TV Recap: The Flash, ‘Escape from Earth-2’

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Escape from Earth 2 Plot: On Earth-2, the team asks for help from an unexpected source to find Zoom’s lair, while on Earth-1, Caitlin tries to perfect Velocity-9 so Jay can stop the Geomancer.

Who is Zoom? Who’s the man in the iron mask? What is Zoom even after?

No idea. See you next week for a seemingly unrelated Jaws crossover episode.

I’m not angry at the Flash. I’m just disappointed. By this time last season, things were really moving. Barry was meeting fun villains that Flash fans knew would be around for a while. Barry’s relationships were complicated and interesting. Most importantly, we knew the identity of the evil masked speedster and we were starting to get a feel for his plans and motivations.

Compare that to where we are now. This year’s new villains have been largely expendable, even though some of them probably shouldn’t have been (Atom Smasher). The season started with a promising new relationship for Barry that ended abruptly and doesn’t seem to be coming back. We have nothing but theories about Zooms identity and eventually one of them is going to be right, probably way before the actual reveal. The worst part is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Ever since Zoom was revealed to be the villain of Season 2, I had some serious reservations about introducing another big bad speedster with a secret identity and I think this week has confirmed a lot of my reservations. The mystery of Zoom, while it may ultimately pay off big time as some members of the cast have hinted, is getting stale.

There are only so many characters Zoom can even be and none of them are currently all that compelling. He could be Hunter Zolomon, Jay Garrick’s Earth-1 doppelganger and Zoom’s traditional secret identity. He could be either Earth-1 or Earth-2 Henry Allen, a character we haven’t seen much of as of late and one of the only characters absent from the Earth-2 episodes. He could be Earth-1 or Earth-2 Eddie, the fan favorite character who killed himself to stop Thawne last season before being sucked into the wormhole. Any of these characters would be acceptable choices. One of them almost certainly is but if The Flash plays the guessing game for too long, it becomes boring.

The Flash -- "Escape From Earth-2" -- Image FLA214a_0277b -- Pictured (L-R): Zoom and Grant Gustin as The Flash -- Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
The Flash — “Escape From Earth-2” — Image FLA214a_0277b — Pictured (L-R): Zoom and Grant Gustin as The Flash — Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW — © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

We need to know more about Zoom quickly. Why should anyone be scared of a villain who has more speed than Barry but only uses it every so often to kick Barry’s ass? If he was truly supposed to be a threat, he would have defeated everyone by now or we would have established a good reason why he couldn’t besides that he doesn’t want to. And the whole fattening Barry up like a Christmas goose feels too similar to Season 1 to be that interesting. I have a feeling there is another more interesting reason, likely connected to Jay’s dying cells, but if we don’t figure it out soon we won’t get to have any fun with it.

Compare what we’ve gotten so far with the most successful season of any show so far in the CWDC universe, Arrow Season 2, and you really see some of the things Flash could really use. Having a villain with a deep connection to Oliver made the episodes leading up to the finale more meaningful. We understood the why of the Slade Oliver relationship so we could move past that to focusing on the conflict at hand. We also had a couple of memorable secondary villains like Brother Blood, whose secret identity as the popular mayoral candidate made the non-Arrow parts of the show as compelling as the Arrow parts. By this point we also had the introduction of Roy as a sidekick and Canary, both adding more complexity to the Arrow good guy squad so that the final showdown was certain to be epic. Now maybe some of these good moves led to some of the issues with Season 3, but you can’t deny that this made Arrow Season 2 very entertaining.

At this point we may be a little late to completely right the Season 2 ship, and it also may all turn out fine, but this should prove a teachable moment for what could make Season 3 more successful. We have tons of great villains to use as big bads that aren’t speed based. The Mirror Master comes to mind as the highest profile Flash villain that hasn’t made an appearance yet save for a weird mirror vendor at Flash Day. The Top and Abra Kadabra are also currently unused and would make excellent secondary villains. The writers have mentioned that they intend to bring back Gorilla Grodd, and this would also work well although his mind control power would likely lead to a similar format to this one, where Grodd is forcing expendable villains to fight the Flash for some reason. Maybe he would be better served in Season 4. Also the opportunity to have Wally West and Jesse Quick join the squad, as well as a fully powered Vibe, could help diversify the plot lines a little bit.

