Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Flash Season 1, Episode 19: Who Is Harrison Wells?

This week on The Flash, Barry and his pals finally catch up with the audience, and discover Dr. Wells' super secret Reverse Flash closet, something we've all known about since the very first episode.

Although this episode was basically all setup for the season finale, it was still highly entertaining, especially the scenes involving Barry's double and Eddie's seemingly hopeless predicament.

Recently I read an interesting fan theory about the show. The Flash has many confusing connections with the 1990s series, specifically the characters of Dr. Tina McGee and the Trickster, along with actor John Wesley Shipp. The two shows clearly aren't part of the same universe though, as obviously this Tina McGee and Trickster aren't the same ones we saw in the 1990 series.

So how to reconcile these connections? One fan theory posits that this new show is an alternate version of the 1990 Flash. Follow me here. In the 1990 series, John Wesley Shipp played Barry Allen, a police detective who became the Flash. But what if there was a slightly different version of his universe, one in which he was named Henry Allen, and chose to become a doctor rather than a cop. He then married his wife Nora and they had a son they named Barry.

The Tina McGee in this parallel world became the head of Mercury Labs, and didn't meet the Flash until much, much later. James Jesse became the supervillain known as the Trickster just as he did in the 1990 series, but also didn't meet the Flash until recently.

That's actually a pretty good theory, and neatly explains all these connections with the original series. Until I'm told otherwise, this is the explanation I'm going with. Best of all, if the producers went with this theory, we could have an episode in which the John Wesley Shipp Flash meets the Grant Gustin Flash! Make this happen, guys! Pronto!

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
Barry, Cisco, Caitlin and Joe meet to discuss what to do about Dr. Wells. Caitlin wants nothing to do with their little lynch mob, as she still believes in Wells and feels their evidence that he's secretly the Reverse Flash is lacking.

Eddie investigates a bank employee who's recorded emptying a vault, even though she was home with her husband at the time. This causes Eddie to believe there may be a metahuman at work, and he calls Barry in to help. Barry discovers the crimes were indeed committed by a shapeshifter who can assume the form of anyone he touches. Barry confronts him, but he escapes by turning into a different person and slipping away.

The STAR Labs Gang determines the shapeshifter's name is Hannibal Bates (!). Barry and Eddie visit his last known address, which turns out to be his grandmother's house. When they arrive to question Grandma Bates, she excuses herself, turns into Bates and escapes out the back door. Dr. Wells warns Barry not to let Bates touch him, because he might be able to duplicate his super speed and discover he's the Flash (which everyone in town already knows anyway). So Barry hangs back while Eddie pursues the shapeshifter. Bates turns into Eddie and shoots two fellow cops in full view of the cruiser's video camera, and then blends into the crowd.

Eddie's then arrested for attempted murder. Barry tries to explain to the D.A. that it was a shapeshifter who actually shot the cops, but naturally she doesn't believe him. Who would? Barry vows to prove Eddie's innocence.

Meanwhile, Joe and Cisco take a drive over to Starling City to visit Captain Lance. They ask for all files pertaining to Harrison Wells, which Lance happily hands over. I guess that's a thing cops do, right? They then ask to see the site of Wells' car accident, that happened fifteen years ago. Cisco examines the scene with his homemade tachyon detector, and they discover a badly decomposed body, that turns out to be the real, original Harrison Wells!

While in Starling City, Cisco is approached by Laurel Lance, who reveals she's really the Black Canary. She asks Cisco if he can soup up her Canary Cry, which he somehow finds the time to do.

A few hours later, Eddie shows up at Barry's house, saying Captain Singh pulled some strings and got him out on parole. Despite the fact that there's a known shapeshifter in Central City, Barry doesn't think Eddie's surprise appearance is the least bit suspicious. Of course it's not Eddie, but Bates, who knocks out Barry and takes on his appearance. Caitlin then arrives and says she know how to stop Bates.

