The Flash Just Delivered Its Finest Hour

By  · Published on February 10th, 2016

Welcome to Last Night on TV, our daily column that looks back at what happened on television the night before. If we’re going to stay up all night and watch TV, we might as well talk about it the next morning.

Last night on TV, The Flash delivered what might be its best episode yet; and Agent Carter’s villain begins to grow on critic Christopher Campbell.

The Flash

Neil Miller: Imagine being in charge of a major show like The Flash. At this point, you’ve spent a season and a half building the world around your characters, meticulously filling it with characters from DC Comics’ incredible archive and imbuing it with wit and verve. Then all of the sudden, you get to flip everything upside down and rebuild your world with a completely new aesthetic. You get to reimagine the lives of your characters and rework the dynamics between them. And through your eyes, the audience (and a few of your regular characters) get to live in this new world for a time. This might be the most enchanting thought experiment for a TV writers room, the idea that you can completely reinvent your show and not have to blow it all up. It sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Considering the frenetic, crafty episode Team Flash delivered with “Welcome to Earth-2,” I think it’s safe to say that it’s a lot of fun. Trading the familiar streets of Central City for Earth-2’s Dick Tracy pastiche brings with it a number of challenges, but also quite a bit of creative freedom. The episode delivered everything we had hoped it would. A singing Jesse L. Martin, Barry and Iris getting romantic, and plenty of surprises (like Barry’s mom being alive). The kicker being that the entirety of Team Flash on Earth-2 is evil. Killer Frost and Deathstorm were the big draw, but Carlos Valdes’ turn as evil metahuman samurai Reverb was as delightful as it was shortlived.

The episode spent a lot of time exploring the world of Earth-2 before the focus came back to Zoom, which presents the audience with a nice vacation from the norm. This is classic CW stuff, reminiscent of the way Supernatural takes one episode per year to get completely silly. The Flash couldn’t help itself at times. Deadshot showing up as a cop with bad aim is a little goofy. But Iris West idolizing her grandfather and becoming a badass police officer feels in-line with her character, considering the fact that she didn’t grow up with Barry as her brother. It’s all a very playful and thoughtful worldbuilding effort, brought to life with some inspired production design. It’s so good that it’s easy to overlook some of the Easter Eggs tossed into this episode, including Jay’s sonic helmet trick and all of the visions available (including a shot of Supergirl) within the breach.

For The Flash, this is an all-timer. Fun, frenetic and fearlessly emotional. It’s a part-one, so its ultimate resonance will be determined next week. But if this is any indication, it’s likely that we’re in for a retreat in “Escape from Earth-2.”

One last stray observation: Shout out to Cisco’s “Visit Mordor” t-shirt. I’ve got one just like it, but for “The Wall” from Game of Thrones.

Agent Carter

Christopher Campbell: Leave it to a show as silly as Agent Carter to cast regular goofball Ken Marino (Wet Hot American Summer) as a mob boss and then have him deliver one of the most terrifyingly serious bits of violence we’ve seen in two seasons. And it happened right after one of its zaniest, starring the typically scary Ray Wise (Twin Peaks) doing wacky comedy involving an amnesia gadget and a little, old fashioned sexual harassment.

Leave it to me, meanwhile, to go against previous criticisms and admit I enjoyed the surplus of characters this week. In addition to Marino and Wise, we got Sousa’s now-fiancee coming to the rescue of an impaled Peggy (well, “now” could mean then, since she’s onto his feelings for his fellow agent) and front-of-office Rose, who proved herself in the field with decent undercover improv and some real power in her punch. It’s great how she’s got no time for the show to play match up with her and the SSR scientist, Aloysius, too. This show is all about the independent ladies.

Speaking of the ladies, Whitney Frost is growing on me as a villain, though she still seems to be too mean girls, not enough evil woman. I’ve been thinking that with her powers she doesn’t need her husband or his political aspirations anymore nor the Illuminati-like Council, so let’s get rid of them. I really thought she was going to kill Chadwick at the end. He’s lost his purpose on the show (also, again, independent ladies). It also looked like she could have killed Peggy there for a second. Why couldn’t she? Besides the obvious reason for the sake of the show. How does all that zero matter running through her arm not affect Peggy? Or did it?

Speaking of people affected by the zero matter, does anyone else literally forget about the existence of Wilkes until he keeps popping up? That’s so not cool with him hanging out in Peggy’s bedroom all the time, either. She can be upset, even heartbroken again, when he disappears, but she also ought to be starting to consider him kind of creepy. Also, again, independent ladies. Anyway, I know this is supposed to be a show about a solo hero (and her sidekick, who was simply Jarvelous in his nervous nuclear bomb handling), but I would love more of the team on a mission thing, especially if Rose is involved. They don’t need the slow motion walking thing, though.

What did you watch last night?

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