This The Flash review contains spoilers.
The Flash Season 7 Episode 1
It’s likely that most of us are so glad to have The Flash back on our screens that the Season 7 premiere could probably have featured our faves doing system updates on the STAR Labs computers and we would have been fine with it.
Thankfully, although “All’s Wells That Ends Wells” is not necessarily the hour that many of us would have chosen to kick off the series’ seventh season, it is still a charming and emotional showcase for stars Grant Gustin and Tom Cavanagh that’s more than entertaining enough. And that goes double in a world where we haven’t had a new The Flash episode in the better part of a year.
The relationship between Barry Allen and some form of Harrison Wells, from the original version who was secretly Eobard Thawne to gruff Earth-2 Harry, well-meaning, H.R., and snooty Sherloque, has long sat at the emotional center of this show. And though latest incarnation Nash Wells has been something of a disappointment – his obsession with Allegra hasn’t been terribly interesting and the show never made much out of his adventurer background – he finally gets a true moment to shine here, and I’ll be honest: I got a little teary.
Granted, part of that is because this episode was more a celebration of Harrison Wells, writ large, than a showcase for this one particular incarnation, and the deft way it acknowledges the importance of this bizarre weirdo figure in all his multiverse guises to Barry’s life is really moving and well done. (Even if I will absolutely die on the hill that Earth-2 Harry was the best of all and should have stuck around.)
Both Gustin and Cavanagh shine here, as each juggles multiple roles within the hour with grace and heart. We so rarely get the chance to see Gustin be funny, and his revolving sequence of Wells impersonations was note-perfect, right down to Sherloque’s overbearing insistence on the correct way to pronounce his name. And he absolutely nailed the heart-wrenching stuff – his insistence that he doesn’t know how to be The Flash without a Wells on his team is precisely the kind of moment that makes this ensemble so great.
It’s hard to believe that this is The Flash writing out Cavanagh completely, and it feels more likely than not that we’ll see him again, though it has to be at least even odds that it’s as an entirely new character. At least if Nash is really somehow gone for good, he went out as his best self, and you can’t ask for a better hero’s death than that, can you? (Though the way The Flash implies that Allegra should feel guilty for not getting to know a man who essentially stalked her because she looks like someone he once knew is…a choice?)
“All’s Wells That Ends Wells” picks up pretty much where we left things in Season 6’s “Success is Assured”: Iris is still trapped in the Mirror Universe, new Mirror Master (Mistress?) Eva McCulloch has reclaimed her company and set out on a mission to destroy all remnants of her husband’s Black Hole organization, and Team Flash is trying to come up with a way to create an Artificial Speed Force to save Barry’s speed.
While there are valid in-universe reasons for major characters like Cisco, Caitlin, Killer Frost, and Iris to be missing in action at STAR Labs, it is still so weird to for the season premiere’s main plot to involve Barry alongside a trio of characters we barely know. (It’s also hard not to read this as a chance for both Chester and Allegra to serve as test Cisco and Caitlin stand-ins, and who even knows what that might mean for the show going forward.)
Candice Patton has far too little to do, with Iris still trapped in the Mirror Universe and struggling to find her way back to Barry, but the way that Eva’s manipulations draw in pieces from throughout her past – and future – at least allows her some interesting variety to play within specific scenes. still, the sooner she gets back to the real world, the better.
Though given how dedicated Eva seems to keeping her in there, that may not be possible without some outside assistance. (Although, now that Eva herself is out, does it really matter if Iris escapes? This is part of the Mirror Universe story that doesn’t really work for me, but fine. I’m assuming Iris gets out within an episode or two anyway.)
That said, Eva McCulloch remains one of the all-time great The Flash Big Bads, and the show continues to walk a fine line between making her an outright bad guy and a particularly complicated antagonist. Sure, it’s not exactly great that she’s killed people, but she’s also working to take down a dangerous dark organization and trying to keep the body count as low as possible while doing so. But Eva has specifically avoided harming Barry on multiple occasions now when given the chance to do so, and though her ultimate goals are still pretty hazy, they certainly don’t seem to be of the megalomaniacal enslave-the-world variety.
And Eva’s realization that she’s not actually human, but a Mirror clone herself was gut-punch good. How rich is this potential vein of storytelling for this character, should The Flash choose to embrace it? She’s just got so many intriguing layers and manages to be both sympathetic and threatening all at once. I know it’s unlikely that they’ll keep her around longer than strictly necessary to wrap up last season’s arcs, but they really should consider it.
- Mirror Mistress Eva just straight-up destroying the lame Sam Scudder version of Mirror Master was so satisfying. (Admit it, that one was terrible.)
- I’m so happy they finally created the Artificial Speed Force, if only because these increasingly ridiculous situations where Barry had just .0045% of his speed left oh no were getting really tiring.
- Give Grant Gustin more reasons to wear glasses this season challenge.
- “Oh my God, do you know Gandalf?!”
- If this is really Tom Cavanagh’s swan song – which I think we all know it isn’t, but just, you know, if – going out on “Run, Barry, run” is truly a power move.
- Love the idea of Cecile’s power becoming a more active one, I’ve never found her that interesting solely as an empath, and the idea of her pushing emotions onto people could play out in a lot of cool ways.
- I can’t be the only person who feels like The Flash’s take on Rosa Dillon/Top is just sort of a low-rent Harley Quinn? Am I?
- The fact that Ralph and Sue are conspicuously absent this week just means we’re all still wondering how this show is going to move forward from Hartley Sawyer’s firing.