We find ourselves back in Earth-2 in tonight’s episode, as the show opens with a Zoom voiceover and a very Nolan-esque view of Central City, complete with ‘Bring Me Wells’ written in fire on the side of a skyscraper. (Seriously, is this The Flash or The Dark Knight? Apparently DC properties take their homages very seriously.)
Zoom reveals he is hunting down Dr. Wells and Cisco, who are taking shelter in Earth-2’s version of Star Labs, and he arrives there just as the *other* Barry wakes up in his broom closet. Cisco dubs him ‘Barry 2,’ and, man, is this guy hilarious. He is as reserved and standoffish as *our* Barry (Barry 1?) is outgoing and friendly, and his righteous indignation at being kidnapped and stuffed in a closet is a sight to behold. He kind of reminds me of a male Hermione, and I would love to know what Grant Gustin is channeling as he plays this wildly different version of Barry, because he is absolutely fantastic. He mentions that his wife will be “worried sick,” which is also a nice touch; after all the wishy-washy dilly-dallying between Iris and Barry 1 about their feelings, it’s a pleasure to see them so open with one another. Too bad we have to go to another version of Earth to see it. Wells reveals that he has a time vault in the lab, and the three of them go in, hiding from Zoom behind a fake wall; when they exit, Barry 2 is hyperventilating from terror and demands an explanation for what is going on. You tell ‘em, Milo Thatch.
Barry 1 is in the prison he was placed in by Zoom at the end of the last episode, and my first thought was that this must be the Earth-2 version of the Star Labs prison for metahumans, which, in an appropriate twist, is being used by Zoom to house good guys instead of bad guys. We never really get an answer as to why the prison is where it is, or how it works, but I’ll get to that later in this review; just know that for now, it definitely was not specifially to keep metahumans in… or out, for that matter. Jesse and Barry are in their respective cells, with a strange masked man in a third. When Jesse and Barry talk through the glass, Jesse saying her father only cares about himself and Barry swearing he’ll rescue them, Zoom appears, letting them know that the only reason they are alive is because he needs Wells to steal Barry’s speed.
Earth-1 remains the slowest portion of this episode, similar to last week’s. While the cast members try to keep it together without Gustin’s Barry, (and, to a lesser degree, Carlos Valdes’ Cisco) the chemistry is off and it’s hard to keep the momentum going through the Earth-1 scenes. And it doesn’t help that practically every scene revolves around Barry being missing, with the first shot of *home* being a news clip wondering, ‘Where Is The Flash?’ Caitlin reveals that the V-7 is reacting with the damaged cells in Jay’s body, causing faster degeneration, and I can’t help but think that all of her recent interactions with this poor man seem to be about how he’s dying. Iris meets her new editor, Scott Evans (played by comedian Tone Bell), and I smell a new love interest for Barry to freak out over: Scott is brash and young and quickly tells Iris that he’s not running her ‘fluff piece’ on Geomancer because people need to read the truth, and the truth is that the Flash might not always be there to save people. Considering that Barry is currently in another dimension, Evans kind of has a point, but I take umbrage at the fact that the Flash doesn’t show up ONCE and he’s suddenly not ‘the hero we all think he is.’ Central City does have a police department.
Back on Earth-2, Barry-2 finds Iris-2 and tells her everything, bringing her to his lab to meet Cisco and Wells. He’s rather indignant to hear that Barry-1 kissed *his* Iris, sputtering, “He got frisky with you?! Oh, I am going to give him a PIECE of my mind!” (And this was the point where I had to pause my DVR because Grant Gustin had me dying of laughter! He clearly had waaay too much fun playing this version of Barry.) Wells, Cisco, Barry-2, and Iris-2 hatch a plan to rescue Barry-1 and Jesse by convincing Killer Frost to tell them where Zoom is holding them; Zoom left Killer Frost alive in the last episode because she always obeys him, but Cisco posits that she might be sympathetic to their cause because Zoom killed the love of her life, Ronnie/Deathstorm. (“The enemy of my enemy is my friend means the same thing, even here.”) When Cisco questions how they will find Killer Frost, Barry-2 reveals the meta data of all metahumans are kept in a database in the Central City-2 forensics computer system, making them trackable- except for Zoom, because he moves too fast to be tracked. Why has no one on our Earth had this idea? It’s brilliant.
Back in the holding cell, Jesse reveals to Barry that the masked man has been knocking on his glass, and that it isn’t Morse code. She says he never goes past five knocks without pausing, and Barry deduces that it is a five-by-five tap code used by prisoners of war. (How, exactly, does Barry know this tidbit of information? Beats the heck out of me.) They decipher that he is spelling ‘J-A-Y,’ which leads Barry to say that Jay is safe back home on Earth-1; this visibly upsets the masked man, who cannot get his message across to them in it’s entirety. Am I the only one wondering if the man in the mask could be Earth-1’s Jay (Jay-1?) and the Jay on Earth-1 right now is an imposter? It’s certainly an idea to consider, especially because Zoom quickly ordered Jesse and Barry to stop talking to the man in the mask, phasing into Barry’s cell to ferociously beat him for attempting to communicate. After Zoom leaves, Barry smiles, claiming, “He just showed me how to get out of here.”
