[Review] The Flash Episode 1×19: “Who Is Harrison Wells?”

This week brings a shift in our regularly-scheduled programming. Change into something more comfortable and stay a while, because it’s time to take a look at CW’s The Flash.


BETHANY

At its best, this show is light and fun. Even when it’s serious, there’s an element of levity to it that makes it easy to watch.

However.

The gaslighting of Iris West has made it increasingly difficult to enjoy an otherwise delightful show. It weighs heavily on me, and even when it’s not really a focus of the episode (though, at this point, it’s brought up nearly every episode to some extent or another), it still bugs me. It has throughout this season, and I think it’s become incredibly, blindingly clear, if you’ve been following, that I have a real problem with it.

I won’t go into details, because this isn’t the forum, but I have spent years being lied to in the same manner that Iris West is being lied to. Misled, told half-truths, and manipulated with them. It makes me damned twitchy about the subject, as you can imagine. And Iris West is such a great, strong, amazing character that it’s really hard to see the people she loves lying to her constantly. I want her to be happy and loved and able to trust the people she loves the most, and she isn’t, and she can’t.

Iris West deserves better. So does everybody who’s faced the same thing. And I’m gonna keep saying that.

Continued under the cut.

Okay, so this is another episode with A Lot. Joe and Barry have pulled Eddie, Cait, and Cisco in on the “Wells is the Reverse-Flash” thing. Cait is not on board, as it were, and understandably so. Joe and Cisco head off to Starling City to investigate what happened with Wells and Tess Morgan all those years ago, leaving Barry and Cait to cover for Cisco with Wells, and Barry and Eddie to cover for Joe with Iris.

Joe and Cisco are visiting Captain Lance over in Starling City, and they find…well, they find Harrison Wells. The poor guy who died so that the current iteration may live. (Joe, somehow, talks Lance into letting him take the body and not reporting it, and I’m not 100% sure how without involving Ollie and all them, but it works out.)

Also, Laurel Lance asks Cisco to make her a better gadget. Because that’s what Cisco is best at. (Well, that and naming people, but she’s already the Black Canary.) When she reveals she’s the Black Canary, Cisco has a genuine adorable little fan moment and it’s fantastic. Cisco is great and I love him.

Of course he makes her the gadget, and in return he gets photos of him posing with the actual Black Canary. What an adorable little nerd.

Seriously, how friggin’ cute is that?



Back home, it turns out there’s a new metahuman (who Cait nicknames “Everyman”, given that Cisco isn’t in town to do his job), and this metahuman can imitate anybody’s physical form, including their voice, if he touches them first. His name is Hannibal Bates.

Hannibal Bates. If you don’t think that’s hilarious…then we clearly have very different senses of humor and I respect that. But still, it cracked me up.

Hannibal Bates.

Anyway, he’s been framing innocent people for theft, and during the episode he morphs into Eddie Thawne and, as Eddie, shoots two cops on video. So, naturally, Eddie’s in trouble. (Barry is, as it turns out, damned twitchy about innocent people being in jail. Understandably.)

Now, the team is following this, tracking it, have figured out that he’s been doing it for a minute, blah blah.

Iris West also figures it out. She knew Eddie would never shoot two cops, and when she saw the video it was clear to her – the metahuman is left-handed, and shoots the cops left-handed. Eddie is not left-handed (and also has no GSR on him, which should be more compelling to the DA because, from what I understand, GSR is really difficult to scrub off and Eddie was found at the scene and had no time to do so, but video is hard to argue with I guess) and this led Iris to hack her dad’s account for access to the CCPD database. She finds similar crimes, and shows up at S.T.A.R. Labs with all this information in hand, like a boss.

Like, she has so few resources at her disposal, and she still came up with the same information as S.T.A.R. Labs Given that she started when she found out Eddie was arrested, she even did it in a similar amount of time. Iris West, everybody. She’ll hunt down the truth, kick your ass, and look good doing it.

Cait almost confronts Wells, but Barry swoops in at the last moment and zooms her away, talking her out of it.

(Interestingly, if Caitlin had ever had a job that took her door-to-door a lot – delivery driver, sales, or even if she’d canvassed for political parties or something – she might have noticed there was someone walking around in Wells’ home. Even in fancy new houses with good soundproofing, you can often hear people moving around inside, and footsteps are a very distinctive sound.)

Man. I need to finish watching this show. I think I got up to season three and then stopped.

Anyway, they manage to get Everyman to morph on camera, including into Eddie, thus exonerating him (and, with a file Barry compiled, several others) and wrap that up neatly.

Also, they bring the real (if, you know…rotting) Wells back to Central City so they can set him up in Barry’s lab space and show Cait a moldering corpse.

I mean, I get that she wanted evidence, but I’m still thinking maybe photos would have accomplished their goals here. Maybe don’t just spring a dead body on a gal, that’s all I’m saying.

And, at the end, Cisco looks through S.T.A.R. Labs’ blueprints and actually finds Wells’ Mini-Fortress Of Solitude hiding under their noses. Including the newspaper from the future that reveals that the Flash mysteriously disappeared in some sort of…crisis.


KEVIN

I want to play a game. It’s called “Where the fuck is Central City?”

