Welcome back to Up To Speed, in which Flash TV show veteran Dylan Todd and newbie Ziah Grace break down the latest episode of The Flash, dispense some Flash Facts, and talk about what works, what doesn’t, and where the series might be headed.

This week, The Flash learns he shouldn’t throw his head in glass houses, a heavy water drip meets the earth, and clues are dropped, then picked back up again, then mostly ignored for at least a few weeks more. It’s “Escape From Earth-2” written by Todd & Aaron Helbing, from a teleplay by David Kob, directed by J.J. Makaro

Dylan: So Ziah, after last week’s cross-dimensional field trip, we’re still stuck in Earth-2, AKA The World That Looks Like Batman: the Animated Series: the Live Action Series With Flash Instead of Batman.

When we left our heroes last week, Cisco had just escaped a warehouse bloodbath where Zoom killed Killer Frost and Deathstorm, as well as Earth-2 Cisco Ramon, AKA Reverb, and took off with The Flash, who he locked up next to Earth-2 Harrison Wells’ daughter Jesse and Some Dude In A Mask Who Taps A Lot. Overall, the episode lacked the punch of last week’s madcap romp, but I feel like it still managed to land some decent punches without ever delivering the knockout blow. How’d you feel about it, Ziah?

Ziah: I really really enjoyed it as I was watching it, but as soon as I finished it, I felt like it was a little lacking in substance. Signs pointing towards theories pointing towards Zoom’s identity really ended up being a bit premature, and while it’s definitely bringing me back next week curious who Zoom ends up being, placing such an emphasis on a “WHO IS HE” really made me kind of annoyed that we didn’t get an answer.

Dylan: Oh yeah, we can discuss the Man In the Iron Mask in a little, but the continual tease of that secret without ever really giving us more than the tiniest of breadcrumbs was frustrating.




My biggest issue with the episode is that it hinged on three things that it sort of drew out: Barry and Jesse trying to escape from Zoom; Twells and Cisco finding Killer Frost and breaking into Zoom’s lair; and, back on Earth-1, Caitlin and Jay trying to find a cure to Jay’s illness and also defeat Geomancer in the weakest villain battle yet. Like, there was a lot going on, but, when it was all said and done, not a lot of it really mattered or surprised me? Does that make sense?

Ziah: Nah, none of it really mattered to me either. Caitlin discovering the cure to Heavy Water Disease didn’t really matter to me since I’d never cared for Jay until I briefly thought he was Zoom. This whole subplot was pretty boring. Plus, Cisco appealing to Killer Frost’s sub-zero humanity was pretty predictable, but at least she got to do something. Sidenote: our shorthand of Twells has become so habit-forming I’m honestly surprised they don’t call him that all the time. It’s genuinely distracting every time Barry and the gang call him Dr. Wells.

Dylan: Or “Harry,” for that matter. Then there was that time Joe called him, “Maurice,” because he spoke of the pompatus of love. That was a weird one.

Anyway, before we get into the nitty gritty of the episode, let’s talk about the majesty of that opening sequence, with Zoom littering flyers around Earth-2 Central City looking for Wells. Like, he was all Batman-hunched, making it rain color copies from the top of a building after he torched “Bring Me Wells,” into the side of another building. Dude has some next-level villain skills.

Do you think he scratched that message into each of those color copies? Cuz I do. Also, does Zoom own his own laser copier or did he go to some Earth-2 copy shop and get them run off by some disaffected college student who’s just trying to make ends meet?




Ziah: Zoom’s got a Kinkos card with like $4.90 he needs to use, dude. And that was raaaaaaad. Beyond just the automatic hilarity of the sheer level of effort it would’ve taken him, it was a pretty good indicator of how craaaaaazy Zoom is.

Dylan: It was supremely comic book-y. What else did you like about the episode?

