In a race against time between speedsters, we get to see the moments before Nora Allen’s death 15 years ago. The epic battle within the Allen home unfolded so fast that the replay had to slow it down for us mere mortals, but it’s still unclear exactly what happened. The chase spills out into the street where Reverse Flash soon runs out of juice. AI unit Gideon reveals that his time jump with The Flash has depleted all of his energy, trapping him in the past. Eobard Thawne (Matt Letscher) lets loose a wail of anguish before unmasking in the middle of the street. It’s not the Wells we’ve come to know and love/hate.
In a different locale during the same flashback, Dr. Wells is chatting with his girlfriend Tess during a romantic beachfront getaway. Tess comes up with the idea for the S.T.A.R. Labs name, all while Thawne watches from on high. Thawne lays out a spike strip to disable Wells’ car on the way home, injuring the doctor and Tess in the resulting crash. The time-traveler then tells a trapped Wells that Tess has been dead for centuries, an incredibly creepy thing to tell anyone, especially someone who’s just been in an accident and lost his lady love. Taking the creep-factor a big step further, Thawne reveals his true motivation before using a device to swap bodies with Wells, leaving the good doctor disfigured and at death’s doorstep.
In our current timeline (one of them, anyway), Joe and Barry are using their vision board to piece together all of their intel on Dr. Wells, trying to suss out his ultimate motives. Looks like they’ll have to go back to the beginning of their story together, so it’s no coincidence that tonight’s flashback journeyed to the very same moment in time.
Meanwhile, 99 red
balloons parachutes drop explosives on a busy park in Central City. The Flash saves a little boy from getting his fingers all firecracker’d, and we meet tonight’s title villain: The Trickster, a masked megalomaniac who’s fond of cruel pranks and selfies. (As longtime fans of The Flash TV series know, Mark Hamill played the character on the 90s version opposite John Wesley Shipp.) Joe and Barry pay a visit to the original Trickster who’s tucked away safe and sound in prison. (I can’t ever seem to separate Hamill’s voice – and laugh – from The Joker.) They fill him in on the existence of the new Trickster, who has been ripping off the villain’s signature style and explosive compounds. The OG is none too happy with the new kid on the block, but he’s not willing to help the detective beyond telling them that the so-called Trickster must have found his old lair in order to pilfer his devices.
Barry’s speed comes in handy, not only to vibrate his way into opening a locked door at the Trickster’s hideout, but also to get Joe to safety when a booby-trap bomb nearly takes them both out. After finding the place cleaned out, they return to the prison (where Barry makes a pit stop to let his dad know he’s got a lead in the murder case that landed him in jail). The Trickster soon informs them that he previously had a bomb squirreled away in his lair, one big enough to level the city. “Cisco can just track him through his vlogs, right?” you ask? Well, Cisco already spoiled that one, saying the Trickster is employing some “Felicity-level” encryption. And while The Flash is speedily searching the city for the Trickster’s bomb, Dr. Wells’ advice to ignore the obvious diversion goes unheeded. Instead, The Trickster breaks his mentor out of Iron Heights. The worse news? Henry Allen is their hostage.
We soon find out that the original Trickster has been planning a massive trick these last twenty years, and that, apparently, he’s the young Trickster’s father. Whether that last bit turns out to be an in-episode trick or just a funny Star Wars nod for fans, it’s a fantastic moment either way.
Elsewhere, Iris is tasking Eddie with finding out what happened to the disappeared Mason Bridge. Since Eddie is busy with the bomber, Iris takes her concerns to The Flash. These arcs collide as Iris attends a fundraiser for the mayor, at which both Tricksters are posing as waiters. It’s soon revealed that they plan to rob the gathered rich folk, whom they’ve poisoned (not exactly worthy of a twenty-years-in-the-making trick, in my opinion). The Flash soon figures out where the trouble is thanks to Iris’ quick thinking, but the problem is that the young Trickster snaps a kinetic bomb to the speedster’s wrist. If he drops below 600mph, it’ll blow. Wells’ plan is for Barry to vibrate at the same rate as the air, which will allow him to phase right through a wall, leaving the bomb on the other side. Wells channels his own superspeedy experiences to walk (or rather run) The Flash through his first brush with the speed force. The plan works.
No rest for the weary, however. Barry has to administer the antidote to the crowd, then hustle back to the Tricksters’ hideout to save his dad from a cascade of sharp knives that nearly impale him. In a nice character moment, Barry also reveals his true identity as The Flash to his newly rescued father. Henry Allen gets a few brief moments with the S.T.A.R. Labs team (including a heartfelt ‘Thank you’ to Dr. Wells…) before being escorted back to prison by Joe.
Tonight’s closing minutes see Barry revealing himself to yet another member of the cast of characters: Eddie Thawne. He does so in order to recruit Thawne to their cause of investigating Wells. Eddie, who’s obviously stunned, also spins a fake story to explain Bridge’s absence in order to throw Iris off the trail. Barry confesses to Eddie about his belief that Harrison Wells is the Reverse Flash, a suspicion (sorta) confirmed by the closing stinger.
Solid episode, but man did that preview for the show’s upcoming episodes really sell the action and drama that’s still to come.
Rating: ★★★★ Very good
Cisco: “Talking in the third person, that’s never a good sign.” Caitlin: “You’re just mad because he named himself.”
I love the nod to Hamill’s earlier hyper-colored iteration of The Trickster in the 90s version.
Joe: “This looks like nobody’s been here since the 1990s.” Indeed.
The relationship between Dr. Wells and Barry has taken an interesting twist, especially since each of them possess different pieces of the truth. More interesting still, we the viewers know just enough to be frustrated by their chats. Joe and Barry’s father-son talks, however, remain every bit as endearing as they ever were, perhaps moreso in light of the latest revelations.
Dr. Wells: “James Jesse. I guess he tricked us all.”
Trickster: “They gave me cable in prison so I’d stop killing the guards.”
Trickster: “If any of you call 911, then we’ll switch to lead poison.”
Wells: “Barry, feel the lightning, feel its power … You’re no longer you now. You part of something greater, the Speed Force. It’s yours.”
The Flash: “It’s okay! You’ve all been given an antidote!” Trickster: “That wasn’t very sanitary!”
Harrison Wells is the Reverse Flash! No wait, he’s Eobard Thawne! No wait, he’s Harrison Wells as the Reverse Flash! No wait, he’s Eobard Thawne as Harrison Wells as the Reverse Flash! ::head explodes::