The Flash: There's only one Mark Hamill
This week on The Flash: two Tricksters, two Flashes, and two new members of Team Flash. Plus, tons of secrets are revealed, and for a refreshing change of pace, the damsel in distress isn’t a damsel for once!
Previously on The Flash: Cisco figured out Harrison was Reverse Flash, except not really; Iris’ mentor Mason knew Harrison was a problem, and now he’s dead; and Barry and Joe are going to figure it out.
Fifteen years ago, the two Flashes speed down Young Barry’s street as his parents tuck him in. As Nora Allen enjoys a post-kid-bedtime glass of wine, Flash 1 and Flash 2 burst into the house, super-speedily fighting around her.
Back in today, Barry has replaced his obsessive mom-board with an obsessive Harrison-board. Even though they ultimately don’t know much about him, Joe thinks that the fact that Nora was killed by a speedster and Harrison’s accelerator turned Barry into one is a little too coincidental. They both think that Harrison has tried to keep Barry safe, but they’re missing the reason why he wanted to turn Barry into the Flash or why he trains him. Barry wants to rush in and start asking questions, but Joe isn’t down with that plan. He thinks they need to be just as patient as Harrison has obviously been for fifteen years.
In the park, parents and kids begin marveling at a series of gifts that are parachuting adorably from the sky—until they land and explode. Everybody screams and runs, as you do, and Joe and Barry see the smoke from the Worst Lab Ever. Flash speeds into action. Watching all the smoke from the top of a nearby building – and recording his Villain Monologue for the internets – is a man who is obviously the Trickster (comic check! Trickster is a Rogue and long-time Flash villain; two different people have used the name—since this guy is young and I already know Mark Hamill is James Jesse, this one is probably Axel Walker).
He warns of ashes and disorder and shit while Team Flash watches at STARLS. Joe exposits that this guy is actually a copycat of the original Trickster, who operated twenty years earlier and killed 12 people in a series of terrorist attacks (is it terrorism if he isn’t pushing any particular ideology?). Cisco brings up some excellent pictures of Mark Hamill in the original Trickster costume, and Joe tells us that James is incarcerated at Iron Heights Penitentiary.
Joe and Barry head off to talk to James while Cisco does some digital forensics on Axel’s video. Because Barry is wholly terrible at hiding his emotions, Harrison has noticed his mood; Joe brushes it off as waking up on the wrong side of the bed, but this time we get a Harrison-POV FLASHback.
The Flashes are still fighting around Nora, and Barry speeds his younger self to safety out on the street. Reverse Flash is in pursuit—until his speed falters, and he skids across the street. He asks his hand-hologram of Gideon what’s happened, and Gideon exposits that Harrison’s time jump has depleted his speed force; he can’t run or time travel anymore. Gideon tells him he can’t get back to his time, and he screams (you’d think somebody would’ve noticed that there was odd screaming in the middle of the street a couple blocks away from a murder, wouldn’t you?) and tears off his mask: the man we see, though, is not Harrison Wells.
At Iron Heights, Joe and Barry head down to the special Trickster-cell in the basement, and the guard hands them some Twizzlers as ammunition for their chat. And let me just get this out of the way:
MARK HAMILL IS AMAAAAAZING.
Okay, moving on: Barry tells him about the parachute bombs and passes over pictures and Twizzlers. James critiques nuTrickster’s bomb delivery system and inability to kill anyone, but he’s less amused by the news that the bombs have the same composition as his twenty-year-old ones and especially that Axel is calling himself Trickster. Joe wants James to help catch the impostor, but he’s not willing to just give in and help the police; he does, however, suggest that the only way Axel could have his bomb formula was if he found the Trickster’s lair.
Iris is at the precinct, telling Eddie that she’s concerned about Mason’s disappearance and lack of communication. Eddie suggests various explanations for Mason’s absence, none of which Iris accepts. Eddie promises that he’ll look into it when he can, though of course all police resources currently have to go toward catching the Trickster.
Joe and Barry investigate the Trickster’s lair, finding mostly costumes, but there’s also a locked door. Barry vibrates it open and then speeds Joe away when it turns out to be booby trapped with explosives in a surprise to no one. The room, however, is empty.
