Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Flash Season 1, Episode 17: Tricksters

There was a ton of stuff happening this week, as The Flash continues its nonstop, breakneck pace.

The big news of course was Mark Hamill reprising his role as the Trickster, which he originated in the 1990 series. Although because this series has a completely different continuity, he's not playing the same Trickster he did twenty five years ago, but rather a Trickster that attacked this particular Central City two decades ago. Confused? I don't blame you.

Naturally if you're going to bring back Mark Hamill, you've got to reunite him with 1990s Flash star John Wesley Shipp as well!

There was one other huge revelation in this episode— namely that Dr Wells isn't really Dr. Wells. Or at least not the Dr. Wells we all though he was. 

As I've said before, I'm kind of worried that they may be tearing through the whole Reverse Flash storyline too fast. Obviously once all the characters discover Wells is the Reverse Flash, he can't continue running STAR Labs anymore. Can there be a STAR Labs without Wells? Will Cisco and Caitlin be out of a job? I have a feeling there're gonna be some big changes in Season 2.

Lastly, I feel sorry for poor Candice Patton. The writers have seemingly thrown in the towel regarding her character, and obviously have absolutely no idea what to do with her. Her only reason for existing is so that Barry can have someone to hide his identity from. 


The Plot:
In a flashback to fifteen years ago, we see the Flash and the Reverse Flash battling each other in Barry's living room, with his mother trapped in the center of their vortex. The Reverse Flash kills Barry's mom and flees. As he's tearing down the street, he runs out of gas and does a face plant. He asks his handy holographic computer Gideon "What the hell?" and she/it tells him that he's depleted his Speed Force, and is trapped in the past. Angry, he whips off his mask, revealing he's not Creepy Dr. Wells as we were all thought, but the real Eobard Thawne. Wha???

In the present, a supervillain who calls himself the Trickster unleashes a series of bombs in a Central City park. Barry arrives just in time to save the day. It turns out that this Trickster is actually a copycat— the original Trickster terrorized the city some twenty years ago, and has been locked up in Iron Heights prison ever since.

Barry and Joe visit the prison to see James Jesse, the original Trickster, and seek advice about his new namesake. Hey, just like in Silence Of The Lambs. Trickster 1.0  says Trickster 2.0 must have found his secret supervillain lair. They check it out, and discover it's been emptied, presumably by the new Trickster.

In other plot developments, Barry slowly comes to the conclusion that Dr. Wells is the Reverse Flash. Iris fears something terrible happened to her boss Mason Bridge (it has), even though no one else at the newspaper seems concerned that one of their prominent employees is missing. She asks both the Flash and Eddie to look into Bridge's disappearance.

Trickster 2.0 then announces he stole a gigantic bomb from 1.0's lair and hid it somewhere in the city. Barry and the police frantically search for it, but it turns out to be a diversion. While everyone's searching for the non-existent bomb, Trickster 2.0 busts the original out of prison. Which of course was Trickster 1.0's plan all along. Apparently 1.0 has been mentoring 2.0 by snail mail for the past twenty years. Why? Because, as Trickster 1.0 tells 2.0, "I am your father." Haw! Oh, and they take Barry's dad as a hostage, for some reason.

The Tricksters then crash a mayoral fundraising party and force all the high-falutin' guests to transfer their bank accounts to them. Barry shows up to stop them, but the Tricksters strap a bomb to his arm that will detonate if he runs less than 600 mph, ala Speed. As he frantically zooms through the city, Dr. Wells tells him he's going to have to phase through a wall at super speed to get rid of the bomb. Wells methodically and emphatically talks him through the procedure, making it obvious he knows of what he speaks. Barry succeeds in phasing and losing the bomb, but his suspicions about Wells are now confirmed.

Barry recaptures the Tricksters, and then heads off to rescue his father. He saves him from a Trickster trap in the nick of time. And then because why the hell not, he reveals his true identity to his dad, who doesn't seem all that surprised.

The Flash and Joe then confront Eddie, and tell him he needs to stop Iris from investigating Bridges' death, or Wells may make her disappear. And again, because why the hell not, Barry reveals his true identity to Eddie. 

Meanwhile, in more flashbacks, we see Dr. Wells and his fiance Tess Morgan as he tells her about his dream to build a particle accelerator in 2020. That's not soon enough for Eobard Thawne, who's still stuck in our time, so he wants to speed up the schedule. To that end, he engineers a car crash that kills Tess and injures Wells. He then uses a handy piece of future tech to assume Wells' appearance, and maybe his knowledge as well, leaving the real Harrison Wells a dried up, desiccated husk. Holy Crap!

• Obviously this isn't the same Trickster that appeared in the 1990 series. Just like the Tina McGee we saw earlier in the season isn't the one from 1990 either. Think of these as alternate versions living in a parallel world, one that's similar but clearly different.

• Mark Hamill seems less like the Trickster in this episode and more the Joker, the role he voiced in Batman: The Animated Series. That's not a bad thing mind you, as he made a terrific Joker. It's just that I don't remember the 1990 Trickster being this dark. He's more like Hannibal Lecter here, what with the solid Plexiglas wall in his cell, the police asking him for help with a copycat, and all the talk abut killing guards. Any minute I expected him to hiss, "Hello, Clarice," or start talking about a nice Chianti.

• Barry saves a little boy from the Trickster 2.0's parachute bombs, and finds out his name is Henry. Just like his dad, Henry Allen.

• When entering the Trickster's lair, Joe says "It looks like no one's been in here since the 90s." That would be yet another reference to the original series. Note that there's a mannequin in the background wearing Hamill's 1990 Trickster costume.

• Dr. Wells was quite the artist! In a flashback, we see him lounging on the beach with his fiance Tess, going on about the particle accelerator he plans to build some day. He then shows her a surprisingly skillful and well-drawn sketch of the building. 

• Iris contacts the Flash and asks him to meet her at Jitters, her former workplace. When he arrives, he asks why she wanted to meet him there when she's now a reporter. She says she still has a key to the coffee shop.

Um... wouldn't that be breaking and entering? Or trespassing at the very least? I know I'd probably be arrested if I let myself into one of my old workplaces in the middle of the night.

I felt really bad for Candice Patton in this episode, having to say lines like, "You look like you have a heavy heart." 

  When Barry meets Iris in the coffee shop he says, “Sometimes I’m not sure why I wear a mask around you.” No sh*t, Barry! He seems to be having trouble with the whole "secret identity" concept.

 When the new Trickster announces there's a huge bomb hidden somewhere in Central City, Barry searches block by block at super speed until he finds it.

Later the Tricksters kidnap Barry's dad, and he just sits on his hands and frets. So why didn't he do the same systematic search until he found his dad? Because the episode still had twenty minutes to go?

By the way, why do the Tricksters take Barry's dad hostage in the first place? Surely they don't know he's related to the Flash (or do they? At this point pretty much everyone in Central City knows the Flash's true identity). I guess they needed a hostage and it was just a coincidence that they grabbed Barry's dad?

• Awesome Line Of The Episode, And Possibly The Whole Season: Axel Walker, the Trickster 2.0, asks Trickster 1.0 why he picked him as his protege. Trickster 1.0's reply: "I am your father!"

When I heard that line, I felt a great disturbance in the force, as if millions of fans squealed out like little schoolgirls.

 Trickster 1.0 makes a Breaking Bad reference, which surprises 2.0. The Trickster explains that they gave him cable in prison so he'd stop killing guards.

So... the prison actually rewarded him for killing someone? That must be a new form of rehabilitation I'm not familiar with.

Killing guards kind of sounds like murder. Shouldn't the Trickster have been put on trial again, or suffered some other form of severe punishment? Or since he's already serving "several" life sentences, did the authorities just throw up their hands and give up?

• Another 1990s Flash alumni: Vito D'Ambrosio. He plays Mayor Anthony Bellows in this episode. He played Officer Tony Bellows in the original series. Another case of the same character in a parallel universe?

• The Trickster's master plan to rob the guests at the mayoral fundraiser is very similar to the one he had in the 1990 series. In 1990 the Trickster robbed a police costume ball. 

• When trying to get rid of the bomb attached to Barry's arm, Dr. Wells tells him he needs to phase through a wall by vibrating at super speed. He tells him that in order to do that, he needs to vibrate at the natural frequency of air. Comic book science!

By the way, here's the complete text of Dr. Wells' phasing instructions:

"Breathe, breathe. Feel the air. Feel that wind on your face. Feel the ground beneath your feet lifting you up and pushing you forward. And the lightning, Barry, feel the lightning. Feel its power, its electricity pumping through your veins, crackling through you, traveling to every nerve in your body like a shock. You’re no longer you now. You’re part of something grater. You’re part of a speed force. It’s yours. Now do it. "

• When the Tricksters poison all the party goers, Barry saves them by injecting everyone with the antidote. He injects everyone with the same device, prompting Trickster 1.0 to say something like, "Ew, that's unsanitary."

It looked to me though like Barry used one of those needle-less hyposprays like Dr. McCoy hadon Star Trek. So there was probably no risk of contamination.

• Eobard Thawne wrecks Dr. Wells' car by laying a spike strip across the road. Wells' tire blows, which somehow sends his car spinning end over end. Must have been a lot of pressure in that tire!

• Jesus Christ, Barry! Why the fraking frak do you even bother wearing a mask anymore? He revealed his secret identity to two more people in this episode. At this point Iris is literally the only character who doesn't know his identity. OK, maybe Captain Singh, but still... 

I have a feeling this is going to come back to bite him in the ass at some point.

• So the Dr. Harrison Wells we've been watching all season long is actually Eobard Thawne. I admit I did not see that coming. It'll be interesting to see how Eddie figures in to all this. Obviously he's going to become involved with the Reverse Flash somehow, else why bother making the two distant relatives?

• I cannot wait to see this episode!

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