It’s canonically in Missouri – by TV canon, no less, since the address is printed on an envelope once – but it has a coastline. It’s easy running distance to Coast City, which is stated to be the West Coast. It’s roughly 600 miles from Starling City; Iron Heights prison is used by both, signifying that they share a state, but Starling also has a coast, is often roughly Cincinnati, and is almost sort of Seattle-ish in Arrow.1

Moreover, Central City is often stated as being vaguely St. Louis, being along the Mississippi River, but shares geographical distinctiveness with Kansas City, which is on the complete opposite side of the state.

I know. I know. Live by the Tao of Joel Hodgson and Mike Nelson. But I see things like Barry going and casually picking up a pizza from what is assumed to be Northern California, and bringing it back to Missouri while it’s still hot?

~Silver Age~

Let’s talk about partnership, cooperation, and trust. And, to save Bethany any further completely justified outrage, we’ll set the Gaslighting Of Iris West saga aside for this.

Well. Mostly.

Caitlin Snow has worked with “Harrison Wells” for her entire adult career. So has Cisco Ramon, Ronnie Raymond, and – almost – Felicity Smoak. There’s a lot of trust there, favors and friendship and loyalty, built up over a long period of time. Then something changes and it’s all taken away.

It’s understandable that Caitlin feels like the goalposts keep moving on her. First she loses someone she loves, then he’s alive again, then he’s off fighting crime with nuclear fire coming out of his head. One of her new best friends and coworkers is a superhero. And now it turns out that her boss may have engineered the whole thing with a lot of murders.

Cisco had half a season to come to terms with this, and that’s even before he started having other timeline visions as proof. Caitlin’s been blindsided.

On the other side, once Eddie got used to Barry being the Flash, he’s all in. Vocally against some of what being “all in” seems to mean, but he jumps right on the planning to fight the Reverse-Flash, researching Harrison Wells, and bringing Barry right along on investigations. They work well together, and it shows.

Bethany’s already covered the other salient points of the episode, so let’s go right to the scattered thoughts list.

  • STOP. SHIPTEASING. THE SCIENCE SIBLINGS.
    • I mean it, Barry and Caitlin are far too sibling-like, and I know you’re trying to show that she’s got some lingering attraction with the kiss there but could you not see how awkward that was?
  • The best part of a shared universe with one main composer for everything? The music stays consistent. A remix of Oliver’s theme plays when Joe and Cisco arrive in Starling City, and the Black Canary’s leitmotif shows up every time Laurel does.
  • I didn’t like Laurel much before. After catching up with Arrow, I like her a lot more, and I really like her taking the initiative in getting Cisco to work up a new Canary Cry.
  • We’ve had multiple character crossovers at this point, but this is the first time we actually have a concrete back and forth between Team Arrow and Team Flash. Felicity continues to beef up the software at S.T.A.R. Labs, and now that Cisco’s provided more tech for the Arrow’s team, all they have to do at this point to handwave anything new is say “Felicity”, “Cisco”, or “Caitlin”.
    • I really like that nerd trio, too, even if it’s leaving Barry out of it. Felicity is comp-sci, Cisco is engineering, Caitlin is biomedical. Between the three of them, anything that Barry or Oliver runs into in the field, they can work out a solution – or at the very least, know where to get started.
  • Love him or leave him, Quentin Lance is another one of my favorite characters on Arrow.
    • Although, to be fair, “Everyone But Oliver Queen” is my favorite character on Arrow.
  • I still really, really like the weird friendship Joe and Cisco have developed.
  • Bethany hit the nail right on the head – with fewer resources, Iris came to exactly the same conclusion that Team Flash did. Just bring her into the fold already, assholes.
  • Please don’t ragequit the show yet. We’re almost done with the COUNTDOWN TO CATHARSIS, which I believe is now at 2?
  • Take a look at how the Flash/Everyman fight went down. Barry learned how to case the scene from Oliver, but if you remember, he started learning how to fight from Eddie. I would not be surprised that the lessons picked back up after they told Eddie.
  • “The truth is, I’ve been working with the Flash.” WAS THAT SO HARD
  • The biggest difference between how people treat the Arrow and the Flash is really kind of exemplified in this episode. People fear and hate the Arrow, but when the Flash shows up, everyone’s excited. Quentin Lance hates working with a vigilante, but Captain Singh is glad that the Flash is on their side. Even the DA gets a little bit of fangirling in, which I think is pretty great. The Flash is a beacon of hope for Central City, and I’m very glad that Barry gets to hear that directly sometimes.

Kevin O’Shea is a writer and cold case mystery enthusiast. You can find him on Twitter (@osheamobile), Tumblr (osheamobile), or trying to figure out how a fully-functioning sonic device could be made out of a box of scraps in a panel van.

Bethany the Martian is an abuser of parentheses and works in the Pizza Mines. She can be found on Twitter (@martianbethany) and on Tumblr (bethanythemartian).

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  1. The biggest problem I have with DC is with their geography. What’s the point on having fictional cities that are vaguely representative of real-life cities, but then also have the real-life cities too? Metropolis is vaguely New York but New York also exists. Gotham is vaguely New York too, except when it’s in New Jersey, or when it’s Chicago2, but NOPE CHICAGO STILL EXISTS.
  2. Tumblr user unpretty has a pretty good argument about why Gotham should actually be in Michigan. I have trouble disagreeing with her; she’s excellent at Batman.

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