It’s fall finale time for The CW’s strongest performer as Barry (Grant Gustin) battles his childhood nemesis.
Let’s bitch it out…
In its first run The Flash has been an enjoyably light and often humourous examination of a regular guy acquiring superpowers. We all knew that that was never going to last, however, and that the series would eventually segue into something darker and more serious. After all, the entire premise of the show is about obsession, history and regret. The murder of Nora Allen (Michelle Harrison) and the wrongful imprisonment of Henry Allen (John Wesley Shipp) is the show’s foundation (that’s why we hear about it each week in the introductory voice over). ‘The Man In The Yellow Suit’ is the darkest, most serious episode of the series so far. From a programming point of view, this makes sense because it’s the fall finale – these are episodes engineered to contain significant dramatic moments and shocking twists. The episode has those in spades, and with them comes the inevitable descent into darker, more dramatic material.
The series’ thematic concerns dominate the narrative in this final episode of 2014. Nearly every character is forced to confront their obsession, all of which are inevitably historical and infused with regret. For Barry, this comes into play with the return of his mysterious nemesis, the titular man in the yellow suit (also known as Reverse Flash for comic aficionados). Reverse Flash is the guy who has shaped and moulded Barry into the man he is today – throughout the early episodes of the series we learned via flashback how the murder and imprisonment of Barry’s parents landed him in Joe’s (Jesse L. Martin) care, pushed him into Iris’ (Candice Patton) orbit and drove him to become a forensic expert.
It’s only natural then that Dr. Wells (Tom Cavanagh) is revealed to be the Reverse Flash in the episode’s closing minutes. The episode isn’t exactly subtle with the hints: Reverse Flash taunts Barry at the stadium, anticipating his moves and his questions as though he knows Barry personally. He even bluntly states that he and Barry have been “at this for a long time” (something Barry inevitably ties back to his parents, although the comment can just as easily be interpreted as a reflection of his relationship as pupil to Wells’ Mentor). In nearly every episode of the series we’ve seen Dr. Wells shape and mould Barry, then monitor his progress against a future forecast in his mysterious room. There’s been something nefarious about Wells from the beginning (remember the twist in the pilot is that he can actually walk). Hell, even Oliver Queen commented on his shadiness in last week’s crossover!
The reveal doesn’t exactly cast any clear answers on Wells’ motivation in the past or present, though. We can infer that Wells’ future newspaper alerted him to the necessity of offing Nora Allen in order to start Barry down this route and there’s a suggestion that the tachyon prototype developed by Dr. McGee at Mercury Labs has valuable “future” technology, but these are more stabs in the dark than certainties. For now Wells remains a man of mystery.
- The other significant aspect of this fall finale is Barry’s confession to Iris that he loves her. This clearly falls into the obssession/regret dynamic and adds some fairly significant emotional drama (SO.MANY.TEARS…by Barry). I’ll profess that I’m still not invested in seeing these two together, but at least the secret is out in the open. Hopefully it means that Iris won’t be so effing clueless about everything moving forward.
- All of those Ronnie (Robbie Amell) references finally pay off as Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) discovers he’s alive and stalking her in parking garages. Unfortunately when she and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) track him down, Ronnie no longer remembers who he is. This storyline, though brief, is a nice showpiece for Panabaker, who has for too long been pigeonholed as the “stern hottie in the lab” on the show.
- Also unfortunate? The fact that Amell appears to have stolen his cousin’s wig from those Arrow flashbacks.
- Finally, now that Eddie (Rick Cosnett) knows that there are two super speedsters and that the Flash is good, is his dumb task force defunct? Because I seriously could not give two shits about that D-storyline.
- West (handing out Grandma Ester’s lite egg nog): “I always loved her definition of ‘lite’”
- Caitlin (discussing Well’s Christmas gift): “It was that or Stephen Hawking’s new biography and we both know about how he feels about Hawking.”
Your turn: how did you feel about the big Reverse Flash reveal? Were you surprised or have you suspected Wells all along? Are you excited to see Ronnie alive and shaggy-haired? Glad that Barry has come clean to Iris? Is this new dark & serious direction something that suits the show, or do you hope it only occurs around sweeps and milestones? Sound off below.
The Flash has finished airing new episodes for the year. The show returns Tuesday, January 20, 2015 on The CW. Thanks for reading and be sure to tune back in Monday, Dec 22 for the fourth annual Bitch Awards!