[WARNING: This article contains spoilers for The Flash Season 1, Episode 18]
Even as thrilling as The Flash has become in recent weeks, there's just nothing like a superhero team up. Flash fans already got to see Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) make the trip to Central City once, and she returns this time with her superpowered boyfriend in tow, seeking aid from the S.T.A.R. Labs team in his own efforts at mechanized superheroics.
The CW has made sure to advertise the Atom/Flash team up for weeks, but true to form, the introduction of Ray Palmer to Barry Allen was just one subplot in an episode filled with them. In fact, the biggest threat to the main characters going forward has little to do with Palmer - or even this week's buzzing villain.
With potentially game-changing revelations and new ultimatums delivered, we invite all to share their own thoughts and predictions in the comments below.
The Atom Comes To Town
The benefits of sharing resources and revealing identities pays dividends already in the Arrow/Flash universe, as the Justice League in-the-making means S.T.A.R. Labs has now directly aided in the operations of three costumed heroes (with a fourth not far off). Thankfully, Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) proves to mix just as well with his surrounding cast in his civilian identity as his superpowered one.
The "All-Star Team Up" delivers another strong appearance from the armored Atom, but there's no denying that it's Felicity who winds up proving to be the real brains behind two different Starling City vigilante operations. It's strange to think that her supreme computer skills have rarely been granted the spotlight in an action-oriented showdown, but this episode puts that question to rest, presenting her with her very own nemesis.
The episode's villain - Brie Larvan, a.k.a. the Bug-Eyed Bandit (played by The Walking Dead's Emily Kinney) - continues the trend of offering monsters-of-the-week quickly dealt with, but there is slightly more to her character than the vengeful robotics expert on the surface. The writers offer a foil of betrayal for Barry and his newfound suspicions of Harrison Wells, and while it isn't explored in depth, the added meaning and the action (drawing the talents of all involved) make the action worthwhile, if not particularly memorable.
Who Can Be Trusted?
After the events of the previous episode revealed Harrison Wells to actually be Eobard Thawne, and showed Barry to be absolutely invested in bringing him down for killing his mother (committed enough to bring Eddie Thawne in on his secret), some serious side-eye and suspicious glances were to be expected. Surprisingly, Barry's suspicions didn't stop at the good doctor.
It's not every day that a superhero is shown to be unwilling to trust his friends, or suspecting even the best-natured supporting characters to be in cahoots with the villain, yet Barry finally discovering his mother's killer is shown to have some unintended consequences. As outlandish as it may be for Barry to actually suspect that Cisco and Caitlin are secretly plotting against him, the doubt presents as good an opportunity as any for Felicity to prove that good friends are just as useful as any cutting-edge tech.
To this point, the more mature approach to romance, love triangles, and unrequited love shown in The Flash has proven one of its bright spots when compared to Arrow; in her previous appearance, both Barry and Felicity decided that as smart a match as they might make, a relationship wasn't in the cards any time soon. Similarly, the arrival of Ray Palmer with Felicity on his arm seems to throw Barry at first, but the friendship between the two science-minded do-gooders remains their strongest bond (for now).
As a result, Barry and Ray are able to forge a new working relationship all their own. Their mutual crime-fighting is still in its infancy stages, but comic book fans know that two heroes deciding to trust one another carries far more weight than two agreeing to join forces. There's no telling what the future may hold for The Atom - once again teasing that a shrinking superpower could be coming soon - on either The Flash, Arrow, or the spinoff series in development, but in the world of The Flash, it's Cisco Ramon's new powers that seem to take the series' fiction one step forward.
The moment from the show sure to drop fans' jaws (even in an episode in which Barry is apparently killed) is certain to be Cisco's glimpse of his own death at the hands of Harrison Wells - a scene that was supposed to never have happened, re-written by Barry when he traveled one day backward to prevent the desctruction of Central City. Although history was changed, it seems Cisco is somehow able to recall events that, by all accounts, never happened.
It's far too soon to know just what this means about the nature of Barry's time travel abilities (or time itself), but fans are free to speculate on just why, and how Cisco could have memories of an alternate timeline. For now, it's motivation enough to side with Barry and Joe's suspicion that 'Dr. Wells' is not what he seems. Caitlin, however, may not be so easy to convince.
In the midst of a superhero crossover and killer robot drones, these smaller plot beats are worth pointing out for future episodes:
- The ultimatum delivered by Iris to Eddie - essentially to tell him everything about his job, his colleagues, and anything else or face a break-up - was certainly a low point for the episode and character arc - more likely to earn eye rolls and scoffs from viewers feeling Barry actually gave her sound advice, recommending she trust Eddie. But the ultimatum was delivered nonetheless, meaning life for Eddie Thawne will get worse before it gets better.
- Dr. Tina McGee (Amanda Pays from the original TV series) returns to offer some insight into the ugly past between she and Dr. Wells, claiming he 'became a different person' the night Tess Morgan died. Get it?
- As mentioned above, the robotic bees engineered by Brie Larvan may hold the key to Ray Palmer's A.T.O.M. improvements.
- Expect the new information and greater emphasis on the night of Tess Morgan's death to be of particular interest to Joe, though he insists that the investigation must be kept quiet (and with Barry's life on the line, may be just as unwilling to trust new faces going forward).
Be sure to share your own thoughts on these twists and reveals, and where you think Eobard Thawne, Barry, and the series is headed in the next episodes!
The Flash returns next Tuesday @8pm with "Who is Harrison Wells?". Check out a preview of the episode below: