This review contains spoilers.
People who watched the 90s version of The Flash are probably still recovering from that episode. Heck, Star Wars fans are most likely doing the same. Yes, this was the episode in which Mark Hamill reprised his role as the Trickster aka James Jesse, and it was jam-packed with in-jokes, references and sly nods to various properties. That it still remained a decent episode of The Flash is an unexpected bonus.
I’ve never been a huge fan of these ‘tribute’ episodes, mainly because I’m not well-versed enough in comic book lore to understand a lot of the references, and I like my TV shows to remain my TV shows without leaving me behind for an entire week.
It happened a lot on Smallville, especially in the later years, but so far the Arrow/Flash universe has resisted the urge to do the same. Tricksters continued that, thankfully, by subtly keeping the old backstory for Jesse but changing to fit a new timeline. The references were there for those who wanted to see them, but people who had no idea that Hamill had appeared in the show’s earlier incarnation could keep up with the episode.
That’s not to say it wasn’t still a bit flimsy when removing the nostalgia element of the character’s return, with a father-son plot I wouldn’t be surprised was in there just to bring about a Star Wars reference. It’s just the kind of episode Tricksters was, and that’s totally fine. Hamill was wonderful in the role, and someone I would very much like to see on the show again.
On the Barry/Wells side of things, which somehow held a thousand revelations despite sharing the episode with a big guest star, we learned a lot more about Eobard Thawne’s origins. It turns out that the guy we’ve been calling Harrison Wells actually isn’t Wells at all, but Thawne in disguise. After killing Barry’s mother by accident, his powers were diminished and he could no longer travel through time.
After then murdering Wells and his wife, Thawne continued on with the facade, crafting his master plan of setting up STAR Labs and training Barry up until this point. So, basically, he’s a villain with none of the redeeming aspects we had assumed Wells possessed, and we’ve landed upon that realisation just as Barry’s own suspicions about his mentor have come to fruition.
We know a lot more than the characters right now, but at least they’re not totally in the dark. That’s an exciting place to be going into the final stretch of episodes.
The Trickster’s schemes did allow Barry to have a moment alone with his father for the first time this season, finally having him confirm the assumption that he is indeed The Flash. On a show as strangely committed to the old secret identity part of superhero cliché, the two reveals we got in this episode were so, so enjoyable. The first, as said, was simply confirmation of what he already knew, but Eddie was a different matter entirely.
We all know that Eddie is going to have to become a more important character than he has been so far this season, and knowing about Barry is the first step towards that. He’s obviously uncomfortable about lying to Iris, which is the first time anyone’s really stuck up for Iris in that regard, but he does so anyway. It’s that kind of thing that leads someone to become a supervillain, isn’t it? We can’t overlook the surname.
The Flash continues to do everything right, proven by its balancing of a big-name guest star in a silly, over-the-top role with the kind of drama that’s appropriate in the seventeenth episode of the season. There’s the feeling that we’re ramping up to something really special in few weeks time, but with the standalone episode fun to keep us going until then. Also, did we all see that promo? Crossovers galore.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Rogue Time, here.
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