This week's episode of The Flash was all about trust. Barry Allen had to learn to trust his team at S.T.A.R. Labs, including an unexpected guest. Detective Joe West had to learn to trust a rookie cop with a secret vendetta. And, finally, we out here in the audience had to trust the CW's writers to take us past the event horizon of the superhero genre.
That's right; it's season two, episode two of The Flash and we're headed into the DC multiverse.
If you felt last week's episode moved a mile a minute, you weren't alone. I was just barely hanging on. But, after last night's episode, it's all beginning to make sense to me; I figure The Flash's writers needed to button up that last season in a hurry, or at least spackle over most of the plot holes with whatever pathos they could find laying around the office. Why did they need to move so quickly? To get to last night.
The good news is the break-neck pace of this season's first episode gave them plenty of runway last night to slide in a few new characters, and shake up The Flash's entire universe.
Our first newcomer is Jay Garrick, played by Teddy Sears (Masters of Sex). Fans of the Crimson Comet will know that name, because he's the original Flash from way back in 1940.
So how did we end up with two Flashes on a single planet? Garrick fell into the wormhole as it appeared over his version of Central City (on a planet that I guess we're now calling Earth Two).
Or did he fall up into the wormhole? I guess technically I could just say he 'was sucked into' the wormhole... I don't understand the logistics of it, but he's over on Allen's side of the wormhole now.
Trouble is, he's lost his super speed. Making matters worse, Allen doesn't believe he's a metahuman. Everyone at the lab, on the other hand, seems inclined to take his word for it. Even a batch of medical tests, including a lie detector, sort of lend credence to his tall tale. But it still takes the better part of the episode for Allen himself to come around to the idea.
At times his obstinate front feels forced, but by the end of the episode the two Flashes are the best of friends.
The other new character introduced last night was a fresh-faced beat cop named Patty Spivot as played by Shantel VanSanten (The Messengers, One Tree Hill), perhaps the single most overeducated policewoman in Central City. She leans on Detective Joe West to join his metahuman task force, but not even a triple degree in biology, chemistry and physics can convince him she's up to the task.
Just as Allen is having trouble trusting Garrick, West doesn't trust that Spivot has the experience to go up against a metahuman in the field. Soon enough, though, she'll get her chance.
As usual, it's West who gets knocked unconscious in the line of duty fighting against this episode's villain, Sand Demon, a metahuman able to turn his own cells into a sand-like substance. Spivot doesn't back down, dumping half a magazine of .40 cal Smith & Wesson into Sand Demon. But even in her bravest moment, she's bested by the beast and taken captive.
It's this abduction that brings our heroes, Allen and Garrick, together.
Turns out, Sand Demon is from Garrick's dimension, brought across space and time by another mysterious speedster named Zoom. Allen turns to Garrick for help in bringing him down. In this episode's gimmick, Garrick teaches the younger Flash how to turn the electrical energy built up from running into an offensive weapon. And, as anyone who's watched Sweet Home Alabama can tell you, when lightning strikes sand you get glass.
The pair hatch a plan to catch Sand Demon off guard, and then shatter him once and for all.
In the episode's climactic battle, Garrick — powerless and ultimately defenseless — bravely stands up against Sand Demon, taking a few solid punches and getting roughed up in the process. But he does his job, finally earning Allen's trust and giving him enough time to rescue Spivot (by outrunning the shockwave of an improvised explosive device), and serving as the distraction for a well-placed lightning bolt.
The final battle was the highlight of the episode for me. There was an instant there where I really thought Garrick's Flash wouldn't make it. I figured Sand Demon might kill him, or that Allen might miss with his lightning bolt and accidentally hit Garrick instead. The tension was held on multiple fronts, right up until the smoke cleared and both heroes rose to their feet victorious.
CW is beginning to prove they know how to choreograph a good fight.
Finally, there was plenty of inside baseball fan service this last episode, from the surprise appearance of Green Arrow on a news broadcast to the discovery of a sum total of 52 interdimensional rifts scattered throughout Central City.
The final 15 minutes of the episode were a whirlwind, with multiple cliffhangers for multiple storylines. Detective West's wife shows up at the police station unannounced, asking to see their daughter for the first time in years. Cisco begins to realize he's a metahuman. Professor Stein just straight passes out while giving one of his patented info dumps, keeling over right there in the middle of S.T.A.R. Labs antiseptic, open workspace.
But the nut of the entire episode, its reason for existing, is the galvanize the pair of Flashes into a unified front against a new enemy — Zoom.
So who is Zoom? No one knows.
"He’s obsessed with destroying me," Garrick says. "He wants to be the best, and he will do what it takes to ensure he’s the only speedster in any world."
Oh... and surely you remember evil Dr. Wells?
Turns out he wasn't killed at the end of last season. No, he's living comfortably in an alternate Central City, a sepia-toned, 1940s-themed version that might be — just might be — the same one that's missing a Flash named Jay Garrick.
Two Flashes, with two nemesises between them. Nemises. Neme—
There's more than one bad guy now, okay?