Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Flash "Tricksters" Review


This week's episode was a great balance of what comic book characters were and what they have become now. Back before Christopher Nolan, or heck maybe even Tim Burton with his Batman, comic book villains and heroes seemed to be a bit more lighter-toned. The villain's schemes didn't make much sense and could pull almost anything out of thin air at any time. They've developed now into more character-based villains (the good ones at least) with strong motivation to hunt down our heroes and have more of a personality because of it. Great newer villains like Komodo show that the industry has forever shifted into a more realistic approach. One could argue that it's fading out, but it's clear that it's imprint will never leave. Otherwise, I argue, the Flash's suit would have been the typical bright red and we wouldn't have villains constantly dressed in civilian clothing (Reverse Flash and Gorilla Grodd notwithstanding).

The problem can stem from when things go too far, when things get forced. If a villain or hero pushes past their boundary and tries to do too much, it feels wrong and therefore takes us out of the story. Villains such as this show's Captain Cold and Heat Wave are a fun fit for the show because their personalities mirror that of the Flash's, almost two extremes of his: either super eccentric or very calm and calculated. This week's villain, though, was simply fantastic.

Mark Hamill as the Trickster was something I was far too young to get to enjoy when it first aired. Instead I watched 90s Spiderman, so that was fun. But, I think it's suffice to say that this version was probably just the one from twenty years ago. Mark Hamill brought this character to life and would have been the star of the show if not for Eobard Thawne's backstory which I'll get to in a moment).

Was this the best episode of the series? No, God no. I still withstand that the midseason finale or the two-part Firestorm bit are the best material of the show. But this one is up there. It's major flaw is a lack of focus that, let's face it, neither Arrow or The Flash have been able to conquer. You want to have such fun and iconic characters but the overall plot of the series doesn't call for them. Sadly, the Trickster falls prey to the villain-of-the-week, but he's easily the best one from either show. Had Komodo been given more backstory/ dialogue, then yeah, he'd be the best (favoritism wins out here, sorry). But as it is, I couldn't help but smile watching Hamill work his magic on screen. I can't have been the only one that noticed he was using at least some of his BTAS Joker voice, which was a delight to hear after so long.

Highlight of the entire episode, maybe even the whole show, was him delivering the line, " your father." You know they wrote the entire episode JUST so they could have him say that line. It was simply amazing! So out of nowhere, but just so good.

His plan was pretty simple, to rob all the rich people. I can't complain though, because it felt so right. This guy has been locked up for 20 years. 20 years ago, super-heroes were on the decline in how cool they were, so generic plots like this wouldn't be too far-fetched. I can't blame the guy who hasn't really known anything else since then. Though apparently he knows about Breaking Bad, but, like any old super-hero story, plot-holes are a given.

And what's a good throwaway Flash villain if he isn't going to strap a bomb to the Flash that will explode if he slows down slightly? I mean, it's vintage stuff! And we've seen him get out of that little problem no sweat before, so I was mostly interested in how they were going to write Barry out of the jam this time.

The episode does feel a little disjointed because, again, there is hardly any clear focus. Besides the really fun Trickster stuff, we also had Barry coping with the fact that maybe Wells is indeed the Reverse Flash. Though, what bothered me was that this was all on a hunch, yet he was acting all distrusting of him and all mopey at S.T.A.R. Labs. Wells is a smart dude, he probably did realize that Barry was catching onto his secret while Barry was running around trying to find the bomb and went against his directions. I just think it would have been wiser on Barry's part to keep his normal attitude up at S.T.A.R. Labs and be all whiny in his little research facility with Joe.

Speaking of which, they didn't really accomplish anything this episode, either. It felt more like Barry and Joe catching up to what the rest of us already knew. Honestly, I'm okay with that. It was bound to happen sooner or later, and I'm glad we got some really entertaining bits with the Trickster in between so that it wasn't extremely dull. Unlike Out of Time where I think most of the emphasis should have been on Barry's investigation of seeing himself and less about our so-so villain of the week, this episode had our characters making leaps and bounds with the plot to almost catch up to us, as well as start planning their next move, plus it handed us the Trickster.

