A copycat Trickster comes to town as Barry (Barry Grant) struggles with his concerns about Dr. Wells (Tom Cavanagh).
Let’s bitch it out…
This was an uncharacteristically busy episode of The Flash as the writers managed to cram a ton of new twists into the Wells mythology while simultaneously finding time to introduce two Tricksters – one old, James Jesse (Mark Hamill) and one young, Axel (Devon Graye). Hell, Barry even managed to reveal his secret identity to not one, but two people.
If last week’s reset episode was a tad disappointing, ‘Tricksters’ is a nice recovery. The Wells bit, although operating as a sort of standalone, manages to offer all sorts of tantalizing reveals about who Wells is and while I don’t doubt that comic readers got more out of that revelation, it still remained accessible for newbies like me.
Taking a page from Arrow‘s playbook, we spend parts of the episode flashing back 15 years ago to see how the Reverse Flash/Man In The Yellow Suit (MITYS) came to be. After a dazzling slow-mo fight scene around the Allen household, MITYS discovers he has lost his speed and ability to travel through time. So far, so familiar as Wells explained this to Cisco (Carlos Valdes) before murdering him a few episodes ago. Then we hit our first twice: the man behind the suit isn’t Wells – it’s some random blonde dude (Matt Letscher). We catch-up with the mysterious man as he tracks and then incapacitates Wells, kills Wells’ girlfriend, Tess (Bre Blair) and, in a final shocking twist, takes Wells’ form. At this point we still don’t know who Eobard Thawne is, but now we know a bit more about why Wells is up to no good: because he’s literally not Wells. It’s strange to discover that we have never met the man before now considering we’ve spent seventeen episodes with him. It’s quite the narrative upheaval, and executed well in relatively simple flashback form. I especially liked the cartoony FX used during the transformation scene as the real Wells turns into a gross looking plastic husk. (Side Note: I could have done without the unnecessary final coda when Thawne-as-Wells pops up in the car wreck. We already knew he was going to take the good doctor’s place, so why repeat it?!)
Meanwhile in the present day, the case of the week concerns a mysterious masked villain who is far too reliant on social media for his own good. Adopting the moniker of a famous villain from 20 years before, this new Trickster wreaks havoc on the city as a ruse to free his predecessor. As a plot, the ransoming of poisoned guests at the Mayor’s re-election fundraising is fairly lightweight, but Hamill looks like he’s having so much fun playing the unhinged older version of the character that nothing else matters. It’s obvious why Hamill has played the animated version of the Joker for many years; his maniacal laugh and delivery are truly inspired. Plus there’s a hilarious Star Wars joke, which just makes everything even more awesome.
Aside from being very entertaining, the case provides Barry an excuse to confirm his father, Henry Allen’s (John Wesley Shipp) suspicions about his secret identity after the Tricksters hold Henry hostage. Throw in Barry’s inability to keep his distrust of Wells’ at arm’s length – to the detriment of the mission at hand – and the episode is filled to the brim with major daddy issues. As we head into the final set of episodes, it’s hard to determine exactly where The Flash is heading, but if it continues to offer up hugely enjoyable episodes that mix procedure and mythology together as well as this, I’m all for it.
- The other individual The Flash comes out to is Eddie (Rick Cosnett), who helps to conceal the truth from Iris (Candice Patton). I can understand using Iris’ trust of Eddie to keep her out of harm’s way (sort of), but I don’t really understand why this episode’s events necessitate it. The timing feels really off.
- As for Iris, she’s moving full steam ahead into her investigation of Wells now that her mentor, Mason, has disappeared. It seems pretty obvious that despite everyone’s attempts to convince her otherwise, Iris will pursue the story.
- Also: that lie about Mason moving to South America? Horrible.
- Danielle Panabaker’s Caitlin (when Cisco seems less than enamoured by Trickster): “You’re just mad because he named himself.”
- Old Trickster (pontificating on his master plan): “My Breaking Bad S5”
- Old Trickster (to Axel): “I am your father.” Who doesn’t love a good Star Wars in-joke?
- Old Trickster (when Barry reveals he’s inoculated everyone at the fundraiser with the same needle): “That wasn’t very sanitary”
Your turn: did you enjoy Hamill’s delicious performance? Were you intrigued by the introduction to Thawne? Glad that Henry and Eddie are now in on The Flash’s secret? Sound off below!
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8pm EST on The CW