Initially, I wasn’t all that excited about tonight’s episode. That’s what happens when you hype an unprecedented “Arrow vs. Flash” crossover, but by the end, I was impressed by how a potential throwaway episode proved just as entertaining as any in the series thus far.
We kick off with a flashback 10 months ago, where three young adults are near a power station to get a good view of the particle accelerator launch. One of the three, Farooq (Michael Reventar) realizes it’s not going as planned and warns his friends to run just as he gets electrocuted.
Present day, Wells is in his secret future journal room making sure everything in the future is still intact. He’s still concerned about that ominous headline, but says there’s still time to get Barry to go faster.
For now, Wells has to worry with Barry’s confidence, which is shown as Barry can’t believe the bad luck of a would-be robber trying to hold him up and strips him to his underwear before bringing a cop over to arrest him. Grant Gustin makes for such a likeable lead and he shines getting to play a character who enjoys being a hero. If he’s not the MVP of the DCTV like Stephen Amell suggested, he’s a very close No. 2.
Wells wants Barry to focus more on the mission of tapping into his speed, but Barry is drawn more to helping others — the theme for tonight’s show. Barry’s called to a homicide scene to find a man electrocuted and gets chastised by Joe for saying he’s got “mad skills” in a funny exchange. I was a bit annoyed that Joe didn’t want to tell Barry about seeing the man in the lightning since Barry is the only person who could relate and be able to do something about it.
Cisco is able to track down the killer at a power station and The Flash speeds off to find Farooq aka Blackout sucking up the juice. Flash proves a tastier meal though and Barry is stunned to realize he’s lost his speed. Blackout is on a mission and heads off to STAR Labs to get revenge on the man responsible for his condition — Harrison Wells. With the STAR defenses strong enough to hold him back, Blackout drains more power from the city triggering a complete blackout.
That proves to be just the distraction that prisoner William Tockman aka The Clock King (Robert Knepper) needs to grab a gun and take hostages, including Joe and Iris. Tockman was last seen in Season 2 of “Arrow” and it’s neat to see villains crossing over from one show to the next as well.
Juggling two villains in an episode was a welcome shift from the standard one bad guy format and helps show that not even The Flash can be in two places at one time. Joe impresses Tockman with his knowledge of famous time-based quotes, but Eddie isn’t so fortunate as he gets shot attempting to take down Tockman, but just connects with his bulletproof vest. Tockman takes Iris to head to the rooftop, but Joe pleads for her to have a chance to say goodbye to Eddie allowing her time to get his gun from his ankle holster. Let’s hear it for Iris not needing Flash to rescue her this week.
Blackout finally is able to break into STAR Labs and begins chasing down Wells. Since he’s not particularly interested in getting killed, Wells frees Girder from his prison with the promise of letting him go if he kills Blackout. That plan doesn’t turn out so well as Blackout kills Girder instead. His survival probably wasn’t looking too good when Wells got out of the wheelchair to free him. That’s my one knock on the episode. There’s no point in introducing these villains only to kill them off so quickly. Granted, that’s probably due to Girder knowing Flash’s identity, but the major thing the writers need to do going forward is let Flash build up his Rogue gallery and save the deaths for “Arrow.” Barry and Caitlin are stunned that Girder died right before them and Wells admits to releasing him, Barry lashes out saying that Wells doesn’t care about humanity at all and only sees them as pawns.
In a Easter Egg sure to thrill DC Comic fans, when Blackout questions if Wells even knew his friends’ names, Wells names them as well as all the people who died in the particle accelerator accident. Of particular note, Wells named Ralph Dibney, Grant Emerson, Bea da Costa, Will Everett and Ronnie Raymond, the civilian identities of DC Comic characters Elongated Man, Damage, Fire, Amazing Man and Firestorm. Since we already know at least one of those characters is not actually dead, it’s probably safe to assume the others aren’t either. I’m especially geeked about the possibility of Elongated Man appearing as he was one of Barry’s best friends in the comics. Of course, I won’t be completely satisfied until we get Green Lantern, the best friend of both The Flash and Arrow. Either way, with Firestorm and possibly Elongated Man, Amazing Man, Damage and Fire along with Atom and Black Canary, this is a pretty impressive Justice League… Just saying.
Cisco figures Barry is having performance anxiety and his powers actually aren’t gone, but it takes seeing Girder die and Wells to be threatened for Barry to get past his worries and take down Blackout by basically letting him max out on Flash force. That was kind of a weak resolution as it seemed like the writers backed themselves in a corner and couldn’t come up with another way for Blackout to get beaten.
I finally noticed all the captured meta-humans are being stored in Intake 52 (a nod to the various Earths in DC comic continuity and the number of books relaunched with the New DC) and the signal on the door triggered a wild thought. The logo is somewhat similar to that of another DC character who could have a reason for not being so close to people, and humanity, in general and is famous for blending in undetected. Is it possible that Wells is actually The Martian Manhunter?
In this week’s post-credit scene, Wells goes back to the meta-human prison and mocks The Mist by gesturing him to stay quiet and pulls out a needle to examine why he was able to steal Flash’s powers. But does he want to know for a reason to help Barry in the future? The Wells mystery continues to make for a very entertaining season subplot. What do you think he’s doing?