Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Flash Season 1, Episode 9: The Man In The Yellow Suit

It's the Fall Finale (even though we're closer to winter) of The Flash, as the series puts on the brakes until sometime next year. Not a fan of these forced interruptions, but unless I become the president of The CW, which I don't anticipate happening, there's precious little I can do about it.

There's quite a bit going on in this jam-packed episode. Maybe a little too much. We finally get a look at the Reverse Flash (the mysterious figure who's been haunting Barry his whole life), Firestorm finally makes his heavily-foreshadowed appearance, and at long last Barry tells Iris how he feels. We even get a visit from another familiar face from the 1990s Flash series!

I've been enjoying the series quite a bit, but I'm starting to think maybe they're moving a little too fast (heh). Save some storylines for the last half of the season, guys!

SPEEDY SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Plot:
It's Xmas, so Barry and Iris exchange gifts. Barry gives Iris a replica of her mother's wedding band that she lost years ago. When Eddie finds out, he's a bit put off that Barry gave Iris a ring of any kind. He tells Iris he thinks Barry sees her as more than a friend, which she laughingly denies. Eddie gives Iris a key to his apartment and invites her to move in with him.

Across town at the never before seen Mercury Labs, a blurry yellow figure appears, killing a couple of security guards as it searches for something. When Joe and Barry investigate the crime, they realize the blurry figure was the Reverse Flash.

Meanwhile, Caitlin is Xmas shopping and sees a mysterious figure in the parking garage. She follows and discovers it's her late fiancé Ronnie Raymond. He bursts into flame, which is something he never did when they were dating, and tells her to leave him alone.

Dr. Wells says that Mercury Labs is run by Dr. Tina McGee, who's working on tachyon research. He theorizes that if the Reverse Flash gets ahold of her tachyon tech, he could move at the speed of light. Dr. Wells says if they had the device, they could set a trap for the Reverse Flash. Barry and Joe visit Dr. McGee and blackmail her into giving them her tachyon device.

Later as Barry's thinking back to the night of his mother's murder, he spots the Reverse Flash across the street. He takes off after him and the two engage in a high speed battle. Reverse Flash tells Barry that he's someone he knows, and they've been playing cat and mouse for a long time. That sounds... time travelly. He then beats Barry senseless and runs off.

Barry goes to visit his dad in prison. His dad tells him it's high time he forgot about solving his mother's murder and started living his life. Barry immediately goes to Iris and tells her he's in love with her. This somehow comes as a complete shock to her, despite the fact that everyone around her has known it for years.

Back at STAR Labs, Dr. Wells sets the trap for the Reverse Flash. He takes the tachyon bait and is caught inside an impenetrable force field. Joe tries to interrogate him, but is ignored. Reverse Flash then zips out of the force field, grabs Dr. Wells and zips back in, where he proceeds to beat the living crap out of him. Hmm.

Joe shuts down the force field, and the Reverse Flash dispatches all the other cops except for Eddie. He's about to go after Joe when Barry arrives. Reverse Flash grabs the tachyon device and runs off. Barry follows and they battle again. Once more Barry gets his ass handed to him by his superior opponent. Luckily for him Ronnie, er, Firestorm arrives and drives the Reverse Flash away with a burst of flame.

Later Dr. Wells enters his secret room and opens a door to an even secreter room inside it. Within this room we see the yellow Reverse Flash costume. Wells attaches the tachyon device to it, which seems to charge it with energy (faster than light energy, no doubt). He can barely suppress an evil laugh as he wished the costume (?) a Merry Xmas.

Thoughts:
• When Joe and Barry investigate the murders at Mercury Labs, they realize the suspect had super speed. Joe finally tells Barry about seeing the man in the yellow suit a few episodes ago. 

You'd think Joe would have told him that a long time ago, as it would be important information for him to have. Yes, Joe was trying to protect Iris, but maybe he could have slipped Barry an anonymous note or something.

• Iris gives Barry a microscope for Xmas, because she noticed the one he's currently using at work is old and beat up.

First of all, I don't know if it's an homage or just a coincidence, but in the very first Spider-Man story (in Amazing Fantasy 15), Uncle Ben and Aunt May give Peter Parker a microscope as a gift. This particular version of Barry Allen is very Parker-like.

Second, wouldn't the Central City Police Department provide their own lab equipment? Are they on some kind of austerity program? Do officers and CSIs have to buy their own stuff?

• When Caitlin sees her late fiance, he growls. "I'm not Ronnie!" and bursts into flame.

I don't think he's suffering from amnesia here. I'm betting he really isn't Ronnie at that point. In the comics, Firestorm was actually made up of two men-- Ronnie Raymond and his teacher Dr. Martin Stein. I'm betting Stein is the one in control when Caitlin sees him.

• Barry and Joe ask Dr. Tina McGee, the head of Mercury Labs, for help.

Tina McGee was a character on the 1990 Flash TV series, where she fulfilled pretty much the same function as Caitlin and Cisco on this one. She was played by actress Amanda Pays. The Tina McGee in this episode is also played by Amanda Pays.

