The CW have been doing something very special with “The Flash” as they have managed to honor the original CBS television series while also representing the Scarlet Speedster in a new and fun way. Last night’s episode “Tricksters” was possibly the most reverent of episodes as it not only delved more into the mystery of the Reverse Flash, but we saw Barry use the speed force in a familiar way to fans of the comic and we got the original Trickster himself, Mark Hamill! Yes, Luke Skywalker was on “The Flash” last night; he looked great, he was menacing, and we can’t wait to see him again. While “Tricksters” may not have initially seemed as important of an episode, especially as “Rogue Time” concluded the two-parter that started with “Out of Time”, it was surprisingly a very important episode that fans would certainly want to make sure they catch.
15 years ago, Nora Allen was killed, Barry watched his mother die and saw his father taken to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. It’s the defining moment in Barry’s journey as a hero and it’s been the driving factor behind nearly everything he’s done in his life. A few episodes ago, we learned that Harrison Wells is really Eobard Thawne a.k.a. The Man in Yellow a.k.a. Reverse Flash! He’s a pretty dangerous adversary, seemingly unbeatable and infinitely more powerful than Barry, and hiding in plain sight. We also learned that he didn’t intend on killing Nora Allen as he was really after young Barry. Fortunately for Barry, at some point in the future, he’s able to travel back in time to save himself as a child from Eobard Thawne. What he doesn’t know in our present, his past which he doesn’t yet know (stay with me if you can) is that he travels in time to save himself and it becomes less about saving his mother than saving himself. He also doesn’t know on that night Eobard Thawne had depleted his speed force entirely so that it stranded him in the past, which is centuries ago for in his time.
Throughout “Tricksters”, we’re given flashbacks akin to CW’s other DC based series “Arrow”, and we learn more about Harrison Wells. He was in fact a real man who existed and a brilliant scientist, not just a fiction created by Thawne to conceal his identity. Along with his wife, revealed to be even more brilliant than Wells, they come up with the plan for S.T.A.R. Labs. Unbeknownst to Wells and Tess Morgan is that Eobard Thawne has been watching them. Thawne knows that in the year 2020, Wells invents the particle accelerator, but for his own sake of getting back to his time, he needs him to invent it sooner. This is what sets in motion the course of events that have been felt throughout this whole season of “The Flash” up to now. On a night sometime after Nora Allen’s death, Thawne causes Wells and his wife to get in a car accident. It kills Tess and leaves Wells highly disoriented. Thawne approaches him and tells the scientist that “this woman has been dead for centuries” when asked for help. He then essentially kills Wells by switching bodies with him. Eobard Thawne is now Harrison Wells!
We are given a nearly solid conclusion of sorts to the mystery of Harrison Wells and Eobard Thawne in “Tricksters” that satisfies only up until the next carpet is possibly pulled from under our feet. The time travel aspect is highly intriguing and for fans of Reverse Flash, it feels as if we’ve been given a definitive take of the infamous DC Comics villain. The mystique, intrigue, and villainy is only amplified by Tom Cavanaugh’s nuanced performance and I’m already starting to worry about his longevity for the series. If his story is temporarily concluded for season one of “The Flash” such as Manu Bennett’s Deathstroke was for season two of “Arrow”, he will greatly be missed. Thank GRODD (see what I did there?) that we still have Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell’s Captain Cold and Heatwave!
It’s very possible to just talk about Tom Cavanaugh’s Wells/Thawne/Reverse Flash as he has become the most exciting element of “The Flash”, but “Tricksters” did re-introduce us to Mark Hamill’s character James Jesse a.k.a. The Trickster. He’s a villain that appeared on the CBS series starring John Wesley Shipp as The Flash (who now plays Barry’s father!) While Det. Joe West and Barry initially believe they could use James Jesse’s help in capturing the new Trickster, it’s ultimately the detectives being tricked as the whole plan of using the elder Trickster to capture the younger one is just to break him out of prison. Why? Well, I’m not going to spoil the moment, but let’s just say Hamill pays a tongue planted firmly in cheek nod towards his film “The Empire Strikes Back.”
Mark Hamill was excellent in reprising his 90’s villain role of James Jesse. He plays a perfectly unhinged pyschopath and his voice is eerily reminiscent of his work on Batman: The Animated Series as The Joker and Spider-Man as The Hobgoblin. He’s more than just fun to watch as he’s a terrific villain for CW’s hit show and I, for one, cannot wait to see him return. Devon Graye as the new Trickster fit perfectly with the dynamics of the series and the scene where they both poison the crowd at Mayor Bellows re-election fundraiser and strap a bomb to Barry as The Flash feels like a big-budget scene from a big-budget superhero movie. It plays extraordinarily well as the writers give nod to “Speed” starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock and allow Barry to use the speed force to phase through objects; in this case, he runs through a truck.
“Tricksters”stood out as an excellent opportunity for the cast and crew of “The Flash” to highlight not only the fun history of the character, but also deliver an emotional episode that resonates with the audience. “The Flash” has been outstanding in the tone and spirit its presented itself in throughout this first season and is already a must re-watch as soon as it becomes available on blu-ray and dvd. “Tricksters” also managed to continually deliver with surprises and important moments that would not be right to spoil. “Tricksters” is another five-star episode.
“The Flash” returns on Tuesday, April 14th at 8 p.m. on The CW. Check your local listings.