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While “The Man Who Saved Central City” held off on giving us answers, “The Flash of Two Worlds” begins right after Jay proclaims that Barry’s world is in danger. And rather than keep the audience hanging as to what the threat actually looks like, we get to see a flashback of Jay battling Zoom. The fight isn’t given enough time to be as awesome as any of the Flash’s encounters with Reverse-Flash in Season 1, but it was cool to see the “organic” suit that Flash EP Andrew Kreisberg described in August (even if it does sometimes looks like a lump of clay). Most notable about the villain’s appearance, though, is the fact that he has a blue lightning trail. As this was shown to be surrounding Barry in a recent promo from FOX8, it’ll be interesting to see how he acquires this new ability or stronger connection to the speed force and what that means for Zoom’s identity and origin.
Despite this moment of intrigue, the first half of the episode is almost entirely without merit. Though Jay says all we need to know about the existence of other worlds, Martin Stein and Cisco have to weigh in to explain the science to an incredibly confused Joe West. He’s obviously acting as an audience surrogate to ensure viewers are completely on board with the idea of multiple earths, but it felt like the writers weren’t trusting the audience enough to grasp such a simple idea (especially since the multiverse isn’t exactly a concept new to TV).
Not only that, but Barry’s reluctance to trust Jay meant that he came dangerously close to becoming unlikeable. After Barry first meets Sand Demon, Jay explains that he knows how to beat him. But in response, Barry says that “[he] [thinks] [they’ll] be fine on their own.” At this point, Barry probably guesses that Sand Demon is only after him, but he doesn’t know the full extent of Sand Demon’s powers or what he’s willing to do to get what he wants. As a result, this exchange between Barry and Jay portrays Barry as petty, irresponsible, and cocky, rather than angry at himself for letting Wells get too close. Lines like, “I don’t need you to teach me anything, Jay,” and, “If you were so good, you would have caught him by now,” only make things worse. The upside to Barry’s behavior is that Iris gets to give him another talking to, but she shouldn’t have meatier dialogue just because Barry’s written into such a narrative hole that only she (and Caitlin, as we saw in the last episode) can get him out.
The episode’s saving grace is that Iris succeeds and Barry finally decides to let Jay help him out. As dead as the show was to me with its poor dialogue, exposition, and characterization in the first half, the second was defined by the ingredients that make the series so engaging: the banter, the excitement, and the superpowers. In fact, it was only when Jay was allowed to teach Barry how to throw lightning that I saw the potential for their relationship and his character.
Similar to how Jay took a while to come into his own, newcomer Patty Spivot spends much of the episode being a questionable addition to the cast. Her having degrees in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics felt like a hackneyed way of making her qualified for the Anti-Metahuman Taskforce, and the potential for a romantic plotline between her and Barry seemed unnecessary. Granted, she was given the third degree from Joe for wanting to be on something he was gung-ho about in the season premiere, so her introduction was spoiled by deviations from the direction the last episode set. However, despite her dorky interactions with Barry feeling forced, they showed some promise, and her being accepted onto the Taskforce leaves me hopeful that the writers can turn things around. (Lesson: as we learned with Iris, every female character should be put on the team immediately.)
Cisco is still struggling with his abilities but is at least able to use them in a productive way to save the kidnapped Patty Spivot. This, and his use of the word “vibe,” make it even more likely that we’ll be seeing him suit up in the near future. I liked the idea of Cisco feeling like Harrison Wells had tainted him in some way, but I wasn’t a fan of him keeping it a secret from the rest of the team or being so gravely serious when discussing his abilities with Martin Stein. Like Barry and Joe in this episode, it felt out of character and seemed like an effort to backtrack the progress they all made by the end of the last episode.
Sand Demon represented a potential new paradigm for the series, but not because his fight was cool or he was a particularly compelling villain. Instead of each episode dealing with the metahumans created by the particle accelerator explosion (as in Season 1), it may be that Season 2’s villains of the week are all tasked with the goal of killing Flash by Zoom. It would be pretty lazy of the writers if this was the case, as not letting the villains have their own motivations has definitely been to their detriment. That said, the writers may already be guilty of killing off their Earth-2 villains because they don’t want to deal with them (or just can’t figure out how to make the villain pipeline “heroic”). I mean, they shattered the glass Sand Demon. That dude is gone.
The second episode of Flash’s Season 2 deviated from the more confident direction of the premiere, plaguing characters with problems that hindered the plot and spell trouble for the future if the show doesn’t make progress on its Zoom storyline. As always, the series promises more and better things to come, but it remains to be seen whether that ends up being far too much.