[This is a review of The Flash Season 1, Episode 11 – There Will Be SPOILERS!!]
Now that The Flash has returned from its winter hiatus to move Barry Allen and his surrounding cast one step closer to the building showdown between them and the Reverse-Flash, the time has come to learned a bit more about the circumstances that led to the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator incident, the 'death' of Ronnie Raymond, and the disgruntled (but brilliant) Hartley Rathaway a.k.a. Pied Piper.
In "The Sound and the Fury", written by Alison Schapker and Brooke Eikmeier, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) learns more about the past of the mysterious Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) when a former protege returns to wreak havoc on Central City - and Wells' reputation. Elsewhere Iris West (Candice Patton) begins her career as a professional reporter at Central City Picture News, and Joe (Jesse L. Martin) further suspects that Dr. Wells' motives are not what they seem.
The winter premiere wasted little time in challenging Barry's superhero strategies, pitting him against multiple Rogues despite the real threat - the Reverse-Flash - demanding he push his powers beyond their present limits. In "The Sound and the Fury", a similar focus is granted to not just Barry's life and relationships outside of the scarlet suit, but the most mysterious member of the show's principal cast: Dr. Harrison Wells.
Viewers have been led to uncover Wells' biggest secret - that he is the man in the yellow suit dubbed the 'Reverse-Flash' - and the show quickly doubles down on that assertion, revealing him to indeed possess superspeed. It's that gift that allows him to stay one step ahead of Hartley Rathaway's first strike on his former mentor, and provides Detectives Joe West and Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett) yet another cluse that Wells is not who - or what - he claims to be.
The strike on Wells' residence is the first move in Rathaway's elaborate chess game (an analogy the writers made sure could be missed by no one), but again, his threat to the new most eligible phenom at S.T.A.R. Labs does not rely on a metahuman gift, but technology. In this case, a pair of gauntlets enabling him to match the resonant frequency of anyone and anything - including The Flash. But the speedster isn't his prime target.
Rathaway (played by Andy Mientus) preys upon the guilt and insecurities of Cisco Ramon and Caitlin Snow even more than the show's star, giving both actors a chance to sink their teeth into a new dimension of their own characters. The final showdown between Barry and 'Piper' - while twisting his powers to present a more thrilling fight - is primarily an opportunity for Wells to finally choose one pupil over the other.
His choice is unsurprising, but the flashbacks glimpses of Wells and Rathaway's bond (and their falling out) do much to humanize the good doctor (though the question of where 'keeping up appearances' and actual growth begin and end remains).
Though revealing Wells to possess superspeed may seem like a straightforward revelation, The Flash's writers have maintained that twists still lie in store (and Grant Gustin has personally stated that his own Reverse-Flash theories were blown out of the water). As a result, Wells' powers are shown to be... flawed, for lack of a better word. With his inconsistent speed apparently draining, the episode ends with a cryptic promise that "the real endgame is almost here."
That seems enough of a tease to keep mystery fans intrigued, meaning the imprisoned Rathaway's crucial knowledge - the location of Ronnie Raymond and the source of his powers - is likely the team's top priority. And now that the cliffhanger ending to the midseason finale has been addressed (and then some), viewers still unsure of the Reverse-Flash's identity can move on to the next batch of nagging questions.
In other words: bring on F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M.!
The Flash returns next Tuesday with "Crazy For You" @8pm on The CW. Check out a preview of the episode below: