I am a cynic by nature. I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop; for the pieces of the puzzle to fall away; for the cloud to burn out the silver lining; pick your cliché. This is generally a trait that serves me well as a critic, since I rarely watch/read/play anything while wearing rose-tinted glasses. Since the Flash has started, I have been waiting for the freshman series to run out of steam. After all, every single episode of the series has been more than just a little bit fantastic. In fact, the Flash’s successful streak makes it seem impossible to stay ahead of the inevitable misstep. As viewers are often reminded in its opening moments, however, The Flash is all about believing the impossible and after yet another very successful episode, The Sound and the Fury will finally have people believing that The Flash may be a show that manages to produce nothing but successful stories, again and again. Spoilers ahead.
The Flash made several very smart decisions last night but putting Barry to the side while focusing on the lives of the side characters may have been the smartest decision that was made. Instead of focusing on Barry’s life and his method of coping with his new found abilities, as we have in every episode, Dr. Wells basically took center stage, with Caitlin and Cisco in very strong supporting roles. The events surrounding the explosion caused by the particle accelerator were explored a bit more in depth as the newest villain to join The Flash’s villainous menagerie just so happened to be the man who predicted, and warned Dr. Wells about, the results of activating the machine. Fans of the comic book series were no doubt happy to see a more reserved, grounded Pied Piper here. After all, the original Flash series already took care of our desire for the over-the-top villain of the week and we expect more from the new series. Another interesting move made by the showrunners is the fact that Pied Piper, while he does taunt The Flash and does indeed want to destroy him, his main focus is on destroying Wells, since Wells refused to heed his warnings regarding the accelerator. This focus manifests itself in both violent attacks on Wells and his crew as well as a well thought out plot to get Wells to reveal that he is responsible for the explosion to all of Central City during a press conference. I write “well thought out plot” but I am not sure I am clear with that statement. You see, it wasn’t Pied Piper who decided that the press conference would be the perfect manipulation – it was Wells himself who made that decision and it is with this move that he convinces the audience that he may be the best puppet master in the business.
Wells does not make decisions without thinking through them. In fact, he seems to already know how it all plays out and even makes a comment that the team should document everything for the benefit of those in the future that want to track The Flash’s progress (wink, wink). Every move he makes, every word he speaks is to his own benefit. Wells has some very deep secrets, including the fact that he is a speedster himself and is likely from the future, and every move he makes is perfectly executed in a way that keeps his secrets hidden. The press conference, as well as some very well placed references to chess, were simple moments that prove Wells is a formidable opponent. Or ally. Only time will tell on that one.
On the Iris front, things have definitely left soap opera territory for a moment and the writers decided to focus more on Iris’ life as a journalist than on the possibilities for the future. In this regard,
Todd Manning Roger Howarth has joined the cast as Mason Bridge, likely a nod to Mason Trollbridge from the comic book series, as Iris’ new colleague at Central City Picture News and is a welcome addition to the cast. Unfortunately for Iris, however, Bridge isn’t all that impressed with bloggers (“My mother writes a blog.”), so Iris has to fight to show that there is more to her than a bit of “gumption”. In fact, the only reason that the outlet hired her at all was to capitalize on their theory that Iris and Flash have some sort of relationship, and to drum up more Flash stories to grab their audience. Luckily, Iris is more than a casual blogger, and by the end of the episode, she has already upped her worth at CCPN.
All in all, last night’s episode was yet another notch on The Flash’s belt. I still remain cynical and expect that any minute now, the series will go the way of Heroes but for now, it is still providing not only top notch entertainment but a perfect counterpoint for CW’s other successful comic book series, Arrow, which tends to be much more serious. Do you have any theories about where the series is heading? Do you think Wells is a hero or a villain?