Spoiler warning: Do not read on unless you’ve seen “The Flash” Season 2, Episode 2, titled “Flash of Two Worlds.”
“The Flash” delved deeper into its comic book roots in the second episode of season two, explaining the concept of multiple earths; introducing new cop Patty Spivot (Shantel VanSanten); giving us a glimpse of Earth-2 — and an alternate version of Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh); freaking us out about the health of one half of Firestorm, Martin Stein (Victor Garber); letting Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears) prove his heroic credentials to Barry (Grant Gustin) and the STAR Labs team — and flirt a little with Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) in the process; and introducing Iris West’s (Candice Patton) mother, Francine (Vanessa Williams), all while paying homage to a historic issue of “The Flash,” number 123, which introduced the concept of the multiverse to DC Comics canon back in 1961.
Sears and the episode’s writers and co-executive producers, Aaron and Todd Helbing, discussed the episode’s many twists with Variety and other outlets last week – here’s what we learned:
Flash out of Water: You weren’t imagining the chemistry between Jay and Caitlin during their lab scenes in episode two, according to Sears: “There’s a connection these two have, almost an instant comfort level — that wonderful thing you don’t get with too many people in life, these two experience. They’re going to explore that a little bit.”
Unfortunately for Jay, he no longer has his own super speed, which creates some issues in his fight against the terrifying Zoom. “Jay’s biggest rival is Zoom, and he needs Barry’s help to defeat this guy,” Sears says. “I would certainly say there are frustrations to not being able to do what he’s used to doing and helping the way he’s used to helping. But given his background as a scientist, he’s able to put that into play, so even though he’s not able to physically do what he’s used to doing, he’s absolutely able to help with his knowledge.”
As for Jay’s larger goals, Sears says, “I think he just wants Zoom gone and he certainly can’t do it by himself.”
According to Todd Helbing, “The thing I think that Jay wants more than anything is to get his powers back,” but he’s also keeping something else hidden from the team. “There’s something that he is struggling with that you’ll start to learn in the next couple of episodes. And that’s partly where Caitlin comes into play, to help him with something.”
Barry has had a number of paternal figures over the course of the series so far, but don’t expect Jay to take one of those spots now that Wells has been erased from their timeline and Barry’s father Henry (John Wesley Shipp) has left Central City. Per Sears, it’s more of a brotherly bond between the two speedsters: “There are some things you can only talk to an older sibling about that you wouldn’t feel comfortable talking to a dad character about. And I really like Grant, as a person — it’s hard not to like Grant — but for Jay and Barry, that translates. There’s a real desire to be around him and want to lend help, which is also fun to play with.”
“Last year [Barry] didn’t really have anybody that he could speak about being a speedster with,” says Todd Helbing. “It’s not like he could go out and have drinks with Wells and talk about being a speedster, but he can with Jay. And Jay can sort of mentor him in some of the powers that he has and figure out the best way to use them.”
Crisis on Infinite Earths: Thankfully, Professor Stein was around to explain the concept of the multiverse to us in this week’s episode, and in the episode’s closing moments, we actually got a glimpse of what life is like on Earth-2, including an alternate version of Harrison Wells. “It’s such a unique opportunity to have a character that everybody fell in love with and everybody hated at the same time and try to reinvent him in a different way,” Todd Helbing says of Wells’ return. “I think that was always the plan — it was just a challenge to figure out how to do that and have it be satisfactory.”
While it’s hard not to be curious about what else is different on Earth-2, the writers admit that we won’t be exploring it in depth just yet. “Since we introduce Earth-2, there’s always a possibility we’ll go there. Not necessarily early on, but you’ll see more of it,” teases Aaron Helbing.
Don’t expect to see any of the other earths that must also exist somewhere out there in the multiverse either, at least at this stage. “I think it might be a bit too confusing to have Earth-17, so I think right now we’re just going to keep it at Earth 2,” says Todd Helbing.
“I love that a possibility of an Earth-17 exists, though. Or an Earth-49. What does that look like?” Sears muses. “We’re in season two but the possibilities really are kind of limitless.”
52 Problems: In addition to infinite earths, we learned that there are currently 52 breaches in the fabric of reality scattered around Central City, which means 52 holes where Zoom could pop through and deposit a villain from another world.
“Yeah, it’s not good for them,” Todd Helbing admits. “But they figure out a way to control it… There are 52 breaches and Zoom can come through any of them with whoever he wants, so they have to figure out quickly how to manage the biggest threat to them.”
And they’re unlikely to find many other allies like Jay paying them a visit, Todd Helbing says. “Right now, Zoom is the only one that’s able to bring people through. So he’s not going to bring somebody that helps the team. He’s just going to help somebody that does want things specifically for him.”
