Man, last night’s episode of The Flash was fun. “Welcome to Earth-2" sent Barry and Cisco to a parallel world where Barry is a nerd in tweed, Joe West is a lounge singer, and TVs are vertical instead of horizontal. (Madness!) And yet the most amazing change is that it turned Earth-1’s Flash into an imbecile and an asshole of the highest magnitude.
As fans know, the reason Barry and Cisco ventured to Earth-2 was ostensibly to help Earth-2 Harrison Wells rescue his daughter Jesse, imprisoned by the evil speedster Zoom. Let me be clear: this is the sole agenda for their journey. Upon their arrival, Barry sees his Earth-2 doppelganger is still a CSI, and decides to take Earth-2 Barry’s place to use his police access to find out where Zoom has been spotted over the years, hoping to triangulate his location and thus rescue Jesse. A good plan!
But although Barry plans to do this, he does not do this. Instead, he barely gets in the doors of Earth-2 Central City PD HQ before meeting Detective Iris West—his wife—at which point the plight of Jesse is immediately and completely forgotten. He then spends the next 24 of the 48 hours he’s set to spend on Earth-2 hanging out with Other Barry’s family and being astounded every single time something on this parallel Earth is different from on his Earth. Seriously, it’s as if he lost his short-term memory, and every 30 seconds or so is completely flabbergasted to discover his location anew.
While he’s busy gaping at his adoptive sister-turned-wife and the lounge singer/father-in-law who hates him, the evil Earth-2 doppelgangers of Caitlin Snow and Ronnie Raymond show up to find “the breacher” and capture him/her on behalf of their boss, Zoom. It does not take a brilliant criminal forensic scientist to realize that 1) these villains, better known as Killer Frost and Deathstorm, have come specifically for Barry as the sole visitor from Earth-1 currently hanging out in the lounge, or that 2) the villains must have been able to locate Barry specifically.
Although disguised as his non-powered, nebbish Earth-2 counterpart, one would expect Barry Allen—a hero who is ostensibly known as the Flash—to run away in an effort to draw the superpowered villains away from his loved ones (not to mention all the other bystanders). At the very least, one might think that exposing his powers and throwing Earth-2 Barry’s life into disarray would be a reasonable price to pay to keep Other Iris and Other Joe alive. Instead, Barry gawks until Deathstorm murders Joe, at which point he finally uses his speed powers to carry the two villains to a location lacking innocent bystanders, then hightails it out of there.
Let’s be completely clear here: The only reason Earth-2 Joe is dead is because of Barry. Without question. And of all the many, many ways this tragedy could have been averted, the simplest would have been if Barry had simply done what he came to Earth-2 to do, and spent his time trying to save Jesse Wells.
Incredibly, after Other Joe’s needless death, Barry has not learned this lesson and doubles down on his stupidity. Recommitting to his crusade of completely ignoring Harrison’s imprisoned daughter, Barry instead decides he has to protect/help/assist Iris and take on Killer Frost and Deathstorm. (Harrison, by the way, is furious at Barry’s decision, and this is 100 percent justified. Seriously, he should have given Barry to Zoom and saved everyone a lot of hassle.)
Needlessly forcing a second confrontation with the two villains, Barry manages to stay so unprepared for the encounter that Iris’ partner (a good Floyd “Deadshot” Lawton) gets murdered while Barry is savagely pummeled with energy blasts and captured by Zoom. In fact, he’s imprisoned next to Jesse, meaning the most significant step towards achieving the thing he came to do was taken by Zoom! The only reason Barry knows where Jesse is being held captive is because he had his ass kicked and Zoom brought him there.
By the end of “Welcome to Earth-2,” Barry has managed to get many people killed, wrecked the life of his doppelganger, and again, completely ignored his quest to save Jesse. It’s a tribute to The Flash that even though the hero is frighteningly dumb and transparently selfish, the entire episode was a blast. I could list off 30 reasons why off the top of my head—at least a dozen can probably be summed up by “Reverb”—but if you haven’t seen it, I don’t want to spoil a single twist, turn or Easter egg of the episode.
Because lord knows you’re not going to get to see the Flash being a hero.