[WARNING: This article contains spoilers for The Flash Season 2, Episode 2]
After delivering an impressive and crowd-pleasing first season, the minds behind The Flash took the summer off to hatch a second season premiere that was, if we're completely honest, underwhelming. Deciding not to capitalize on a strong cliffhanger, favoring a flashback reveal(?) and planting seeds instead of satisfying character work wasn't what fans expected. Luckily, The Flash has returned to top form in its follow-up episode.
In "Flash of Two Worlds," written by Aaron and Todd Helbing, Barry and the S.T.A.R. Labs crew are visited by Jay Garrick, a man claiming to be The Flash from a parallel Earth. Not only was he transported to the show's world by the singularity, but the villainous Zoom, who is now bringing metahumans opponent hell-bent on kill Barry. Meanwhile, a young police officer named Patty Spivot arrives determined to join Joe West's now-defunct Metahuman Task Force (with good reason).
Twice The Flash, Twice The Fun
It's impossible to discuss the strengths of "Flash of Two Worlds" without devoting some time to the sheer volume of fan service dished out, not for its own sake, but to expand the mythology of The Flash's universe (and possibly by extension, Arrow). Suffice to say that for casual fans, the ideas put forward about parallel worlds, alternate versions of heroes, and even portals opening between them is all DC Comics canon shaped over the past several decades.
But as beloved and squeal-inducing as Jay Garrick - the version of the hero from "Earth-2" - may be, nearly all of the credit must be lain at the feet of actor Teddy Sears. It would have been easy for Sears and the writers to slip into convention, depicting Jay as a stereotypical mentor/father figure/drill sergeant (who could actually be trusted this time). Instead, fans got one of the strongest additions to the cast since establishing its core roster.
For the comic fans, it's no exaggeration to say that the TV version of Garrick captures the character's charm, old-fashioned persona, and trust. Luckily, you don't need to have read a comic to see the immediate dynamic develop between Sears and star Grant Gustin, effortlessly falling into the mentor/mentee relationship (still, as partners). There's no question viewers will be hoping that Jay's speed stays missing, so his time in the show can be drawn out as long as possible.
The Unstoppable Patty Spivot
As if to erase all concerns left by the season premiere's time-jump, Jay Garrick was just one of the new additions made to The Flash's cast, with officer Patty Spivot (Shantel VanSanten) also helping to pick up the slack left by the loss of Detective Eddie Thawne. And just like Sears, VanSanten's introduction wastes no time in winning over fans, as both actress and writer show that they're out to try something different.
On paper, Patty's love of science and admiration of Barry could find her drifting close to Felicity Smoak's territory. In practice, though, it seems just as likely for Barry to find another friend in Patty as a love interest. For good measure, Spivot is also given a well-conceived and delivered vendetta against metahuman criminals, reminding viewers that evil men and women getting superpowers is why The Flash exists. Not to mention justifying her existence apart from any attractive forensics expert or speedster.
How her feelings for Barry Allen will develop once she learns it's him under The Flash mask... well, she is Barry's girlfriend in the comics, after all.
After Cisco's new superpowers were teased in the season premiere, "Flash of Two Worlds" once again finds a clever way of pushing his subplot forward along with the episode's main conflict. Cisco's ability to view the past by touching cells from the villainous Sand Demon helps save the day, but also opens a window into his state of mind. And specifically, why he views the gift as a curse.
We broke down the comic book lore behind Cisco's powers (and 'Vibe' persona), but what wasn't expected was the emotional side of the story. It's always a hard sell when trying to get audiences to believe someone wouldn't want a superpower, but the writers pulled it off. Framing the gift as coming from Harrison Wells (the mentor who killed him), and his acceptance of them as confirming Wells' prophecy, doesn't just work - it adds a potentially sinister undercurrent.
Are Cisco's gifts to be explored and valued? Or are they a sign of something more dangerous in the coming weeks? That's one mystery even comic book die-hards can't predict.
Fans will be debating the ramifications of Zoom's plan, his motivations and true identity, and the unexpected glimpse of "Earth-2"s version of Harrison Wells for another week (at least), but that wasn't the biggest achievement of the episode. By the time the credits roll, it should be clear that the new twists, new cast members, and larger mystery mean only one thing: The Flash is back.
The Flash returns next Tuesday @8pm with "Family of Rogues". Check out a preview of the episode below: