The Flash – Season 1 Episode 19
“Who is Harrison Wells?”
This is a bit of an awkward episode of The Flash in some ways as the title presents a question that the audience already knows the answer to. Naturally we’re all waiting for the characters to catch up so that things can move on.
So far the biggest clue that Team Flash seem to have is the statement made by Tina McGee that Harrison Wells became a “completely different person” after his fiancée’s death. It’s not much to go on but coupled with their other suspicions it’s something worth looking into.
It’s something that divides the group slightly from the point of view of Caitlin who can’t see past everything Wells has apparently done for her in the recent past. All she sees is a man who helped her when she lost her reputation and the love of her life so believing that he’s the Reverse Flash is something that is really difficult for her. I definitely see her point of view and it’s something that Barry and Cisco have both wrestled with before this point. She’s just a little behind them on their reasons to be suspicious.
Beyond that her counter statement that Barry -and her- more than anyone knows what it’s like to lose someone close and how that can change someone. It’s all really plausible motivation for Caitlin to have her doubts so I like that she’s not immediately on board with the whole thing.
In order to get more evidence Joe and Cisco head to Starling City to do their own investigation of the accident to see if there are any clues there that can help them get to the truth. This allows them to cross paths with Quentin and Laurel Lance who are more than happy to help.
The investigation proves fruitful and turns up the body of the real Harrison Wells therefore giving Caitlin the evidence she needs to come to the conclusion that everyone else is on. The solution was very sci fi which is fine by me as this show is also very sci fi. It seems that those tachyons can prove anything.
I really enjoyed Joe and Quentin’s scenes together and I’m glad that they got these two characters in the same room. Their roles are obviously very similar in that they are both cops and both have daughters who are nothing short of a handful so their instant camaraderie makes complete sense. It’s also good to see Quentin calm down a little for once. It’s gotten pretty dark and intense on Arrow lately so seeing the lighter side of him is always good.
Similarly Cisco and Laurel had some really fun interactions. He definitely brings out a lighter side in Laurel who manages to have a bit of levity to her for a change. The conversation where Cisco tries to dance around the identity issue until she comes out and says it was really fun and made their scenes together feel like more than a means to an end. Of course that’s what they were because the only reason for them existing was so that Laurel could ask Cisco to make her an improved sonic weapon. In return he gets a picture taken with her which is just hilarious in how much of a fanboy he looks.
I like how the crossover was handled as well. It wasn’t really made into a big deal and treated as something of an everyday thing. It makes sense that Joe would go to speak to Quentin when he’s in Starling City looking into something so there’s no need to turn it into anything more than it is. It’s already cool to see these characters together and sometimes that’s enough. It’s weird seeing Starling City during the day though, I’d forgotten all about that.
The villain was pretty well done on the whole. Everyman being a shapeshifter provided some really cool scenes and allowed the actors to play something else for a little while. Visually his power was nicely done and he only presented a challenge in his anonymity rather than his ability to take on the Flash directly. I found the fact that he couldn’t remember who he was as a consequence of his ability was impressively tragic.
Notable issues were created when Eddie was framed for trying to kill 2 cops and is sent to prison as a result. This provides some really good stuff for Rick Cosnett to play with as he knows he’s innocent but is also bound to the law that he has sworn to uphold. He knows that he would do the same if the roles were reversed and he’d seen the evidence. It’s proven earlier in the episode when he refuses to believe the woman who claims she’s innocent after being framed by Everyman.
I really liked the scene where Barry briefly breaks him out of prison and is talked into taking him back. He encourages Barry to use his abilities both natural and super powered to find the truth and work with the law to put this right. Eddie believes in the system and doesn’t want the Flash working outside it.
It was clever to have the villain powered by programmable matter and have that tie into Joe and Cisco’s investigation by explaining -to the audience- how Thawne became Wells. I also found Wells to be at his most sinister this week in how nice and helpful he was acting as well as the tension in the scene where he talked to Joe about loss.
Thematically this episode holds together perfectly with the central theme being lying to protect others and the problems that causes for relationships. Eddie is lying to Iris about the Flash in order to protect her, Caitlin is lying to Wells about the investigation into him to keep herself and her friends safe and Quentin has been lied to by Laurel to protect him from his daughter’s death. This theme is constantly referred to throughout the episode and I was very impressed by how it carried over from Arrow so casually. These people are going through the same things and they’re all doing the same things to protect those close to them. It worked really well in giving this episode a strong foundation.
Of course the Iris/Eddie arguing is always going to annoy me. Iris is being completely unreasonable as usual and I just want this all to go away. I’m guessing Eddie passing off working with the Flash as being the secret he’s keeping won’t have her fooled for long. It’s not untrue but just not the whole story.
For such a genius Barry showed some severe idiocy in this episode. Why did he think that Eddie had been released and take that information at face value when he knew that there was a shapeshifter out there? He didn’t even think to doubt it and it got him knocked out.
There were some real “trailer bait” scenes in this episode and both involved the shapeshifter. The first was Barry and Caitlin kissing when it was the shapeshifter. Clearly that only really exists to put in a trailer to make us think that they’re about to get together. I like that it was played for laughs and Caitlin’s discomfort through the rest of the episode was pretty funny as well. It’s clear that it woke up an attraction that she has for Barry.
Having the Flash fight another Flash was another “trailer bait” moment attributed to the shape shifter. It was cool to see but again only really existed to put in promos to entice the audience into thinking that something else is going on. I’m not holding that against the episode at all and it hasn’t affected my score but I just thought I’d mention it.
Now that the characters are mostly caught up the real twists can start coming again. Barry, Cisco and Caitlin going into Wells’ secret room and seeing the suit as well as the future headline was a really solid cliffhanger that showed everything starting to fall into place.
A strong episode that acts as something of a placeholder to get the characters caught up with the audience in terms of the mystery of Harrison Wells.
Caitlin’s opposition to believing that Wells is the Reverse Flash makes perfect sense from her point of view. She owes a lot to him and has never seen him do anything that wasn’t helping other people so it’s a massive leap for her to accept that he’s a murderous villain. Naturally she just needs more evidence to get to the same place the others are but it’s good that she’s not immediately on board.
Joe and Cisco’s trip to Starling City to conduct their own investigation was a lot of fun. Joe and Quentin bounce off each other really well and have a lot in common. He manages to bring out the seldom seen lighter side of the character and even helps him sort out a lingering issue that he has with his daughter.
Cisco’s scenes with Laurel were lots of fun as well. It was good to see Laurel with some levity to her personality. It’s a pairing we haven’t seen yet and it was entertaining while it lasted. Of course it only existed to give Black Canary an upgrade but Cisco got a fanboy picture with her so everyone’s happy.
Everyman was handled well as a villain with a visually cool superpower that caused a few complications while not functioning as a formidable threat when he was caught out. The problems he causes for Eddie in particular were really interesting and I like how he upheld his principles by not allowing Barry to break him out of prison. It lets Barry learn an important lesson about working within the system rather than against it.
Thematically the episode was spot on. Everyone seems to be lying to everyone else for the purposes of protection. Eddie lies to Iris about his knowledge of the Flash, Caitlin has to lie to Wells about the investigation into him and Laurel lied to Quentin about Sara’s death so the theme is constantly referenced and linked by the fact that these lies destroy relationships.
Beyond some idiocy from Barry not making sure the Eddie that he’s speaking to is the real one the episode manages to serve as the last bit of fun before it gets really intense in the lead up to the finale. It was a little frustrating waiting for the characters to catch up to knowledge I already have but that’s probably just a personal thing rather than a flaw.