Harrison Wells has secrets, this much has been made clear. Secrets that may involve time travel or at least knowledge of the future, and that are worth killing over. This week, we discovered that those secrets also involve a lightning-bolt ring that should be familiar to fans of The Flash and a yellow suit. Yes, that yellow suit.
Who is the Reverse-Flash? This has been the overarching question since The Flash premiered. Who wore that ominous, jaundiced mockery of The Flash’s scarlet costume when Nora Allen was murdered? This episode may have provided clues to that riddle, as for the first time, Barry Allen and his yellow-clad opposite went toe to toe. The Flash/Reverse-Flash battle looked exactly like fans would expect it to: blurry and visceral with a desperation and hatred between the two combatants. TV’s Reverse-Flash borrows greatly from the version written by Geoff Johns during his seminal Flash run; he’s an enemy who can kill someone before they can even blink. We have been treated this season to some solid villains, some complex and worthy of recurrence like Captain Cold, some cool but disposable like Multiplex, but none has created the sense of inevitable doom that the Reverse-Flash does. This is one frightening master villain, and the series should be commended for its portrayal of him.
Like any good Flash episode, “The Man in the Yellow Suit” began slow but picked up speed as it unfolded. We started with a spotlight on the soap-opera elements of the series, as Barry continued to struggle to reveal his feelings to Iris West. He gave her a replica of her deceased mother’s ring for Christmas, a generous gift that raised the suspicions of boyfriend Eddie Thawne. He in turn gave Iris a key to his apartment as Barry watched from afar. The whole thing was well executed but very CW. However, fear not, the trials and tribulations of our young lovers didn’t remain the focus for long. Soon enough, a certain yellow blur showed up to steal some sort of tachyon device from STAR Labs rival Mercury Labs. This episode treats us to the introduction (or reintroduction) of the head of Mercury Labs, Tina McGee, played by Amanda Pays, reprising her role from the 1990 Flash series (in that version, McGee was a STAR Labs scientist, and Barry’s ally and potential love interest). McGee didn’t play a significant part in this episode, although she was set up as a potential foil to Wells.
Team Flash used Mercury’s tachyon device to trap the Reverse-Flash after Barry failed in his first attempt to bring down his mother’s killer. The self-doubt that Reverse-Flash stirred in Barry was powerful and understandable: This was the boogieman of his childhood, the phantom that ripped his mother from him and caused his father to rot in prison.
The Reverse-Flash defeated Barry twice, once on a football field in an action sequence so awesome it needed to be seen to be believed. Seriously, I would put this moment against any of the great action sequences in superhero cinema. The Reverse-Flash defeated Barry again, or was about to, after he escaped from the tachyon-baited trap at STAR Labs, only to be stopped by the arrival of DC Comics icon Firestorm.
That’s right, the same episode that featured the true live-action debut of the Reverse-Flash also gave us Firestorm. We got a little tease of the flame-haired hero as he took down Reverse-Flash and saved Caitlin, but it seemed as if this Firestorm was different from his comic book counterpart. For one, the comic Firestorm was, at least in his early days, DC’s version of Spider-Man, a fun-loving, carefree hero; this Firestorm is tortured. The comic Firestorm has the power to transmute elements; this Firestorm seemed to have flame powers similar to the Human Torch. This doesn’t mean Firestorm’s powers won’t evolve, but with his powers and origin, TV’s Firestorm seems more like a cross between the Johnny Storm and Dr. Manhattan than the joking amalgamation of Ronnie Raymond and Professor Stein that comic fans may remember. But that doesn’t make this Firestorm any less dramatically or visually impressive. The sight of Ronnie flying away, engulfed in a blazing inferno, was truly awe-inspiring. The repercussions of Ronnie’s transformation on the future of Caitlin Snow are also vastly intriguing.
Barry’s feelings of anger, helplessness and hopelessness were assuaged somewhat by a visit to his imprisoned father, who advised him to live his life, to let go of the past and the man in yellow and follow his heart. Barry confessed his love to Iris, who sat speechless. Although they remain apart, Barry was gifted with a Christmas with his family -- Joe, Iris, Eddie, Caitlin and Cisco -- a reward that will have to be enough for now, as Iris accepted Eddie’s invitation to move in.
We were left with a few questions as we head into the midseason hiatus. The first was brought up by Cisco: When Barry clashed with the Reverse-Flash, Cisco witnessed red and yellow lightning sparking up from the fight, something Barry described from the night his mother was killed, suggesting there were two speedsters in the Allen house that fateful night. The next question was the biggie: What the heck was Harrison Wells doing with the yellow suit? When the Reverse-Flash escaped STAR Labs, he beat the hell out of Wells. If Wells is the Reverse-Flash, how did he pull that off?
The final question is the most telling: As the Reverse-Flash made his escape, he took down Barry, Joe, Harrison and assorted Central City cops, but he stopped short when confronted with Eddie Thawne. The Reverse-Flash was tearing through everyone like a hate-fueled hurricane, yet the sight of Thawne stayed his hand. Fans of the comics will understand why this prospect intrigues, but for the rest, we say … see you in the New Year.