Though there was a really nice bit where Joe told Barry that his greatest power isn't his speed but his ability to see the best in people. And that while sometimes it can be a double-edged sword, it shows why he is so well suited to being a super-hero. It spoke volumes for Joe as a fatherly figure and was all completely true about Barry, perhaps even re-energizing the audience to get behind him in the eventual struggle against Reverse Flash and his buddies.

The most interesting bits of the episode opened fresh wounds as we got Thawne's origin in the series...sort of. In this timeline, I should say. It revealed to us that, no, Harrison Wells was never the Reverse Flash. It has always been Eobard Thawne and always will be. We also got a glimpse of Tess Morgan, however brief it was. This also put to bed many lame theories that Tess would die and make Wells go crazy to become Reverse Flash. Fun fact: he's dead too!

In a Face/Off and/or Superior Spider-Man type of way, Thawne used some sort of link-cable (guess those will make a resurgence in the future, why not) to swap faces and genetic structure (???) with a crippled Wells, as Thawne does not exist in this timeline and would be clearly seen as the cause of this chaos, since he kinda blew out Wells's car tires. What a jerk. I'm not really sure the science behind it and I'm not going to question it, since this is The Flash where Barry can literally punch the metal form off of someone (so stupid). I do think it's a brilliant spin on the character, though, and is something none of us ever would have guessed in the early going. It also brings up another point:

The fact that this man from the future had blonde hair and was aged. Eddie has blonde hair. Eddie looks very young. Eddie is a "distant relative" to Eobard. Again, I shall bring up Pokemon: "distant relative" equates to "far away land" equates to "gap in time" equates to "Eddie in future becomes Reverse Flash because reasons." While I'm not going to confirm that or anything, given how the first reveal was something of a red-herring, I'm going to take that and run as my new Thawne theory.

We also learned this episode that Nora Allen was no, in fact, the target the night she died. It was Barry, a young Barry, it appears. This, though, is a bit confusing. We've somewhat established that The Flash is working off of a linear timetable, maybe (given promos we've seen that is either not true or we've been spoiled for the next Arrow episode), so, that makes me wonder why Thawne would want to kill young Barry. If he does that, the Flash does not exist. If the Flash does not exist, then there is no one for Thawne to chase back to that night for him to kill Barry, and therefore that event would never happen. Unless...

DC is throwing us another curveball in which we are in an alternate reality, in which case we have been operating on an Earth different from the one we were on prior to Episode 16. Which would make way more sense, and brings up another point, another possible thread to the "Flashpoint" bear we are poking at: the fact that Thawne is growing closer and closer to the Speed Force for him to be able to jump in and out of time whenever he pleases. That seems to be what he is reaching for, and may be exactly what he gets should Barry succeed in stopping him later on.

It is a bit random that his Speed Force would suddenly cut out, and it also raises a question of where the heck did Future Barry run off to after saving his younger self? Wouldn't he go back? Or did he vanish, perhaps, because of an event that had yet to happen, wherein time reset itself because it was now flowing like normal? After all, why did Thawne pick Harrison Wells to choose as a body-swapper? He did it with such ease that it seemed this was practiced. Hmm...

Okay I'm just throwing leaves into the wind at this point, but you get what I'm saying! We're hardly any closer to the answers than we were before, we now the questions keep piling on. One door opens and many paths lay before us.

If the road continues to be paved with fun episodes like tonight's, with a really fun villain, heartwarming moments with our heroes, and interesting plot threads from the past resurfacing to the present, it'll be a fun journey!

Sadly, we have to take a week off :( c'mon man!

EDIT: Totally forgot to mention that Barry revealed himself to Eddie, which is probably going to lead to some pretty bad things if Thawne is who we think he is. It also came out of nowhere, with zero build-up. Weird.  

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @seanovan13 to stay up to date on when I post! Thanks for reading!

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