The CW’s “The Flash” has been a terrific way to start each week with a dose of DC and to bookend the darker show, “Arrow” on Wednesday nights. Through introducing Barry Allen in “The Scientist” during season 2 of “Arrow”, “The Flash” was able to spin-off in as natural and organic a way as possible. It’s been such an engrossing, fun, and entertaining series to watch and last night’s episode “Who Is Harrison Wells?” was a supreme depiction of a crossover at its most fun.
While the audience already knows the answer to the question posed in the episode title – Who Is Harrison Wells? our main heroes of “The Flash” haven’t quite figured it out just yet. The brilliant scientist, Harrison Wells is The Reverse Flash. Of that, Barry Allen, Det. Joe West, and Cisco Ramon are sure. But what they don’t know is that he’s really Eobard Thawne, a man from the future who stole Wells’ body. As they further their investigation and decide to head to Starling City (home of the Arrow), Barry and Caitlin Snow share more time together. Caitlin, a bright scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs has been put through the meat grinder lately. She lost her fiance, Ronnie Raymond to the particle accelerator incident, only to lose him again once he became F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. Caitlin’s also at crossroads as last week’s episode “All Star Team Up” saw Barry and Det. West finally reveal their suspicions to both her and Cisco. She’s not fully on board with the idea that Wells may not be the mild-mannered, quiet, and helpful mentor/friend she’s seen him as and it remains to be seen if she will help or hinder the investigation. It’s an interesting set up that works for fans of the comics as we know her counterpart becomes Killer Frost. Will she side with Barry, or will she turn heel and help out Wells/Thawne?
“Who Is Harrison Wells?”deals with another shape-shifter of sorts as, the villain of the week, is Hannibal Bates a.k.a. Everyman. He’s creepy, dangerous, and creates all sorts of problems for Barry, Eddie (who happens to be a Thawne), and Team Flash. I should note that I despise using the term “villain of the week” for CW’s “The Flash” as the characters are more than just that. “The Flash” has managed to avoid the stereotypical plot device for most comic book shows as they’ve presented a unique take on adapting the comic books. The strength of each episode relies on the fact that the writers have managed to recreate the tone and feeling of reading a comic book. The villains have been well-rounded and have always offered more to the overall development of The Flash such as Captain Cold, Heatwave, and Weather Wizard. Bates, later on in the episode, manages to frame Eddie Thawne when he shoots two police officers while trying to escape both the detective and Barry. Eddie is incarcerated and while Barry runs him out of the police station, he asks for him to bring him back and to “Get me out of here the right way.”
Barry then contends with Bates at his home when he arrives as Eddie. He then shapeshifts into Barry and leaves with Caitlin once she arrives. She tells Barry (who is secretly Bates) that S.T.A.R. Labs has discovered a formula to mute Bates’ shape-shifting abilities temporarily. He acts odd and they head back to the labs. He kisses her and comes across very un-Barry like. She’s confused by him, but she doesn’t yet realize she’s really with Everyman. Wells notices that he’s left-handed while Barry is right-handed, something that Iris West noticed about the video of Eddie shooting the cops. Wells manages to stun him and they develop a formula which will stop him from shape-shifting. Unfortunately, Bates still manages to escape, but Barry tracks him down and manages to administer the formula to him. They bring him back to the S.T.A.R. Labs holding facility and we get a nice homage to Everyman from the comics. Wells asks him what he really looks like, but Bates says that it’s been so long that he doesn’t remember.
While Barry and Eddie dealt with Everyman in Central City, Det. Joe West and Cisco Ramon investigated the Harrison Wells/ Tess Mercer car crash in Starling City. Before they head off to the site, they enlist the help of Captain Lance (Paul Blackthorne) of “Arrow.” Det. West doesn’t really fill in the captain on all of the details surrounding their investigation and they end up bonding over being fathers. At the crash site, Cisco’s device picks up on tachyon particles, which for the purpose of the show, exist to show remnants of time travel. They track the particles to a decomposed corpse buried deep in the ground. Back home, Det. West, Cisco, Barry, and Caitlin discover that it is the body of… Harrison Wells! Team Flash is now caught up on just about everything that the audience knows. Whoever is Wells, it’s not really the original man and is someone else.
