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Flash Runs Into A Brave New Multiverse

Main Cast: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Tom Cavanagh
Created by: Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, Geoff Johns

The Flash, played by Grant Gustin

The Flash, played by Grant Gustin

Opening Narration: “My name is Barry Allen and I am the fastest man alive. To the outside world, I’m an ordinary forensic scientist. But secretly with the help of my friends at Star Labs, I fight crime and find other metahumans like me. I hunted down the man who killed my mother, but in doing so I opened up our world to new threats. And I am the only one fast enough to stop them. I am The Flash.” – The Flash, “The Man Who Saved Central City” (Season 2, Episode 1)

Season one of The Flash one was one of the Arrowverse’s best. It combined superheroics, drama, and comedy without being a cheesy joke. The show even survived giving The Flash the ability to time travel at will.

Can season two keep up the pace or will it be gone in a flash? Let’s find out.

The Good

Super Support

Joe: “I don’t suppose my homeowners insurance covers a Sharknado attack.”
Wally: “I don’t understand you people. Jaws busts through here like the Kool-Aid Man, The Flash shows up, and y’all act like it’s no big deal.”
Iris: “Yeah, we’ve had a lot of weird things happen in Central City over the past two years.”
Wally: “Weirder than a talking shark wearing pants?” – “King Shark”, (Season 2, Episode 15)

The core cast has gone through changes. Barry and the West family learn of a long estranged relative named Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale). Wally appears sporadically throughout season two to set up his future role as Kid Flash. Tech guru Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) develops superpowers and becomes a hero called Vibe. Mentor Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) is replaced by the anti-heroic Harry Wells, a doppelganger from a parallel universe.

Speaking of parallel universes, fans are introduced to Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears), The Flash of Earth-2. Jay travels to Earth-1 when he learns that portals called Breaches are allowing villains to escape from his world into theirs. Jay’s crusade becomes personal when he learns that his archenemy Zoom (Tony Todd) is creating the Breaches.

The Flash’s second season spends several episodes setting up the spin-off Legends of Tomorrow. The show introduces the heroes Firestorm (Franz Drameh and Victor Garber) and Hawkgirl (Ciara Renee). Villains Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) are turned into anti-heroes to prepare for a transfer to Legends.

Brave New Worlds

Barry: “So the last time Mardon attacked, he generated a tidal wave that destroyed all of Central City.”
Harry: “So why are you not all sleeping with the fishes?”
Cisco: “Earth-2 has The Godfather?”
Harry: “Every Earth has The Godfather, Vito.” – “Running to Stand Still” (Season 2, Episode 9)

The Flash introduced the multiverse during a crossover with Supergirl, but really doubles down in season two. Most of the Arrowverse shows take place on Earth-1, Supergirl is from Earth-38,  and conversations reveal there are 50 other universes. Plus the obligatory “Nazis won WWII” universe called Earth-X.

Most of the season’s villains are escapees from Earth-2, a parallel universe with major changes from Earth-1. Several heroic characters are villains, Barry Allen never became The Flash, Zoom became an unstoppable villain, and Beyonce is a senator. It’s a very bizarre world.

Season two focuses on the interaction of Earths 1 and 2 and leaves room for other universes to appear in future seasons.

The Doom of Zoom

Harry: [warning the team about Zoom] “That officer described “blue lightning zooming all about” as his comrades… brothers and sisters-in-arms… were murdered. That officer… considered himself to be the lucky one. Spared in order to tell the tale. Until Zoom went to his house that night and killed him, too. And that’s how he got the nickname Zoom.” – “Potential Energy” (Season 2, Episode 10)

Zoom is season two’s main antagonist and one of the Arrowverse’s biggest monsters. He wears a black Flash uniform that alters his voice, is fast enough to catch and throw lightning, strong enough to break The Flash’s spine with one blow, and utterly sadistic.

Zoom rampaged through Earth-2 for years despite the best efforts of Jay Garrick and Harry Wells. He recruited all the supervillains of Earth-2 to launch an assault on Earth-1 with an end goal of destroying the multiverse. Why? Cause he’s nuts.

Zoom’s rivalry with Jay plays a major part in the season’s story. He damaged Jay’s connection to the Speed Force, causing him to periodically lose his powers. Jay joins Team Flash to fix his powers and stop Zoom.

Wanna know what happens?  We’ve hidden it below.

The team eventually learns that Zoom has been masquerading as Jay the entire time. He kidnapped the real Jay Garrick, who is played by John Wesley Shipp as an homage to the 1990’s Flash series.

The Bad
Multiverse Mix-Up

Cisco: “Who the hell are you?”
Reverb: [steps out of the shadows] “Well, that’s funny. I was just gonna ask you the same thing.”
Cisco: “Dopple…”
Reverb: “Ganger.” – “Welcome to Earth-2” (Season 2, Episode 13)

Time travel already made it difficult to keep events straight. Throwing in a multiverse filled with alternate versions of characters makes it much harder. Characters in The Flash constantly run across doppelgangers of people they know, for better and worse.

The problem is best demonstrated by Tom Cavanagh’s character, Harrison Wells. The Earth-1 version of Wells appeared in flashbacks during season 1 and was long dead. The Reverse-Flash used future technology to take his place. Then Harry Wells popped out of Earth-2 for story reasons. That’s three versions of the same character in two seasons! And it gets worse in later seasons. It’s a headache that is often entertaining to encourage you to keep track of everything.

It’s also not as bad as the flowcharts you need to follow Back to the Future’s timelines, but the Arrowverse’s space-time continuum is being held together by a wad of gum.

The Verdict

The Flash’s second season shines despite the confusion the multiverse brought. All of the characters have a story arc, the villain is menacing without being invincible, and the ending leads season three into one of the biggest Flash stories, Flashpoint. But that’s a review for another day.