I’d really like to experience viewing an episode of The Flash with a group of fans divided right down the center: hardcore comic book fans to the left, diehard CW relationshippers to the right. While I fully suspect that different moments of tonight’s episode “The Darkness and the Light” would have elicited oohs and ahs at different times, the one thing those groups would have in common is that they’d both walk away feeling satisfied by the previous hour. Staying true to both camps of fans is something The Flash continues to do quite well week after week, and tonight was no exception.
Before we break down the differences between mild-mannered Barry’s struggles and The Flash’s heroic responsibilities, let’s take a look at that cold open. As we can tell by the somewhat classic 50s sci-fi era look of Central City, we start off this hour on Earth-2. That world’s Harrison Wells is giving a very public speech at his version of S.T.A.R. Labs and is unveiling his newest technology in the battle against meta-humans … apps and a watch. While this meta-human detection software seems almost like a silly jab at Apple, it introduces a convention that is used later in the episode, and also sets up the conflict between Jay Garrick and Earth-2 Wells that carries over into our world. (We also briefly meet Wells’ unnamed daughter; I wonder if she’ll show up again…)
As far as Barry’s storyline was concerned tonight, his time out of the mask was spent preventing Garrick and Wells from beating each other to death, and struggling through a literal blind date with Patty Spivot. (After surviving that run-in with King Shark while trying to ask Patty out last week, a little blindness wasn’t going to stop him this time around.) His real issue is dealing with the arrival of Earth-2 Wells, who upsets pretty much everyone at S.T.A.R. Labs … including Joe West who comes in gun blazing. While we can’t really blame anyone for reacting so aggressively to the apparent back-from-the-dead arrival of their greatest enemy so far, I love that this Wells just does not give a shit. He’s not trying to win anyone’s support through gifts or kind words, he’s doing it through stark observations and no-nonsense truths. You don’t have to like this guy, but you can’t help but respect him.
So while Barry’s preoccupied with keeping everyone in line re “Harry” Wells, he also steps up his romance game in this episode. It’s only the fifth episode of this season, but it feels like Barry and Patty have been taking forever to get together. Fret no more, because their first date has occurred! And even though his temporary blindness – caused by a run-in with Dr. Light – made that first date more awkward than usual, a little help from Cisco and his hidden-camera sunglasses got Barry through it. Actually, thanks is owed more to Patty’s good detective skills and easy-going nature, which overlooked Barry’s odd behavior, leading to the unbearably cute duo enjoying their first kiss! (These two really need a ship name. Leave your suggestions below.)
Unfortunately, just as Barry’s sight is restored, they both get word that a meta-human has murdered the editor of the local paper, Eric Larkin. That’s a perfect place to get into The Flash’s action in this episode. Before we get to tonight’s villain of the week, we actually learn a little bit more about the season’s big bad from Earth-2 Wells. Despite his distaste for Jay Garrick’s apparent cowardice and inability to defeat Zoom, Wells is convinced that Barry is already fast enough to defeat the Earth-2 speedster (more theories on just who Zoom is later on). His plan is to capture the latest “breacher” Dr. Light and use her to lure Zoom to their side of the divide.
In order to do this, the team relies heavily upon Cisco’s meta-human abilities, whether they know it or not. First, Cisco gets a glimpse of a woman in a mask robbing a Central City bank, which leads The Flash to come to the rescue just a little too late. (He does show up in time to make sure victims of Dr. Light’s attack land on some nice comfy cushions though.) This robbery supports Garrick’s intel that says Dr. Light is a thief, not a killer, but Wells disagrees. (To my knowledge, this version of Dr. Light doesn’t follow the DC Comics, but she still has a pretty cool ability what with deriving her powers from starlight.)
When Barry takes Garrick’s advice and tries to talk Dr. Light down at another robbery, he gets two surprises: the first is that she’s Linda Park’s doppelganger, the second is that she nearly permanently burns his retinas. So while Barry bides his time by going on a date with Patty while waiting for his vision to come back, Wells is chastising Garrick for being a coward and outing Cisco as a meta-human. (This may have been the point of the episode where you realize how big of a dick “Harry” Wells really is.)
Yes, now everyone knows that Cisco possesses meta-human abilities that allow him to glimpse other places in time, as long as he’s in contact with something related to the person in question. Obviously, the S.T.A.R. Labs team is totally supportive of him despite his powers caused by their own evil version of Dr. Wells. And once again those powers come in handy as it leads The Flash to intercept Dr. Light and apprehend her for murder before she can skip town.
