“Escape from Earth-2” does not reach the heights of the previous episode. It lacks the same propulsion and joyful weirdness of seeing the various doppelgängers introduced, and spends too much time on Earth-1 with its far less interesting story line. But most important, despite the team’s experience on Earth-2, we’re left with a lot more questions than answers, specifically when it comes to Zoom, Jay Garrick, and the Man in the Iron Mask imprisoned next to Jesse, and the ways they intersect. But it still is a tantalizing episode that highlights the show’s greatest strengths — namely, the chemistry between Candice Patton and Grant Gustin, who both seem to be having a lot of fun playing their Earth-2 counterparts.
“Escape from Earth-2” opens with Tony Todd’s dynamic voice-over as Zoom, who is whipping across Central City looking for Harry. When he stands on the ledge overlooking the city with a building scorched with the fiery message “Bring Me Wells,” the show feels like it is truly leaning into how utterly terrifying Zoom is. But one reason why he’s truly monstrous is because we really don’t know anything about him besides his intense, addictionlike desire for speed (which is oddly mirrored in Jay Garrick). Despite this bold opening and the precarious situation Team Flash on Earth-2 was left in during last week’s episode, we spend a lot of time on Earth-1. Too much, probably.
There’s a lot of development happening, at least. Geomancer is still wreaking havoc across the city. Caitlin creates Velocity 9, which gives Jay his speed powers back long enough to save people from a falling building, thanks to Geomancer’s destruction. It also seems to kick-start his regenerative powers whenever it’s in his system. Iris’s cute new editor/boss, Scott Evans, is introduced. But he doesn’t share Iris’s trust or enthusiasm about the Flash. Scott doesn’t seem to think the Flash is the hero that Central City has come to believe him to be, due to his absence. Which, of course, Iris can’t explain is because he’s in another universe. But she’s able to write a piece on Jay (whom the people of the city are becoming aware of as another Flash) in order to not write the scathing takedown of Barry that her editor wants.
All of this greatly pales in comparison to what their friends are contending with on Earth-2, but there are some moments of interest. It was great to finally have the show develop both Caitlin and Iris as characters within the same episode, and see them working together (on both Earth-1 and Earth-2, but under far different circumstances). But what sticks with me from the Earth-1 segments is whatever the hell is going on with Jay Garrick.
Jay is so dramatically different from his comic-book counterpart (come on, he’s basically a drug addict when it comes to speed), and his lies being revealed (like the fact that Zoom didn’t steal his speed) are starting to make me wonder if he is really who he says he is. There’s also an odd moment when Geomancer gets into STAR Labs. First off, isn’t it ridiculous how easy it is to get into the Flash’s headquarters? At this point, I’m treating this as a plot hole because of how unbelievable it is that their security is that lacking. But what’s truly odd is that Jay isn’t awakened by Geomancer’s tremors at all, even though he’s on the premises. Iris and Caitlin are left to contend with the metahuman (who would perhaps be more interesting in an episode where he’s the main focus). Thankfully, Caitlin is able to shoot the boot around his neck to dampen his powers. With some help from Joe and Jay’s newfound, albeit limited, speed, they’re also able to stabilize the breach that was messed up, thanks to Geomancer’s appearance. Jay’s absence when he was needed by Caitlin and Iris most is only one of the things in the episode that got me suspicious.
On Earth-2, Cisco catches Harry up on the drama before Zoom crashes into STAR Labs, just as they’re evacuating and locking the building down. Seeing Harry so frightened is surprising. But it looks like his hope is dwindling in the face of Barry being captured. The conversation between Cisco and Harry is interrupted when Barry Two starts whining about being let out. He was only locked up in whatever storage closet for a day, but did they bring him any food? Was he really knocked out that long? Barry Two is somehow even geekier and more clumsily adorable than the Barry we’ve come to love on Earth-1. He says “heck” a lot, makes odd geeky references, and seems, at times, too afraid to function. That last aspect is especially clear when he, Harry, and Cisco hide in a time vault (how does Harry have that?) behind a fake wall to escape Zoom. But if there is one thing he shares with Barry from Earth-1, it’s how he looks at Iris.
Earth-2 Barry and Iris are such a great couple. Despite this episode being a bit sloppy, the chemistry between them and the fun the actors are having are a bright spot. I hope this makes the writers finally push Barry and Iris together because at this point it’s kind of ridiculous that they aren’t. No more placeholder love interests, please.
