Directed by Ralph Hemecker
The Flash is back from his time-travel adventure sure of only one thing: that Harrison Wells is up to no good. He and Joe want to figure out what Wells is hiding from everyone, but a terrorist attack by a new villain, calling himself the Trickster, has everyone too distracted. Even worse, this new menace is mirroring a person from 20 years ago, someone who also called himself the Trickster while terrorizing the city. Can Barry stop this new threat and figure out what Harrison Wells is up to?
Mark Hamill returns to a role that gave him some comic book cred a long time ago, right before he stepped behind the mic and gave the Joker a voice for an entire generation. His Trickster, aged and crazed, is the closest the audience will get to what Hamill’s Joker would look like if they let him take the role in a live-action version. The scene where he removes his wig to rough up his hair feels like a straight homage to the crazed look Joker gave in The Killing Joke. To put it simply, Hamill steals the entire episode, with his manic joy in playing a sinister sociopath on full display. Like his voice-over Joker role, he gets this material and knows how to make a truly iconic villain, even if the villain’s name is Trickster.
The love-struck subplot of Barry pursuing Iris is, thankfully, put on the back burner. Barry seems to have realized that his over-eagerness in the previous episode really screwed up his short-term chance of being with Iris, and he is focusing that energy on solving the puzzle that is Wells.
What keeps this episode really moving along is an early reveal that, at the time, made no sense. The aftermath of the fight between Future Flash and Reverse-Flash that killed Barry’s mother is shown, with Reverse-Flash losing his powers and pulling back his hood to reveal… someone who is not Harrison Wells. This flashback plays out in well-paced segments throughout the episode, leaving one to wonder how Wells and this Eobard Thawne come together. The final reveal is an odd one, complete with a crazy body-switch that lays the piece for what may be Thawne’s final undoing.
The implication of this scene is great, especially in the aftermath of the previous episode’s “don’t mess with time” motto from Wells. It is clear that he is not above changing time, something relevant to anyone who sees that his ultimate goal was going to the past to kill his nemesis as a child. It’s not that he doesn’t want Barry changing the past, it’s that he doesn’t want Barry messing with his carefully orchestrated new timeline.
Mark Hamill’s return as the Trickster seems to be more than just nostalgia for fans of the original Flash and his Joker incarnation. It gives a life to the show’s world, showing that some baddies do not need a super explosion and a hero to exist.
– Eric Godfrey