Now, remember when I said that I originally believed the cells were some variation of the metahuman prison underneath Star Labs on Earth-1? Well, if that were the case, Zoom wouldn’t have been able to phase in. So the question becomes- WHY didn’t Barry think of phasing out sooner? Certainly that should have been one of his first ideas. It seemed so obvious that I assumed he had tried to phase out and couldn’t, leading me to believe the cells blocked metahuman powers. It seems like a bit of shoddy writing to not have Barry realize he could possibly phase OUT until Zoom phased IN.
The momentum slowed down again when we returned to Earth-1, where Caitlin reveals she has made Velocity-9 for Jay to try and he mentions they need to fix the breach. Right! The breach is broken, leaving our Barry, Cisco, Dr. Wells, and Jesse with a limited amount of time to get back. This should have been mentioned before the halfway point in the show, as it seems to be a plot point that is picked up and put down without much urgency. Similarly treated is the Geomancer versus Jay plotline: when Geo plans to knock down a huge building in the middle of Central City, Jay quickly takes the V9, which greatly enhances his speed, and saves all of the people from the building before it collapsed. The whole thing was over in about five minutes, and, apparently, there were only ten people in the building, because those are the only people we see Jay save.
Cisco, Wells, Iris-2, and Barry-2 found Killer Frost in the woods where, after initially attacking them, she agreed to assist them in finding Barry-1 and Jesse. It was great scene, showing the connection that Cisco is still able to forge with people, even on Earth-2, as well as the depth of the bond that Caitlin has with Ronnie, when Cisco reminds her of the person she used to be, as well as that Zoom killed Deathstorm and she has no reason to feel any loyalty towards him.
Back at Earth-1 Star Labs, Caitlin finds a way to save Jay, but she doesn’t get to share it with him before Geomancer attacks. Because apparently there is NO SECURITY AT ALL at Star Labs (remember when Iris just waltzed right in last season?) despite the fact that it is a multi-billion dollar science facility with several million dollars worth of equipment and technology inside, as well as top-secret information on metahumans AND a metahuman prison! This has been a pet peeve of mine since Season 1: hire a security guard, invest in an eye scan system, something! Geomancer starts attacking Iris and Caitlin with earthquakes, knocking Caitlin out for a few moments before she hits him with a shock blast and he is arrested. The scene is just as anti-climactic as his earlier one with Jay knocking down the buildings. Caitlin shows Jay that the V-9 has kick started his latent regenerative abilities when it’s in his system, so his cells are repairing themselves. They realize the Geomancer tremors in the lab have damaged the breach (only TWO mentions of the breach needing to be fixed this ENTIRE episode.) Someone wake me up when we’re back on Earth-2.
Barry tries to phase out of his cell, and realized that he can’t because Earth-2 vibrates at a different frequency that Earth-1. I like this vibration explanation, but it still doesn’t explain why we never even SAW Barry trying to phase out of the cell before Zoom attacked. Yet it doesn’t really matter, as the entire crew shows up, led by Killer Frost, to rescue Barry and Jesse. (I really wanted to see Barry-2 climb up Ascension Falls on a bridge of ice in wingtips, though. I feel a little cheated that that scene wasn’t shown.) While Killer Frost uses her powers to break Jesse’s chains, she’s unable to break the glass of Barry’s cell, and initially Barry tells them to leave him behind because he can’t phase out. Gustin gives another great performance as Barry-2 giving Barry-1 a pep talk, easily distinguishing between the two characters and ending with the phrase, “I’m just Barry Allen. You’re the Flash.” Spirits bolstered, Barry-1 phases out of the cell- just in time for Zoom to appear, announcing that Killer Frost has set them up. He seized Jesse, preparing to kill her in front of her father, when Killer Frost has a change of heart, blasting Zoom with ice in order for the rest of them to escape. She really is pissed that he killed Ronnie.
Unsure of how long Killer Frost would be able to hold Zoom and unable to get the masked man out of his cell (made of the same special glass as Barry’s), they had to leave him behind, Barry-1 promising to return.
Hopped up on V-9, Jay creates a vortex to fix the breach just as Cisco, Barry-1, Wells, and Jesse pass through. Excited by his mending the breach, Jay stood in front of it for a solid minute and a half, giving Zoom just enough time to put an arm in his chest and snatch him back into Earth-2. I love a snatch-and-grab as much as the next person, but ever since the shark snatched Samuel L. Jackson I’ve been wary of fictionally characters standing near any opening.
All in all, this episode had a few plot holes and was not as fast-paced and creative as last week’s, but Barry and Barry are fun together, a highlight of the episode, and Grant Gustin is doing a great job portraying them both. The show tries to give our crew something to do back on Earth-1 without Barry but it’s hard to get involved with the story when Barry is off-planet and engrossed in a much more engaging story. While meant to be a twist, Jay being pulled into Earth-2 was also fairly predictable. It will nice to have the whole gang back together in dimension, because this episode certainly proved that they work better together than apart. Especially Barry-1 and Barry-2. Give them their own show, please!