The Flash’s mid-season finale certainly had a lot of anticipation built into it, and I’m happy to say that it paid off in quite a few ways. Not only did viewers get a(n arguably) definitive answer to the identity of The Man in the Yellow Suit, but we got to see quite a bit more of another fiery superheroic meta-human. On the more down-to-Earth side of things, we also got great moments between Barry Allen and his father figures, as well as a heaping helping of romantic entanglements that will surely continue to get knottier as the season continues. I don’t know how The CW managed to have two of the best hours of television today, but I’m happy to say that their track record remains strong.
Hit the jump for The Flash recap.
Well, we didn’t have to wait long to see the series title character attempting to chase down the episode’s title character. Barry, out of his costume, appears to be having some trouble keeping up with the man in the yellow suit. Unfortunately, viewers will have to wait for a flashback to run its course before getting back to this moment.
Instead, we get to see Barry use his speed again, this time helping to decorate (and then un-decorate) the Christmas tree! When Joe gets called away, Barry and Iris exchange presents in a very tender scene. He gets her a replica of her mother’s wedding band that she lost during a 5th grade field trip; she gets him a microscope … so … yeah. Eddie shows a bit of jealousy over Barry’s gift, but puts it aside and offers Iris … a key, so that she can move in with him. She accepts, of course.
After exchanging gifts at S.T.A.R. Labs, Dr. Wells retires in a depressed mood, Barry and Cisco chat, and Caitlin gets stalked by a creepy guy in a parking lot. Oh nevermind, it’s just her not-so-deceased fiance Ronnie, aka Firestorm (Robbie Amell). [Insert “hot guy” joke here.] While Firestorm blazes onto the scene, the Man in the Yellow Suit makes his own debut, murdering a bunch of security guards at a laboratory facility called Mercury Labs, a competitor of S.T.A.R. Labs. Barry is anxious to track the man down, and becomes even more determined when Joe reveals that he knew the man was back in town after he stole all of Barry’s files on his mother’s death, and then threatened to kill Iris.
Wells looks like Christmas has come early when he learns that Mercury Labs was probably toying with tachyon particles, allowing them to move faster than light if they could just harness it. Barry and Wells interview Dr. Tina McGee (Amanda Pays), and want to use her prototype to lure the Man in the Yellow Suit and capture him. Meanwhile, Caitlin tracks down her own meta-human, asking Iris about the “Burning Man” story she wrote about in her blog; seems like a dead end. Caitlin comes to the conclusion on her own that Ronnie is indeed alive, even if Cisco tries to convince her otherwise. It doesn’t work, and she asks him for his help in finding her fiance. (My suggestion would be to just go back to that parking lot and not run away this time.)
There’s a sweet flashback moment between Barry and his mother (who reminds him that he’s never alone, even in the dark), and his father. The sweetness disappears when it’s revealed that this was the night his mother died.
Barry misses another opportunity to tell Iris how he really feels, though the writers use it as another instance of drawing out their love story. Luckily the awkwardness is short-lived because the Man in the Yellow Suit arrives to taunt Barry into a merry chase; I like that he’s using Barry’s voice-altering and face-obscuring techniques. And now we’ve caught up to the episode’s opening, even if Barry has trouble catching up to the masked villain. They run to the city’s football stadium and clash at mid-field, with Barry getting the worst of it. Barry gets his butt kicked as his nemesis taunts him, calling him by his secret identity, and saying that they’ve been doing this for a long time. He antagonizes him, saying that it’s his destiny to lose, like it was his mother’s destiny to die.
When Barry tells Joe and Dr. Wells about the altercation, Wells plays it cool, saying the forcefield trap will neutralize his speed. Unfortunately, McGee plays hardball by withholding the tachyon prototype, but Barry bluffs and threatens to expose their R&D projects to tech magazines, so she relents. At the same time, Eddie breaks the bad news to Joe that he’s heading up a special task force to take out the speedsters. That will probably end well for everyone, right?
As an interesting Beauty and the Beast style side-plot, Caitlin tracks down Ronnie (with Cisco’s help). He’s a little out of it, saying he’s not Ronnie. What he says instead is, “Firestorm,” triggering his transformation before he disappears down a tunnel. Back at the lab prison, Cisco tries to comfort Caitlin, who’s rather upset over what’s become of her fiance, saying she wishes he’d just died that night. (Harsh!)
After Dr. Wells and Joe exclude Barry from the plan to capture the assailant, he storms out. He pays a visit to his father, wishing him a Merry Christmas. Barry apologizes for failing to capture the Man in Yellow, and by extension failing to free his father from jail. (This prison must have a great dental plan because John Wesley Shipp’s smile is stunning.) The elder Allen chastises his son for chasing after the murderer his entire life so far, rather than having a life of his own. Barry takes his father’s advice and (finally) confesses his love for Iris, though it takes her a little while to understand what he’s saying. It’s a very touching moment, and rather than draw the relationship out for the rest of the season, they let Barry lay it all on the table.
