This review contains spoilers.
1.19 Who Is Harrison Wells?
The Flash has always been a bit like Smallville, in tone as well as in its willingness to have fun with easily-defeatable baddies with silly powers, but Who Is Harrison Wells? really, really went there. It was one of the first episodes to truly embrace the humorous potential of the show’s concept, as well as the comedy timing of its collective cast. The result? It’s a hoot, a lot more so than similar episodes of the aforementioned series.
The question in the title actually only makes up a third of the episode, as Cisco and Joe head to Starling City to find out what really happened after Wells’ car accident. It’s the first time either show has crossed over to the other’s city during an episode, which is fun, and lends a little more logic to why Joe and Cisco might be interacting with Laurel and Quentin. It makes sense for Felicity to come over, simply to spend time with Barry, but not really any of the others.
The discovery of the body wasn’t a surprise, so it was really those interactions that made the trip worthwhile. Cisco fanboying over Laurel being the Black Canary was hilarious, and Joe and Quentin’s conversation about being fathers to the two least popular characters of their respective shows was an unexpected highlight of the whole episode. Hopefully Joe just being a better dad than Lance has been of late (or, arguably, ever) pays dividends on the rest of Arrow’s run this year.
The best thing about it, really, is how seamless the crossovers feel now. The first two were huge, social media-busting event television, but now we can just share characters whenever the story requires, like it’s no big deal.
For Barry this week, there’s a surprising lack of angst outside of his opening monologue. The episode is more concerned with setting up his relationship with Eddie – a character always improved by standing next to Barry instead of Iris – and possible conflict now that he’s come half-clean to Iris about the fact he’s working with the Flash. Of course, this was what we were all screaming for him to do last week, but Barry didn’t look too happy about it in that last scene.
Being fair to Iris, I really liked that brief exchange she had with Barry after Eddie’s arrest. They felt like brother and sister, instead of the script forcing their apparent attraction down our throats at inappropriate times.
Caitlin’s angle on the Wells news she and Cisco heard last week was interesting, and harked back to the partially-abandoned, darker character we saw in the pilot. It makes total sense that she would be more loyal to her boss after everything she went through following the particle accelerator explosion, but she also has a kinship with Barry that’s not there between her and Wells.
The kiss was annoying, as was the Shapeshifting metahuman being the reason for that glimpse of Eddie shooting the cops in the trailer. The first was fan-baiting, the latter a let-down, both were trying to trick us. That said, the bulk of the episode spent with Hannibal Bates (lol) was a ton of fun, contrasting with the heavier stuff going on in the background without ever detracting from it.
But Thawne’s time is running out, with everyone (except Iris) knowing that he’s not what he seems and, now that the real Wells has been found and the secret lair discovered, that he could be even more dangerous than they feared. That scene shared between Thawne and Joe was absolutely fascinating, especially following his interactions with Quentin earlier in the episode, simply because it showed how good he’s become at pretending to be something and somebody he’s not.
With us nearing the end of the first season, I can’t imagine we’ll be getting many more instalments as light-hearted as this one until season two but, if this is how well The Flash does silly filler stuff, I can’t complain.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, All Star Team-Up, here.
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