Sometimes I worry that The Flash is peaking in its first season. If it starts out this strong is must be ready to peter out right? Or can it keep running full tilt for seasons to come? The Flash has become the highlight of my television week. Sure, there are shows that are better but few fill the escapist part of my heart so well. The Flash continues to add layers to its storytelling structure, building greater depths for our characters and keeps up an impressive pace in terms of special effects that wows considering the television budget they’re working on.
Episodes like tonight’s “Tricksters” are simple reminders of why we’ve fallen for this show so quickly. It furthers the Reverse Flash plot thread while adding some revelations to key characters about the Flash’s identity (not Iris though which continues to be my one main gripe of the series). Harrison Wells (or Eobard Thawne) is given a backstory laced with tragedy and Barry must face a crisis he doesn’t know if he’s ready to handle. Unlike Oliver Queen on Arrow, Barry never experienced a five year sentence of purgatory and he still is innocent, hopeful and trusting, learning the hard way that people aren’t always what they seem.
Also it had Mark Hamill playing the Trickster and getting to utter the words “I am your father” with such maniacal glee it’s easy to believe that he too saw the moment as a career full circle turn.
I wish there had been more of him in all honesty. When you get Hamill to appear on your show, reprising a role from twenty years ago, you make the most of it especially when he delivers so fully, creating the first threat that feels real for Barry on the show aside from the Reverse Flash. We’re introduced to a copycat version of the Trickster who creates a diversion to break the real Trickster (Hamill of course) out of jail, who takes Henry Allen as a hostage due to Barry being a part of the police force. This enrages Barry who’s having an all-around awful day.
He’s finally come to the realization that Harrison had something to do with his mother’s death although he can’t pinpoint what. He’s being told by Joe that he needs to keep it under wraps and play the part of trusting student until they can figure out a way to find incriminating evidence. Barry is having a tough time with this, unable to stop snide comments fly out of his mouth and putting him in a weird position at STAR Labs where Harrison, Cisco and Caitlin believe he’s just in a bad mood. Then Barry’s dad is captured while he’s still stewing about the idea that he could be sharing breathing space with his mother’s murderer.
This leads to a wonderfully underplayed moment of defeat where Barry walks away to hide and curl up on himself. He could have blown up, had a temper tantrum, but that’s not Barry Allen’s way. Joe and Barry’s talk is a poignant one and their moments together are one of the shows strongest elements. Barry doesn’t understand how he could have been so blind this entire time and Joe tells him it’s because he wants to see the good in people. Joe has been a cop for most of his life so he’s been predisposed to look for the lies and the secrets, the half-truths. He wishes he were still like Barry, telling him that even with its speed it’s his ability to be optimistic and trusting that are his real super powers. A lovely moment for Jesse L. Martin and Grant Gustin, the latter in particular who gets a nice moment after a few episodes of handing over the emotion reigns to Cisco.
There is so much going on in the foreground of the story that the Trickster plot seems oddly placed, even if I did enjoy it. Its come so late in the season that things are beginning to boil down so introducing any new villain is always going to be secondary in comparison to the main plot so luckily Hamill was onboard to give it all he had. I’ve seen Hamill in very few things (possibly only Star Wars and his voice work in the Batman animated series) but still I’m very impressed with how well he plays the role of a anarchistic psychopath. Still, it would have been nice to see more of him. His last trick with putting the explosive arm band on Barry was an interesting way to put our lead in peril (although if you’ve seen or read Justice League Doom you’ve seen it already) but it ends up being another expository moment for Wells, clueing Barry into the fact that he talks about running at his speed, like lightning, as if he’s experienced it himself. It’s also the first time we’ve heard about the “speed force” which should keep fans on their toes.
This all leads to the big Reverse Flash developments. Harrison Wells isn’t who we think he is, obviously. How much so is what we learn when in the opening moments we witness more of Nora Allen’s death then we had before and see his speed run out and when he unmasks he isn’t the Wells we know today. The real Dr. Wells has his likeness consumed by this Eobard Thawne and now where does that leave us?
A little wary on my end because then, just as the episodes about to end Barry and Joe have the bright idea to tells Eddie the truth in order to keep Iris safe.
Oh my god TELL HER!
Grievances aside it was yet another highly entertaining episode and one that’s leaving me curious about how things are going to start to wrap up and if the momentum will continue at this rate.