Ziah: I liked Caitlin Snow getting to do literally anything other than what she does all the time, and I loved how genuinely eager Jay was to do more speed drugs. Us talking about how much Jay likes to do drugs started as a joke, but has become all too real. Maybe they’re gonna do that Green Arrow issue, but for the Flash.

Dylan: Well, unless Caitlin’s new Velocity-9 speed-drug has the side effect of [spoilers] healing a dude’s bifurcated heart, I think maybe his druggie days are behind him. Because dude got owned by Zoom in that last-second jump-scare that was telegraphed from so far away, Western-Union sent the CW a cease-and-desist. Or do you think they’re gonna find a way to save him during next week’s King Shark episode?




Ziah: Maaaaaan, I don’t even know anymore. The Iron Mask guy tapping out “J-A-Y” and his mysterious disappearance during Geomancer’s attack and Zoom’s interruption of Barry and Co’s escape really put the pressure on Jay being Zoom again, but then he got punched through the heart, and Zoom’s to blame, so who knows.

Dylan: Yeah, we touched on it earlier, but the whole mystery surrounding the Iron Mask Guy was one of those clues that wasn’t really a clue at all, and it kind of made me double down on not trying to guess where this show is going. Like, it seems significant until you ask yourself what they really told you in that scene, and it was basically nothing. Last season’s Reverse Flash mystery boiled down to it being “some other guy you never heard of who Freejack-ed into Well’s body,” so I’m not super-confident these people are playing the cleanest of pool when it comes to their mysteries.

Ziah: Totally fair! Speaking of, points to the Flash team for having Iron Mask not tapping out Morse Code and making Jesse Wells not look like an Earth-2 idiot who's never seen an Earth-2 World War II (2) movie.

Dylan: I actually thought the cipher was cool, and it gave them both something to do while they sat in their cells. I mean, beyond Barry smashing his head against the wall over and over again, which was my other favorite part of the episode. I could watch 44 minutes of that every week. “My name is Barry Allen. And I am the fastest man alive. To the outside world I am an ordinary guy stuck in a glass box, but secretly, with the help of my friends who are also being held captive, I smash my face against this glass wall over and over like a complete doofus. One day I’ll finally vibrate through this thing, but until then, I’m going to keep smashing my head. I am… The Smash.”

Ziah: Dylan, when are you going to write for this show?

Dylan: Probably never TBH. Due to an… incident, I am not longer allowed within 25 miles of the CW offices. My legal team has advised me to not say any more about this particular circumstance.

Changing gears, we got to see a little more of Earth-2 Barry Allen, too, which I thought was kind of hilarious. Dude is somehow more of a doofus than Earth-1 Barry. (I know, right?!) Seriously, when Flash was giving him his pep talk before they Breached out of there, I was like, “Oh, Earth-1 Barry actually seems kind of pulled together and heroic right now!” Which is something I had literally never considered before tonight. How’d you like Twarry?

Ziah: I thought he was pretty charming, especially considering how how much of a nice contrast he made to our Barry, since he’d never been given superpowers or a desire to fight anyone. Granted, it doesn’t really work with Earth-1 and Earth-2’s Good/Evil, Modern/Art Deco contrast, but it was nice to see Twarry give a pep talk to Barry and have it work.

Dylan: I also like how he was complaining about being locked up for a whole day and Twells was like, “Man, one day is nothing. You should see how long they lock dudes up on Earth-1!” But yeah, it’s always fun to see how the different version stack up against each other.

Ziah: He’s no “Crime-doing Barry”, but he was alright. Speaking of good/bad/good portrayals, how’d you feel about Twaitlin Snow’s face-heel-face turn? Did you get dizzy, or did you see it coming?

Dylan: I’ve seen Return of the Jedi enough to know that some people can’t deny the good in them, so her double-double-cross seemed inevitable. I do wish her initial double-cross had a little more heft to it, as it just sort of happened and then, all of the sudden, she’s flopped back to the good guy side again because The Plot demanded it. But really, that’s how these shows go. No use kicking against it.