Meanwhile, the lab team manages to catch the Man in the Yellow Suit … and Wells is on the outside of the forcefield (!) along with Thawne, West, and a SWAT team. Joe interrogates the man, or at least he tries to, since the speedster seems more interested in talking to Wells. After Wells says that he knows the man’s powers because they’re similar to The Flash, the man escapes through a field breach and snags Dr. Wells, dragging him into the forcefield and beating the tar out of him. Joe smashes the generator and the man breaks free before he can kill Wells. Reverse Flash steals the tachyon prototype and takes out the SWAT team, pausing to take a good long look at Thawne (hint, hint) and then reminds Joe about his warning.
Luckily, Barry shows up in the nick of time to engage the Reverse Flash all across Central City. As Barry’s about to face the ultimate defeat at the hands of his archnemesis, Firestorm busts in and fries Reverse Flash, at least enough to scare the speedster off. The nuclear-powered man then tells Caitlin to stop searching for him before flying … that’s right, flying off into the sky! Pretty intense few minutes there!
After the chaos, Thawne (rightfully) questions Joe about why the man let him live; Joe fills him in on the deal with meta-humans and, when Thawne asks about Flash’s identity, Joe sagely says that, “He’s the guy who saved us both tonight.” While Joe doesn’t reveal everything he knows to Thawne, Dr. Wells expresses disappointment in Caitlin and Cisco for not telling him about Ronnie’s survival … and transformation. The doc promises to find him and help him.
Cue Father-Son Moment #2 as Barry apologizes for being mad at Joe for being afraid, admitting that he’s been afraid of the Man in the Yellow Suit his entire life. Joe tells him that, the moment he brought Barry into his home, the young man brightened it up, chasing away all the darkness that surrounded them. Meanwhile, Thawne and Iris are cozying up on the chair back home while Cisco and Caitlin join the family for a Christmas party.
And now, the big reveal! As Dr. Harrison Wells is playing party-pooper, we see him in his super-cool hideout, sporting a lightning-bolt Flash ring and attending to … you guessed it, the Reverse Flash costume! He places the tachyon prototype on the suit, imbuing it with the particles that will grant it faster-than-light speed. And in case viewers remained unconvinced that the time-traveling Wells is the nefarious nemesis of The Flash, he even wishes (his own suit?) a “Merry Christmas” in his creepy, vibrating voice. Though people had rightly guessed that Wells was the Man in the Yellow Suit, this last hour gave plenty of misdirection and red herrings that made us question that assumption. But in one of the show’s best moments so far, all was laid out on the table in the final moment. (Sure, it could all still be misdirection, but for now I’ll take it at face-value and assume Wells is Reverse Flash going forward … or backward. Now I’m confused again.)
How are you liking the show at the half-way point? It’s honestly my favorite hour of TV during the week, so I’m looking forward to its return. And now that we know more about Barry’s antagonist than he does, the tension is going to be thick from here on out. Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Speeding Bullet Points:
- Joe: “The only red-suited dude I want in the house right now is Kris Kringle, you got it?”
- Eddie: “Barry. Thoughtful Barry.”
- Dr. Wells: “I think I speak for the group when I say, ‘You’ve been our gift, Barry.'” Oh here comes the Christmas sap…
- “Speed Psycho” has a nice ring to it. “Opposite Flash” not so much. There’s always “Reverse Flash” and “Professor Zoom”…
- Dr. Tina McGee: “Good luck with your manhunt.”
- Fans of the 1990 The Flash will probably remember that Pays played Christina “Tina” McGee in that version as well.
- Barry (to Iris): “I guess there’s still some stuff about me you don’t know.”
- The Man in the Yellow Suit: “Not fast enough, Flash.”
- Ronnie: “I’m not Ronnie.”
- Henry Allen: “Let it go, Barry. The Man in the Yellow Suit has taken enough from us already. Don’t let him take anymore.”
- The Man in the Yellow Suit: “Oh I’m not like the Flash. Some would say I’m him in reverse.”
- Reverse Flash: “Our race is not yet done. See ya soon, Flash.”
- Joe: “Don’t lose that light, Barry. The world may need The Flash, but I need my Barry Allen.”
- It seems like Cisco has hit on an important point, that red and yellow lightning followed the two speedsters in their cross-town battle. Those two colors of lightning made an impact on young Barry’s memory on the night his mother was killed, indicating that two speedsters were there, and not just the Man in Yellow.
- Dr. Harrison Wells/Reverse Flash: “Merry Christmas.”
The Flash returns on January 20th!