Season 2, Episode 5 - "The Darkness and the Light"
Grant Gustin, Tom Cavanagh, Teddy Sears, Carlos Valdes, Malese Jow, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Shantel VanSanten
Regular airtime: Tuesdays, 8 pm
US: 4 Nov 2015
The Flash delivered another fun hour of television this week.
Most importantly, this episode marks the return of Tom Cavangh as Harrison Wells. Alongside Grant Gustin’s Flash, Harrison Wells was the central character in the series’ fantastic first season, and his presence has been sorely missed this year. Wells was the Flash’s creator and mentor, as well as his most important nemesis. Cavanagh played the part with relish, continually keeping us guessing as to Wells’ true nature.
Wells—or, more accurately, Eobard Thane, the Reverse Flash—was killed at the end of last season, or rather, the timeline was changed so that he was never born. In his last moments, however, he managed to open up a number of “breaches” that connect our universe to others in the multiverse. The Harrison Wells who made his triumphant return to STAR Labs in this week’s episode is the Harrison Wells from another universe: Earth 2.
And just like that, the character is back to his old ambiguous ways. Is he a good guy or a bad guy? Is he here to help the Flash Team in their battle with Zoom (Tony Todd), the evil speedster from Earth 2, or does he have more diabolical plans in mind? This new Wells seems cockier and less purely rational than the Wells of old. He is quick to insult his new acquaintances, and holds Earth 2’s Flash, Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears), in disdain. As Cisco (Carlos Valdes) observes, “You know, our Dr. Wells might have been evil, but you’re a dick.”
Good or evil, I’m just glad to have him back and glad to hear him talking in Barry’s ear as the hero races off to do battle with the latest threat, whether metahuman or a “breacher” from another Earth.
This week’s breacher is Dr. Light (Malese Jow), a villain from Earth 2 who was sent by Zoom to Earth 1 to destroy Barry. Zoom apparently wants to make sure that he is the only speedster in the multiverse. There was a lot of secrecy about who was going to play the part of this week’s villain, a character who controls the power of light, and it was a pleasant surprise to see that Dr. Light is none other than the Earth 2 version of series regular Linda Park, Iris Allen’s (Candice Patton) co-worker and Barry’s one-time love interest. It was a nice surprise (Doppelgangers are almost fun) and it is great to see the excellent Jow given something more to do.
The other big reveal, which is more of a surprise to the Flash Team than to viewers of the show, is that Cisco is also a metahuman. Ever since his deadly encounter with the evil Wells in an alternative timeline (I don’t have time to explain everything; you’re going to have to go back and watch Season 1 if you want to follow all of this), Cisco has experienced psychic flashes that have allowed him to provide insight into the whereabouts of villains.
In this week’s episode, the Wells from Earth 2 uses a device that identifies metahumans in order to reveal the truth about Cisco. Cisco then uses his power to experience “vibes” to help the team plan their trap for Dr. Light. Cisco, who loves to give catchy names to metahumans—a conceit that allows the show to use comic book names for its superpowered heroes and villains without seeming totally nuts—takes the name of “Vibe” for himself.
I confess that I am a little torn by this turn of events. We’ve known for a long time now that Cisco was going to take the name of the comic book hero, so this reveal doesn’t come as a big surprise. In recent years, the comic book version of the character has had the ability to detect dimensional breaches in a way similar to Cisco’s power. But, and this is pretty important, the comic book version of Vibe has a more impressive power as well, namely the ability to vibrate his body in such a way as to create shock waves. Hence, in the comic books, the origin of his name comes from his vibration powers, not his ability to receive psychic “vibes” about dangers and threats.
The Flash hasn’t let me down yet, so I’m confident that Cisco’s powers are going to grow and that, in time, his vibratory powers will be revealed. In recent years, the comic book version of the character has become even more powerful, and his ability to disrupt the “Speed Force” makes him an important threat to both villains and heroes who tap into that cosmic power to become speedsters like Barry, Jay, the Reverse Flash, and Zoom. Cisco is one of my favorite characters on The Flash and his Vibe powers had better get a whole lot cooler. (I do hope, however, they don’t introduce the comic book character’s break-dancing tendencies. Some things should stay in the comics.)
In addition to all of the superpowered stuff, there are plenty of other things to enjoy in this episode, including lots of budding romance. Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) and Jay share an intimate moment. Cisco takes a risk and asks Kendra Saunders (Ciara Renee) out , who promises to be more than she seems. In what is arguably the best scene in the whole episode, Barry and Patty (Shantel VanSanten) go on a “blind date” that requires Cisco to, once again, use his engineering skills to make a high-tech device to help Barry out of a tight spot.
It’s that scene in particular that shows why this series is so phenomenally good. The Flash is full of superpowered action, obscure comic book references, and pulp sci-fi concepts. But it is also full of human moments that give the exceptional cast a chance to shine. Once again, The Flash offers a nice balance of superheroic science fiction mixed with just the right amounts of humor and drama.
The only thing missing in this episode was King Shark. After last week’s tease, I need more King Shark.