What happens when the person you look up to stops being your hero? That’s one of the themes behind this episode of THE FLASH, which brings us Hartley Rathaway, aka the Pied Piper! More after the break…including SPOILERS!
We start with a situation that demands more than speed, as two criminals on motorcycles take opposite directions. Harrison Wells is communicating with Barry over his headset, playing a strategy game that forces the two cyclists back together for capture. This foreshadows another theme of the episode; a game of chess. Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry and the team take a picture that could only be snapped by the Flash, as he hits the button and runs into the picture with the team. One note – Barry doesn’t wear his mask for this one – think THAT picture may come back in a later episode?
We meet Hartley Rathaway, a genius who was disowned by his parents after coming out to them. He was hired by Wells for his obvious talents, but Rathaway was such a jerk to everyone that he caused significant stress at S.T.A.R. Labs. In particular, he treated Cisco horribly (and didn’t treat Caitlin much better). Hartley was right about one thing – the upcoming particle accelerator test was not as safe as advertised and there were some significant dangers in moving forward. That accident affected Hartley as well, causing him to hear horribly painful noise at all times – eased only by special implants that come into play later in the episode. Hartley developed sonic weapons that use sound waves (no metahuman powers here), placed into gauntlets that can shatter glass…and do much more than that, as we will see later in the episode. Our Pied Piper (who comes up with his own code name, rather than having Cisco invent it) is out to make Wells pay for everything that has happened.
Iris is hired by a major news operation, the Central City Picture News, and she is paired with a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has been a hero to her. However, this journalist is NOT happy with Iris, discounting her as a blogger who has no real skills as a “true journalist” (NOTE: speaking on behalf of my fellow bloggers everywhere, let’s just skip the rush and hate him now, ok?). Worse still, Iris soon realizes she was only hired for her now non-existent connection to the Flash. We will see her trying to make her mark, and this looks to be something that will continue in future episodes.
The Flash is able to capture Hartley easily…too easily, in fact. His real reason for getting captured was to gain access to S.T.A.R. Labs and its database on…the Flash! Hartley escapes by using the implants we mentioned earlier, and in the process seriously injures Cisco. We’re seeing a real chess match going on here, and yes the chess metaphors abound in this episode. One interesting thing here…Wells runs to S.T.A.R. as Hartley is trying to escape, but his speed fails him – something we’ll see more about before this show is over.
After Hartley lets them know that he “knows Wells’ secret”, Wells has to come clean both with his team and with Central City. The team isn’t happy – their trust in Wells has been seriously damaged. And, while the town may be impressed with this confession, Hartley recognizes it as a gambit, a “bishop sacrifice”, and continues to press.
This takes us to the real battle, where Hartley is using those gauntlets to lift and throw cars around is if they weigh almost nothing. Hartley has put that database on the Flash to good use, as his weapons are able to hit a frequency that places Barry in real danger of dying. Wells has to figure out a way to help – I’ll leave out how this is resolved (it is a bit of pseudo-science that comics are famous for) but it is good enough here. Afterward, Wells finds that he has regained the trust of his team, and Barry hands him that picture of the team from early in the episode. Later, after Barry and Joe have a brief talk, we find that Eddie and Joe are going to continue investigating the mysterious Harrison Wells…this should be interesting. And, we go back one more time to S.T.A.R. Labs to find that Hartley knows where Ronnie Raymond is and what happened to him. He believes he can cure Ronnie, and that this will be his ticket to freedom. Wow! Of course, that takes us to the…
EPILOGUE: Once again we get a revelation about Harrison Wells. That tachyon device that Wells took at the mid-season finale is back on Wells. He’s trying to stabilize his powers, which are fluctuating wildly (explaining why he couldn’t run earlier in the episode). As it turns out, he only has a little more time to use this speed…does he also only have a little more time left to be in our time line? That isn’t clear, but what is clear is that, as Wells says, “The real end game is almost here.”
ADDITIONAL NOTE: Iris does manage to shine a bit as a journalist during Wells’ press conference. Wells ignores her mentor’s question to call on her, but she forces the issue with the original question about whether Wells intends to rebuild the accelerator. That does seem to score a few points for her – and it shows her in a more serious light as a reporter. Hopefully that will continue in future episodes.
SUMMARY: We get the criminal version of Pied Piper here, who comes across as a jerk…but also a genius who is a formidable foe, both for the Flash and Harrison Wells. Andy Mientus does a great job as Hartley, and I’m glad we will likely see more from him (and the Pied Piper) in future episodes. It was a bit convenient to break the trust of the team and rebuild it in one episode, but it is still handled in a way that is somewhat believable. We get quite a few hints of things to come – whether obvious in terms of the epilogue, or less so as in that unmasked picture of the Flash. And, the additional revelations about Harrison Wells could be a game changer – at the least it pushes up the timeline of our next Reverse Flash battle (explaining why they may come back to it this season). Overall, this was one of the better episodes of the season – hope you enjoyed it as well!