that they manage to stay alive.

This concept of a villain who can get you faster than you can blink, who can walk through walls and won't hesitate to kill makes Zoom easily one of the best villains the show has ever given us.  He's a better speedster than anything we've seen from the Reverse-Flash, he's scarier than King Shark and Gorilla Grodd combined and his taste for evil and murder might be up there with Vandal Savage.  Zoom is frightening, and this episode makes you aware of that.  Even when he's not on screen you're waiting for him to appear at any moment.  His presence is felt throughout and it's brilliant.

With Earth-1 Barry locked away in Zooms lair (as Cisco said, he's a villain so it's a lair) along with Jessie and the mysterious man in the iron mask (more on him later) it's left over to Harry and Cisco to track down Zoom and mount a rescue.  Luckily the two of them get some help in the form of Barry's Earth-2 counterpart, Iris and even Killer Frost.  

After playing up the arch villain stereotype last week it was nice to see Danielle Panabaker bring some of her acting ability to what was set up as a fairly one-dimensional villain.  The death of the Earth-2 Ronnie gives Cisco the opening he needs to appeal to her humanity, to her love for Ronnie and her grief at her loss.  It's a good scene, as it also gives Cisco something to do other than play comic relief, and as always he's damn good at it.

With the help of Killer Frost the group finds Zooms lair and rescues Jessie and Barry, with Barry getting some well needed encouragement from his Earth-2 counterpart.  With Barry having been talked out of a slump so often in the past by various father figures (evil Wells, Harry, Joe and his actual father) it's nice to see him get that kind of help from himself for once, and it goes to show that even in another universe, without any superpowers Barry is still Barry deep down.  

When Zoom reappears and captures Jessie things look pretty grim for our team, and I was expecting this to be the point where Harry made the ultimate sacrifice to save his daughter.  Instead the heroics come from Killer Frost, who tells Cisco that he was right about her love for Ronnie before hitting Zoom with everything she's got.  It's sad to think that this is probably the last time we're going to see Killer Frost as it's pretty much a certainty that Zoom killed her for turning on him.  It doesn't take much to get Zoom to kill you, but attacking him and letting his prisoners run away has got to be guaranteed death sentence.  

Before we talk about the final scenes of the episode I should take a moment to talk about Jay Garrick over on Earth-1.  Carrying on from last week Jay is still dealing with the threat of Geomancer and trying to get his speed back with the help of Caitlin.  Caitlin appears to perfect the speed serum Velocity 9 and manages to temporarily give Jay his speed with no ill effects.  Jay and Caitlin even finally kiss after weeks of skirting around their feelings.

I love Jay Garrick from the comics (well, the pre-New 52 version anyway) and am always glad when they give him things to do as so far his character has felt very underused and bland.  That's why this weeks episode left me feeling heartbroken and also kind of hopeful for the character.

In the final moments of the episode Harry, Jessie, Cisco and Barry race back to the breach to Earth-1 and manage to get through moments before Zoom does.  Jay throws one of their disruption devices into the breach and it starts to close.  Before it does, however, Zoom reaches through, phases his arm through Jay and drags him back to Earth-2.  

As we know from seeing this kind of thing in the past a hand phased into someone is pretty much guaranteed to kill them, and even is Jay had some Velocity 9 left in his body it's unlikely that his body could heal from that kind of wound.  So, Jay Garrick's dead then right?

Well, maybe not.  And this is where I get back to the man in the iron mask.  While Barry was trapped in Zooms lair he and Jessie figured out that the man in the mask was trying to communicate with an old POW code and spelled out the word Jay.  Barry confirms that the man was referring to Jay Garrick, and reassures the man that Jay is safe on Earth-1.  Instead of finding some kind of comfort in this the man in the iron mask reacts badly, which begs the question why.  Well, here's my thoughts, perhaps the man we've known as Jay Garrick isn't actually Jay Garrick, but the man in the iron mask is.

I know it might sound a little crazy, but bear with me here.  We know that Zoom wants Barry for his speed, and that he wants to drain it away from him into himself.  Now, this has apparently already happened to the Jay Garrick that arrived on Earth-1 and that's why he isn't a speedster anymore.  But if Zoom had already drained one speedsters powers why does he need Harry to figure out how to give him Barry's speed?  If he's already done it in the past why didn't he steal Barry's speed when he broke his back, or when he had him locked up in his lair?  I think the answer is because Zoom doesn't know how to do it yet, and never drained Jay's speed.  

We know that there are various doubles and shape shifters in the Flash/Arrow universe, so it could be very possible that the Jay on Earth-1 is only someone who looks like Jay Garrick.  That's why he only has super speed when taking the Velocity serum.  I think that the man in the iron mask is the real Jay Garrick, captured by Zoom and held prisoner whilst Zoom figures out a way to steal his speed and that the Jay Garrick on Earth-1 is an impostor, possibly sent by Zoom to infiltrate Team Flash and gather intel.  This could also explain why Jay stood unusually close to the breach as it closed, to allow Zoom to grab him and pull him back through to Earth-2.

I know it probably sounds like a crazy idea, and that it might seem like a desperate way to get Jay back after it looked like he died, but it kind of makes a little sense.  Especially when you consider that the Man in The Iron Mask story dealt with twins and people who looked alike.  It would also explain why his prisoner is in a mask, like in the original story he doesn't want anyone to see their face so that they know an impostor is around.

I'll have to wait to see if my idea has any real merit, or if the man in the iron mask is someone else entirely, but if the show can continue to deliver more episodes as good as this one the waits going to be an entertaining one.


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