Though this battle wasn’t particularly tense, it did have an interesting wrinkle. The Flash couldn’t get past her light bursts so Garrick suggested trying all angles in order to find her blind spot; that didn’t work. Echoing season one, Wells stepped in to offer sage advice to The Flash, this time in the form of running so fast as to leave a confusing after-image known as a “speed mirage” to confuse Dr. Light. When Barry’s confidence falters, Garrick admits that Wells was right and that Barry is faster than he ever was so he can definitely do this. It works, and they take Dr. Light into custody.
What’s interesting here is that Garrick – a former speedster – has been quickly overshadowed as a voice of reason and advice by the newly arrived Wells. The team has been burned by Wells in the past and there’s no reason to think it won’t happen again, especially considering that final stinger scene. But what’s unexpected is that Garrick appears to walk away from the team! We don’t know for how long, but as Barry mentions, Garrick is a hero and will show up whenever he’s needed.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t give Cisco an additional little shoutout here for his attempts to flirt with Kendra Saunders (Ciara Renee), aka Hawk Girl. When she shot him down the first time, I thought it was just going to be a quick throwaway scene but then they revisited it and actually introduced Kendra somewhat more properly. So while Barry and Cisco are lucky in love, Jay and Caitlin have a bit of a bumpy road. Their stakeout soon turns to makeout but is interrupted by Dr. Light’s attack on the newspaper. Some meta-human villains have no sense of propriety.
So with Wells back in one form or another as the team’s advisor, we have to ask ourselves at least one question: What exactly is he up to? We learn in the stinger scene that Zoom has Wells’ daughter (I think that was Violett Beane) imprisoned and that their fate has yet to be decided by the evil speedster. Since it was established earlier in the episode that Zoom is sending familiar faces from Barry’s past in order to get him to hesitate before they kill him, we have to question Wells’ motives. (In addition to Linda Park being Dr. Light’s doppelganger, Joe remarked that he’d like to go one week without a face from their past showing up, and let’s remember that Barry’s dad quickly skipped town, so his arrival any time in the future should be met with skepticism.) Wells’ daughter is in Zoom’s hands and there’s probably nothing the not-so-good doctor wouldn’t do to save her, including handing an ill-prepared Barry over to Zoom.
So at this point, who do you think Zoom is? If Earth-2 Wells really did create Zoom, and if he’s really faster than Jay Garrick, doesn’t it make the most sense that Zoom is actually Earth-2 Barry Allen? He might even be on an evil S.T.A.R. Labs team with Earth-2 Caitlin Snow’s Killer Frost! Garrick admits that Barry is faster than he’ll ever be, and he says the same about Zoom, so it’s certainly possible. Then again, anything’s possible on this show, so Zoom could also be Earth-2’s Eobard Thawne, Earth-2’s Eddie Thawne, or maybe even Earth-1’s Eddie Thawne if that final scene of his body going through the wormhole had any significance. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Rating: ★★★★ Very Good
I’m glad we got to see another glimpse of King Shark in the “Previously on…” section.
Wells: “I guess it’s safe to say the speedster sensors work.”
Wells: “You’re batting 1000, Crisco?”
So we’re calling the Earth-2 meta-humans “breachers” now. Okay.
Joe: “How is he still alive? How are you still alive?” Wells: “I don’t know. Because you missed?”
Joe: “You can’t murder somebody who everybody thinks is dead, right?”
Patty: “I just watched a half-man, half-shark take on the fastest man alive. I love this city.”
Meet Earth-2 Wells, aka “Harry.”
Cisco: “You know, our Dr. Wells might have been evil, but you’re just a dick.”
Let’s rank the known versions of Harrison Wells. Who do you like best: Earth-1 Harrison Wells, Eobard Thawne in disguise as Earth-1 Harrison Wells, or Earth-2 Harrison Wells/Harry?
Blind Barry is my new favorite Barry.
Jay: “I’ve never been to Tahiti, but I love Atlantis. It’s actually above water on my Earth. One of my best friends is from there. It’s special. You’d never want to leave.” Using Earth-2 to bring in Aquaman is brilliant, but I’m curious to see if they’ll actually stick to the character’s comic book origin.
R.I.P. Eric Larkin (Tom Butler)
Harry’s not going to win over Cisco by straight outing him as a meta-human in front of his friends…
Cisco: “Cisco Ramon.” Kendra: “Kendra Saunders. Nice to meet you.” Phone number secured!
Caitlin: “Now you need a cool name.” Cisco: “You’re right! But it’s got to be perfect; something that really sings.” Barry: “Vibe?” Caitlin: “Vibe…” Cisco: “Vibe!”