The Flash -- "Escape From Earth-2" -- Image FLA214b_0224b -- Pictured (L-R): Danielle Panabaker as Killer Frost, Candice Patton as Earth 2 Iris West, Grant Gustin as Earth 2 Barry Allen, Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon, and Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
The Flash — “Escape From Earth-2” — Image FLA214b_0224b — Pictured (L-R): Danielle Panabaker as Killer Frost, Candice Patton as Earth 2 Iris West, Grant Gustin as Earth 2 Barry Allen, Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon, and Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells — Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

And this is a recap after all, so here are some of the Flash cliches that Escape from Earth-2 managed to fit into the episode, in order of appearance.

  1. A smart character uses an existing piece of technology flawlessly to accomplish a task that they should have used long before this moment but never did for no good reason.
  2. A character uses the death of a loved one to justify doing something stupid.
  3. A random villain wants to fight the Flash in public.
  4. Iris’ editor is mean to her.
  5. The Flash defeats a villain but lets the villain escape even though he should be able to easily capture him.
  6. Cisco names a thing based on what that thing would be named in a comic book.
  7. That random villain is able to walk into S.T.A.R. Labs.
  8. A character gives a “You’re a hero” psych up speech. (This one actually happened twice)
  9. Barry has an obstacle that he can overcome with believing in himself and running faster than he has ever run before.
  10. Barry overcomes that obstacle at the last possible second.
  11. A lover of Caitlin’s is tragically killed.

All in all Escape from Earth 2 was a pretty average episode made worse by the fact that we still don’t know Zoom’s identity.

Rating: 4/10

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BONUS ZOOM THEORY UPDATE 

So this week we learned that the man in the mask is tapping out a message to our heroes that ends up being J-A-Y, likely a reference to Jay Garrick being involved. Many have theorized that Jay is the man in the iron mask and is Jay using some form of time travel to be in three places at once (Earth-1 as Jay, Earth-2 as Zoom, and Earth-2 in the iron mask) but I think a different answer might make a little more sense since especially we saw Jay killed in the end of this week’s episode. If, as I have previously theorized, Earth-1 Jay Garrick aka Hunter Zolamon has been Zoom the whole time and has used Jay to cover for him, maybe the man in the iron mask is someone else who knows Jay from Earth-2.

The most important hint in Escape from Earth-2 may not have been the message itself but the medium in which it was delivered. The man in the iron mask chose to deliver a message to Barry and Jessie using tap code instead of the more logical Morse Code. Barry said that the tap code was used mainly by POWs and in the history of the Flash, only one war has ever been mentioned and it took place on Earth-2. Early in Season 2, Jay Garrick noted that his helmet was passed down to him by his father who fought in the War of the Americas. Maybe the man in the iron mask is Jay Garrick’s father, who would recognize his son and expose his secret but Zoom is unable to kill because of either sentimental value or some speedforcey reason and Zoom chose to kill Jay in this episode because if Barry brings that information back to Earth-1, Jay Garrick may get angry and turn on Zoom like Harry did.

Couple that with Jay looking super evil when he got his speed back and it’s a pretty convincing theory. Hopefully we will find out the truth soon but I’m not getting my hopes up, especially with a short hiatus planned after next week’s King Shark.


Matthew Nando Kelly is an incredibly cool and handsome staff writer for Pop-Break who was allowed to write his own bio. Besides weekly Flash recaps, he focuses on film, television, music, and video games. Matthew also has a podcast called Mad Bracket Status where he discusses pop culture related brackets with fellow Pop-Break writer DJ Chapman. He has an unshakable love for U2, cats, and the New Orleans Saints. His twitter handle is @NationofNando. Did we mention how handsome he was?

Matthew Nando Kelly is a cool and tough Senior Staff Writer for Pop-Break who was allowed to write his own bio. Besides weekly Flash recaps, he has a podcast called Mad Bracket Status where he makes pop culture brackets with fellow writer DJ Chapman.

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