So is this the same Tina McGee from the 1990 series? Eh, I don't see how. If she was, then that would mean both series take place in the same universe, and that's clearly not the case. Everyone acts as if this Barry Allen is one of the first metahumans to ever appear. If the two shows were set in the same world, then Barry would be the second person with his name to gain super speed from a lab accident and become the Flash. That would just be too massive a coincidence.

This Tina McGee has to be a completely different person. I'm guessing the producers just gave her that name for the purpose of fan service. Confusing! Giving Amanda Pays a guest shot was a fun idea, especially for fans of the old series, but they really should have given her character a different name to avoid all this puzzlement.

That's what they did with actor John Wesley Shipp. He played the Flash on the 1990s show, and he's back on this one, but as a completely different character.

• When Dr. Wells says Dr. McGee is working with tachyons, Joe says "Of course." Then he asks what tachyons are. I don't know why, but that struck me as funny.

• When Dr. McGee refuses to loan her tachyon device to the CCPD, Barry blackmails her into doing so. She seethes and tells him that he's very much like Dr. Wells, as they're both excellent manipulators.

There's a fan theory out there that Dr. Wells is really a future version of Barry who's stuck here in the past, so I'm betting the writers threw in that line just to play with everyone's heads.

• In the photo above, the Reverse Flash is on the left, while the Forwards Flash is on the right. Why does the Flash, who wears a red suit, leave a trail of yellow lightning, while the Reverse Flash, who dresses in yellow, leave a red one? Shouldn't it be the other way around? More confusion!

• Just when I was starting to think Firestorm's flaming head and hands shtick was getting old, he flew off into the sky, leaving a blazing trail behind him. I gotta admit that was pretty awesome!

• When Reverse Flash is trapped in the force field, Dr. Wells tries to interrogate him.  He tells Wells, "I'm not like the Flash. Some would say I'm him in reverse."

If he's the reverse of the Flash, then wouldn't he be super slow? Maybe he just means he's evil instead of good.

• When the Reverse Flash escapes the trap set by STAR Labs, he kills all the Anti-Flash Task Force cops except for Eddie Thawne. He gives Eddie a long, meaningful look before zooming away. Later Eddie talks to Joe, and wonders why Reverse Flash didn't kill him as well.

Obviously the writers are having a great time screwing with us here. In the comics, the Reverse Flash has a long and twisted history and was at one point the alter ego of Eobard Thawne.

It's looking more and more like Dr. Wells is the Reverse Flash, but who knows? Maybe that's why Reverse Flash gave Eddie a long hard look-- he was fascinated by his past self.

• Cisco wears a rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock t-shirt for most of the episode. Has he been raiding Sheldon Cooper's closet?

• Iris accepts Eddie's offer to move in with him. I'm very surprised that Joe didn't have anything to say about that. I guess the episode was full enough without an epic rant from him.

•  At the West's Xmas party, Cisco tells Joe that when the Flash was fighting the Reverse Flash, he saw both red and yellow lightning streaks. He then reminds Joe that Barry swears he saw his mother surrounded by red and yellow streaks right before she died. Cisco theorizes that there must have been two super speedsters there that night. 

I'd say that's pretty much a confirmation that at some point Barry is going to travel back in time and try to prevent his mother's death.

• During the Xmas party, they play a slow jazzy version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Xmas. Oy. My all time least favorite Xmas carol.

• At the very end of the episode, it seems pretty evident that that we're supposed to think Dr. Wells is really the Reverse Flash. I don't know though... I'm not a hundred percent convinced.

For one thing, the Reverse Flash attacked Wells at STAR Labs, beating him severely. Why would he beat himself up like that? I guess he could have done it as a red herring, but it seems unlikely, as well as dangerous. One punch too many and he could have accidentally killed himself in the past, which would no doubt be detrimental to his future health.

Secondly, all through the episode Reverse Flash brutally attacks Barry. But Dr. Wells is always going on about how important the Flash is, and doing everything in his power to nurture him and make sure he realizes his full potential. Why would Wells ever attack him then?

Dr. Wells wears a ring that contains the yellow Reverse Flash suit (just like the one the Flash has in the comic!), which I admit is pretty compelling evidence. On the other hand, we never actually see Wells in the suit. He just stares at it and chortles to himself.

I'm betting that this is all a big misdirection on the part of the writers to make us think Wells is the Reverse Flash. I think he'll turn out to be Eddie after all, especially since this episode laid the groundwork for some animosity between him and Barry.

We'll find out if I'm right when the show resumes in eighteen months. OK, it's coming back in a month or so, but man, I hate these mid season breaks!

2 comments:

  1. Mercury Labs is presumably a nod both towards Mercury (the winged-footed messenger of the gods, whose costume the original Flash drew upon), and erstwhile speedster Max Mercury.

    Also, the lightning bolt colors? In the comics, they stem from the lightning highlights on Flash's costume. He's in red with small yellow bolts, and it's those yellow bolts that linger on as he speeds by. So I think they got the color combo right onscreen, in that shot with the Reverse Flash.

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  2. Yeah, I meant to mention something about the Mercury name, but forgot.

    I haven't read any Flash comics since they started the whole "speed force" thing, so I didn't know about the lightning following the highlight colors. I still think the lightning should be the same hue as the predominant color though, but what do I know?

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