The Trickster made his grand entrance on The Flash just in time for April Fools. However, it’s definitely not a trick when I say that “Trickster” was another fantastic episode, packed with a great villain and some mind-blowing plot twists that no one saw coming.
In any other circumstance, the revelation about Harrison Wells and Eobard Thawne would get the first mention here, but that honour has to go to Mark Hamill for his superb portrayal of the iconic Trickster. In case you hadn’t already heard, this is actually the second time Hamill has played the villain. He first took on the role in the 1990’s version of The Flash where John Wesley Shipp, who plays Barry’s father in this series, starred as Barry Allen himself.
Hamill has already made a name for himself as a DC villain with his voiceover work as The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series and, more recently, the Arkham video game series. Luke Skywalker aside, Hamill is at his best when he plays the bad guy, and this episode of The Flash was no exception. That first scene in his cell was absolutely chill-inducing and it only got better from there. From the beginning it was clear that James Jesse was up to something, so it was no surprise when his far less compelling copycat turned out to be no more than a partner-in-crime, setting the stage to set him free to wreak havoc on Central City.
In an even bigger nod to the original series, the original Trickster and the original Flash came face-to-face when he took Barry’s dear old dad hostage in a weak bid to stop the police from coming after him. Not only was it great for nostalgia reasons, it also gave us a chance to see Barry with his father again. While I maintain that Barry and Joe have some of the best chemistry in the series, it’s always a guaranteed tear-jerker when Barry gets to bond with Henry. This time around, he officially revealed his identity to his father, who embraced it with open arms. “You always did look good in red,” he said as my heart swelled up three sizes.
Of course, the biggest reveal of the episode was that the real Harrison Wells died fifteen years ago. In the first moments of the episode we saw a tease of the clash between Barry and Eobard Thawne that resulted in the death of his mother. It was also the moment that Thawne was stranded in the past, which led to some dire consequences. After finding Wells and his wife, Tess Morgan, he staged their car crash then used some unknown future science to steal his face in order to speed up the invention of the particle accelerator. This, of course, explains why his blood doesn’t match the blood found at the scene of Nora Allen’s murder.
While we don’t know the full extent of his plan, it’s all leading to Wells (or should I just use Thawne now?) using Barry’s speed to return to the future. We also saw Wells’ first major mistake, where he became a little overzealous explaining to Barry how to phase through a wall in order to prevent a bomb from exploding Keanu Reeves in Speed-style. Knowing that there was no way Wells could know exactly what it felt like to run that fast, Barry realized that Wells must be the Reverse Flash. With that information, he made the decision to reveal his identity to Eddie in a bid to convince him to stop Iris from investigating into Bridge’s disappearance.
Truthfully, that may have been the moment that surprised me the most in this episode. While it’s true that revealing his identity doesn’t have the same implications as it does for Oliver Queen as the Arrow, maintaining a secret identity is a mainstay of superhero narratives. Of all the people to learn Barry’s identity, Eddie seemed like the last one on the list. Now we’re at the point where every important person in Iris’ life is deliberately lying to her. I more than understand why they’re doing it, but Arrow fans know that keeping secrets from loved ones is a slippery slope that can easily become dangerous. Now that Eddie knows, I’m hoping Iris won’t be left out for too long.
With Barry that much closer to learning about the Reverse Flash’s identity, what’s next for the team at S.T.A.R. labs? They’ll have to tread very carefully, considering the fact that Wells/Thawne won’t hesitate to kill anyone who gets close to learning his secret. Fans are probably still recovering from Cisco’s almost-murder.
There were more than just a few references to the 1990s series, including actual photos and costumes that were seen in the Trickster’s “lair.” Not to mention Mayor Bellows was played by Vito D’Ambrosio, who played officer Tony Bellows in the original series as well. This episode was super meta.
Retro-The Flash wasn’t the only easter egg this episode–who else caught the Star Wars reference made by Hamill himself?
Grant Gustin is basically a human puppy, so every time he cries in the show I can’t help but get a little emotional.
Considering he keeps mentioning the “centuries” between himself and everyone else, Wells/Thawne must think everything is so primitive compared to when he grew up. To him the iPhone is probably the equivalent to using morse code.
What did you think of last night’s bombshell episode? Give us your opinion in the comments below. The Flash is taking a week off before it returns with another exciting Arrow crossover on April 14. Meanwhile, The CW gave us a sneak peek of what we can expect from the remainder of the season. It looks like practically all of Starling City will be making an appearance in the final six episodes.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CTV and The CW.
Associate Editor Kelly Townsend always had strong opinions on TV growing up, so it was only natural to evolve from couch musings to online journalism. She can't ever choose a favorite series, so please don't ask. Her writing has also appeared on IndieWire and Tribute.ca. You can find her on Twitter at @kellybtownsend.