The Flash loves its messages of the week, and this week its focus was on the people in your life that you lean on, those who are your personal heroes and who are to an extent irreplaceable. Harrison Wells comes into focus yet again this week as an aid, ally and voice of reason to Barry, while Joe begins to act on the nagging doubts in his head that Wells isn’t all he’s made out to be, facing a conclusion that Barry can’t see through rose tinted glasses. With so many new things and pieces coming into play in this week’s episode, it’s nice to see two central characters come to a head with issues they’ve been having for a while. With Joe it’s his protectiveness over Barry, and with Wells it’s his need to prove his trustworthiness to his team.
The latter portion comes to a head with the introduction of the Pied Piper.
Pied Piper (Andy Mientus) is a welcome villain for the show and yet another addition to the rogue family. At first he seems an easy pick for an antagonist. He’s mean to Cisco of all people (no one should be mean to Cisco – even if he does come to his first day of work in a graphic T-shirt), he’s dismissive of Caitlin and makes cruel jokes at Ronnie’s expense, and has an uppity attitude that’s an easy turn off. But then we learn that he also told Wells that he shouldn’t use the accelerator, warning him about the explosion that would end up as a result, and Wells fires him to silence him. Suddenly, Pied Piper isn’t so one-note. With his sonic powers of destruction he’s a force to be reckoned with. He built his weapons but also lets his hearing impairment from the explosion aid his fury. He’s the embittered and self-proposed prodigal son, but he’s also the person who was the moral compass to Wells’s determination to see his dream work.
I really can’t begrudge the writers for making Harrison Wells such a complex and interesting character, but boy is it rendering me a little confused on how I’m supposed to be reacting to him. This may be a good thing or an example of thoughtful writing, but I’m left wanting Wells to be good while realizing how brilliant of a foil he is to Barry. Aside from being the mirror image of The Flash – two sides of the same coin and all that – he’s also the mentor, the pseudo father figure to Barry and a character that has wormed himself into audiences’ hearts despite the faults. This week we see him using his super-speed and how it debilitates him, leaving us with more questions rather than answers but remaining intriguing all the same. Comparatively he’s a bit like Slade Wilson on Arrow, where we enjoyed the growing pains between Oliver and Slade so much that it then hurt so much worse on the comedown.
The B plot sees Iris landing a new job at a local paper and having to come to the tough realization that she only got it because the editor-in-chief thought she had some in with The Flash. Her hope had been to move past the confines of her blog and instead she’s labeled as a thoughtless, aimless millennial. Iris’s annoyance at that label is so perfectly suited for the character and, as a fellow millennial, very appreciated because boy am I sick of hearing the same thing.
Iris got a few nice moments this week as Candice Patton got some time to explore her character beyond Barry, The Flash and Eddie. She’s a resolute and intelligent woman who wants a chance to prove herself and she’s going to fight for it. Her scene with Barry in the café was also a nice touch as it gave the audience a moment to witness the natural chemistry brewing between the two. Say what you want about the dubious potential romance between the two (and I have), but Grant Gustin and Patton certainly have a lively and effortless rapport going on.
The main action comes to a head after Barry has caught the Pied Piper and he subsequently escapes to ramp up the stakes. Our baddie feels that the very public apology Wells gave wasn’t enough, and he threatens the lives of innocents to get Barry to confront him. The fight itself isn’t very exciting, which is a shame, but the dynamic between the two keeps up the interest. The idea that’s sparked is if Barry could turn into Pied Piper? Could he be left so jilted and so betrayed that he turns on those who used to be his friends and heroes?
We’ll have to wait and see. For now the episode is left on multiple cliffhangers, most importantly Piper’s message to Cisco: he knows where Robbie Raymond is, he knows how to help him, and he knows what really happens to him. I’m certainly excited to see more of Mientus’s portrayal of the character, and keeping the show as serialized as it can and keeping the episodic nature to a bare minimum is in the show’s best interest.
End note: I don’t know how I felt about the weird bluish hue of the flashback scenes. Seemed tacky and obvious. Thoughts?