“Part-Time Chemist, Part-Time Physicist, Part-Time Superhero.”
Welcome back Flash fans! Second episodes are a weird lot. In season premieres, payoffs are the name of the game. How did a plot point resolve? What new twists and turns happened as a result and how do our heroes respond to the new problems? In some ways they almost write themselves. Then we come to the sophomore episode, the next step after all that promise. It’s a juggling act that requires the staff to move the plot forward while rewarding the concepts promised in the premiere. Fortunately for us, “Flash of Two Worlds”, the second episode of the CW’s smash hit The Flash was able to make good on that promise while giving us some really interesting concepts to work with. In fact, I would go so far as to say this is part two of the season premiere as we solidify some of the concepts introduced in the premiere as well as introduce a crucial new member to The Flash Family: Jay Garrick
“Flash of Two Worlds” picks up where the Season Two premiere left off, introducing Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears) to our intrepid band of crime fighters in S.T.A.R. Labs. He explains he comes from a parallel Earth where he is called The Flash, but since arriving here he has been left powerless. As a result he spent the past six months observing the Barry so he could figure out who was underneath the scarlet cowl. It’s an interesting nod that indicates a truly motivated person could figure out Barry Allen’s alternate identity with very little heavy lifting. It’s only a matter of time before Barry’s secret identity becomes public knowledge, I wonder how the world will react?
Anyway, Garrick goes onto to explain that his arch-nemesis is none other than Zoom, the man who brought Atom Smasher over from a parallel world in last week’s premiere. Described as a speedster shrouded in death, Zoom is obsessed with Jay Garrick’s Flash, determined to kill him.
Flash Fact: Zoom, as depicted here, resembles The Black Flash, a character that represents death to speedsters. Reportedly seen during near death experiences this gruesome, zombiesque, monster exists because speedsters can typically “outrun death”.
During the height of their latest battle, a portal opened in the sky and sucked Jay through it, depositing him in Central City where he discovered he was powerless. Now, somehow, Zoom has found a way to follow Jay through and has set his sights on Barry. Apparently Zoom is obsessed with being the only being who can tap into the Speed Force, killing anyone else who could possibly threaten that connection with this otherworldly energy. With Jay Garrick de-powered, Zoom’s sights have been fully set on Barry Allen.
Flash Fact: The concept of killing of speedsters in order to make one avatar of speed was first explored with the character Savitar, who created a cult that worshipped speed like a god. Naming himself after the Hindu God of Motion, Savitar began killing every speedster he could in order to become fast enough to break the speed of light and join the Speed Force.
Despite these insights to Zoom, Barry has a hard time trusting Jay and locks him up while Team Flash can work up some tests that can validate what Jay claims. It makes sense, considering the last man who tried to mentor Barry turned out to be his worst enemy but feels pretty dark for The Flash which usually comes from a place of optimism. That said, not every beat of a show can be upbeat and chipper. You need down notes in order to build up to those powerful moments that stick with the audience.
It also gave us a chance to see Jay have some one on on time with Caitlin, Cisco and Iris, which I admit, was pretty adorable as Caitlin fawned over the chiseled jawline of Jay. We also get some insight into Jay’s origin as he’s been The Flash for over two years, obtaining his power as he tried to extract radioactive isotopes from heavy water. It’s a great nod to the comic book origin and also establishes Jay’s background as a fellow scientist, which ups the fawn-line for Caitlin who appears to be entirely smitten.
Flash Fact: Jay Garrick gained his super powers while exposed to the vapors from hard water, a term we usually give to water that encourages calcium build up in your shower. Later the term was updated to indicate the water element that is more dense than standard water. In either event, the use of heavy water vapor triggered Jay Garrick’s latent metahuman gene (see Mutants) rather than bestow the powers on him. He was born this way.
Meanwhile Joe and Barry try to solve a case involving an arson fire that may have been started by a metahuman who can turn himself into sand. After a few dead ends, they get some help with a new character: Patty Spivot. Spivot, a recent transfer to Central City, wants in on Joe’s metahuman task force. With a solid background in science, she chose to get out of the lab because “that’s where the action is.” Needless to say, Joe isn’t too thrilled with the idea of anther partner as both Eddie and Cheshire have died on his watch in the last 2 years. Despite that she insists on helping and tracks down a lead to Eddie Slick, a small time arsonist and all around malcontent.
While hunting down the criminal at large, Patty and Barry have some great banter moments showing how much they have in common whilst quoting Monty Python’s Holly Grail as well as geeking out about lab reports and science in general. There’s clearly chemistry here and if the show follows the comics in any capacity, we can expect a love triangle between Patty, Barry and Iris before season’s end.