As for why Zoom isn’t just attempting to kill Barry himself, the producers played coy: “there is a reason, but you’ll learn that down the line.”
The Helbings promise that Zoom is a very different villain from last year’s Reverse Flash. “He’s a speed demon. I think Reverse Flash/Wells had to sort of hone Barry to get what he wanted. Zoom is just like your worst nightmare,” says Todd Helbing. “He’s going to come in and if he doesn’t get these guys to do what he wants, he’s going eventually show up and try to take him down himself. He’s the scariest speedster on the planet.”
“Yeah, I think where Wells had a bit of a conscience now and then when it came to Barry, Zoom just wants to kill Barry,” adds Aaron Helbing.
In addition to Zoom, there’ll still be the usual breed of Central City metahumans out for Barry’s blood, too, says Todd Helbing. “There’ll be some villains that you saw last year. Different combinations. There’s a lot of new villains. There are still meta-humans running around Central City that we didn’t get to last year so there will be some new people that you’ll be introduced to soon.”
Better Half: Martin Stein has been an invaluable resource in STAR Labs after Wells’ demise, but in this week’s episode, he collapsed — which Todd Helbing attributes to losing Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell). “With what happened to Ronnie he’s missing a side of him that he’s had for quite a while now, and that’s going to start to sneak up on him.”
As for Ronnie’s fate following the destruction of the wormhole, Aaron Helbing offered one tease: “We’re in the “Flash”-verse, so anything is possible. There’s Earth-2, there’s the multiverse. There’s always the possibility for Ronnie to come back.”
Good Vibrations: Stein also figured out that something strange is going on with Cisco (Carlos Valdes), but with the professor out of commission, no one in STAR Labs knows what the tech guru is dealing with. Cisco is currently paranoid that Wells has done something terrible to him, and that fear will continue to weigh on him this season. “[He thinks] Wells gave this power to him and Wells was very evil so he’s just a little freaked,” Todd Helbing says. “As the season goes on you’ll start to see him deal with that problem of ‘how do I tell these guys? When do I tell them?’ And then sort of figure out this power that he has and how to control it more.”
We got a glimpse of Caitlin’s potential future as Killer Frost in the season one finale, but that storyline will be a slower burn that will be answered further down the line. “We’ve thought about it and we definitely talk about it and we revealed it,” says Aaron Helbing. “Everybody’s powers manifest at different times. We’re going to focus on Cisco for a little bit.”
New Girl in Town: “Flash of Two Worlds” also introduced the tenacious Patty Spivot, whose determination to join Joe West’s (Jesse L. Martin) metahuman taskforce put her in the crosshairs this week — but that brush with danger didn’t dampen her desire to help get metahumans off the street. “We wanted to make her this very strong, hardcore female cop who has a purpose,” Todd Helbing explains. “Originally, we talked about [making her] like [“Arrow” character] Felicity, but the second we started writing her, we felt like we had to make her quite a bit different. We wanted to have her feeling part of the show and part of the universe we set up. Just somebody that was in this for the right reasons, hellbent on stopping Mark Mardon [Liam McIntyre] and metahumans and somebody that could feel like she was part of the metahuman taskforce and hold her own.”
Patty also had an undeniable spark with Barry — and certainly seems to speak his language when it comes to forensics. But how will that impact Barry’s relationship with his first love, Iris? “I would say Iris is always Barry’s lightning rod, best friend, first love of his life. But she just lost Eddie [Rick Cosnett], so as she is dealing with this and Barry and Iris are slipping back into that friendship mold, it leaves an opportunity to explore a relationship with Patty,” says Aaron Helbing. “We’ll see how that develops. But Iris and Barry are childhood friends and loves and that’s always going to be there for both of them.”
Iris will have plenty on her plate thanks to the return of her mother, Francine, who made her first appearance this week. “She came back to see her daughter and reestablish this family that she once had,” says Todd Helbing, noting that we’ll learn “why now” in coming episodes. He also previews that we can expect Iris to struggle with her mother’s return: “Iris obviously has this conception about her mother and her being away from her her whole life, and learning that is not the case can sort of turn your world upside down, so that’s the jumping off point that she’s going to be starting with.”
As Candice Patton recently told Variety of Francine and Iris’ dynamic, “We have to deal with how Iris finds out about her mother. There’s a lot of family strain in the West house. It’s a lot of new information and a lot for Iris to process, but it makes for really good TV.”
For a closer look at Zoom, Jay Garrick and Martin Stein’s condition, check out the “Flash” sizzle reel from New York Comic-Con.
“The Flash” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.