The Flash‘s mantra is that there will always be more story to tell. That’s what the producers told Tom Cavanagh when he asked if they were perhaps moving a little too fast. Why hold back when tomorrow is not guaranteed? Of course, they’re getting a second season meaning tomorrow is definitely guaranteed, but they didn’t know that when they planned out the season. So, if you want to make Iris West a full-blown reporter why wait around for several full seasons like Smallville did with the Erica Durance Lois Lane? Boom. Iris get a call out of nowhere, and now she’s a reporter. Why wait? By comparison, waiting until mid-season to reveal that the man in the yellow suit was actually Dr. Wells was the model of restraint on their part. However, they still have 23 episodes of story to fill, and that means not all storylines will progress at the same rate. While Iris gets an out-of-nowhere career change this episode the rest of the cast is stuck pausing to take a look back at Dr. Wells’ history and dealing with a villain whose main purpose will clearly be to segue into the Firestorm portion of the season. As a result, you could ding this episode for being an in-between piece, but it did so while offering plenty of interesting character development moments for Team Flash. Plus, I’m still far from tired of seeing Flash use his superspeed in exciting CGI sequences.
Harrison’s Chess Match With Somebody Called the Pied Piper | The Flash doesn’t really do compelling villains. Part of that is simply because Dr. Wells pulls focus away from them, especially now that we know he appears to be the Reverse Flash. So, The Flash spends more time making sure that its villains-of-the-week look good and are at least kind of fun, with some granted sympathetic back stories, others unapologetically one-note. “Sound and the Fury” was their attempt to make a villain who was a little more than that. The basic storyline is that Dr. Wells once had a prized pupil at STAR Labs, Hartley Rathaway (Andy Mientus), who was brilliant but also a total dick. When this guy figured out that turning on the particle accelerator presented way more risk than Dr. Wells was letting on he was promptly terminated and intimidated against reporting his concerns to the press. Of course, he became a metahuman after the accelerator accident, and after deducing that Dr. Wells, Cisco, and Caitlin were the people behind The Flash he re-emerges to wreak havoc. He pulls a Joker from The Dark Knight or Loki from The Avengers or Javier Bardem from Skyfall or Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek Into Darkness by allowing himself to be caught halfway through the story all so that he can access the STAR Labs files about The Flash. He uses that information to almost kill Flash until Dr. Wells does something remarkably clever with car satellite radios. Bada bing, bada boom, that’s it…but wait, this guy says he knows what’s happened to Caitlin’s not-dead fiance, and how to save him? Whaaaaaaaaaat?
This inevitably covered familiar territory. After all, this is not the first villain seeking to specifically punish Dr. Wells for his crimes related to the particle accelerator (Blackout in “Power Outage) nor is it the first one to have a personal history with him (Clancy Brown’s General Eiling in “Plastique”). However, what I found more distracting was the way the villain went from the guy wanting to prevent a disaster with the particle accelerator to someone who views a road full of cars as mere pawns to be sacrificed in a metaphorical chess match. I guess the whole “Dude’s a douchebag” backstory is supposed to cover that, and perhaps his efforts to prevent the particle accelerator had nothing to do with concern for human loss and everything to do with safeguarding his professional reputation. Plus, in a classic villain kind of way he could have easily thrown out a, “I knew you’d waste your energy rescuing those people thus opening yourself up to defeat” monologue. I am probably focusing too much on the particle accelerator and not enough on Hartley’s obvious hostile, “Who the hell is the new guy? I’m the prized student!” reaction to meeting Cisco in the flashbacks. Honestly, though, I had so much fun watching Barry rescue all those people from the falling cars that questioning Hartley’s motives and morality didn’t even occur to me until well after I’d finished watching the episode.
Team Flash, Not So Jolly | Seeing Hartley match wits with Dr. Wells was fun, but his true purpose was to A) Illustrate why Team Flash shouldn’t trust Dr. Wells; B) To call forth flashbacks to when Cisco first met Dr. Wells and Caitlin; and C) To force a confrontation between Dr. Wells and Caitlin and Cisco. This was the part of the episode that worked best as it highlighted one of the show’s strong points, i.e., Tom Cavanagh’s increasingly fantastic performance as Dr. Wells. As the AV Club argued, “Wells is by turns menacing, shady, sarcastic, and seemingly contrite, and Cavanagh is able to make all these moods feel like facets of the same person […] Cavanagh never lets Wells become a one-dimensional mad scientist. At the same time, we can always glimpse the calculation behind his actions, as in the press conference where Wells calls on Iris. When Barry shakes off his suspicions and comes around to seeing Wells as his hero again, it feels believable even as we wish we could reach through the screen and shake some sense into the Flash.”
Iris The Journalist? | WeMinoredInFilm.com reached its two-year anniversary just a couple of days ago, and at certain times during the life of this site you would have been forgiven if you had called it “We Minored In Arrow.” I have published an inordinate number of articles about
Stephen Amell’s shirtless adventures Arrow, and the thing that kind of put me on the map was my essay about the Felicity, Oliver, Laurel love triangle. I’ve also now covered The Flash since it was little more than a rumor. So, this is now my 11th review for a Flash episode, and I’ve reviewed all 33 episodes of Arrow spanning the second and third seasons to this point. Not once during that entire time have I received a random call from someone from either show to tell me how much they love my blog and ask whether or not I’d like to work for them. Of course, I’ve never expected to, and that is so the last thing I had on my mind when I first started writing about the cinematic universe of Arrow.
I’m not saying any of this to be self-aggrandizing. There are countless other sites that write about Arrow/Flash even more than me, and many of them have been doing so since before the first season even premiered. Small fish, big pond. I’m simply offering it as context to best explain how annoyed I was when Iris West quite literally got a job as staff reporter at a newspaper because the editor liked The Flash blog she’s been writing for less than half a year. Now, obviously The Flash exists in a heightened reality where people in costumes run around committing crimes until the fast guy in the red costume catches them. So, just because I have not personally been or heard of any other Arrow/Flash blogger getting cold-called like that in the real world does not mean something similar can’t happen in the world of the show (after all, in the actual real world Juno‘s Diablo Cody turned her blog into a screenwriting career). However, it does mean I am perhaps predisposed to being a bit more critical of this plot development not due to envy but simply because it seems way too easy. Did I miss the point when Iris expressed any kind of ambition about being a journalist? She actually dismissed that potential career in an off-handed remark earlier in the season, and if memory serves she was a pyschology grad student when this all started. Her Flash blog was never about her being a journalist, more about her love for Barry, growing infatuation with The Flash, and dogged devotion to doing something everyone was telling her not to. Now, she’s not only suddenly working at a newspaper but she’s excited about it and driven to prove to everyone at her new job that she’s more than just the girl who writes about The Flash. What? Where the heck did this come from?
Umm, dude, Iris is a reporter in the comics. Pretty much always has been. She’s the Lois Lane to Barry Allen’s Superman except in the Flash comics time travel comes into play, things get crazy complicated, Iris actually becomes a villain…actually, just forgot all that and stick with her=Lois Lane, he=Superman. Just go with it. This is just how these plots sometimes go on Arrow/Flash.
Doubting Joe | Joe has gone from interrogating Dr. Wells at what had otherwise appeared to be a friendly get together to siding with Wells in their mutual stance against the Arrow to wondering why Wells convinced Barry to try and simply ignore Captain Cold and Heat Wave. The next portion of his arc will see him secretly investigating Dr. Wells with Eddie’s assistance, and I like the way Jesse L. Martin has been playing this.
Eventually, we were going to see the flashback episode where Cisco first met Caitlin and Dr. Wells just as we were eventually going to see Iris become a modern Lois Lane. Granted, it’s a bit odd that they both happened in the same episode, and that the story was more about setting things up for later than paying anything off. However, the storyline inherently placed a huge focus on Tom Cavanagh, to the point that Grant Gustin seemed way more of a spectator than usual. Cavanagh is so deliciously fun to watch in this role, way too good to fall into mere mad scientist territory, that I forgave this episode’s faults and simply had a heck of a time taking it all in.
NEXT TIME, BARRY FINALLY TRIES TO MOVE ON FROM IRIS
1. Quick show of hands: Who here has satellite radio in their car? And how likely is it that every single car on that bridge would have it thus allowing Dr. Wells to defeat the Pied Piper?
2. If you missed it, yes, that was the Royal Flush Gang on those motorcycles at the beginning of the episode. They previously showed up as a family previously screwed over by Oliver’s father in an early season 1 episode of Arrow, although based on how that episode played out this must be a wildly different version of the gang in Central City. They were likely just thrown in to tie into the chess theme, i.e., the leaders of the gang are the King and Queen.
3. Dr. Well’s house seems to be like 90% glass windows and ceilings. Is that really the best place for the guy pretending to be paralyzed to simply walk around and use his super speed for anyone looking in to see? Then again, it’s probably so secluded with its own security system that he never has to worry about that.
4. I do wonder if they’ll ever reach a point where seeing Joe smile like a schoolchild while watching Barry show off his powers or science-y knowledge will get old, but that day has yet to come.
5. Did you fell cheated that Pied Piper’s big secret turned out NOT to be that Dr. Wells is from the future and has a yellow suit and tachyon device?
AVClub – They gave it a B, concluding, ” Part of the problem is that much of the episode felt like set-up for things to come. We’re about at the season’s halfway point now, and “The Sound And The Fury” spent a lot of time planting seeds for future developments, particularly regarding Firestorm and the Reverse-Flash. That’s fine and probably necessary, but not as much fun as it could be.”
TV.com – They hated it, arguing,”There was plenty to dislike, and it mostly resulted in a cliché pile-up that wasn’t even an interesting cliché pile-up. I can deal with an episode combining threadbare narrative devices so long as those devices are stitched together in such a way that the outcome is at least entertaining and spruced up a bit. There was no sprucing up in “The Sound and the Fury”; instead, there were creaky and dull plot movements intended to get us to Hartley saying that he knows how to find and help Ronnie, whether it’s true or not.”
I’m done with my ramble. Your turn.