[WARNING: This article contains spoilers for The Flash Season 1, Episode 19]
There’s no doubt that The Flash has earned its spot in The CW’s DC Comics universe, acquiring so much good will that even less engaging episodes can be forgiven, since it’s the overall mystery of Nora Allen’s murder (and Dr. Harrison Wells’ master plan) that viewers are likely tuning in to see. As the series ramps up to its first season debut, it pushes full force into the Wells mystery, while also introducing its second Arrow crossover in as many weeks.
In “Who is Harrison Wells?,” written by Ray Utarnachitt and Cortney Norris, Barry (Grant Gustin) attempts to convince Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) that Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) isn’t what he claims, while Eddie (Rick Cosnett) joins him in his investigation into a new shapeshifting metahuman bankrobber. Meanwhile, Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) head to Starling City to find out what really happened the night of Tess Morgan’s death.
One suspect finds himself dealt with quite quickly, but we the core cast has their eyes opened to a brand new secret – as an Arrow heroine finds a brand new crime-fighting ability. Share your reactions and predictions in the comments below!
As we’ve mentioned before, The Flash‘s most surprising strength to date has also been one of its main weaknesses: that the ‘monsters of the week’ are generally forgettable, required to do little more than provide grounds for action (while the other subplots keep viewers engaged). Thankfully, The arrival of villain Hannibal Bates (Martin Novotny) offers some change from the status quo. Unsurprisingly, a wealth of plot twists are possible when a villain can change into every member of the cast.
Sadly, that includes most of the shocking twists glimpses in previous sizzle reels of upcoming Flash episodes, including Eddie’s attack on two fellow police officers, and the kiss shared by Barry and Caitlin. Fortunately, the twists themselves are handled exceedingly well, with the latter offering both Gustin and Panabaker an opportunity to show a new dimension to their relationship (one which many fans have been demanding since the show’s first episode).
Hannibal Bates may best be described by as the sort of villain fans came to expect from the show in its early days: a cool twist on the Smallville formula, not particularly hard to defeat, but this time, with an unsettling twist to cap off his slim story. However, the case managed to do more than just provide some twists and turns, as Barry’s attempt to keep Eddie out of handcuffs was immediately foiled by Eddie himself.
It’s a small moment, but Eddie’s insistence that Barry play by the rules if he wishes to help inches the speedster ever closer to becoming a true superhero. In the same moment, offering a parallel with Henry Allen that reminds Barry his days of being a victim are in the past. He was helpless to find justice for his father as a child, but in his new form, is capable of tackling those same odds and coming out on top.
As an added bonus, Arrow fans will be pleased to know that long before Hannibal Bates became the villainous ‘Everyman,’ he had apparently done enough damage in Starling City to earn a place on Robert Queen’s ‘list’ (of notable figures who had “failed the city”). His erased memory means more insight won’t be coming any time soon, but a nod to the fans nonetheless.
Starling City’s Finest
As proof that just about everything is better on The Flash these days, the appearance of both Arrow‘s Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) and Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) gives each of the character some of their most significant shoves forward in terms of their relationship, and Laurel identity as the Black Canary.
Where the previous episode’s use of Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) and Ray Palmer/Atom (Brandon Routh) amounted to little more than some humor and help in a fight against killer robot bees, this CW crossover was far more effortless and, frankly, elegant. The at-times melodramatic grudges held between Laurel and her father had seemed to be going nowhere fast – until The CW’s other cop father arrives to remind him that family is all that really matters.
Again, the fact that Joe’s comments never reached a level of preaching is what made the crossover work, allowing Captain Lance to change his views all on his own (hopefully). In addition, Cassidy was also given an opportunity to show the lighter side of Laurel – a side that had been present on Arrow at one time, buried beneath multiple character deaths and anger since.
Some Arrow fans may see that as dishonest to her character, or feel that her own step towards a super-powered crime-fighter should be set within her own series. But given how many threads and forces Arrow is handling, giving the Canary a moment in the spotlight in The Flash – without only a minor deviation from the episode’s core story – is just as clever a use of time. Not to mention the leverage Cisco now holds over the blonde-haired badass…
Who is Harrison Wells?
As is becoming the tradition for The Flash, the most heavily-marketed twists and revelations into the growing ‘Reverse-Flash’ conflict are only the tip of the iceberg. Following the entirely-vague-and-ambiguous clue offered by Mercury Labs’ Tina McGee (Amanda Pays) – that Harrison Wells “became a different person” after his car accident – Joe and Cisco find that in reality, the person Wells became buried the real Wells in a wooded area nearby.
We’re relived for a number of reasons: first, that Caitlin and Cisco have their doubts about Wells’ guilt put to rest almost immediately, as opposed to stringing the conflict and disagreement along for multiple episodes, artificially placing them in harm’s way (although Caitlin does her best to leap in head first). The recovered remains also fill the characters in on the fact that Wells… isn’t Wells.
Fans found out that fact at the same time that the Reverse-Flash’s true identity was revealed to be Eobard Thawne. Now, the question isn’t when the people surrounding Wells will realize their suspicions are accurate, but how they could ever actually discover Thawne’s futuristic origins. Although that question winds up answered explicitly in the episode’s closing moments.
Viewers have known about Eobard Thawne’s secret vault in S.T.A.R. Labs since the show’s first episode, as well as the future newspaper revealing Barry Allen would “vanish” a decade in the future. And at long last, Barry Allen, Cisco Ramon, and Caitlin Snow have been filled in on the secret as well.
Just where the writers choose to take this twist isn’t clear, but there’s little doubt fans will be relieved to see the characters operating on the exact same knowledge (more or less) as them. How Dr. Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne/Reverse-Flash will react once their knowledge is revealed – or more accurately, leaked ahead of time – is open to speculation, and likely to hurt more than a few cast members.
Will Wells continue killing? Does his need to return home to his time and place override his need for secrecy? Will he finally reveal what mysterious “crisis” lies in Barry’s future, or what brought him to kill Barry’s mother in the past? All we have are questions, but we’re open to almost any theory or prediction.
In the midst of an Arrow crossover and shape-shifting metahuman, these smaller plot beats are worth pointing out for future episodes:
- Iris seems to put her anger towards Eddie aside once learning he may got to prison for murders he didn’t commit. However, his admission that he’s been working with The Flash was enough of a shock to potentially keep their relationship on the rocks.
- Harrison Wells reminds Joe West that they have both lost their wives, highlighting the fact that Iris West’s mother has never been mentioned. Whether it was merely an attempt to throw Joe off balance, or hints at his late wife’s death in a more substantial way isn’t yet clear.
- Now that Caitlin knows what it would be like to share a kiss with Barry, expect that secret to come out eventually.
- The Flash’s reputation is growing, now seen as a force for good, not a suspicious vigilante by both Captain Singh and Central City’s district attorney.
Be sure to share your own thoughts on the latest villain and twist, and where you think Eobard Thawne, Barry, and the series is headed in the next episodes!
The Flash returns next Tuesday @8pm with “The Trap”. Check out a preview of the episode below: