Shantel VanSanten, Grant Gustin/The CW

“The Darkness And The Light” is a busy episode that never feels frantic or overstuffed. It’s tasked with moving a lot of pieces around to set up future developments, but it takes its cue more from the second part of its title than the first. The darkness is present, but it’s not oppressive; it’s the light that keeps The Flash at the top of the TV superhero game.

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Earth-Two’s Harrison Wells brings some darkness with him across the trans-dimensional expressway, but it’s a different shade than we came to expect from his Earth-One counterpart. Tom Cavanagh isn’t repeating the beats of his performance from season one, where Wells’ public persona was that of an avuncular mentor and reliable leader while our glimpses of the Eobard Thawne within were etched with comic-book menace. This Wells (probably) isn’t evil, but as Cisco aptly points out, he is a dick. He’s arrogant and short-tempered, with few people skills to speak of; the kind of douche who wears a smart-watch equipped with his own metahuman detection apt. He’s also a useful ally, much as the STAR Labs team is disinclined to trust him, because he knows all about Zoom and the metahumans of Earth-Two. Softening his character a bit is the fact that he has a daughter who is now being held captive by Zoom.

Jay Garrick knows Wells from Earth-Two and isn’t a fan, but the feeling is mutual. The original recipe Flash doesn’t share Barry’s fearlessness, as Wells is only too happy to share. He’s afraid of Zoom, especially now that he’s lost his powers, and despite his blooming flirtation with Caitlin, he’s not on board with the plan to lure Zoom across the dimensional divide. I’ve been expecting Jay to get his powers back for several weeks now, because what fun is having a second Flash around if he can’t run? But now I’m guessing that’s going to take a while, and that eventually our Flash will need the help of multiple speedsters to bring Zoom down.

For now, however, the plan is to lure him across using Dr. Light as bait. There have been several Dr. Lights throughout the history of the DC multiverse, but as far as I know, this is the first one that turned out to be Linda Park. The Linda Park of Earth-Two, that is, who for some reason thinks she’ll be free of Zoom’s influence if she kills the Linda who briefly dated Barry. She ends up killing another reporter instead, and Barry captures her using his latest trick (suggested by Wells-2), creating after-images of himself by speeding around the train station.

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Before that happens, however, she temporarily blinds Barry, which results in this week’s most delightful scene. Having finally made a date with Patty Spivot, Barry is reluctant to break it, so Cisco guides a vision-impaired Barry through dinner. Everything about this is wonderful, from Cisco’s running commentary to Grant Gustin’s physical comedy to Patty’s increasingly amused reactions. After a shaky start, Patty has rocketed up the Power Rankings, to the point where she already feels like an essential part of the ensemble. Gustin has the same kind of chemistry with Shantel VanSanten as he did with Emily Bett Rickards during Felicity Smoak’s visits last season, and since that was obviously never going to happen, this is probably the next best thing.

As for Cisco, the cat’s out of the bag as far as his metahuman powers are concerned, thanks to “Harry” Wells and his fancy smartwatch. His fears that the dark matter would turn him evil were always a little much given that he has the example of Barry to show that’s not necessarily the case, so it’s good to have this out in the open so he can let his Vibe freak-flag fly. His newfound confidence pays immediate dividends when the barista he earlier struck out with takes him up on his offer of a date. I was wondering why the CW press site for this episode had over a half-dozen publicity stills of this seemingly minor character available, but when she introduced herself as Kendra Saunders, I remembered the glimpse of her in last season’s finale. Don’t get too attached to her, Cisco; this is Hawkgirl and she’s only here to lay more groundwork for Legends Of Tomorrow. I’d bitch some more about that, but this episode was otherwise solid enough that I’m willing to overlook it.

Stray observations

  • As soon as Wells-2 called our boy “Crisco,” I realized how glad I was to have Cavanagh back as a regular presence.
  • However, Wells-2 googling Wells-1 while listening to “You’re No Good” may have been a little on-the-nose.
  • I do hope they keep calling him Harry and that it really annoys him.
  • The glimpses of Earth-Two, with its gleaming Art Deco futurism, are tantalizing enough that I’d like to spend more time there. They also have an Atlantis, and Jay Garrick has a friend there. Who might that be?
  • Caitlin is not a metahuman, at least according to Harry’s app.

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