“Welcome to Earth-2” is not the type of episode you critically review. Instead, it is the type of episode you purely admire, sit back and gladly declare, “That was a lot of fun.” It lends itself to that type of reaction because it is such a thoroughly geek-out of an episode, overflowing with DC comics easter eggs, great Cisco one-liners and general comic book/sci-fi alternate universe intrigue, like the Fringe alt-universe seasons but on crack.
The plot was relatively simple: Barry, Cisco and Harry travel to Earth-2 to locate Zoom and rescue Harry’s daughter. Their plan immediately derails forcing them to Back to the Future 2 things and have Barry assume his Earth-2 counterpart’s identity. Along the way, we simply bask in all the weirdness and mirror glass elements of Earth-2:
- Their technology is more advanced than our’s, yet their cars and clothes haven’t progressed since the 1940s.
- Iris is the cop, and Joe (who prefers “Joseph”) is the one working at Jitters, as their resident nightclub singer.
- Floyd “Deadshot” Lawton is Iris’ partner, but his “Deadshot” nickname on this Earth is ironic because he’s actually a horrible shot.
- Barry’s police chief boss on Earth-1 is a villain with rather adventurous facial hair on Earth-2.
- Henry Hewitt, the evil meta dubbed Tokamak on Earth-1, is Harry’s remarkably friendly lab assistant on Earth-2.
- Leonard Snart is the Central City Mayor.
- Earth-2’s Caitlin, Ronnie and Cisco are all evil metahumans (Killer Frost, Deathstorm, Reverb, respectively) working for Zoom.
- Earth-2’s bow tie-wearing Barry is married to Iris, has a contentious relationship with Joe and bought tickets for his mom and and dad to visit Atlantis (presumably ruled over by Aquaman).
- Earth-2’s Barry also has the names Bruce, Diana and Hal on his speed dial.
Even before Earth-2, the episode was already tossing out one easter egg after another as images of Supergirl, the John Wesley Shipp Flash, an older Green Arrow, Jonah Hex and the Legion of Superheroes power ring flew by (in Supergirl’s case, quite literally) as Barry and pals crossed the breach between universes. This is identical to the trick they used in last year’s season finale when we saw an early glimpse of Caitlin as Killer Frost. This time, they used the trick to set up things that will happen on Legends of Tomorrow (Jonah Hex, the older Green Arrow) as well as set up the forthcoming Supergirl crossover. Whether this means Supergirl is officially meant to be happening on a different Earth than Arrow/Flash remains to be seen. The same generally goes for the John Wesley Shipp Flash.
It was genuinely exciting to see Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl surprisingly show up on The Flash, and I say that as someone who doesn’t particularly care for Supergirl. They are giving us something we recognize (e.g., “Hey, it’s Supergirl”) but with a new twist (e.g., “And she’s officially in Barry’s future now”), which very easily induces an automatically gleeful response.
That characterizes much of the enjoyment to be had in alternate universe episodes of sci-fi television, and “Welcome to Earth-2” is certainly no different in that regard. It could ultimately be a terribly scattershot episode and get away with it because simply glimpsing the “What if?” possibilities of all the doppelgangers in an alternate universe is going to be inherently fun. Heck, it’s supposed to be! You don’t let Grant Gustin and Carlos Valdes go so big with their reactions to each subsequent Earth-2 surprise if you weren’t playing this all for maximum enjoyment.
If that’s all that “Welcome to Earth-2” had to offer that would make it a welcome change of pace for a season which had become a little stuck, but that’s all it would be. However, Katherine Walczak’s script and Millicent Shelton’s direction elevated this episode above the norm by wisely emphasizing that Earth-2 is Barry’s dream world.
At the start, Iris makes him swear that this inter-dimensional trip has nothing to do with him feeling like he needs an escape after his break-up with Patty. It’s just enough to remind us that he is sad and lonely, not that he’s outwardly showing it, and then he goes to a universe where his mother is still alive and he’s married to a version of Iris whose love for him burns hot enough to warrant a hallway make-out session at work. So, Barry breaks our hearts (again) as he barely makes it through a phone conversation with his mother, and he gets so caught up that he ultimately ignores Harry’s far more logical commands to stick to their plan and remember that this is not his life, not his Iris, not his mother. Because he, failing to heed Jay’s warnings at the beginning of the episode, got lost in everything he ended up being captured by Zoom, imprisoned next to Harry’s daughter and across from a mystery man in a metal mask.
You know that Barry will escape from Zoom, but you also suspect that this encounter will have a significant impact on his life, possibly kick-starting a second attempt at a romance with his Iris on Earth-1. Similarly, you know that Cisco will walk away from meeting Reverb realizing that he can do so much more with his powers. These Earth-2 episodes will inevitably have a huge impact on what happens in the back half of season 2. If this first episode is any indication, though, these Earth-2 episodes will also be insanely fun to watch.
When Deadshot fired off a round of shots at point-blank range and somehow missed Reverb every time.
Least Favorite Moment(s)
When Joe, Ronnie and Reverb all died. It felt like a waste to kill off alt-universe characters that quickly.
How did Harry not realize beforehand that Cisco’s Vibe powers wouldn’t work on Earth-2 because of the different universal vibration?
They Keeping Killing Ronnie
By my count, this was Ronnie Raymond’s third death scene.
Biggest “Who Cares?” Moment
Caitlin and Jay talking about his powers on Earth-1
Latest “Who’s Zoom?” Theory
Either Earth-1’s Jay Garrick or Earth-2’s Henry Allen, but in this episode Earth-2’s Henry was on that trip with Barry’s mom whereas Earth-1’s Jay was completely unaccounted for. The evidence points towards him, but given this show’s preoccupation with fathers and sons it would be more in keeping with their preferred themes if Zoom turns out to be Earth-2 Henry Allen.
Here’s how Twitter weighed in on all of this:
Earth-2’s Weird Yellow Tint
Earth-2 In General
The Women Behind the Scenes
Tweet of the Night