A man from Wells’ past returns as Barry learns more about the man he looks up to.
The episode begins with Flash running down the members of the Royal Flush gang. Trying to catch 3 people at once proves to be a bit tricky to coordinate for the team, but Dr. Wells steps in to direct Flash to the win. Things are going pretty well for the team and they even take a super-speed selfie to commemorate their teamwork. Barry heads home to Joe’s were he finds out that Iris has been offered a job at a Central City paper. Wells heads to his home where we see him leave the wheelchair and enjoy a drink. However, he’s ambushed by someone who causes the glass to shatter in his home. Wells uses his super speed to avoid the glass, but is left on the floor. The police are called and the rest of the STAR team arrives on the scene as well. Eddie also points out that something’s wrong with Wells’ story because he couldn’t have escaped the glass unscathed if he was where he claimed to be. It leads Eddie and Joe to start investigating Wells closer. Wells tries to downplay the incident and he’s pretty sure he knows who’s responsible for it, Hartley Rathaway.
Hartley Rathaway was Wells’ right hand man before Wells fired up the particle accelerator. Through a series of flashbacks and storytelling we find out that Hartley was Wells’ “chosen one”. Despite that he’s kind of a dick. He’s hyper intelligent, speaks several languages, and didn’t really take a liking to Cisco when Wells hired him. His family owns Rathaway Industries, but he was disowned by them when he came out as gay. Despite all of his flaws, Hartley did warn Wells about the danger of the particle accelerator. Instead of listening to his warnings, Wells decided to have Hartley fired and also threatened to blacklist him in the science community if he said anything about the accelerator.
Hartley attacks his family’s business and gets the attention of pretty much everyone in Central City. The Flash is able to take Hartley down but during the battle Hartley lets him know that he knows who’s on the other end of his communicator. He gets taken to STAR labs and is confronted by his former colleagues. He even tells Cisco that he’s been thinking of calling himself “Pied Piper”. He also lets on that he knows a secret about Wells. During the different exchanges we find out that, after the explosion, Hartley suffered head trauma that causes him to have to wear ear implants or suffer severe pain. Wells apologizes to Hartley, but Hartley says that the apology is for Flash’s sake, so that he’ll continue to believe in Wells. Through the surveillance cameras he promises The Flash that Wells will turn on him one day. Trying to get out ahead of the bad news, Wells tells the rest of the STAR team that Hartley had warned him about the dangers of the particle accelerator. Cisco and Caitlin are upset by the news and Barry tells Wells that he betrayed their trust.
Later, as Cisco’s analyzing Hartley’s tech, he realizes that he could’ve easily destroyed Rathaway Industries if he wanted. Just as he realizes that Hartley got captured on purpose, we see Hartley remove his implants and use them to shatter the glass. Wells is in his Gideon room when the alarm sounds and tries to run, but his legs start to vibrate and he collapses on the ground. After knocking Cisco and Caitlin out, Hartley takes his gauntlets and leaves. Before he does, he also takes a moment to gloat over Wells. Later, we find out that he broke in to STAR labs in order to steal the research information on the Flash so that he could learn how to beat him. Realizing that what’s happened is his fault Wells tells the team he’s going to earn their trust. In an act of contrition Wells decides to hold a press conference to admit his errors publicly. That press conference turns out to be a big break for Iris, who’s having a hard time being taken seriously at her new job where everyone just sees her as a blogger. Barry was with her talking about being disappointed in their mentors when Hartley broke out.
Cisco sets to work feverishly trying to figure out what Hartley stole. Wells takes some time to reassure him that there was a reason that he hired him and that his personality and warmth made being around him better than being around Hartley. Hartley makes his move to draw the Flash out by attacking a bridge. As he expected, Wells sends the Flash after him. His plan is to punish Wells by taking away his new “pet”. He baits the Flash into getting close to him and then uses his resonance to try to destroy the Flash from the inside. Thinking quickly, Wells hacks a satellite in order to override nearby car radios and broadcast a signal that disables Hartley. Taking the emotional que to appreciate the people that help him, Barry goes to thank Joe for always being there for him even if he was overwhelmed. After Barry leaves, Eddie returns with news about his investigation into Wells and asks Joe if he really wants to follow through with it. Back at STAR Cisco is tending to locking up Hartley again. Before he gets put away for good, Hartley tells Cisco that he knows what happened to Ronnie Raymond. In the episode’s last scene we see Wells talking to Gideon and trying to use the stolen Tachyon particles to stabilize himself and his speed. Whatever he’s doing isn’t working but he says that his end game is coming soon.
- I failed this city
That line is obviously a call out to The Flash‘s big brother show Arrow. I also like that Hartley completely called Wells out on it just being a gambit. It’s clear that Hartley’s the bad guy here but he’s also the only one who actually sees Wells as the villain he is.
- So many languages
Not sure how many languages Hartley actually speaks but it was a funny moment having Barry realizes that he’s really like the dumbest person in the room at STAR labs.
- The Royal Flush gang
More from Batman Beyond than anything else, but the Royal Flush Gang has been one of my favorite mid-level gangs in the DC universe. Usually they amount to little more than an inconvenience, but they just keep coming back.
So we finally have the long awaited arrival of the Pied Piper. I have to say, for someone playing such a ridiculous comic character, I wasn’t expecting him to be such a dick. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad performance, but it does make the character really unlikeable. I thought that was pretty unfortunate given that his primary target is the man that we know to be the Reverse Flash (or a Reverse Flash). Maybe the writers are doing that so that we don’t feel divided against Team Flash before it’s time.
Despite the unappealing nature of their featured character, I still enjoyed this episode. The theme of learning that your heroes are flawed is an interesting one for a budding hero to deal with. Barry Allen in all his incarnations has always been the cookie-cutter good guy paralleled in his “all-american wholesomeness” only by characters like Superman. Because of that, he’s easily betrayed by idealism and doesn’t like to see heroes of any kind fall. This episode just scratched the surface of that side of Barry. It was also interesting to see Wells offer himself up to try to make things right. It’s still unclear what exactly Wells’ endgame is but I wonder why he would even bother trying to save face if that end game is supposedly coming soon. I think part of me is still kind of holding out hope that Wells won’t end up being “that bad” bad of a bad guy.