The Flash – Season 1 Episode 20
The Flash lays more foundations to set up the season finale as the characters prepare a trap for Harrison Wells in order to get him to confess to his crimes.
Last week proved to be an important exercise in giving the characters enough information to be focused on taking Wells down. At the beginning of this one they all know that Wells is the Reverse Flash and they are singularly focused on making him pay for all the terrible things he’s done.
I’m glad that the time travel story has had an important impact on the rest of the season and it’s put to really good use here as the team develop a way for Cisco to explore his dream in a way that can supply them with the information that is held in there. The sunglasses that allow Cisco to lucid dream are a little ridiculous when you think about it but in this universe I’m happy to just go with it. It does beg the question as to why Cisco and Caitlin aren’t billionaires if they can come up with amazing stuff like this on the fly.
Cisco’s dream was really interesting visually delivering an unsettling look into the alternate timeline erased by Barry. Cisco’s perspective is important here as he’s both fascinated and terrified by this technology since he doesn’t know what it can do to him. As usual he uses movie references to simplify it for the audience. It’s become a thing that he does and it works really well.
His dream catches the other characters up on what the audience knows and they can start to formulate a plan. Barry thinks that if they can recreate the conditions of the confession then Wells will do so again. The trick this time is to make sure that Cisco isn’t killed which seems sussed by using the force field to keep speedsters out. In effect Cisco will be safe in a bubble that Wells can’t penetrate.
As will all of these sorts of plans it doesn’t work. It’s clear that it won’t by how much time is spent explaining how they’ll carry this out. It’s a solid plan but it wouldn’t be very interesting if they managed to defeat Wells so easily.
The scene where Wells talks to Cisco is very cleverly done. Wells’ dialogue is similar enough to the previous instance of this that it feels familiar but there are very subtle differences. I was very impressed by Wells’ very careful word choice so that none of it would come across as a confession. He’s always one step ahead of the team and never has it been truer than in this scene. Ultimately the team learns nothing that they can use to bring him down in a legal sense. Having Joe present to remind Barry -and the audience- of that is a clever touch.
I can honestly say I didn’t see the twist of Wells turning out to be Everyman when Joe shot him coming. In a lot of ways he was a forgettable enough villain that I didn’t want or need to see him return so soon so it felt like a genuine shock when Wells used him as a decoy.
The monologue following this where Wells lays all his cards on the table was excellent. I like how committed he is to his hatred for Barry and how this conflicts with the fact that he has developed genuine affection for the team. It’s not enough to derail his plans but I like how that surprised even him. I wonder if this affection will be part of his downfall in the season finale. Whatever happens it’s all out there now and the gloves are well and truly off. Wells is so unpredictable an is probably still faster than Barry so the threat level he represents is unimaginable.
I found the added revelation that Wells has had them all under surveillance this whole time to be really interesting. Any plotting that the team had been doing behind his back was all caught on tape by him so it begs the question why he didn’t really do anything about it until now. I think it has a lot to do with it being all speculation with no proof before this point but a corner has been turned and he has no choice but to reveal himself now. I wonder if anyone will consider that none of this can happen if Eobard Thawne is never born. Obviously Barry will never kill Eddie but having them at least discuss it would be interesting.
Barry, Cisco and Caitlin’s visit to the “Time Vault” as Cisco has named it was a great scene as well. Barry’s conversation with the A.I. Gideon (Morena Baccarin) provided some interesting insight into how events will play out. Barry learns that Iris will eventually marry him and he will get a promotion to the head of the C.S.I. division at work as well as him being the creator of Gideon who is loyal to him because of that. I smell foreshadowing! Notably he also learns that a battle with the Reverse Flash 9 years in the future will cause his disappearance in some form or another. He knows that there are conflicted times ahead but doesn’t really have enough detail of how these things happen It should give him plenty to mull over. The almost Justice League reference was a nice touch as well.
I loved Cisco’s reaction to all of the future stuff and how he focused on the costume in that picture. He used that to wonder if he’ll change the costume as a result of seeing that picture and that being the cause of it originally. It causes him to freak out about predestination and compare it to Back to the Future. It seems like a throwaway laugh but it asks important questions about the nature of time travel in this show.
I found the side stories to be a little weak here. I’m at the point where I really don’t care about Iris and whatever drama she’s having this week. The scene where she went to Barry with evidence of metahumans being caused by the particle accelerator explosion seemed a bit redundant as I got the impression that it was a citywide assumption considering all the powered people that have been turning up ever since the explosion.
Similarly Eddie’s plan to propose was always doomed to fail but I’m scratching my head at how controlling Joe seems to be over Iris’ life and the assumption that he knows what’s best for her. His dismissal of Eddie marrying his daughter just seemed harsh more than anything else. It’s also really boring having Eddie and Iris having problems with Barry tasked to do the leg work and find a solution to them. It’s been done and is never interesting.
