Synopsis of 2×02: Barry’s newfound trust issues are tested as a Flash arrives from a parallel Earth; Joe is pursued by a promising newcomer.
“Flash of Two Worlds” is The Flash attempting to return to a sort of status quo, albeit in a very The Flash kind of way involving parallel Earths and sandmen. After last week’s quality premiere (that was also equal parts bummer, necessary, and table-setting), this seems to be the point where we see what our show is going to look like going forward. Most of “Flash of Two Worlds” is a concerted effort to fill in the ensemble roles left vacant by those taken from us too soon.
The biggest and most pronounced new addition is Teddy Sears as Jay Garrick, the hunky, righteous new arrival who happens to also spend his free time walking around in a red outfit and calling himself The Flash. A hero is nothing without a mentor who challenges them and asks them to push themselves as they never have before, and Garrick has bent Heaven and Earth to come be that for Barry. He does what Team Flash has always been there for: to teach Barry some new trick revolving around his base power of running really fast.
This time, he learns to harness the electricity that surrounds him as he runs into a refined and hurled bolt of lightning. It’s amazing how many things one can do if one just knows how to run really fast the right way. If The Flash goes on for long enough, Barry may just end up becoming an omnipotent demigod capable of resolving world hunger by running really fast. You have to run out of stuff to do eventually. I know I do, and I currently do not possess the power of running really fast.
It’s an interesting, strong choice from the writing staff that Jay becomes Barry’s mentor instead of a co-superhero with Barry’s exact powerset. A pair of handsome speedsters (one a Scarlet Speedster, the other a Crimson Comet) running around and punching things really fast could be fun—consider the combos!!—but giving Barry a replacement mentor is a better decision in the long term.
Jay is a more experienced hero. He sees in Barry the same righteousness he prizes in himself. Under his careful tutelage, Barry may actually be able to face down this inter-dimensional incident that Central City is becoming embroiled in more quickly than Team Flash is really equipped to handle. The high-speed throwdowns we’ll get when Jay regains his powers (and we know he will) will surely be great, but, like hundreds of playwrights who need to supplement their income before him, for now he must teach as he is unable to do.
Jay’s role as Barry’s trainer is one he has to earn. Barry, understandably distrustful of any handsome speedster with malfunctioning powers from an alternate future who claims righteous intentions with a special talent for getting Barry to level up, first locks Jay up. Much as we the audience know that Jay has noble intent, it’s hard to blame Barry for this trepidation. Eobard Thawne left a permanent mark on Team Flash and his shadow lingers over S.T.A.R. Labs, erasure from existence or no. Jay’s pretty chill about the whole thing. He seems pretty chill in most ways.
Sears’ performance is quite reminiscent of Chris Evans’ character-defining turn as Captain America in the very popular film series from that rival comic company. A character born of the same time period as Steve Rogers, Garrick is the ideal of a hero as seen by The Greatest Generation. Heroic, dutiful, and very, very white, he values honor and justice. If Barry Allen is the plucky, tragic hero of today, Jay Garrick is the idealized man of yesteryear who works very well in juxtaposition with the leading men of today. And he’s a man of the microscope and beaker. For a largely-defunct company run by a crime scene investigator, S.T.A.R. Labs is just lousy with scientists.
The other role Garrick fills is, curiously, that of the deceased (or merely lost in time) Ronnie. Caitlin has had a Rogues Gallery of love interests in her time on the show, and Garrick is the latest. And, in this recapper’s personal opinion, the hunkiest. One of two romances proposed in this episode (more on the second later), Garrick’s relationship with the Scientist Snow is a promising set-up.
Played in “Flash of Two Worlds” for laughs more than anything, the beginnings of Jaitlin may be the foundation of an attainable, solid relationship for Caitlin. She and Barry will never end up together so long as Iris is in play. And though she loves Ronnie, the guy just won’t stop dying. If her taste in men remains “Noble and Handsome,” I hope she can find some happiness with Jay Garrick. He seems like such a nice young man.
