Week in and week out, The Flash continues to provide its fans with strong content with a side of laughter and this week’s “Who is Harrison Wells?” remains true to form, though the episode wasn’t nearly as strong as last week’s “All Star Team Up”. In yet another Arrow crossover, the episode managed to bring Joe West and Cisco out to Starling City to investigate Wells’ past; had Eddie shooting two officers in cold blood; and had an intimate moment between Barry and Caitlin. Well, in a manner of speaking, of course. As always, spoilers ahead.
Before we get too far, we have to give a shout out to one of the cooler Easter eggs of the season. As the episode opens, The Flash is superspeeding his way to Coast City, “Home of Ferris Airlines”, for some pizza. I don’t know how hot that pizza would be by the time it got back over to Central City but it was pretty cool seeing the home of the Green Lantern, Hal Jordan!
Alright, onto the meat!
Now that Barry has finally confided in Cisco and Caitlin, the process of proving his theories has begun, much to the dismay of the future Killer Frost. Wells is Caitlin’s idol, a man who stood by her side during her darkest hour, and if she accepts that Wells is truly a big baddie, to her, it means that everything she has done since joining STAR Labs has been a lie. Her apprehension is fair, if a bit melodramatic, but being the team player that she is, Caitlin goes along with covering for Cisco while he joins Joe on a trip to Starling City to dig deeper into Wells’ past. Well, for the most part, at any rate.
While Cisco and Joe are gone, a new shapeshifting villain, Hannibal Bates aka Everyman (ok, with a handle like “Hannibal Bates”, what choice did the guy have??), is making waves over in Central City as suspected criminals with rock solid alibis appear to be caught on film committing their alleged crimes. Now that Eddie has been keyed into the whole “Flash” situation, he knows that there are metahumans out there capable of doing things that seem impossible. He suggests to Barry that the actual criminal may be a metahuman but Barry is way ahead of him. After discussing the shapeshifter with Wells and Caitlin, Wells initiates a “hands off the bad guy” mandate, as it is very possible that the criminal may be able to not only replicate The Flash’s appearance but also his abilities. Unfortunately, no one passes this info onto Eddie, who winds up getting into a scuffle with the bad guy, which leads to issues later in the episode.
The shapeshifter in Central City continues to wreak havoc as Thawne and Barry close in, which leads Everyman to the desperate, yet brilliant, path of becoming Eddie and it is as Eddie that the metahuman shoots down two officers before shooting out the dashcam on their patrol car, effectively framing Eddie for the crime. Internal Affairs believes they have Eddie dead to rights with the dashcam video but Barry makes it clear that he will free Eddie, and even goes so far as breaking Eddie out of the holding room before coming to his senses and returning him, so that Eddie’s name can be cleared the right way.
Meanwhile, in Starling City, Joe and Cisco have enlisted the help of Arrow’s Captain Quentin Lance to help with the investigation into Wells. While at the Starling City Police station, Cisco is introduced to Laurel Lance, who takes him aside to inform him that she is well aware of his part in The Flash’s life and asks his help in developing a sonic device for her Black Canary suit. After a fanboy moment, Cisco happily agrees, though the audience is left to wonder just how he will find time during his investigation. As for the investigation itself, Wells’ trail leads the team to the burial site of the real Harrison Wells, which raises plenty of questions. The interesting thing here is that time is pretty wonky around the burial site, yet the team doesn’t spend much time wondering how or why time is wonky – instead, they focus on the body of Wells, which truly shows just how desensitized Joe and Cisco are becoming to this new world around them.
As Barry prepares to scour the city for Everyman, Eddie winds up at his door, somehow being freed from jail after calling in a favor from a friend, and Barry couldn’t be happier. That’s right – there is a shapeshifting metahuman out there who has shot two police officers while wearing Eddie’s body, yet the brilliant young man took the “favor from a friend” excuse with absolutely no questions asked. Needless to say, the moment Barry turns his back, Everyman, who was disguised as Eddie (gasp!), knocks Barry out, then assumes his identity. In keeping with the spirit of this scene, Caitlin soon shows up at Barry’s door, and even though Everyman is obviously still trying to fit in Barry’s skin, she believes the shapeshifter to be Barry, and not only begins discussing the plan to catch him, but actually takes the bad guy to STAR Labs. This whole scenario represents one of the first and only major missteps the writers have taken since the beginning of the series. Yes, viewers are encouraged to believe the impossible but, somehow, a shapeshifting metahuman criminal is easier to accept than the idea of two geniuses completely falling for said criminal’s ruse. The fact that not only Barry but Caitlin also fell for the gag just cheapened the moment and served as nothing more than a device to keep the episode moving forward.
