THE FLASH Sounds Off

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Episode 111 “The Sound and the Fury”

[Photos: The CW]

While we wait for the other shoe to drop for Captain Cold, Heat Wave, and Golden Glider — Snart’s little sister — we get a chance to focus on Harrison Wells and a protégé gone bad in this hour.

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Bad guy in question: boy genius Hartley Rathaway, who was the Golden Child of S.T.A.R. Labs until Cisco Ramon showed up in his “Keep Calm and Han Shot First” T-shirt. Rathaway, Wells’ frequent chess opponent, thinks Ramon is just a punk with a smirk, and he doesn’t appreciate the notion of being replaced as Wells’ number one guy.

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Even though Wells keeps reassuring Rathaway that’s not the case, there’s tension between the two young bucks. Rathaway very much wants to keep the attention and the prestige, even though Ramon can hold his own just as well when it counts. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that Rathaway had warned Wells that there could be a problem with the particle accelerator. Wells chose to ignore the problem, accepting the risk and firing Rathaway so there wouldn’t be anymore trouble.

Now, Rathaway is back with sonic weapons that destroy the skylights and glass ceilings at Wells’ home, and Barry figures there’s more to this than just mere vandalism against the man who blew up Central City. And he’s calling himself the Pied Piper.

Cisco: “Hey, I assign the nicknames around here. Although that one’s not bad.”

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The show tries to set up Rathaway as the “wronged son” — even going so far as to bring up his parents’ rejection because of his homosexuality — but fails to make him a sympathetic character because even in the flashbacks, Rathaway is an overbearing jerk with a sense of superiority. Caitlin’s casual dismissal of him speaks volumes about the relationship the S.T.A.R. Labs staff had with him back then.

Note that we met Rathaway’s parents last week. They were the rich couple with the very expensive painting Captain Cold and Heat Wave stole at the airport.

Rathaway is using his sonic gloves to tear apart Daddy’s office building when the Flash catches him. Quite easily. Yep. OK. We’ve seen this before. The villain got himself captured on purpose. Just like in The Avengers, The Dark Knight, Skyfall, Star Trek Into Darkness… and how many others? Please, Hollywood, please bury this trope next to “let’s reboot every movie and TV franchise from the 1980s”.

Stop doing this.

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Rathaway wants to get into S.T.A.R. Labs because he’s figured out that’s where the Flash goes after he takes down the bad guys, so there’s an obvious connection to Wells that Rathaway wants to exploit. Using some of his sonic tech, he manages to escape the no-bathroom/no-food-slot metahuman cell — injuring Cisco in the blast — and steals information about the Flash to set up a resonant frequency that will basically cause Barry to explode from inside out.

Wells guides Barry through the final confrontation in an effort to rebuild trust between him and his team. In light of Rathaway’s threat to reveal Wells’ secret, he does a little pre-emptive confession about the early warning he had. Not only does he tell Caitlin, Cisco, and Barry — who now have a reason to look askance at him — but he also holds a press conference (why is it at the police department?) to confess his culpability and arrogance with regard to the particle accelerator and its danger.

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Thus, Wells not only deflects attention away from his “secret” but also makes what looks to be a sincere effort to atone for the part he played in blowing up the lab and creating the metahuman population. Of course, he did that to create the Flash, but that’s not something anyone has tweaked to yet. Except Joe still has some lingering doubts, which is why he has Eddie looking into the man, especially after Wells escaped all that shattered glass with nary a scratch.

Does Rathaway know Wells’ real secret? He definitely knows more than he’s letting on, as he says to Barry through the security monitor, “One day, this man will turn on you… in a flash. And even you won’t see it coming.” Hartley shows no surprise at finding Wells out of his chair in the corridor. But Hartley doesn’t even bat an eye. So does he know that Wells is faking the handicap?

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It’s reinforced this week that Wells is, indeed, a Reverse Flash. Only he’s not able to maintain his speed. The tachyon device he stole from Mercury Labs isn’t helping him absorb the Speed Force (name check), and so his speed is failing him at critical moments. Which adds to my suspicion that he’s Hunter Zolomon and not Eobard Thawne. Likely, with Eddie investigating Wells, one wonders if there may be some kind of circumstance where the two of them start down a path that leads to Eobard getting a yellow suit…

One thing that’s bothered me over the last few weeks is how winded Barry’s getting every time he runs. I thought all of his training to get faster would condition him. In the last few episodes, however, he’s breathing hard every time he stops running. Is there something to this?

Iris gets her own mini-plot when she gets hired by the Central City Picture News, and she’s a bit irritated to figure out that the only reason she’s been hired is because of her connection to the Flash. Her editor is obviously hoping she’s going to be Barry’s Lois Lane.

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Last week, I noticed a circumstance (something I pointed out on the most recent Rogues Gallery) that could have led to Caitlin getting her powers as Killer Frost. This week, we get it with Cisco getting caught in a sonic blast. Sounds cause vibrations, and Pied Piper was using vibrations to blow holes in doors and walls and such. And since Cisco’s condition is noted at the end of the episode, is it possible the first steps toward Vibe have been taken?

 

Who will assign him his nickname, I wonder.

[Show web site at CW]     [Previous Recap: “Revenge of the Rogues”]

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Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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