Rest in peace Harrison Wells. We’re all terrible, terrible people for ever doubting you after witnessing your death.
I’m really digging how the producers of ‘The Flash’ just continue going “Oh were THOSE your expectations? Sorry if we screw them all up!” Tonight’s episode was another in a series of first season convention-shattering moves that’s come to define the most unpredictable DC Comics TV show.
Just to show they’re not running (ugh) away from the season’s big mystery, the episode kicks off 15 years ago with a slow-motion breakdown of Flash battling Reverse Flash at the Allen household. This battle is still far away from current Flash continuity as Barry’s costume sports some noticeable differences namely the white circle in the costume.
The battle speeds back up as the two encircle Nora Allen who tells young Barry to get away. One blur, which we can assume is The Flash, moves young Barry out to the street to safety while the Reverse Flash speeds off in the other direction. In his haunting evil voice, he asks his personal computer, Gideon, why his speed has dramatically been cut off.
Gideon explains the last battle with The Flash resulted in a massive drain on the Speed Force forcing him to remain trapped in this time frame prompting Reverse Flash to yell in frustration and unmask. And it’s not Harrison Wells?!?!? My mind + this show are not a good combination.
While we’ve got that crazy mystery to chew on, back in the regular timeline, Barry and Joe are trying to solve their own puzzle — Harrison Wells and his connection to the Reverse Flash. They’re both stumped as to RF’s identity since the blood at the crime scene of Nora’s murder didn’t match Wells.
They can’t spend too much time dealing with that as a costumed Rogue who calls himself The Trickster (Devon Graye) is unleashing explosive devices throughout Central City. The Trickster is dressed in a costume that closely resembles his comic appearance complete with domino mask although again the odd CW bias against blondes rears its ugly head. While the show runners couldn’t rearrange the schedule, it’s hard not to appreciate them featuring The Trickster on the day before April Fool’s Day.
Joe recalls another Trickster — James Jesse (Mark Hamill) — who terrorized Central City (and how amazing was it that the show used old pictures of Hamill’s Trickster from the original Flash TV series?) and figure they can get his help in stopping his imitator.
Hamill plays Trickster more like his Joker from ‘The Batman Animated Series’ and is a more sinister, homicidal character than the silly playful he should be, which would make for a nice contrast to the show’s existing murdering villains like Reverse Flash and Captain Cold. It’s a rare misstep for a villain portrayal for the show as they don’t all have to be so … (Heath Ledger pause) serious.
Turns out the Tricksters were in league and Trickster II was unleashing his bomb rampage to distract the police long enough to spring Trickster I. Wells guessed the setup, but Barry is so distrustful of his mentor now that he ignored the advice. Barry can barely hide his disdain for Wells, but as Cisco found out in alternate timeline, tipping your hand to the Reverse Flash will get you killed.
Iris is still stuck in her well-intentioned, but going nowhere subplot as she asks Eddie and the Flash to look for Mason. The biggest problem with it is Mason was so unlikeable and annoying that Reverse Flash did the viewers a favor in killing him and Iris, the series’ supporting character weak link, is left to carry the subplot no one cares about.
The Tricksters take Henry Allen hostage figuring a cop’s father makes a good bargaining chip. Trickster II asks his mentor why he reached out to him and the writers have a little fun by having Trickster say “I am your father.” Cute.
Barry is rattled — fearful of what the Tricksters will do to his father and frustrated that he can’t figure out Wells’ angle. Joe encourages him not to let Wells steal his faith in people. Whenever the show needs a quality tender moment, it rarely gets any better than the quiet moments with Joe and Barry.
Iris goes to the mayor’s re-election party, which the Tricksters crash and reveal they’ve laced the champagne they’ve been serving with poison. Flash arrives to save them, but he’s distracted trying to find his dad allowing Trickster II to slap on a wrist bomb that will go off if he stops running. Flash is stumped, but Wells guides him into tapping into the Speed Force, which will allow him to vibrate through walls and disarm the device. Anyone else find it cool we get our first reference of the Speed Force when Luke Skywalker guest stars?
Flash speedily delivers the poison antidote, takes out The Tricksters and frees Henry, unmasking to fully reveal his alter ego to his father. Before Joe takes him back to prison, Henry visits STAR Labs and thanks everyone for helping his son.
Continuing the flashback, Wells and his wife, Tess, are being stalked by the real Reverse Flash (Matt Letscher). Wells is so captivated with her that he wants to name his scientific research facility after her. She suggests naming it STAR as he’s the only star she sees.
Reverse Flash knows that eventually they will create the particle accelerator, but he doesn’t want to wait that long and causes an accident that crashes their car. While it’s not fully clear if Tess is dead, RF comes over as Wells pleads for him to get help. RF introduces himself as Eobard Thawne.
I’m further convinced the show runners are ‘Fringe’ fans as Thawne uses a device to steal Wells’ DNA and transform his body into an exact match. The process kills Wells and Thawne now has a new body (but sadly no new troops to command. Get the reference, win a prize). This ties in perfectly to the comics as Thawne was such a nutcase he had surgery to change his appearance to resemble Barry Allen. Goodbye, honest, decent Harrison Wells. We never knew you.
Back in our time, Joe tells Eddie that Iris can’t keep digging into Mason’s disappearance. Flash rushes in and unmasks to Eddie’s shock. They need his help in figuring out Wells’ next step. This was a weird move as Eddie is a decent guy and all, but it wasn’t obvious as to why he needed to know Barry’s secret beyond ensuring Iris is the only one who doesn’t know Barry is The Flash. Barry tells Joe that Wells seemed to be talking from experience about the connection to the Speed Force and is convinced that somehow Wells is the Reverse Flash. Hope that information doesn’t get you killed Barry!
While The Trickster would have benefited from being a more fun-loving villain, The Reverse Flash reveal was definitely exciting filling in a significant piece of the puzzle.