Joe is justifiably angry that James didn’t mention the whole explosives thing, but James is also angry to hear that his stash had been cleaned out. Joe asks what was in the stash, and James says that he had a bomb big enough to wipe out the entire city. Cisco calls (neat that Barry gets signal in the prison basement) with a link to nuTrickster’s latest vlog, which is convenient since James can watch too! We mostly can’t hear the video, though, since James is too busy yelling at Axel to take off James’ mask.
Back at STARLS, Barry continues to make stupid comments guaranteed to tip Harrison off, because he is very stupid. Cisco tells us that Axel’s encryption is excellent, so it’s going to take some time to figure out where he’s holed up, and meanwhile, Harrison needs to talk to Barry.
He says he knows what’s going on with Barry, and what he’s thinking, and Barry looks very deer-in-headlights. But Harrison just says that meeting with James at the prison must be difficult because it brings up feelings about Barry’s dad’s wrongful incarceration. Since Barry’s first jab at Harrison came before the prison interview, I think that Harrison is misdirecting, here, but Barry gets a message from Iris, so he has to go.
FLASHback: Harrison and a woman – probably Tess Morgan, his dead wife – are sitting on a beach, planning the construction of STAR Labs in downtown Central City. He’s rambling, and she’s grinning at him, so he gives up and passes over his pen-on-napkin sketch of what will become STARLS. They banter and kiss, but watching them is the man who is Reverse Flash, probably the real Eobard Thawne.
In real time, Iris is waiting in a closed coffee shop (she still has a key, apparently) for the Flash. She pitches her concerns for Mason to Flash, too, and he agrees to look into it for her. Because he’s being SUPER OBVIOUS AGAIN, she asks if he’s okay, but before he can do something (else) dumb, Cisco comes on comms: nuTrickster is sending out another message.
As you might expect, Axel is excited about his giant bomb — Team Flash and the police, not so much. He says he’s fair, though, so he gives a range of locations for where the bomb is located, and Flash immediately speeds off to search, as Captain Singh dispatches all units to do the same. Barry quickly radios in to say he can’t find it, and neither can Cisco using the STAR Labs satellite. Harrison suggests it’s a trick, that nuTrickster wants them to waste all their resources on one area, but in his stupidest move yet, Barry insists he’s going to keep looking. Why on earth would Harrison want to destroy the entire city, you moron? He lives there too! Of course, Barry finds it – or the box – but inside is only written “Tricked you”.
At Iron Heights, Axel blows a hole in the ceiling, looking delighted, and they pick up the explosion at STARLS. Harrison sighs that the bomb was a diversion for Axel to help James escape. Barry quickly calls to tell Joe, but the police already know, thanks to prison security footage. Even better: James and Axel took a hostage, and it’s Barry’s dad Henry.
With Henry tied up in the background, James and Axel work on their next project, which involves soldering. Axel gushes about how excited he is to finally be in the same room as his hero, ignoring Henry’s insistence that James is just using him. Henry is confident that the Flash will take them down if the police don’t, and James seems eager for that. He explains that he’s had twenty years to contemplate his tricky masterpiece, though of course we’re not going to find out what that is in advance. Axel, naturally, wants to know why James chose him as protégé; they’ve been corresponding by letter (guards at Iron Heights can’t read, I guess?). James drags it out, but eventually reveals that he’s Axel’s father. In a surprise twist, Axel does not scream and throw himself off a building.
At STARLS, Joe tells the team the official identity of nuTrickster. Barry not-pologizes to Harrison for not listening to him, then leaves because he is angsty and stuff.
Harrison, watching him, FLASHes back: Tess and Harrison are in a car at night, on a wet road, and Eobard has set up a crash. They run over his nail trap or whatever, and the car flips; Tess is unconscious or dead and Harrison is injured. Eobard peers in. Harrison is frantic in asking him for help for Tess, but Eobard just says, creepily, that she’s been dead for centuries.
Barry is sulking down in the accelerator, and Joe comes to check on him and assure him that Henry is still alive. He’s also lamenting how he apparently has to leave Henry’s fate in Harrison’s hands, when he’s the one who killed Nora. He says he doesn’t understand why Harrison has helped to train him, stop criminals, and save Ronnie if he’s really a murderer, because apparently people can only be completely good or completely evil to Barry; this is completely at odds with how he handled Captain Cold last week. I get the “dead mother” card is in play here, but come on.
