When you sit back and think about just how much of the Flash mythology has unspooled in the little over a year that the show has been in existence, it’s kind of remarkable. It’s taken four seasons for Barry’s buddy in Star City to finally start calling himself the Green Arrow, but in one season and change we’ve gotten time-travel, the Speed Force, Gorilla Grodd, and now, in “Flash Of Two Worlds,” the introduction of the multiverse. The show is definitely taking its cue from its title character, and this may be the zippiest episode yet.
“The Flash Of Two Worlds” takes its title from the classic Flash issue that introduced the concept of Earth-2 as a way of reviving Jay Garrick, the original Flash of the comics. That’s about all this episode derives from that issue, aside from an homage to the cover image near the end. The concept of the multiverse is quite a bit more sophisticated now than it was in 1961 when Gardner Fox and Julius Schwartz hatched the idea that the Flash Barry read about in the comics (and took his alias from) actually existed in another dimension. When Jay shows up at STAR Labs at the beginning of this episode, we get the fastest possible Multiverse For Dummies explanation (complete with visual aids courtesy of Prof. Stein).
As most of us theorized last week, the Atom Smasher version of Al Rothstein was actually the Earth-2 version, sent by Zoom to kill Barry. Jay had been battling Zoom when the wormhole opened up, sucking first his helmet and then him into Earth-1, where he finds himself powerless. As Cisco and Stein later determine, even though Barry and Ronnie managed to close the singularity, there are still 52 portals between the two worlds scattered throughout Central City. Zoom is using these portals to send metahumans over to kill the Flash, the latest being the Sand Demon, someone Jay has battled before.
Sand Demon is more of a Firestorm villain in the comics, but either way he’s basically identical to Spider-Man’s foe Sandman, and not a whole lot more compelling here than that character was in Spider-Man 3. He’s more of a device here, serving two purposes: getting Barry to trust Jay and getting Barry’s potential new love interest in peril as quickly as possible. The first purpose feels organic: It makes sense that Barry’s lingering feelings of betrayal concerning Harrison Wells would cause him to distrust a potential new mentor from the jump, particularly one with a back-story that isn’t easily verified. Even though this Jay Garrick has been aged down from his comic-book equivalent (here he’s only been the Flash for two years instead of decades), Teddy Sears gives him a suitable air of authority and experience. As for Patty Spivot, it’s too early to say whether she’ll make a better match for Barry than Iris, but the episode moves a little too fast in its efforts to make us believe they’re meant for each other, and the strain shows, particularly when they start quoting Python to each other.
Once Barry and Jay dispense with Sand Demon (via Barry harnessing another new power and throwing lightning at him, turning him to glass which shatters in a pretty nifty effect), the arc of the season starts to come into focus. Zoom is another evil speedster, which might lead some to suspect we’re heading down the road of Reverse-Flash II: Even Flashier, especially given that cameo at the end by a suaved-out Harrison Wells of Earth-2. I seriously doubt it will be that simple, though; given the velocity with which the creative team is burning through story, they don’t appear to have much interest in repeating themselves. When it comes to setting up new characters like Patty Spivot, however, it wouldn’t hurt to slow down once in a while. Even the Flash knows when to take a breather.
- So whatever happened to all the ethical qualms about locking people up in the STAR Labs Supermax? I guess using it as a temporary holding cell isn’t quite as egregious an assault on civil liberties.
- The speculation about doppelgangers in the multiverse begins. I’m guessing the evil Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost we glimpsed at the end of last season belongs to Earth-2, and that our own Caitlin won’t be doing a heel turn after all.
- Speaking of Caitlin and hastily setting up new love interests, she was all “Ronnie who?” once Jay showed up in STAR Labs, wasn’t she?
- Cisco is having more “vibes” about events he hasn’t seen, which should give him an idea for a name once he decides to go full superhero.
- Jay’s old-fashioned helmet may look a little goofy to modern eyes, but I liked the explanation that his father wore it in the “War of the Americas.”
- Oh hey, Joe’s ex is in town! That should be fun.