Fake Barry and Caitlin go to STAR Labs, where Caitlin whips up a serum that will suppress Bates' (who she nicknames "Everyman) abilities. Fake Barry is overcome with desire for Caitlin and kisses her, which both surprises and confuses her. Just then Iris shows up, and points out that Eddie's innocent because he's right handed, and the "Eddie" on the surveillance tape shoots the cops with his left hand. Just then Dr. Wells enters and tases Fake Barry for the very same reason— he was obviously left handed.

Iris and Caitlin then take the comatose Fake Barry to the police station (!), but he comes to and escapes. Caitlin goes back to Barry's house and finds him tied up and unconscious. She frees him and they track Bates to the airport. Barry battles Bates, who turns into Caitlin, Iris, Eddie and the Flash. Barry realizes that Bates can mimic his appearance but not his speed, and injects him with Caitlin's serum, knocking him out.

Bates is then seen inside Dr. Wells' super jail, demanding to be let out. When Wells asks who he really is, he morphs into some sort of grotesque, vague form, saying he doesn't remember, which isn't the least bit unsettling.

In the tag scene, Cisco's searching through the STAR Labs blueprints, and finds a room that shouldn't be there. He, Caitlin and Barry investigate and find Dr. Wells' secret room, complete with his Reverse Flash costume and the future newspaper. Ruh-roh!

Thoughts:
• Barry runs to Coast City (yet another fictional DC Universe metropolis with a vague location) just to get pizza. While he's there, we see a sign that says "Home Of Ferris Aircraft," which is where Hal Jordan, aka the Green Lantern, used to work.

Speaking of pizza, by the time Barry brings it all the way back from Coast City, shouldn't it be ice cold? Yes, he ran back home "in a flash," but isn't that the problem? Wouldn't holding boxes of pizza while running at hundreds of miles an hour instantly cool them off, like blowing a fan on them? Or does he have some sort of personal force field that protects him and anything he's holding from the effects of running at super speed?

• Everyman's real name is "Hannibal Bates." That's a red flag name if ever I heard one, taken from two of our most famous fictional serial killers. They might as well have called him Killy McStabworthy.

• Bates has actually appeared in the Arrow/Flash universe before— well, sort of. Over on Arrow, Bates' name can be seen on Oliver Queen's hit list!

• There's an issue that crops up in virtually every TV show and movie about shape shifters— clothing. When Bates assumes someone's form, he doesn't just mimic their body, he imitates their clothing as well. The only way this could work is if the clothes are part of his body. That means Bates is naked throughout the entire episode.

• Dr. Wells warns Barry not to let Bates touch him, because if he mimics him he could discover his secret identity. What's the concern at this point? Everyone and their dog already knows Barry's the Flash. Heck, even the Black Canary knows! What'd Barry do, take out an ad?

• Barry, Cisco and Joe try to convince Caitlin that Dr. Wells is bad news, but she refuses to believe them and leaves their meeting in a huff. I thought maybe they were using this issue to set up Caitlin's eventual transformation into Killer Frost, but by the end of the episode she realizes it's true.

• Once again Dr. Wells retires to his all-glass home and walks around in full view of anyone who happens to pass by. He did the same thing earlier in the season in Episode 11, The Sound And The Fury.

I don't know, I just think if I was pretending I needed a wheelchair and didn't want anyone to know I could really walk, I might close the curtains before I got up and stretched my legs.

• Caitlin goes to Dr. Wells' home to question him, but Barry speeds her away in the nick of time. Barry tells her that if she reveals their suspicions to Wells, he'll never be able to get his dad out of prison. Wha....? I'm really not seeing the connection there.

By the way, it's a good thing Barry stopped Caitlin from questioning Dr. Wells. If she'd actually entered his house and said, "This is so silly Dr. Wells, but Barry, Cisco and Joe think you're the Reverse Flash" he would have killed her where she stood.

• When Dr. Wells warns Barry against touching Bates, he asks how he's supposed to catch him. Wells says to "run like a normal person." I bet running "normally" would be really hard for Barry to do.