We also get to see Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) make an appearance and meet with Cisco Ramon. Both of them steal the scene and are the brightest moment of the whole episode. It was different seeing a Starling City during the day time as most of “Arrow” is nearly always taking place at night-time. We also got to see a significantly lighter side to Laurel Lance as she tells Cisco that’s she’s the Black Canary! First time hearing her refer to herself as not just the Canary, but The Black Canary! And she comes across as if she enjoys that persona. The whole scene works on the playfulness of both Cisco and Laurel interacting with one another and it doesn’t stop there. She asks the young inventor and scientist if he could work on altering the canary cry device her sister, Sara used before she was killed. He returns later on to give her a new gadget and suggests that she call it “The Canary Cry.” It’ll be exciting to see this implemented within “Arrow” as I’m already a fan speculating on how it’ll be used and of the sound it will produce. But, the absolute highlight of “Who Is Harrison Wells?” for me is when Cisco asks Laurel if she brought him what she wanted. She hands him over a sealed large envelope and promises that she’ll kill him if he shows anyone. We’re already thinking maybe he asked for a picture of her, but it’s even cuter! Off screen, Cisco took a picture with himself and Laurel dressed as the Black Canary. And now he has a large, glossy 8 X 10″ of the both of them together. I loved that this is what Cisco wanted from her and I think it adds a nice layer to the character of Laurel that she’d put on the costume for Cisco. There’s no sexual tension or anything. It’s just a sweet, innocent, school girl crush that I’d personally like to see more of.
I should admit that I wasn’t always for the idea of a shared and connected movie and television universe. I believed it to not only lessen the importance of the hero, but also cheapen the overall product. I grew up with my heroes, Batman and Spider-Man, having solo adventures on-screen, in film and animation. As I was older, I watched this trend continue well into 2008 with the massively successful “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight.” At that point in my life, I didn’t understand why to connect heroes to other heroes would even be necessary. Couldn’t movies operate independently from one another? When I learned of Marvel’s plan to incorporate Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark/Iron Man into “The Incredible Hulk” and other movies (back in 2007), I grew so irked. Why would they not only take Robert Downey Jr. out of the spotlight, but reduce what was sure to be an amazing performance (in “Iron Man”) to nothing more than a mere attraction? For me, I believed every hero is an island! You have to understand, that for me, at this time, I wasn’t invested in comic books as I am today. There was no “New 52” or “Point One” or “Marvel NOW” that provided fans like me a jumping on point to begin reading. I felt somewhat alienated from the big universes and histories of each character and that’s the chief reason why I took hold of the movies. I could enjoy without feeling lost. I could learn without digging back through years of material. Other than my continued readership of characters like “Daredevil”, “The Punisher”, “Ghost Rider”, and “The Spirit” – I didn’t even begin my courtship and eventual marriage to DC Comics. Fast forward to today, April 22, 2015, and I couldn’t be more excited about shared and connected universes, MULTI-VERSES! After reading comics on a weekly basis and seeing how flawless each of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films are, I caught on to the idea. I was wrong about the heroes. No hero, man or woman is an island. We need each other to carry one another as we all contend with this big epic story-arc known as “Life.” It’s a big world out there and none of us are ever alone. If we all are the super heroes in our own story, and we all collide together in life, then aren’t there countless heroes running around every second? That’s the beauty of what has existed in the comic books in such a pure way that only over the past five years have we all begun to see unfold in our movies. Marvel did it right, DC is doing it right, and I hope to see Valiant become just as successful too!
“Who is Harrison Wells?” did a great job at illustrating just how enjoyable a crossover could be. I loved that Cisco from “The Flash” met Laurel from “Arrow.” It was fun and my favorite moment in the whole episode. But we also got a resolution on the Quentin and Laurel Lance issues as Joe West and him bonded. After hearing from another father that sometimes we lie to protect those we loved and more was just what Lance needed to hear in order to start letting go of the anger he’s had since finding out his daughter, Sara had died. Along with the Canary Cry, it’ll be interesting to see how quickly the father/daughter relationship is healed within the coming weeks on “Arrow.” It’ll have to be addressed soon as we are nearing the close of the season for both shows.
“Who Is Harrison Wells?” gets five out of five stars. “The Flash” airs Tuesday nights at 8 pm on The CW. Check you local listings.