Iris is all dressed up to report on a fancy re-election event for Mayor Tony Bellows (TV check! This is the same actor who played the same character in the 1990 Flash series, though he was a uniformed police officer then), and she takes a flute of champagne as she enters: from James, of course. Nobody seems to notice the two waiters laughing creepily in the middle of the room.
Iris approaches the mayor himself, but instead of asking any questions, she compliments him on a lovely event. James takes the stage to welcome everyone and…no one recognizes him? Really, the most prolific mass murderer the city has ever seen, and nobody recognizes him? He was arrested and on trial! It’s not like he was never photographed without his mask! Apparently the wig he’s wearing throws everyone off, but come on, he still looked like Mark Hamill!
Anyway, he announces he’ll be robbing the room. Mayor Bellows (like Mayor Castle on Arrow, he’s one of the very few characters who gets a pass from my refer-everyone-by-their-first-names rule) wonders why anybody would give him anything, and James alerts them to the fact that he poisoned the champagne. Once they transfer all their money to him, of course, he’ll provide them with the antidote. Iris quickly dials Joe so that he (and Team Flash) can listen in on all the exposition, and of course Cisco finds her via GPS immediately. Flash takes off.
James creepily hits on Iris just as Flash arrives, immediately demanding to know where Henry is and thus missing Axel sneaking up to fasten a device to his wrist — a bomb that will explode if he drops below 600 mph. Clever! James even admits he stole the idea from Speed.
Obviously unwilling to risk a bluff, Barry has to take off, while Cisco confirms James’ story. Harrison provides him with the answer: if Barry vibrates his cells at the frequency of air, he can phase through a wall, and the bomb will stay on the other side (real life check! Air doesn’t have a specific frequency, nor does it phase through walls, so duplicating the frequency wouldn’t do squat). Barry doesn’t think he can do that, but Harrison is talking him through it, sounding a bit like he’s attempting hypnosis — Barry needs to focus on the lightning, the energy making him Flash, the speed force. Barry runs through a truck, and the bomb explodes harmlessly on the other side.
Meanwhile, STAR Labs has been synthesizing antidote (based on what?), and as the Tricksters watch their bank account balance climb and rich partygoers mess around on their phones, Flash returns, speedily injecting them all (“That wasn’t very sanitary!” proclaims James, to my endless amusement). He asks again where Henry is, and this time James gives him up. Flash even speeds him out of his bondage before the inevitable booby trap springs and impales him with knives.
Down in STARLS, Henry is inducted into Team Flash, marveling at the equipment, most of which he’d never seen twenty years out from his last patient. It’s a little awkward when Henry thanks Harrison for everything he’s done for Barry, but Harrison is very likely sincere when he assures Henry that he’ll do anything to ensure Barry’s future. Hugs and handshakes given, Henry is ready to go back to Iron Heights – though Joe declines to cuff him for the trip. And when Harrison suggests that Barry is lucky to have Henry as a father, Barry is also sincere when he says he’s lucky to have Harrison, too.
In FLASHback, Harrison struggles out of the car while Eobard babbles at him that in 2020 Harrison and Tess create a particle accelerator that changes the course of history. But Eobard needs that to happen sooner to ensure he can return to his time. He shoves a device onto Harrison’s chest and his own, and slowly their faces and bodies are rewritten, changed, until Harrison is a husk and Eobard is Harrison. Harribard! Are y’all gonna kill me if I use that from now on? Because I’m gonna.
In the Worst Lab Ever, Joe has summoned Eddie. He tells him that Iris is looking into the disappearance of Mason Bridge, and they can’t allow that. Flash shows up next — and he’s not disguising his voice. Eddie looks shocked, and the look only grows when Barry pulls down his mask.
Later, Eddie tells Iris that Mason moved to Brazil: you know, met a girl, decided to live off the grid and hike the Amazon for a year, the usual. Barry and Joe get home, and — why is Iris cooking dinner at their house? She doesn’t live there! Anyway, Joe asks if Iris bought the story; Eddie says yes, but he’s not totally on board with the need for all the secrecy. There was a side effect of Harribard talking Barry through getting rid of the speed bomb, says Barry: he could tell that Harribard was speaking from experience, so even though he doesn’t know how they saw him and Reverse Flash fighting, Harribard is Reverse Flash.
Fifteen years ago, a man crawls out of a wreck as two cops approach, asking if he knows who he is. “My name is Harrison Wells,” he says.