There was a strange interlude where Barry went to save people in a burning building. The scene only really existed to remind us that Wells is capable of doing good things and can at least act compassionate some of the time. It’s weird to think that an action sequence can slow the episode down but it’s what happened here.
I did enjoy the flashbacks. Since this show doesn’t use them as part of the DNA like Arrow does they tend to be more powerful when they are used. Having them focus on Barry when he was in a coma was a nice touch and provided some really great scenes that enhance the relationships he has with people.
Joe’s desperation as he watched the condition of someone he considers a son deteriorate was really moving and Jesse L. Martin played the conflicted nature perfectly when Wells came to him offering the solution. He was reluctant to put Barry’s fate in a strangers hands but saw no other way so reluctantly agreed. Having this tie into the present where he wonders if that decision has been the direct cause of all that’s happening now worked really well.
It was nice to see Iris played so genuinely for a change as she sits at his bedside begging him to wake up. The things she says really sum up the connection the two of them have. It’s rarely seen at this point but it is definitely there and having her so upset at him being in a coma really exemplifies that. The electric shock she receives tied nicely into the similar event in the present which has her find out his identity.
Lastly, Wells’ role in the flashbacks is a really interesting one. He talks candidly to Barry about how he’s watched him grow up and develop over his life. He points out that there’s not even a hint of the man that he knows in the future but manages to separate that out by confirming that it doesn’t mean that Wells hates him any less. The difference is that he knows that Barry will one day become that and he hates the seeming inevitability of it. This plays in nicely to the admission of affection in the present.
As a brief aside the time travel problem is getting more complicated. It seems that the past can be changed as evidenced by Barry doing just that. If it weren’t for his time travel then the knowledge the team currently has about Wells wouldn’t be known to them since there would be no alternate timeline for Cisco to remember. If you also throw in that Thawne being in this time at all changed things by moving up the creation of the particle accelerator in order to make it explode to create the Flash in order to help Thawne get back to his own time then I have to wonder what happened in the very original timeline.
If you think about the original timeline where the real Wells and his wife created a particle accelerator that worked perfectly and changed the face of science then how did the Flash come into being in that timeline? Is that newspaper headline from an earlier version of the timeline where the Flash arrived later? Evidence would seem to point to no on that one as there was the episode where Barry lost his powers and the newspaper headline as well as all records of the Flash disappeared until Barry got his powers back. It does seem like Thawne’s presence is the catalyst for this all happening but I’m left wondering if he changed the timeline or simply made it happen by being there. If so then can the past be changed at all? Writing about this is giving me a headache. Light up the comments or hit me up on twitter to discuss this.
An excellent episode that outs Wells for the villain that he is and lays all of his cards on the table for Team Flash.
I’m glad that the time travel has a profound impact in Cisco remembering the previous timeline. The dream sequence to bring out that knowledge was visually really trippy and cool. As far as plot furthering goes it was an interesting stylistic choice.
The plan to trap Wells was smart enough but would obviously never work when you consider there are still a few episodes to go but the way the show played with the inevitable failure was really clever. Wells’ very careful word choice so that the team couldn’t get a confession out of him followed by the Everyman fake out showed that Wells always has the upper hand and the revelation about constant surveillance placed upon the team was excellent at showing why.
His monologue was excellent as well and I like how he admits that he didn’t expect to feel any sense of affection for the team and that it surprised him when it actually happened. He enjoys working with Barry despite how much he hates him.
The scene in the “Time Vault” was great as well. It gave Barry a flavour of his future without any context to come to any conclusions about how he gets to where he does. If the future can be changed -there’s still some debate- then none of it may happen anyway.
Some of the side plots felt a little like filler. Iris and her relationship drama remains as tedious as ever and I’m confused as to why she’s presenting her “findings” on the particle accelerator being the cause of people having powers as if it were new information. I thought it was pretty much a citywide assumption by now.
Eddie’s subplot involving proposing to her seemed a bit pointless as well but I found myself a little baffled at Joe’s controlling attitude concerning his daughter. He seems adamant to choose how she lives her life and won’t accept any substitutes to his plan. It’s a little concerning.
The brief interlude involving Barry saving people from a burning building felt a little pointless. It had the effect of reminding him that Wells can seem like a nice guy by helping him out but I don’t think it was really necessary. It’s strange how an action sequence can slow an episode down like that.
I liked the use of flashbacks in this episode and how they fed into the present. Seeing Joe make the tough decision to let Wells take care of Barry when he was in the coma was nicely done and showed the desperation in Joe wanting his adopted son to wake up. Iris’ flashback scene was great at showing the profound connection between the two of them and the electric shock was a clever way of Iris twigging Barry’s identity in the present. Wells scene was effective at showing the internal conflict as he fails to recognise the man he hates so much in the younger Barry. He hasn’t forgotten what he will become but finds it interesting that he can’t see it yet. It plays into the affection Wells admits he has for Barry and the team perfectly.