And speaking of anticlimactic things, how about Geomancer? If ever a villain existed solely to serve the needs of The Plot, it’s him. How’d you feel about him, Ziah?

Ziah: Maaaaan, Geomancer was so boring, I kept wishing he would actually romance the earth. I’ll give the showrunners credit for remembering Cisco’s anti-meta hooks, since we all assumed they’d just forgotten, but man, between him and Jay, this was a week of boring B-plots.

Dylan: It was good to see The Boot back again after the entire season away. I will give the actor, Adam Stafford, credit for trying to give the guy some sort of personality with whatever he was doing with that Captain Cold-esque voice, but there was nothing there for him to really work with. Dude was simply there to give Jaytlin something to test Nonoxynol-9 (or whatever it’s called) against.

Ziah: I’ve been watching Legends of Tomorrow, so if I wanted to see Wentworth Miller be smarmy and weirdly personable, I actually could. I don’t need this guy to remember the “competition” he’s up against.

Dylan: Yeah. I’m all for them trying to do something besides the usual “I’m an angry crime person!” voice the villains usually do, but this felt way too familiar and suffered for the comparison. When I said I wanted more villains like Wentworth Miller’s Cold, I didn’t mean exactly like him. I mean, you know, unique! Stupid monkey paw, get it right. I meant something like… Robert Carlyle as Mirror Master, maybe? (Seriously, that’s a good idea. Get on that one, CW. Dude was doing that ABC Fables knock-of show recently, and a Stargate before that. He’ll deign to do the CW if you dangle a little dough in front of him.)

Oh hey, what did you think of Earth-1 Iris’ new editor? He seems like a real no-nonsense guy who doesn’t take guff from anybody. I bet he’s going to really be a thorn in Flash’s side, eh, Ziah?

Ziah: I genuinely forgot he was in this episode until you mentioned him, but I definitely got a J. Jonah Jameson vibe from him.




Dylan: “J. Jonah Handsome,” is more like it. (Because he was a handsome man.) To be fair, I only remembered him because I was like, “Did they give Iris something to do this episode or no?” and then remembered that whole thing about her writing a piece on Jay Garrick because the Real Flash was who-knows-where (spoilers: Earth-2 smashing his face against a wall) and how inconsequential the whole thing seemed. Like, she showed up, he stopped Geomancer and she was like, “I have what I need. Thanks!” End scene.

Ziah: It did really feel like they were setting something up for later.

Okay, well, complaint-wise, to jump back to the coding: it’s a bit weird to have Barry talking to a character he personally regards as the smartest person in two dimensions, but he’s the one who figures out how to do everything. It would’ve been nice if Jesse had gotten literally anything to do besides be concerned about Barry this episode (or ever).

Dylan: Agreed. But if I’ve learned anything from watching almost 30 hours of this show, it’s that these writers don’t know what to do with smart women. I’m hoping that we get to see more of Jesse once she migrates to Earth-1, but I’ve also been hoping that Caitlin gets something to do besides mourn the dead men in her life and stand behind a computer, delivering exposition to Barry through his earpiece. Caitlin Snow? More like “Caitlin Oh-no-my-boyfriend-is-dead,” am I right?

Ziah: When you’re right, you’re right. More like Caitlin Sn-Yes, that’s how right you are.

Dylan: As I mentioned earlier, next week is a King Shark episode and also an Arrow crossover episode. My only question for you is this: are you ready for this jelly?

Ziah: I am ready for this jelly and the peanut butter that goes along with this show being goofy and dumb and wonderful.

Brief interlude: Considering Cisco and Twells’ already incredible dynamic, can you think of any better romantic subplot for the show to delve into than for Cisco and Jesse to have some bonding time in the lab?

Dylan: I don’t like this idea, Ziah. I love this idea. Monkey paw: make it so!


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