After last week’s info-packed episode introducing the season arc and bringing non-comics readers up to speed on concepts such as parallel earths, this week’s is a notable change of pace.
Whilst the show keeps the various plates spinning, the focus of this episode leans more towards character development than the multiverse arc.
Last season’s breakout villain was undoubtedly Captain Cold, and with him lined up to be part of the Legends of Tomorrow team, it makes sense for us to get a reminder about the character. This gives us another chance to see his uniquely played relationship with Barry which is reminiscent of elements from other opposing pairings such as Batman/Catwoman, Arrow/Merlyn, even Elementary’s Holmes/Moriarty where the two shouldn’t really get along… but somehow actually do, albeit with one partner not always as upstanding when it comes down to the wire.
Captain Cold has been coerced into working with his estranged father (played by genre stalwart Michael Ironside). Snart Sr isn’t a nice guy – whilst they were children, he used to beat Lisa – and has implanted a bomb in her head to guarantee Len’s cooperation.
Contrasting the dysfunctional Snarts with perfect family guy Joe is particularly timely, with the introduction of Francine last week as Joe’s ex and Iris’ mother. Francine was a drug addict until infant Iris intervened, leading to Francine being committed. She subsequently escaped and went on the run until her return to Central City. However, Joe had told Iris she had died, and this gives us the impetus for this week’s obligatory emo-Joe scene (and it’s another display of just how good Jesse is at playing these scenes), and Iris to show she is not the grinning doormat with entitlement issues from much of last season.
Back at STAR Labs, Jay’s science background has led to him building a speed cannon that allows travel between the two Earths (shame that the Cosmic Treadmill didn’t get the job, but even Cisco might have got a slap for that :P), so expect there to be more comings and goings between the two Earths over the course of the rest of the season (in between those finding their way across using one of the 52 wormholes.
Whilst the cannon would allow Jay to return home, Caitlin persuades him to stay until Zoom is dealt with (Ronnie Who?). This being the CW, Jay looks barely old enough to be Caitlin’s big brother, but even so, her behaviour seems a little out of character, given how much she pined for Ronnie through half of last season, and to whom she got married in the middle of a crisis only a few episodes earlier (albeit six months ago in show time).
STAR Labs’ near-legendary security continues to shine as the first user of the cannon is the Earth 2 Harrison Wells, probably just in time as it looks like Professor Stein is suffering from times when he experiences his half of the Firestorm transformation, but without a partner, it’s not working properly. I guess he’s going to need another half if he’s going to be in Legends of Tomorrow.
Overall, a more relaxed episode, allowing a brief pause before the start of the build towards the mid-season crossover. Michael Ironside adds value to any show he appears in, and is perfectly cast as Snart Sr. Wentworth has made the role of Captain Cold his own – the meeting between him and Barry has just the right mix of grudging respect for each other’s abilities and dislike of each other’s moralities – and this appearance helps to smooth off a few of the rougher corners of his character ready for Legends, in much the same way that Professor Stein was softened in episode one.
Oh, and there’s a Big Belly Burger on both Earth 1 and Earth 2…