It’s No Mean Trick for THE FLASH To Be a Treat

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Episode 117 “Tricksters”

[Photos: The CW]

Oh, where to begin when you get an episode that’s so full of candy and shiny things…?

Let’s get one thing out of the way first. Freakin’ Mark Hamill as the Trickster… AGAIN!

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Ahem.

OK. We have two plots this episode, and the main reason this recap has taken so long is because I went back and re-watched the original two Trickster episodes from the 1990 show, looking for similarities. And I found a few Easter eggs planted in this hour. More on that in a moment.

The Trickster plot is pretty straightforward: Trickster I is locked up Hannibal Lecter style in Iron Heights Prison, where Joe and Barry go to consult with him after a new guy calling himself Trickster has dropped bombs on a park. The parachute delivery system was not very efficient, no, and no one was killed, but Barry and Joe figure there’s maybe a connection between the two.

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Turns out Trickster II is Axel Walker, who’s been corresponding with James Jesse for many years, and has stolen all of the original Trickster’s devices and weapons from the Theatrical Supply Company (which looks a lot like the original, but not quite – this must be the HD version…). And it turns out Trickster II’s scheming and terror activities were all a big diversion to break Jesse out of prison.

And they take Barry’s father with them. Trickster figures to use him as leverage because his son’s a cop. Little does he know…

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Mark Hamill is spot on as James Jesse, and it’s brilliant fun for the show to be able to use imagery from his original turn as Trickster in the newspaper archives at S.T.A.R. Labs. Of course, his performance has much more of the Joker in it, but we can forgive that because it’s been twenty years since he was put away. That has to affect a man, especially one as off-balance as James Jesse. So OK. Joker as Trickster as Hannibal Lecter. And when he gets loose and starts terrorizing the city, it’s a chaotic free-for-all that clearly demonstrates Hamill is having a ball.

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Plenty of callbacks to the 1990 episodes, as well. The Tricksters crash a fundraising party disguised as servers, just as in “The Trial of the Trickster” when Jesse crashed the police costume party. The mayor of modern day Central City is Anthony Bellows, one of the uniformed cops from the original show (played by the same actor, Vito D’Ambrosio).

And Joe gets to have a couple of winky lines for the fan-service:

  • “Like Jesse James, only more twisted.” — almost an exact quote of Megan Lockhart saying that in “The Trickster”
  • “This looks like nobody’s been here since the 90s.” — I know, right?

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Other meta moments:

  • John Wesley Shipp is wearing the same trench coat he wore in the original show. Took it with him when the production ended.
  • The moment when Hamill says “I am your father” to Axel… priceless. And such a meta moment for fandom everywhere.

The bombing in the park is similar to the exploding Flash statue near the kids in the park from “The Trickster”, and we also get a nod at the animated Justice League: Doom with the bomb attached to Barry’s wrist, the result of which is our first look at Barry’s ability to phase through objects. Granted, it wasn’t an iceberg, but the result is similar: Barry loses the bomb off his wrist, phases through an object, and manages to avoid the explosion that follows.

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Here’s our intersection with the other plot thread: the speedsters. Wells pretty much gives himself away when he advises Barry on how to tap into the Speed Force in order to phase through a solid wall and get the bomb off his wrist. Barry keys in on it later, realizing that Wells is talking about the Speed Force as if he’s experienced it, like he knows what it’s like to be a speedster. It’s a wonder Cisco and Caitlin don’t start backing away slowly and avoiding eye contact…

Note the white in the emblem.
Note the white in the emblem.

The other Easter egg shows up early in the episode — the Flash is wearing his traditional uniform from the comics during the fight in the Allen home fifteen years ago. Now, we’ve seen bits and pieces of this before, but it’s our first look at the speedsters themselves, and we’ve all known the Reverse-Flash was Harrison Wells. Until it’s revealed that it’s not.

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Eobard Thawne (played by Matt Letscher) finds himself trapped in the past following his battle with the Flash, and so he tracks down Harrison Wells (the real one), causes the car accident that killed Tess Morgan, and uses a device that transfers Wells’ identity to Thawne. This Transmogrifier actually causes Thawne to physically transform into a duplicate of Wells. So the friendly neighborhood scientist is dead, and it’s likely his skull Joe and Arrow‘s Captain Lance find in an upcoming episode (as we’ve seen in the promo for the rest of the season).

Tess, by the way, came up with the name for S.T.A.R. Labs.

The third leg of the stool is the Mason Bridge mystery, as Joe and Barry bring Eddie in on Team Flash and get him to throw Iris off the scent, telling her Bridge went to Brazil. Eddie is clearly not taken with the notion of any of this, and you can bet he’s going to be a thorn in the foot later.

Speaking of thorns, who’s ready to see Richard Belzer come back?

[Show web site at CW]     [Previous Recap: “Rogue Time”]

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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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