Yes, Tom Cavanaugh has returned to The Flash, as the Harrison Wells of Earth-2 joins the SuperSTARS in fighting Zoom. Guess what, though? People are having a hard time trusting someone ho looks exactly like the evil mastermind who murdered their loved ones (or in some cases, themselves). It also doesn’t help that the Wells of Earth-2 is a total jerk! A hilarious, hilarious jerk.
Guys, I can’t tell you how much I loved “The Light and the Darkness.” I think I laughed out loud during it more than any other Flash episode so far. The episode begins with Wells giving a press conference in Earth-2, where he debuts what is basically a metahuman-detecting Apple Watch. Jay Garrick arrives (with his powers intact, so this is clearly a flashback, no pun intended [I don’t know why I lie to you people, the pun is always intended]) and blames Wells for creating Zoom and all the metahumans rampaging through Earth-2’s Central City. Wells throws some shade back at Jay, Jay leaves in a huff, and in a casual aside Wells says hello to his teenage daughter(!).
Back in the present of Earth-1, things are very uncomfortable now that Harrison Wells has arrived. This Wells isn’t secretly Eobard Thawne, but he also doesn’t give a single crap about what people think. He wants Barry’s help in defeating Zoom, whom he admits he created. Basically, everyone reacts poorly to Wells’ arrival—Jay throws a tantrum, Joe literally draws his gun and just starts firing—but Cisco sums up the situation perfectly: “You know, our Dr. Wells may have been evil, but you’re just a diiiiicck.” (It’s the weird lilting emphasis that Cisco puts on “dick” that makes this line-reading absolutely perfect.)
Really, the episode is all about this new Wells—who everyone agrees to start calling Harry to distinguish him from his evil Earth-1 incarnation—returning to the fold. The main way this happens is because Zoom has brought over Dr. Light to kill the Flash. Now, I’m not sure how caught up you are on the comics, but this is not an older criminal/sexual assault enthusiast with a light-gun version of the villain; it’s a young woman with metahuman light powers, and on the show, she also happens to be Barry’s ex-girlfriend Linda Park.
Barry has a lot of trouble with Dr. Light. First she escapes by blasting a bunch of bystanders in a bank; it’s very silly that Barry couldn’t catch up to her after saving these guys, but I’ll allow it since he grabs a bunch of comfy chairs for the falling victims to land in. (I can always forgive the show fudging Barry’s speed powers as long as it results in something fun, which this is.)
The second time Light manages to blind Barry, resulting in a scene that should absolutely not work but somehow does: Barry goes on his first date with Patty Spivot, and wears sunglasses with a camera and hidden mic included so that Cisco can direct him through dinner. It’s such a dumb romantic comedy cliché—made even dumber by the fact that for some reason the only camera glasses the hyper-advanced STAR Labs can produce only transmit black-and-white, solely so Barry can fail at noticing the color of Patty’s dress—and it is outstanding. Mostly it’s due to Carlos Valdes as Cisco, who plays his role as guide with a wonderfully half-assed nonchalance, even while supporting and congratulating his friend. It also helps that Barry and Patty (and their actors) have a chemistry sorely lacking between Barry and Iris. But most of all, it helps that Patty figures out Barry is effectively blind and call him out on it, because she is 1) a detective and 2) not an idiot. She’s not livid, she’s just amused, and the date is a success for the attendees and viewers alike.
Meanwhile, Light has decided to kill the Linda Park of Earth-1, as it seems be standard Earth-2 metahuman procedure. She arrives at the newspaper where Linda and Iris work, tries to kill Linda, fails, and then accidentally kills a beloved editor who may or may not have been introduced this very episode right before Iris shoots her helmet off with a gun Joe had given to her earlier. Back at STAR Labs, Harry deduces and reveals Cisco’s Earth-2 vibe-sensing powers—remember, he has that metahuman-detecting watch—forcing Cisco to finally fess up in front of the others. Happily, no one feels inordinately betrayed, Barry doesn’t throw a temper tantrum, and everyone is supportive of Cisco. This includes Harry, in the sense that he browbeats Cisco into using his sensory powers—and Light’s discarded helmet—to locate the metahuman.
She’s at the train station and, in that manner that only a superhero as vastly overpowered as the Flash can be, somehow the Flash can’t get close to the light-bolt-firing evil Linda. Harry has the answer: run so fast the Flash creates after-images to draw her fire. I can’t tell you how satisfying it was to watch Harrison Wells basically teach Barry yet another new superpower, even if Jay had to show up and give Barry a bit of a pep talk for him to achieve it. Of course by the end Flash throws Light into a girder, knocks her out, and sticks her in the pipeline. The end! Well, except for the final scene, which reveals that Zoom is holding Wells’ daughter hostage back on Earth-2.
Now that Harrison Wells has rejoined the SuperSTARS—well, a Harrison Wells—I am so damn excited for this show again. Not that I was ever really disliking it, but bringing Tom Cavanaugh back with a whole new mystery, a hilarious new bad attitude and for no one on the SuperSTARS to have any reverence for him whatsoever? That, my friends, is a recipe for some outstanding entertainment right there. And that’s even before you figure in that Cisco has finally earned his superhero name, Vibe!
Suddenly, Tuesday nights can’t come fast enough. (Pun “not” intended.)
• There’s a lot of aggression between Harrison Wells and Jay Garrick in this episode: Jay hates Harry for not admitting he created Zoom and the metahumans; Harry hates Jay because he basically ran away from Zoom for two years like a big ol’ coward, and then Harry thinks Light is a killer while Jay assures Barry she’s not. I point all this out because eventually they just start punching each other, and Barry takes his sweet time before separating the two. It’s pretty funny to watch him let them beat the crap out of each other for a bit.
• I know I’ve said it before, but there’s a real natural rapport between Grant Gustin and Carlos Valdes that even makes inconsequential scenes like them hanging out in the coffee shop a delight to watch. They really feel like genuine friends. Honestly, this may be because Valdes has a great rapport with everybody. I can’t believe this is the same character who annoyed me so much when the show began.
• By the way, that was the future Hawkgirl working at CC Jitters that Cisco ased on a date. Absolutely no signs of her future Hawkgirl-ness revealed so far, though.
• Uh, why do the Earth-2 metahumans want to kill their Earth-1 dopplegangers? The only reason I can think of is that they want to take their place, but if that’s the case, why would Light kill Linda at work in front of a crowd? Seems like that would blow her cover pretty instantly.
• Think we’re going to meet Earth-2 Barry? Or Cisco? Or Eddie Thawne, who has presumably had no need to kill himself? Or whatever part of Barry’s family survives over there?
• Both Barry and Patty and also Caitlin and Jay share their first kiss! I’ll give you three guesses which kiss was more bland, and it wasn’t Barry and Patty.
• Somehow the kiss with Patty makes Barry’s eyesight return, at which point he immediately opens her jacket to look at her dress, but looks for all the world like he’s immediately checking out her rack.
• Cisco obviously had the line of the night with the dick comment, but the Honorable Mention goes to Barry, scolding Joe about the stress of having Harrison Wells return: “You shooting him? That’s not helping.” Also, I feel like both as a cop and a good guy, it was super-messed up for Joe to instantly fire his gun at Harry when clearly everyone was just standing there in no obvious danger.
• Uh, what are Earth-2’s Linda Park’s accreditations? Because I have my doubts that she actually earned her Ph. D.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.