The mystery behind Harrison Wells has finally come to a giant, festering head on The Flash. The body of the real Harrison Wells was found in Starling City and Barry, Cisco, and Caitlin found Wells’ secret room in the lab that houses his Reverse Flash costume. They also find the holographic newspaper that states that Barry has gone missing.
The team notes the date on the top of the paper: April 25th, 2024. They also can’t help but note the byline of one Iris West-Allen, as well as Barry’s more comics-accurate costume (you can practically hear the fanboys cheering in the background). They theorize about the physics of time travel and how it’s all possible when Gideon, Wells’ secret AI, awakens. Unfazed, Barry asks who Wells really is and why he came to the past. Gideon answers both questions: his name is Eobard Thawne, and he came from the future to kill Barry. Sure, that sets up a time paradox worse than the entire Terminator franchise, but let’s just let that one slide for now.
Gideon further reveals that Wells killed Nora Allen because he was angry that Barry escaped him, which gives Barry another layer of guilt to stack on top of his current situation. Guess he and Roy Harper and going to start trading notes soon.
The team finds out that Wells has returned to the lab, and they scramble to try and disable Gideon so that Wells won’t find out that the team has been in the Time Vault (the first time the weird braille room has been called by name all season!). Her futuristic hardware proves to be too much for Cisco, but Barry commands her to keep her software shut about the team. She accepts the command, as Barry was the one who created her. Wha…???
Joe meets Eddie at Jitters, where Eddie asked Joe to speak in private. Eddie confesses that he wanted to speak to Joe alone for his blessing, as he wants to ask Iris to marry him. Joe looks at him, blinks, and responds “no.” Huh. That was unexpected.
Joe gets a call from Barry to meet him back at the house, saving Joe the agony of explaining his position to Eddie. The team fills Joe and Eddie in: they found Wells’ time vault, he’s from the future, he’s the Reverse Flash, etc. Barry also finally confesses that he travelled back in time a few episodes ago, which suddenly gives Cisco new insights into his dreams/flashbacks about dying. They’re not dreams, they’re memories of the timeline that was eliminated by Barry’s time travel. However, he thinks that they can be used to set a trap for Wells.
Joe then has an Arrow style flashback (minus bad wigs), where he’s asleep in Barry’s hospital room, waiting for Barry to wake up from his coma after the accelerator accident took out his lab. He and Iris are discussing Barry’s condition when Barry suddenly has a seizure and they are rushed out of the room for the hospital staff to stabilize him. Joe helplessly watches as the staff tries to save his adopted son when Wells enters. He explains to Joe that the hospital can’t save Barry, but his facilities at S.T.A.R. Lab can. Joe’s reluctant to turn Barry over to the mysterious Wells, but he finally agrees.
We then cut to the lab, where the team is putting together a pair of ridiculous goggles that will allow Cisco to lucid-dream and interact with the memory of his death. The goal’s to try and find out a weakness in Wells so that they can force him to confess to the murder of Nora Allen, allowing for Barry’s dad to be exonerated. Unfortunately, Wells enters, leaving the team awkwardly scrambling to cover their tracks. Even more awkwardly, Wells helps them with the interface, allowing the rest of the team to talk to Cisco while he’s in his dream. This isn’t going to end well…
Barry gets cornered at the CCPD by Captain Singh, who rips him a new one for being behind on his forensic work. Barry apologizes and asks Singh what’s bothering him, which prompts Singh to tell him all about the stress related to his upcoming wedding, which gets Barry thinking about the whole “Iris West-Allen” thing.
Eddie comes by to exacerbate that thought, showing Barry the engagement ring (how the hell did he afford that rock on a cop’s salary?) and complaining that Joe wouldn’t give his blessing. Eddie asks Barry to talk to Joe, because it wouldn’t be The Flash without severe Iris-based awkwardness at least once an episode. That’s the CW for ya!
Cisco goes into a lucid dream in Barry’s office and starts reliving the night of his murder. He goes to check on the containment field and realizes that the Reverse Flash was nothing more than a hologram (again), when Wells enters. He confesses that he didn’t want to kill Nora, but that she was just collateral damage. The memory plays out and Wells kills Cisco again, but he awakens from the dream.
