After the early years of popularity during what became known as the Golden Age of comics; for a time, superheroes went out of fashion as many titles were cancelled, replaced on the shelves by crime and horror titles.
In the mid 50s, following claims linking those comics with child delinquency, the time was deemed right to bring back the superhero comic. However, rather than bring back the Golden Age heroes, most of the titles introduced new versions of the characters, with different origins, secret identities and even variations on their powers. In the case of the Flash, the new (Barry Allen) version chose his identity based on the Jay Garrick version he read in the comics.
Longer term readers coming to the show from the comics will instantly recognise the title of the episode as that of a story that introduced the concept that changed everything. It reintroduced Jay’s Flash by explaining that he (and the rest of the Golden Age characters) lived on an Earth that was dimensionally separated from the one on which Barry lived, but that travel between the dimensions was only possible for those with certain abilities and at the right location.
So… at the end of last week’s episode, the newly upgraded security at STAR Labs showed its effectiveness as Jay Garrick walked into the control room seeking Barry’s help to save the world.
Before the plot gets started, there’s time for Professor Stein to give a potted explanation of the Multiverse – this is not a Grant Morrison level of instruction, though it does have diagrams!
It turns out that whilst Barry was fighting against Thawne on Earth 1, Jay had been in the middle of a battle with Zoom on Earth 2. When the singularity ripped a wormhole between the two dimensions, Jay’s helmet and then himself were sucked through into Earth 1, leaving him powerless (at least for now).
In a nod to the comics, and an indication of where the villains of the week will be coming from during this season, there are now 52 portals dotted around the city which are being used by Zoom to send villains over to attack Barry.
Last week it was a villainous Atom Smasher, and this week we see a minor Firestorm villain known as Sand Demon (think Spider-Man’s Sandman character and you’re pretty much there). Given the show’s propensity to burn through comic characters, the use of a relatively unknown villain here demonstrates that their appearance is mainly intended to provide a generic villain and allow a suitable introduction for Patty Spivot, potentially soon to be Barry’s new SBFF. Incidentally, Caitlin didn’t leave much time from getting over Ronnie’s apparent death to flirting with Jay Garrick – probably just as well he wasn’t introduced as the more mature gentleman he might have been portrayed as.
Being the CW, Jay is not the grizzled old speedster from the pre-nu52 comics, and is only a couple of years more experienced than Barry. However, much as with Hawkman’s appearance in Smallville, this allows there to be a measure of authority to Jay’s character that helps fill the gap left by Harrison Wells’ departure last year.
With the known duplicate Al Rothstein on both earths, and the similarity of the two Flashes, it opens the doors to other potential dimensional ‘twins’ such as a variation on a certain scientist…