Earth-2 Iris and Barry team up with Cisco and Harry to find Zoom’s lair, but how? Zoom has proved incredibly hard to track down, but it’s thanks to a suggestion from Iris that Cisco realizes finding Killer Frost will be the key. Barry Two uses his own algorithm with the information available on Killer Frost to find out she’s likely in a forest. We get some cool moments of Killer Frost flexing her abilities, and Danielle Panabaker is obviously having a lot of fun with the role even though I think she’s still a bit stiff. But once he gets a gun trained on her and gives a second impassioned plea about her love for Deathstorm, he convinces her to help them get to Zoom’s lair. This is all a lot of fun to watch, but the most interesting events in “Escape from Earth-2” concern what’s going down in the prison Barry now finds himself in.
Look, I understand that Jesse has been imprisoned for months, but she’s so defeatist, it was hard for me to have sympathy for her. These kinds of damsels in distress never really play well for me. Barry tries to comfort her time and time again even after Zoom arrives threatening them all. But what I care about here is the Man in the Iron Mask. Who the hell is he?
Barry surmises that his incessant knocking is him trying to speak to them. It isn’t Morse code, but Barry figures out what system he’s using and with Jesse’s help is able to figure out what he’s tapping out: the name “Jay,” as in Jay Garrick. Okay, that’s weird. It’s nice seeing Barry flex his intelligence, which the show doesn’t highlight enough. The Man in the Iron Mask gets frustrated when Barry doesn’t accurately figure out what he means by tapping out the name Jay. But after we see that the hair under his mask is blond, I came up with a few ideas.
Could the Jay Garrick we’ve come to know not really be Jay from Earth-2? The fact that there were no traces of the speed force in his system, and he lied about Zoom stealing his powers, raises a lot of questions, as does his addiction to speed. Could the masked man imprisoned by Zoom be the real Earth-2 Jay Garrick, or one from another Earth? How does Hunter Zolomon fit into this? Either we’re dealing with the Jay we’ve come to know being Zoom, working with him, and/or not being Jay at all. It’s hard to parse out what’s really going on, since we don’t have a lot of information on Zoom and Jay is starting to look mighty suspicious.
Barry ends up getting his ass kicked by Zoom when he finds out he’s trying to decipher what the Man in the Iron Mask is saying. But this beatdown unintentionally helps Barry figure out how to get out of his glass prison: He needs to phase. I’m not sure why it took him this long to think of that. But Barry isn’t able to phase fast enough to compensate for the fact he is on a different frequency than Earth-2 to escape. Eventually, everyone is able to get to Zoom’s lair and free Jesse. Barry encourages them to leave since he isn’t able to phase out, and Killer Frost isn’t able to freeze the walls to shatter them. But Barry Two isn’t having any of that.
“If I can do the impossible today, so can you. I’m just Barry Allen, but you’re the Flash,” Barry Two says to his doppelgänger. Apparently, all versions of Barry Allen are great at giving pep talks. This gives our Barry the shot of determination he needs to phase faster than ever before and escape. The escape is short lived when Zoom arrives thanking Killer Frost for double-crossing everyone. What did they expect?
But apparently Killer Frost has more of a heart than she lets on, because before Zoom can kill Jesse in front of Harry, she shoots him with an icy blast, subduing him long enough for everyone to get out. Barry promises the Man in the Iron Mask they’ll come back to him somehow. Barry says a heartfelt good-bye to Earth-2’s Iris and Barry. But the scene hits a sour note when Jesse starts complaining about not wanting to leave her life behind. What about her friends? Her family? Honey, none of that will matter if Zoom kills you. I know she’s been through a lot, but that’s a dumb line of thinking. Harry, Jesse, Cisco, and Barry are able to cross over with Zoom, only briefly wrinkling their plan. Jay throws the capsule to close the breach, but the moment I saw him standing way too close to it, I knew everyone’s happiness would be short-lived. Just before the breach closes, Zoom reaches his hand through Jay’s chest, pulling him, presumably, to Earth-2. I have a feeling that Jay knew this was going to happen all along. And the breaches may be closed now, but considering how the episode ends and how much more we have yet to learn about Zoom, I think it is only a matter of time before these worlds collide again.