The Flash series is not stingy with the “big moments.” This episode gave us three. Massive, massive spoilers ahead, and not just for this one episode, so be warned.
First, the cast now knows that Caitlin’s ex-fiancée, Ronnie Raymond, is alive if not well — and calls himself “Firestorm.” But when Firestorm looked into Caitlin’s eyes and said, “I’m not Ronnie,” did he mean simply that he’d been transformed…or did he mean it literally? In the comics, Firestorm was two men in one, fused together by a nuclear explosion. Was “Ronnie” speaking here to Caitlin as Professor Martin Stein, Firestorm’s other half? We know the role has already been assigned to Victor Garber, who’s not yet had screen time but is promised for future episodes.
Second, and this surprised me, Barry confessed to Iris his lifelong unrequited love for her. I expected this bit of soap opera to stretch at least through the season, but the disclosure reminds me of one of this show’s great strengths: the characters act like grown-ups who don’t keep secrets from one another just to create drama.
Finally, of course, we got our (initial) payoff to the series’ longest-running mystery: who was the Man in the Yellow Suit who murdered Barry’s mother? Speaking of keeping secrets just to create drama, I now admit to you that I’ve been holding certain spoilerbombs from you for weeks now, because — and this can no longer really be a secret after tonight — unless we’re being set up for some radical twist, “Dr. Harrison Wells” maps to the villain Hunter Zolomon, introduced into DC Comics’ Flash mythology back in 2001. Zolomon, confined to a wheelchair after an accident, became a twisted, self-appointed “mentor” to the Flash after being bathed in energies that gave him mastery not only over speed but over the timestream itself. As Zoom, the Reverse-Flash, the psychopathic Hunter traveled through time to “helpfully” set in motion the tragedies that would turn Barry into a hero, as chronicled in 2009’s Flash: Rebirth.
Forgive me for not wanting to say anything earlier, but A) why spoil your fun? and B) there was (and, I suppose, still is) the slight chance that this “Reverse Flash” could be unmasked as Eddie Thawne (since, in the 1960s Flash comics, the original Reverse Flash was a man named Eobard Thawne). Regardless, well-played, Flash team. I only hope that there are a few more zigs and zags to this development still to come, and I suspect there are; we still have thirteen episodes ahead of us this season. That said, readers of Rebirth can see how well that story tracks to the action unfolding before us.
Flash Facts (a.k.a. Easter Eggs):
The lightning-symbol ring that Wells wears in this episode is a reference to one designed and worn by comic-Barry, which contained a Flash costume constructed from a special material that could be ejected and chemically enlarged at a picosecond’s notice. And if you think that a costume inside a finger ring sounds dumb, stop to ask yourself what’s more exciting-looking to anybody under the age of, say, 15: a superhero costume that shoots out of a ring, or that cynical, unimpressed sour expression on your face.
I’ve mentioned before that John Wesley Shipp, the actor who plays Barry’s father, starred as Barry in the 1990-91 incarnation of the Flash TV show. Shipp’s co-star, Amanda Pays, went him one better this episode by actually reprising her role from that series as scientist Tina McGee (created in Flash #3 (1987) by writer Mike Baron and artist Jackson Guice).