Once Joe tracks down Eddie, it’s discovered that Eddie has zero methuman capabilities. More than that, he couldn’t have been given any powers as he was in Blackgate prison at the time. This ties back into the concept of parallel worlds. Doctor Stein, takes the reigns of explain the pseudo-science of how this is possible, with a fun diagram establishing our Earth as “Earth One” and Jay’s Earth as “Earth Two”, part of a multiverse of earths that exist at the same time with only slight differences between them. It’s a fun bit of exposition that has to be laid out as the multiverse theory is so integral to the Flash and DC Comics that it needed to be addressed sooner or later. In fact, part of the fun is seeing how the world can be different just one step over in a parallel universe.
With no evidence to keep Eddie Slick, Joe and Patty have to cut him loose. Of course as soon as they do it, Earth-2 Slick (aka Sand Demon) shows up to kidnap Patty in order to throw Barry off his game. With a hostage hanging in the balance, Barry agrees to listen to Jay as the elder Flash explains to Mr. Allen that there is a way to stop the Sand Demon. By harnessing the static electricity generated by the speed force, The Flash can direct it’s discharge by throwing a thunderbolt. If it hits the Sand Demon, it’ll transform him into glass.
It’s a cool moment that allows us to see Jay as a teacher and equal to Barry Allen. In the comics, this becomes a pivotal, relationship as Garrick takes barry under his wing and doles out advice about being a speedster. It’s a crucial scene that shows us how much larger the mantle of The Flash is. Not only can we have multiple people using the same monicker, none of those people are threatened by the concept. They can all be The Flash. It also gives Teddy Spears some fantastic material to work with as he has to take on the cool and precise mentor with someone who needs to be done yesterday in order to save his friend. It’s a welcome new dynamic that speaks volumes of what Jay Garrick can bring to the table, especially when he dons his costume without any powers. He’s a hero, even without the speed. All of them are. It’s also a hilarious beat when Jay says he can’t find his helmet, a relic from “The War of the Americas”, a toss away line that helps establish just how different Earth 1 and Earth 2 really are. After a moon eyed Caitlin hands Jay back his helmet, it’s time to take on the Sand Demon.
This gives us a chance to talk about what’s going on with Cisco. Since it was revealed in the season one finale that Cisco is a metahuman, we’ve been waiting to see how his power manifest. Currently, when he touches material from a parallel plane, he can catch glimpses of where they are in our world. It’s a cool effect that gives Team Flash a great Deus Ex Machina when it comes to tracking down these dopplegangers from a parallel world. His reaction to keep it secret though is a bit surprising. While I understand his trepidation in revealing his powers, Cisco has been on both sides of this argument and knows it’s going to get out. Fighting it so hard seems to be a little bit too “CW” for me, but hopefully this problem will resolve itself quickly. Regardless, after touching a piece of sand, Cisco is able to “guess” where Slick is so Barry and Jay can go save Patty from our grainy villain.
As with most battles in The Flash, it’s the journey, not the destination. Once Barry figures out how to take a villain down, it usually only takes a few seconds on screen to accomplish the task. It’s why I’m always so impressed with this show and how they’re able to develop characters and motivations so that the show doesn’t feel stale or formulaic. In this case, a de-powered Jay takes one hell of a beating from Sand Demon while Barry saves Patty. After he rescues her, Barry begins the lightning bolt punch that goes off without a hitch, turning Eddie Slick to Glass, and shatters the man into a million pieces. In the aftermath, we get a great nod to the original Flash comic book cover to “Tale of Two Flashes” where Jay Garrick and Barry Allen meet for the first time. Simply, wonderful.
Flash Fact: “Flash of Two Worlds” was not only responsible for introducing Jay Garrick to Barry Allen, it also established DC Comic’s multiverse, a comic troupe that is still used to this day. It’s infamous cover, Flash #123 (published in 1961), has been homaged numerous times but this is the first time it’s ever been translated so literally.
This has gotten some pretty severe fan reaction as they feel it’s too dark for The Flash, a show that is generally optimistic and positive. While I agree that this scene could be interpreted as the death of the Sand Demon, I feel like it’s more of a cellular prison. As the character can literally control each particle of his body independently of itself, turning him into glass might be like locking him in stasis. It’s left vague, but it appears that Jay has used this trick before. If it turns out to be true or not remains to be seen.
All in all, I’d say this episode was pretty strong if tonally a bit of a mishmash. The optimism of Flash Day still fresh in our minds, I think it’s important to establish that point of view again and keep this fun. We’ve dabbled in the dark, now let’s show them what happens when we turn on a Flash light. Otherwise, we may all need to start panicking because… that’s Harrison Wells! He’s back! Is he evil? I don’t know!!!!