The Flash: 2.14 Escape From Earth-2
When a TV show tries something different, breaking from the routine, messing with the dynamic and frankly doing something batshit crazy, you really want it to embrace it. And there are those great episodes that achieve just that; Babylon 5's season four episode Intersections in Real Time abandons every character bar Sheridan as he interrogated again and again like something out of a Beckett play. The X Files's season five episode The Post-Modern Prometheus embraces its black and white, Cher-loving Frankenstein episode to the very end. It is okay to deviate from the norm, abandoning its structure if it is going to give the audience something very special indeed.
In the last two weeks, The Flash has taken its alternate worlds concept to the next level as Barry and Cisco travelled to Earth 2 and it has been a lot of fun. Evil Caitlin and Cisco (Killer Frost and Reverb), kick ass cop Iris, a golden, art-deco style Central City, there have been moments that have finally given season two the kick it needed. And yet neither Welcome To Earth 2 or this week's Escape From Earth-2 delivered on their awesome potential because of the show's inability to deviate from its standard format.
And so for every great moment where Barry battled to break free of Zoom's prison or Cisco trying to win Killer Frost to their side, we got thrilling moments like Iris gets a new boss. Iris looks for an interview opportunity with Jay Garrick's Flash. Caitlin defies science and the logic of time itself to develop Velocity 786. Caitlin and Jay try to fix the gateway. Even the stuff with the sadly wasted Geomancer felt like a distraction to the events happening on Earth 2, particularly when Jay didn't even have his huge heroic saving the day moments because he was sleeping. With all the alternate characters in play, there was room for every main actor to have a shot at focusing on playing someone new and so the moment Cisco and Barry stepped through the portal, we should have left Earth 1 behind until the end of this episode.
And it is frustrating because there was a lot of really interesting stuff going on in Earth 2. Danielle Panabaker's Killer Frost continued to be one of the best meta humans the show has done, filled with cold rage over Ronnie's death - something Cisco was quick to observe - and turning from foe to ally to traitor and then finally ally again as she attacked Zoom to help them escape. I hope she survived to return another day because she has made a great impact already. Grant Gustin was clearly having a lot of fun as dorky, squeaky Bartholomew Allen who found the courage to help his wife and the rest of the team venture in Zoom's mountain lair to save his alternate counterpart.
Some of the best moments were with Barry Allen, trapped in the prison, fighting to keep Jesse alive, facing a brutal beating from Zoom and then trying to solve the mystery of who the man in the iron mask really is. The twist that he was Jay opens up some intriguing questions that may make Teddy Sears's hero back in Earth 1 a more intriguing character. Along with his alternate counterpart glimpsed a couple of weeks ago, there is the suggestion that there is a lot more to come, even with that shocking ending as Zoom dragged him through the portal back to Earth 2 before it closed. How there can be three Jays remains a intriguing mystery; perhaps Zoom dragged him back in time with his speed and the Jay in the iron mask is the same man that has been helping team Flash? Or is there something far bigger at play? Earth 3?
That ending aside, the eventual confrontation with Zoom as they tried to escape was certainly exciting. Killer Frost betraying him, Zoom threatening to kill everyone except Barry and the pursuit back to Star Labs capped off the Earth 2 visit in style. The fact that Jay seemed to close the last portal to Earth 2 before he was dragged back through is surely a red herring. When he does come face to face with Barry, Zoom has proven to be a formidable villain and I can't see this dramatic saga being over yet.
So while Escape From Earth 2 relied too much on the formula by keeping the unnecessary Earth 1 side plot going, there was some dramatic stuff when it came to Zoom and the man in the iron mask. Personally I hope at least one of the portals is re-opened because so far all the really interesting stuff is happening over in Earth 2...