Our second new character of the week is Patty Spivot (played by the wonderful and exquisitely-named Shantel VanSanten). Spivot is an eager, chipper, and (most importantly) fantastic officer who wants nothing more than to be a part of Joe’s defunct Metahuman Task Force. Joe, like Barry, has developed some trust issues, as the last blonde, righteous cop who seems poised to date one of his children he knew died trying to stop a metahuman in last year’s finale.
Spivot (who helpfully says her own name multiple times, helping this reviewer commit it to memory) has to prove herself no less than four times before Joe agrees to let her become engrossed in the world of busting metahumans, one of which involves getting blown-up by a concussion bomb. Joe, like Barry, has his walls of trust firmly built up, but no walls are strong enough to hold back this sort of onslaught of righteous tenacity.
We may have only just met Patty but, well, I’m in love. They say love just kind of happens to you. It finds you when you are least expecting it. And I’m just smitten. Patty is the best. She’s dynamic, charming, compelling… She has a pre-established beef with one of Central City’s more powerful metas in the Weather Wizard aka Mark Mardon, which just really sets the dramatic table for the next time the guy shows up to make waves. Do you see what I did there? It’s important to me that you see what I did there.
This is the kind of inherent drama that could elevate Mardon up the tier of Flash Bads, potentially rivaling our beloved Rogues. Lest we forget, last time the Wizard appeared (forgetting a brief role in “Rogue Air”), he conjured a tsunami that could have leveled Central City if Barry didn’t accidentally travel back in time and negate the whole event.
And could Patty be any more perfectly perfect for Barry? VanSanten and Grant Gustin have a natural, easy chemistry, and their few scenes together this week make the dynamic between the two really sing as a great potentiality. I know that Iris is Barry’s One True Love in the grand sense, but the future is not written in stone. Iris, though great in her own way, has never been that great of a match for Barry. The guy has had no less than four romantic interests that are a better fit for him than the Iris we know. And Patty is the perfect candidate for frontrunner, if the cards are played correctly.
“Flash of Two Worlds” is a funny, comically thrilling episode that seems content to burn through plot the same way Season One did with just as little regard. If this is our status quo going forward, I simply cannot wait. Bless you, The Flash. You are a constant treat.
For the Fans
The big one this week is a visual recreation of the comic book that inspired “Flash of Two Worlds,” whose cover features Barry and Jay running on opposite sides of a brick wall towards a woman calling out for a Flash to help her. The two dodging around a pillar to help Patty is a great hint toward that moment. And, as usual, there are probably a ton that I missed.
But They’re Not Really Dead, Right?
No movement on the Ronnie or Eddie front this week, but Harrison Wells makes an appearance in an alternate future where S.T.A.R. Labs is a bastion of human achievement, complete with its own set of peppy tour guides. Maybe it’s our Wells, somehow un-unwritten out of history? Or the real Harrison Wells of an alternate Earth who never got killed by Eobard Thawne? Or perhaps a different Wells with the same psychopathic tendencies as our deceased one? It may be a while before we get the answer to this one. But a little bit of Tom Cavanagh will never be amiss.
Hints at What’s to Come
Boy, this show really knows how to end an episode, huh? The quest to bring back Jay’s powers begins. And Joe’s mysterious wife makes her first appearance. At the same time, Cisco is dealing with his otherworldly sight ability. At times, he can see the past. At others, the future. And he has been known to glimpse the lives he lived in alternate Earths. More on this as it develops.
“Flash of Two Worlds” closes its main plot with Stein collapsing to the floor for reasons unknown. My theory is that he can no longer exist for long without Ronnie, who we will soon find out is not dead but merely unstuck in reality. Stein went down revealing to Team Flash that Central City may have been set free of its giant Breach, but is stupid with small breaches, the largest of which is located within S.T.A.R. Labs itself. It is my ultimate dream that these anomalies being called “breaches” leads to Victor Garber delivering a version of the “Once more into the breach, my friends” speech from Henry V. This is all I have ever wanted.