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The Flash: “Who Is Harrison Wells?”

Jesse L. Martin, Carlos Valdes/The CW
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This feels like the calm before the storm, which is maybe a polite way of saying this wasn’t a particularly exciting episode of The Flash. Part of the problem is right there in the title: “Who Is Harrison Wells?” We already know the answer to this question, so now it’s only a matter of waiting for the characters to catch up. By the end of the hour, the wait pays off with one of the most tantalizing stingers to date, but too much familiar ground is retraced before we get there.

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Joe and Cisco team up to re-investigate the car crash that left Harrison Wells’ fiancee dead. That means traveling to Starling City, which in turn means it’s time for another Arrow crossover already. Joe needs the assistance of Captain Quentin Lance to track down the site of the crash, which proves to be a tachyon hotspot. Cisco traces the waves to a buried corpse that DNA testing will reveal belongs to the real Harrison Wells. During the downtime, Joe and Lance bond over their respective rebellious daughters, but never do get around to discussing the pros and cons of working with costumed crimefighters. Still, as usually happens when the Arrow folk make an appearance, the Flash team brings out the lighter side of the usually grim-n-gritty characters. It’s nice to see Lance take a break from frothing at the mouth, if only briefly, and proximity to Cisco definitely brings out the best in Laurel, whose sunny disposition here is almost unrecognizable. (Cisco also presents her with a new and improved Canary Cry, which…where did he make that thing, and out of what?)

Back in Central City, Operation Don’t Tell Iris is still in effect, but mercifully takes up little screen time this week. Instead it’s Caitlin’s turn to be on the outs, as she’s the only member of Team Flash who isn’t buying into the Wells-as-Reverse-Flash theory. It’s easy to see her point of view here: Joe and Barry haven’t exactly put together an airtight case, and she has much more reason to trust Wells than to doubt him. Barry manages to buy time with her until Joe and Cisco get back from their road trip with more definitive proof, but on the whole, this isn’t our hero’s best week in the brains department.

Dopey Barry shows up again when a metahuman with shapeshifting abilities escapes a robbery by morphing into Eddie and shooting a couple of cops. Eddie is arrested and won’t go along with Barry’s plan to flash him out of jail, but a few minutes later when Eddie shows up at the door with an implausible story about being released, it somehow never occurs to Barry that this is the imposter. This lapse allows Everyman to steal Barry’s appearance (though not his powers), leading to an awkwardly funny scene at STAR Labs in which faux-Barry plants a kiss on Caitlin. (Cue shippers everywhere making Vines of the smooch and watching on a continuous loop.)

Shapeshifting super-villains are a comic book staple, but Everyman never comes off as much of a threat in the episode. It’s fun to see him take on the form of Iris and go a few rounds with the Flash, but he doesn’t have much of a plan when it comes to combating super-speed. Maybe next time. (The beauty of a shapeshifting character is that you can always bring him back without worrying about any particular actor’s availability.)

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For the most part, though, this feels like an hour designed to get everyone on the same page before the fireworks to come. If the discovery of the real Wells’ body isn’t enough to convince Caitlin, the revelation of Wells’ secret hideaway certainly seals the deal. Not only do Barry, Cisco, and Caitlin find the Reverse-Flash costume and the tachyon prototype, they also lay eyes on the headline from 2024. It’s an ending strong enough to ease any worries that The Flash is content running in place.

Stray observations:

  • Someone called Hannibal Bates, combining the names of two of our most enduring movie/TV serial killers, probably should have been arrested on general principle long ago.
  • Barry’s trip to Coast City featured another DC Easter egg, with the sign for Ferris Airlines being a shout-out to Green Lantern. (And I hope Barry got rid of those Coast City pizza boxes before Iris got home.)
  • Eddie finally tells Iris the truth: He’s been working with the Flash. Well, it’s not not the truth, and maybe it will keep the peace for a couple more episodes. But seriously, enough already.
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