No sooner than Cisco awakens, Wells calls Barry, asking him where he’s been. There’s a fire in New Brighton in one of the high rise buildings, which Joe recognizes as the workplace of Singh’s fiancé. Barry rushes to the scene as the Flash, where he finds that the sprinkler systems have malfunctioned and he doesn’t have enough time to save all of the people trapped by the blaze. Wells instructs him to create a vacuum by spinning his arms, which Barry does hesitantly. After failing once, Wells gives him a pep talk, and Barry extinguishes the fire while doing some sweet old-school NYHC dance moves. Seriously, I want to see Barry in the circle pit at a Madball show now.
Barry returns to the lab, where Wells asks Barry why he hesitated. Barry says he doesn’t know (it sounds better than “I didn’t trust the advice of a murderer from the future.”), and Wells tells Barry that he is his own inhibitor, and that Barry’s capabilities are limitless as long as he believes in himself.
Barry heads home and talks to Joe, confused about Wells’ kindness to him. However, their plan is starting to solidify: if the team can recreate the events leading up to Cisco’s death, they can eke a confession out of Wells.
The team modifies the containment force field so that Cisco will be safe inside, while a speedster will be unable to enter. Barry tests out the theory – with slapstick results – and the team prepares. Eddie is sent to protect Iris, as the Reverse Flash threatened her indirectly, which gives Barry and Joe the privacy to talk about the whole marriage proposal thing. Hey, it is the CW after all! Joe tells Barry that Iris will get caught up in the romance of Eddie proposing and say yes, which will leave her trapped in a loveless marriage that she won’t leave. Joe also tells Barry that he knows his daughter is in love with him, and that it’s only a matter of time before she realizes it. Again, don’t really like Iris all that much (like, at all) so this isn’t very exciting.
Iris sends Barry a 911 text, and he races to meet her at the CCPD. She tells him that she’s found a connection between all of the metahumans in Central City: they started cropping up after the S.T.A.R. Labs accelerator explosion. Barry lies to her and tells her that there’s a hole in her theory, as he was hit by the explosion and he doesn’t have powers. He offers to look over her data again and leaves, leading to another flashback.
We see Iris talking to a comatose Barry, begging for him to wake up as the West family needs him back in their lives. She goes to hold his hand and an arc of electricity crackles between them. I smell foreshadowing.
Wells enters the lab, where Caitlin tells him that Cisco found the cause of Reverse Flash escaping when they tried to capture him. Wells heads down to the bunker and enters, sans wheelchair. Cisco tells Wells that he knows that he is the Reverse Flash and that he killed Barry’s mom. Joe and Barry wait in the corner to be witnesses to Wells’ confession. Wells won’t confess and he keeps approaching. Cisco turns on the force field, but Wells inexplicably enters, raising his hand to strike Cisco down.
Seeing no other option to save Cisco, Joe fires three rounds at Wells. Barry races forward and catches two of the slugs, but the third pierces Wells’ chest. “He didn’t confess!” Barry wails, knowing that Wells was his only chance of getting his dad out of prison.
Suddenly, Wells’ corpse transforms back to its original form: Hannibal Bates from last episode (that’s why he was introduced), making the team realize that Wells had set them up. Wells taunts them over the intercom, where Barry offers to sacrifice himself if Wells confesses. Wells denies him and says that he will see them all soon.
They race to the Time Vault, where they realize the ugly truth: Wells has been observing them the entire time, and everything he has done has been nothing more than a setup. Wells has set a trap, but why? Barry races out in order to find Iris.
Iris and Eddie are walking along a bridge, when Eddie starts to try and propose to Iris. Suddenly, both the ring and Eddie are snatched away by the Reverse Flash, who returns in order to kill Iris. The Flash steps in and stops him, telling Iris that he has to leave in order to finish this. She goes to grab his hand, and electricity sparks between them (told you it was foreshadowing), leaving Iris alone on the bridge with nothing more than her realization.
Reverse Flash returns to the abandoned warehouse where he’s stored Eddie (the economy really hit the real estate market in this universe). Wells tells Eddie his true identity: Eobard Thawne, and tells Eddie that he is Wells’ “insurance.”
We close the episode with one last flashback, and Wells talking to the comatose Barry about how helpless he is and how easily he could kill him. He raises a vibrating hand, but resists the urge, solemnly warning Barry that “there will be a reckoning.”
Holy sh**. That’s all I really have to say about this episode…hell, the past few episodes have been incredibly intense and shockingly dark for a character like the Flash. The Eobard Thawne/Harrison Wells mystery was tragic and terrifying, and how this season’s going to close out is still an enigma. I applaud the CW and the team on The Flash for taking a lot of risks and taking what’s admittedly a one-note character and making him a fresh, exciting take.
Catch new episodes of The Flash Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW