The Flash TV Reviews

TV Review: The Flash, “The Sound and The Fury” (S1,EP11) – That Tom Cavanagh Guy? He’s Pretty Good

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.

Flash Pied Piper 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.

Harrison Wells 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 West Sound FuryIris 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.

Joe Sound Fury 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.

BOTTOM LINE

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

THE NOTES

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?

SECOND OPINION:

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.

9 comments

  1. To be fair, nothing in the episode indicated that the Pied Piper DOESN’T know Wells’ other secret… and it seems he will be a returning character for them to get information out of, so the potential still exists.

    Also, are we sure Wells is Reverse Flash? Holly is not so sure, and they’re taking their sweet time with it. Time will tell!

    1. That is true about Pied Piper. Oh, btw, when they went to commercial break with him teasing that he knows Dr. Wells’ secret I totally expected them to pick up from that same spot with Barry asking him to reveal the big, dark secret. When that didn’t happen I kept practically shouting at the screen, “Why is no one asking him about that secret?” Of course that’s because I thought he meant he knew Dr. Wells had his own super speed and what-not. As you point out, there’s nothing which actually suggests he DOESN’T know that.

      As for Dr. Wells, the answer is no, we don’t actually know that he is the Reverse Flash. I’ve been trying in my reviews to include qualifies like “He’s probably The Reverse Flash.” The Hollywood Reporter, in an interview with the producers after the mid-season finale, flat-out stated that Dr. Wells is The Reverse Flash, and Cavanagh and the producers seemed to confirm as much at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour. However, these are the same people who let us all believe that Oliver Queen was dead. So, not big with the trustworthiness. I wrote in my review of the mid-season finale that even though Dr. Wells has the yellow suit and tachyon device I still struggle to believe that he’s the Reverse Flash mostly because it doesn’t ultimately add up, not after we’ve seen the Reverse Flash beat him up in that makeshift prison cell. That is kind of the literal definition of him being in two places at once, and I just think “Dude’s super fast, that’s how he did it” strains credibility too much, not that they wouldn’t do that though. Maybe there are two different versions of The Reverse Flash, either two different people or the same person at different points in their timeline, and he’s just one of them. I don’t know. Dr. Wells being the Reverse Flash just seems too easy, but, honestly, if this goes the way it usually does on Arrow he’ll turn out to be the Reverse Flash and any question of how exactly he managed to kick his own in that mid-season finale will be swept under the rug. But I really like The Flash right now meaning I hope they do something totally unexpected and cool with all of this.

      1. Well, though I suppose it should be saved for a blog post… We’re wondering if he’s actually Flash. Goes back in time, fights Reverse Flash trying to save his mother, fails, and is stuck in the past – where he proceeds to live out a life, making sure events all go as they did before…

        Though by the same logic he could as easily be the Reverse Flash.

      2. Oh, I definitely think there is going to be a causality paradox whereby Barry travels back in time to protect his mother but obviously fails but is able to whisk the younger version of himself to the street across fom the house. Thus Barry would be partially responsible for setting up his own lifelong obsession with the man in the yellow suit and freeing his dad from prison. I just assumed it will be the current version of Barry who does that. I had not considered if maybe Harrison Wells was in fact a future version of Barry. This is now the part where I offer up the obligatory wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey doctor who reference.

  2. I wonder if they deliberately cast Harrison Wells to look like an older Grant Gustin or if they just lucked into it and use it to drive us crazy speculating. Tom Cavanaugh and Jesse Martin own the show, along wit Grant Gustin. Everyone is well cast but those three own it.

    I liked Cisco’s backstory and how he felt so left out (wow, Caitlin was bubbly before Ronnie died) but Iris’ came out of nowhere and it still wasn’t interesting. I hope they use Roger Howarth better next time.

    Iris is a psychology grad student in the comics, I believe. They never said what she was studying on the show but you’re right, she started her blog to meet a journalism course requirement, and only took the journalism course because a sociology-type course was required..

    I’m sorry no one ever called you on your Arrow columns. If it helps any, John Campea quit the ArrowAfterShow this week over this season’s storyline, and they don’t seem to care about him either.

    1. First Tom Cavanagh. Then Zach Braff. Both have their own shows on NBC, separated by 1 year. Everyone notices the resemblance. So, they just cast Cavanagh as Braff’s older brother on Scrubs.

      Now Grant Gustin. I never would have said, “That guy looks like the bowling alley lawyer from Ed,” but once you see them together on The Flash it does jump out at you.

      I agree – The ensemble on this show is good, but Gustin, Cavanagh, and Martin completely own it right now.

      Caitlin was super bubbly before Ronnie died, wasn’t she? I imagine she must have walked around that lab holding her ring hand up all the time to emphasize her engagement ring, and slipped in references to her fiance or engagement to the point that everyone started to hate her.

      When the casting call went out for the role of Iris, at that time it said she would be a psychology grad student. However, thinking back to those first 2 episodes I couldn’t quite remember if the show had ever stated what kind of grad student she was.

      No worries on the Arrow/Flash columns. I probably made too much out of my own story there because the real thing is that I am just annoyed at how quickly they’ve transitioned Iris into this new phase of her life. That does suck about John Campea, although also at the same time good for him, in a “it’s the principle of the matter” kind of way.

      1. You’re right about the casting call for Iris, in it she was a graduate psychology student. But the show never stated that, and when she was looking for a course to fill a requirement, she chose between sociology and journalism which sounds more like an undergraduate decision. While in graduate psychology you often have to take a course out of the strict curriculum for a cognate, it’s usually either something related to the work you’re doing (I did psychopharmacology (psychiatric drugs)) or related to the dissertation (e.g. a language so you can translate primary sources). It’s unlikely a graduate psychology student would quit to become a reporter mid-degree.

        So probably they decided to make her “a student” instead.

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