• For someone who's supposed to be a scientist, Barry can be pretty dense at times. A few hours after Eddie's incarcerated, he shows up at Barry's house with a lame story about being paroled. You'd think that since he's been dealing with a shapeshifter for the whole episode,  Barry might be a little more suspicious of him. Like maybe ask him a question only the real Eddie would know.

In a similar vein, when Barry starts hitting on Caitlin, you'd think a brainy gal like her might suspect she's dealing with a shapeshifting impostor.

• Bates knocks out Barry and then perfectly mimics him by touching his shirt. Um... shouldn't he have to touch Barry's bare skin to do that? Seems like if he touched his shirt he'd just turn into... a shirt.

I guess I shouldn't complain. In the comics, Everyman had to eat parts of his victims (such as hair or fingernails) in order to morph into them! Ew!

• Grant Gustin and Candice Patton pull double duty this week as they play both themselves and Bates imitating them. The scenes between Fake Barry and Caitlin were a lot of fun (if stupid). And it was nice to see Iris get to do something besides whine, even if it wasn't really her.

• Caitlin creates a serum that can suppress Bates' morphing abilities. Wells then incapacitates him with a taser. Iris insists on taking Bates to the police station, which seems like a really bad idea, and of course he ends up escaping.

So... why didn't Caitlin use the serum on him BEFORE they left for the police station? Then even if he woke up he wouldn't have been able to morph.

• A smart move among all the dumb ones this week: When Iris and Caitlin are transporting the unconscious Bates to the police station, he comes to and immediately morphs into a little girl. He/She then begins yelling that she's being kidnapped, which attracts the attention of some nearby construction workers. They converge on the car as Fake Little Girl Bates slips her hand out of her handcuffs and escapes. Brilliant!

By the way, how does Bates mimic someone smaller than him, like a little girl? Does he compress all his tissue until he's three feet high? Uncomfortable!

• Barry confronts Bates at the airport, and the two do battle. Bates touches the Flash and when he morphs into him, realizes he's the Flash. Yep, chalk up yet another person that knows his secret. It must be well over a hundred people that know by now.

• At the scene of Dr. Wells' car accident, Cisco detects a source of tachyon particles. For some reason the stray tachyons cause Captain Lance's coffee to levitate out of his cup. Comic book science!

• Cisco is quite the fast worker. When he first meets Laurel Lance, aka the Black Canary, she asks if he can improve her electronic "Canary Cry." He looks knowingly at the device and says he has a few ideas. He then accompanies Joe and Captain Lance to the scene of Dr. Wells' car crash.

A few hours later they're back at the police station, and Laurel asks Cisco if he's had a chance to work on her device. He unveils a brand new, souped up Canary Call for her. Note that he didn't just tighten a few screws, it looks like a completely different device.

When the hell did he have a chance to build THAT? They were only in Starling City for a few hours, and he spent the whole time with Joe and Lance.

• Laurel's delighted that Cisco could help with her Canary Cry. He replies, "Aw shucks" and says he's recently had practice working with sound waves. Yet another bit of foreshadowing into his eventual debut as Vibe.

• After Bates is captured he's thrown into Dr. Wells' illegal, human rights-violating secret super jail. When Wells asks him who he really is, he turns into some half-formed creepy homunculus and says he doesn't know. OK, I get that, but... why does he have eyes like a baby chick, with a translucent membrane stretched over them? Did he forget what his eyes looked like, so they didn't form?

And why does he turn into Caitlin and try to seduce Barry into letting him go— when Caitlin is standing right there? He can't possibly think that would work, can he?

• When Cisco detects tachyons coming from behind a STAR Labs wall, Barry places his hand on it, and a futuristic doorway opens, revealing Dr. Wells' secret room.

So how does that door work? Can anyone open it by placing their hand on the wall, or does it have to be someone imbued with the Speed Force? Hopefully the latter, or else some day some cleaning woman's going to be wiping down the wall and accidentally discover that Wells is the Reverse Flash.

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