While it’s not officially being called a winter finale, this week’s new episode of ‘The Flash’ is the last until January 20th. With all my shows on break, what will I watch for the next month? Fortunately, this show delivers one of its most exciting (if also most confusing) episodes so far.
Question: Since this episode is called ‘The Man in the Yellow Suit’, does that mean that Barry is Curious George?
It’s Christmastime. Two Flashes race through the streets of Central City… Wait, what? Two Flashes? One is the mysterious Yellow Streak. Or Yellow Flash. Or, oh hell, let’s stop being coy and just call him the Reverse-Flash, because every comic book fan has already figured out that’s who he is.
How did this happen? Oh, I see. Time to flash back (Flash back, get it?) to one day earlier. Sneaky.
Let’s start over. It’s Christmastime. Dr. Wells is in a funk, remembering that his precious reactor exploded just about a year earlier. (But didn’t he cause that explos…? Whatever. He’s probably faking it anyway.) Eddie gives Iris a key to his apartment. Caitlin gets stalked through a parking garage by that guy who can set himself on fire. She calls him the “Burning Man,” but given the season, wouldn’t “Yule Log Man” be more appropriate?
Reverse-Flash raids a company called Mercury Labs, a competitor to S.T.A.R. Labs, but doesn’t get whatever he came for. Eddie, who’s still feeling pissy about the regular Flash beating him up, and recently got that anti-Flash task force he wanted for Christmas, of course assumes that this is the same guy and is eager to capture him.
Enter Mercury Labs founder Dr. Tina McGee. As promoted earlier in the season, actress Amanda Pays reprises her role from the 1990s ‘Flash’ TV series – a little bit of fan service that creates all sorts of questions about canon and continuity between the shows that I’m sure the writers have no intention of addressing. To mess with fans’ heads even more, John Wesley Shipp will also appear in this one, as Barry’s father Henry (a different character than the old show… we assume?), but he doesn’t share any screen time with Pays.
Caitlin has recognized her Burning Man stalker as her supposedly-dead fiancé Ronnie, who got vaporized in the reactor meltdown. She asks Cisco for help finding him again. When they do, he says he’s not Ronnie. Caitlin asks him to come back to the lab so they can help him remember who he is. Burning guy insists again that he’s not Ronnie, then says “Firestorm” and runs away. I thought he was supposed to be Flash antagonist Heat Wave? Is this just a new name for the show, or are these two different characters?
Wells figures out that Mercury Labs is working on a new experiment involving tachyons, which must be what Reverse-Flash wanted to steal. He asks Dr. McGee if he might borrow a few tachyons to use as bait for a trap he’s building. She initially refuses, until Barry blackmails her by threatening to leak information about all the top secret stuff he saw in her lab when he investigated the break-in crime scene. She reluctantly relents.
Later, Barry spots Reverse-Flash staring at him from a building across the street. He gives chase, and the two race around the city. Reverse-Flash is clearly the faster of the two, and seems to be toying with Barry.
Eventually, Barry confronts him in a football stadium. Reverse-Flash vibrates his molecules so that he always looks blurry and unrecognizable. Barry demands to know who he is. Reverse-Flash cryptically replies, “You know who I am, Barry” and “We’ve been at this a long time, you and I.” He also blathers a bunch of stuff about how it’s Barry’s destiny to lose to him, just as it was his mother’s destiny to die.
Having failed to catch his mother’s killer, Barry visits his father in prison. His dad begs him to let it go. Clearly, he knows something he’s not telling.
Likewise, while in the process of building a forcefield trap for Reverse-Flash, Dr. Wells and Joe West both ask Barry to step off. Feeling useless and despondent, Barry finally tells Iris that he loves her. “I couldn’t lie to you anymore,” he claims. Well, except for the part where he still hasn’t told her that he’s the Flash, that is. Kind of an important detail to omit, Mr. Truthteller.
Reverse-Flash takes the bait and gets trapped in Dr. Wells’ forcefield. Joe, Eddie and some SWAT guys move in to arrest him. Their guns seem pretty useless to a guy who can move way faster than bullets.
Wells gets up in his very blurry face to ask him some questions. Reverse-Flash claims, “My goals are beyond your understanding.” He then somehow pulls Wells through the forcefield and proceeds to pummel him. West sees no choice but to turn off the barrier and let Reverse-Flash go.
Barry gets there and chases Reverse-Flash around some more. They have a big fight in the parking lot. Barry gets his ass handed to him, until Ronnie Heatwave Firestorm Whatsisname turns up out of the blue and blasts some fire at Reverse-Flash, scaring him off. Ronnie then flies away exactly like Johnny Storm from ‘Fantastic Four’. Between these two comic properties, I still have no idea how setting yourself on fire equates to flying through the air, but that correlation seems to be a given.
West finally brings Eddie into the loop about what meta-humans are, but lies about not knowing the Flash’s real identity. One of the characters (I think Cisco, maybe?) points out that watching the two Flashes fight reminded him of Barry’s description of seeing both red and yellow lightning when his mother died. There must have been two Flashes in the house that night.
Finally, in another of his patented creepy postscript epilogues, Dr. Wells goes into his secret room in the lab and puts on a ring with the Flash emblem, which acts as a key to open a hidden compartment where he’s storing… the yellow Reverse-Flash suit! What the what?! Mind-screw!
Fans have speculated for quite a while now that Wells would turn out to be Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash. This would seem to confirm that, but how? Clearly, the show is playing with some time-travel elements in this storyline. Is Dr. Wells an older version of the character who’s now meeting his younger self (or vice versa)? Or maybe we’re dealing with crossover from alternate universes? I have no idea how this will work out, but I’m really eager to find out when the show returns in six weeks.