Season One, Episode Seventeen — “Tricksters”
By Molly Jane Kremer and Jarrod Jones. Big time revelations this week, as a big, fat piece of the Harrison Wells puzzle fell right into our laps. Didn’t see that coming? Well, neither did we. And obviously we weren’t supposed to. The big, dramatic reveal of the Reverse-Flash’s true identity meant that guest star Mark Hamill had a mere seven minutes of screen time to get all hammy. Barry learns a new superpower. Iris goes to a gala event as Press, but doesn’t bring a pen. And Cisco didn’t get to name a supervillain. All in all, a strange episode.
WHAT WORKED: “Tricksters” was a step up from last week’s “Rogue Time” in a big way. The Flash decided to go full comic book this week, amping up the goofy with Mark Hamill and simultaneously going extraordinarily dark with a series of flashbacks explaining how Eobard Thawne (Matt Letscher) became Harrison Wells (literally). Both on their own would have made a good episode great, but…
WHAT DIDN’T: … Having the Tricksters plot get downgraded to subplot by the intrigue surrounding Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) meant that Hamill’s presence was there more for show than anything else. What little havoc he and his young protégé (Devon Graye) could wreak in Central City was a sad indicator of how much fun “Tricksters” could have actually been, had the episode just chilled out on the Reverse-Flash for forty damn minutes.
“Tricksters” may have been paying homage to the 90s, but its special effects department seems to be stuck in 2003: The episode’s opening sequence, where the night Nora Allen died is seen from the perspective of the two battling speedsters, is a squishy, cartoony, and downright silly moment that easily recalls certain unfortunate moments in The Matrix Reloaded. For what should have been an incredibly dramatic (and exciting) moment, the special effects left us feeling cold.
Cisco: “(about the Trickster) Talking in the third person, that’s never a good sign.” Caitlin: “You’re just mad because he named himself.”
“A day without casualties was like the Cubs winning the pennant. It would never happen.” – James Jesse, obviously using sports humor straight from the 90s.
“Ever see the movie Speed? Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock? You’re the bus and that’s the bomb.” – Trickster, never letting us forget that the 90s happened.
“Feel the lightning.” – Wells, forgetting himself.
“You always looked good in red.” – Henry Allen. Watching the original Flash (John Wesley Shipp) tip his hat to son Barry (Grant Gustin) was a very cool moment to watch.
BEST MOMENT: Phase One. It’s taken almost a whole damn season to get there, but Barry finally learned how to phase through solid objects in this episode. Though, did anyone else feel Barry’s decision to phase through a fuel tanker — in order to get rid of Trickster’s bomb — was, y’know, kinda weird? Pick a wall! (Oh, and we think that former Flash scribe Mark Waid had the best reaction during the event, but ours was pretty manic too.)
EPISODE’S MVP: No question. Mark Hamill’s James Jesse was the solid highlight of the episode. Even though the series’ narrative momentum nearly swallowed the whole “Tricksters” plot whole, every time Hamill appeared onscreen, The Flash felt like it finally found a real, bonafide supervillain. Mean, merciless, and downright mirthful, Hamill stole the show. Now, ditch the kid and get Skywalker some spandex.
– Well, we can get the obvious out of the way: Mark Hamill’s James Jesse returns after twenty-odd years to flex his sinister giggling muscles (reminding every learned geek out there of the Joker) and to steal all the good lines, even a couple of the stupid ones (“I am your father,” only seemed to exist to squeeze in an Empire Strikes Back reference, to which we reply, “All too easy“).
– Well, well, well, it looks like Mayor Tony Bellows went and did pretty well for himself: Vito D’Ambrosio reprises his role of Officer Tony Bellows – with a modest amount of success – from 1991’s The Flash.
– Which, by the way, doesn’t having Tony Bellows and James Jesse age in real time from the 90s Flash to present day mean that the former series is some kinda inter-dimensional paradox? Where Henry Allen goes by “Barry” and fights crime? Yeah, probably not.