Once at STAR Labs, Caitlin tells Everyman (still as Barry, of course) about the serum she has concocted and how it will disable the villain from changing his face. Everyman, who is a bit more direct than Barry, manages to find an intimate moment with Caitlin, kissing her when she is least prepared, just as Iris shows up at the lab. During the arrest and rumors surrounding her beau, Iris finally knocks a bit of ice off and is desperate to help get her fiancé out of jail. The showrunners may have realized just how unlikable Iris has been for these past several episodes, as her involvement in the episode was minimal. As per the usual, when she was on screen, Iris was emotional and upset, and demanding answers. This time, however, at least she offered a bit of help to the STARS Lab team, though her “help” was providing mostly information that the team already had. The important piece she puts into place is that the dashcam video showing Eddie shooting the officers actually shows him shooting with his left hand, while Eddie is right handed. As this clue is being discussed, Wells comes in to save the day by taking Everyman out with a taser, after recognizing that “Barry” was using his left hand.
Iris convinces everyone that she needs to take the villain to the police and, somehow, the team goes along with it! As you can imagine, this doesn’t turn out too well and the bad guy gets away in yet another silly setup to keep the episode moving. Luckily, after the tasing, the team has a bit of information to work with, including the fact that Everyman cannot imitate The Flash’s abilities, leading them back to a “hands ON the bad guy” frame of mind and now that the villain took Barry’s cell phone to complete his Barry Allen cosplay, tracking him is easy!
As Joe and Cisco wrap things up in Starling City, Joe gives some advice to Lance about forgiving Laurel for something that happened in Arrow. In the past, the Arrow/Flash crossovers have been completely enjoyable because a) Felicity is absolutely awesome and b) fans of The Flash didn’t have to follow Arrow to understand what was going on. In this episode, however, the writers assume that the audience must also follow Arrow, so no background was given to the seemingly cryptic references to the Lance family drama. In fact, the whole father/daughter dynamic of the Lances was really lost on viewers who don’t follow Arrow, as the two didn’t even really share any screen time and if it wasn’t for their names and the lines pointing it out, non-Arrow viewers wouldn’t have even known the two were related. Further, one could argue that while residents of Starling City fit in quite perfectly in Central City, the reverse cannot be said of the residents of Central City. Arrow is a completely different type of show with a completely different tone, and Laurel and Quentin seemed out of place in The Flash. More to the point, Joe and Cisco seem out of place in Starling City, where everyone is a bit moodier and the landscape a bit darker. In short, this was an example of how some crossovers just aren’t needed. It did, however, provide audiences with yet another wonderful Cisco moment. As he is getting ready to leave the city, Cisco bestows a device upon Laurel that will give her the Canary Cry from her comic book counterpart. As payment, Black Canary gives Cisco a great photo op 8×10 that he will no doubt keep close to him.
As things wrapped up, The Flash finally catches up to Hannibal, who has forgotten what he even looks like as his true self. Joe and Cisco brought the body of the real Harrison Wells back with them and this is finally the proof that brings Caitlin over to the right side of the investigation. As a matter of fact, she is even on board when Cisco begins to search the lab’s blueprints for more clues, which leads the trio to Wells’ Reverse Flash suit and the newspaper from the future, which puts the Flash’s disappearance front and center.
While there were plenty of great moments in the episode, it did feel a bit like a letdown after last week’s absolutely stellar episode. That isn’t to say that “Who is Harrison Wells?” wasn’t good; it just wasn’t as good as the other episodes in the season. At this point, we are nearing the end of The Flash’s inaugural season and considering how other comic book television adaptations are faring, the series can afford a throwaway episode or two. The actors continue to be very involved and it is apparent that they have become a family amongst themselves, and the chemistry they share as such is one of the reasons that the series continues to do so well.
Here’s a look at next week’s episode, “The Trap“.
What did you think of last night’s episode? Now that Eddie has finally shared some of his secret with Iris, do you things will smooth out? Do you think that kiss with the fake Barry awakened some feelings in Caitlin?