Season One, Episode Nineteen — “Who Is Harrison Wells?”

The-Flash-season-1-episode-19-Joe-Barry-Caitlin-Cisco-with-corpseBy Molly Jane Kremer and Jarrod JonesThere’s only four weeks left to the first season of The Flash, and while the show has gone far out of its way to pad its twenty-two episode journey with dangling subplots and a wealth of unnecessary supervillains (we already know the answer to this, but are there any villains left for the second season?), the home stretch is upon us and Barry Allen is finally racing towards it. And “Who is Harrison Wells?” propels the all-too enticing Reverse-Flash storyline in the same breathless manner that’s typical of The Flash while tossing a squeal-inducing subplot our way by sending Det. Joe Allen and Cisco Ramon to Starling City. And you know what that means: fan service.

WHAT WORKED: There was a lot of good in this episode. Writers Ray Utarnachitt and Cortney Norris found a comfortable balance between subplots; not an easy task when we have yet another (more understated) crossover with Starling City’s residents. It didn’t dominate the episode, or overshadow the A-plot, or take away from this episode’s freak-of-the-week. And most importantly, it didn’t feel mandated by the network. Ah, that lovely feeling from an organic team-up. Nothing like it.

It’s a rare thing indeed for an episode to maintain focus on its villain-of-the-week, but “Who Is Harrison Wells?” aced it beautifully. Of course, it certainly helps that the villain in question — the Everyman (Martin Novotny), co-created by Geoff Johns — has the ability to shapeshift into the show’s obnoxiously beautiful cast, thus saving any annoying narrative tropes (like, say, pathos) for another day. There’s a mystery afoot after all, and the episode found a happy balance between its parallel storylines. (And we got to see Grant Gustin fake being bad for a while, which was more adorable that we anticipated.)

The addition of Starling City’s Capt. Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) and Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) might have been slight, but it was a welcome addition to the world of the DC Television Universe: here, we’re awarded with a glimpse of the dichotomy between Det. Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) and Capt. Lance (they compare daddy/daughter notes amid an investigation) and Cisco and Laurel. (C’mon. You thought it was cute too.)

WHAT DIDN’T: The episode’s conceit — a cunning, but bumbling, shape-shifting metahuman runs amok over the life of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) — only works if every member of Barry’s supporting crew become complete idiots. And wouldn’t you know it, “Who Is Harrison Wells?” ensures that’s exactly the case. Whatever agency these characters have built over the course of an entire season are tossed right out the window in order for their villain of the week to work. That means characters we know are incredibly intelligent (Barry, Caitlin) adopt a big dumb lapse of common sense for no other reason than to get to the next commercial break. Which is annoying.

The further the show establishes Barry’s superspeed, the harder it is, it seems, for them to stay consistent in just how fast he can manage to go. And while such inconsistencies have occurred previously, it’s getting past where we can blithely ignore such fumbles. At the beginning of this episode, Barry runs all the way to Coast City (which is in California, for you less-comicsy-minded readers) for pizzas – without letting the pies get cold – but can’t make it across town to grab a perp when Det. Thawne calls him for help. Come on, guys. It just doesn’t make sense.

BEST LINE(s): You’re done impersonating people!” – Barry, going full Bale on the Everyman.

So how am I supposed to catch him?” – Barry. “The old fashioned way. Run, like a normal person.” – Dr. Wells.

Please tell me that’s not what I think it is.” – Cisco. “That’s definitely a hand.” – Capt. Lance. “Ok, see I thought it was a foot, but a hand is just as bad.” – Cisco, discovering that detective work ain’t as fun as the lab.

BEST MOMENT: That final scene. You could literally feel the world collapsing around Barry, Caitlin and Cisco as they entered Dr. Harrison Wells’ secret room. The short sequence simply dripped with foreboding; that they absolutely, under zero circumstances, should ever be in that room. Barry learns the hard way that a “Crisis” is not a good thing for a Flash. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) gets the proof she needs, and seeing the “Yellow Suit” in all its diabolical glory really drove home a crucial point: from here on out, everything changes.

EPISODE’S MVP: Cisco Ramon. (It’s always Cisco.) By showing off his incredible scientific mind by improving Sara Lance’s sonic device (and naming it the “Canary Cry” to boot), finding the corpse of the pre-Thawned Wells, and uncovering the Reverse-Flash’s creeptastic Braille-Room-of-Villainy, Cisco yet again proves he is the main cog that keeps everything turning for The Flash. His ultimate dork-down with Laurel (and telling her, oh so sincerely, “I love you”) was priceless as well. And his beaming smile in his photo with her in costume? Cisco is our #1 fanboy.

The-Flash-season-1-episode-19-Cisco-LaurelFLASH FACTS:

– Iris West (Candice Patton) is better in this episode. Much, much better.

– Barry goes on a pizza run to Coast City, home of one Hal Jordan, alias Green Lantern. Now, there’s no reason why Barry should get a hankering for some pizza all the way out west this late in the season, unless somebody is beginning to think that the DC Television Universe could use some more superheroes.

– “Hannibal Bates” is the Everyman. Bates – whose name is a mixture of Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates for a reason that will become totally clear in about three seconds – is notorious for eating parts of his victims in lieu of changing into them. Thankfully, the show’s writers saw fit to omit that particularly gruesome flourish.

– Fun Flash Fact: Bates’ name popped up on Ollie’s old revenge list way back in episode one of Arrow. As to why, you can search us.

– What in th’ — Barry, you let Det. Thawne in your house right after you just left him in police custody when there’s a shapeshifter running around? You dope. You dope.

– Grant Gustin must have learned that sinister side-eyed glance from Tom Cavanagh.

– We dunno, guys; Caitlin was kinda into that kiss after a second or two.