‘The Flash’ Season 1 Recap, Episode 11, ‘The Sound & the Fury’
Welcome back to Up To Speed, home of the the Flashest Recaps Alive. Here we’ll recap the episode, dispense some Flash Facts and talk about what works, what doesn’t and where the series might be headed, as we try and keep up with the adventures of Central City’s (for now) second-fastest man, Barry Allen, more widely known as The Flash.
This week, we’re looking at the eleventh episode of the first season, “The Sound & the Fury,” which has nothing to do with the Faulkner novel; sorry, lit nerds. It does, however, feature a figure from S.T.A.R. Labs' past, dirtbike villainy, sound warzzz and Joe West delighting at breaking glass.
FLASHBACK: What Happened This Week
The episode starts with the traditional Barry voiceover. This week, he's going on and on about heroes and what happens when you find out your hero is a bit of a creep. During the opening monologue, we see Barry taking out some members of The Royal Flush Gang, who I guess have already appeared in Arrow, but they seem to be a bunch of dirtbike bandits, which I am always very down with. Barry takes them down pretty easily, with the help of Harrison Wells, who helps corral the RFGs with super-speed-geometry.
Back at the Lab, Cisco wants to take a picture and Wells, being the hint-dropping super-creep that he is says, "Oh, what the hey, people in The Future – where I am totally not from, no siree – may want to know about Barry Allen and his best friend Harrison Wells LOL (seriously I'm from the future tho)."
Barry thanks Wells for his help and Wells is like, "Hmmm, I kind of like being a superhero." And then he turns to the camera and winks really big.
At the West homestead, Barry returns home to find Iris there. Barry gives her a hard time about having moved out only to always be home, but I guess he forgot that he just moved back in. Joe brings out a huge bowl of spaghetti and is like, "Want some spaghetti?", but Iris has to go help Eddie paint their new place. Barry sulks in the background.
Joe mentions to Iris that somebody from "Central City Picture News" (which sounds like a newspaper for illiterates) left her a message and it turns out they want to give her a job based on her blogging skills! But the joke is on Iris because print is dead and newspapers are even more dead. RIP, publishing.
Meanwhile, we're introduced to Harrison Wells' space age bachelor pad. It's all sensor controlled and stuff. He rolls in at first, but then gives up all pretense of being unable to walk and just starts walking around like it's NBD. The house also automatically starts playing opera for him. The only times you hear opera is in movies when gangsters are being shot up in slow motion or when a serial killer is getting ready to skin their prey alive. Which is to say, it suits Harrison Wells.
He's just about to relax after a busy day of hinting that he's form the future and sneaking off to his sci-fi closet to talk to his computer when he gets a call on his phone, which, for some reason is in his back pocket, which seems weird for a guy who sits in a wheelchair all day, but what do I know? The voice on the other end is all, "I know what you did last summer," and Wells immediately pulls out his gat and gets ready to plug some poor sucker full of holes when a weird noise starts breaking glass like everywhere in his house. Luckily, Wells manages to Flash out of the way of the breaking glass.
The next morning, Central City's only two detectives and one CSI guy show up at Wells' Shag Shack. Joe is wearing his Business Beanie™ and looks handsome as usual. Barry's not wearing a beanie, so -10 points for Gryffindor. Wells is kind of shrugging the attack off like just some harmless prank by some pranksters getting their prank on (not to be confused with The Prankster). Joe is not buying it. Cisco and Caitlin show up and are amazed by Wells' house, which they've never seen before. Part of me wonders if they were using this as an excuse to check out their boss' place.
Then we get a flashback to Wells and some kid who looks like Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter had a baby like in that fanfiction I read that one time. They're playing chess and speaking Latin because snobs and also, so that the writers can use chess metaphors throughout the episode. We find out that Draco Potter is actually Hartley Rathaway, the son of the rich people whose painting got torched by Heatwave last episode.
Cisco shows up because this flashback takes place on his first day and Hartley is a real jerkwad to him, making fun of his Star Wars/"Keep Calm &…" mash-up shirt. (It really is a terrible shirt, tho.) Wells steps in and chides Hartley for being a dick, and assures Hartley that he's still "[his] guy," and maybe I'm reading too much into this, but the subtext is aaaalmost text here, right? They've got a thing going on beyond just mentor-mentee?
Back in the present, Joe isn't buying Wells' story, and Barry super-speeds a window together to figure out that it was shattered by something beyond a brick or a baseball bat. Barry brings this info to Wells, who is like, "Yeah, it was Hartley Rathaway that did this."
At S.T.A.R. Labs, Wells fills everybody in on Hartley's deal, and Barry gets all protective of his new Science Dad. We get another flashback of Hartley giving Cisco the tour of the facility and introducing him to Caitlin, who's off to meet Ronnie for their anniversary. I get the distinct feeling that pre-The Event, she was one of those people who just can't shut up about their significant other. "Ronnie this," and "My Boyfriend that," and "Well, Ronnie says…" Maybe it's a good thing he got blown up and turned into a fire-guy?
At the Picture News – "Now with more pictures!" – Iris meets a new colleague, a Mason Bridge, who looks like Jim Varney with a gross goatee and eats really disgustingly. Iris pitches a story about a charity that helps battered women, but it's obvious the Editor in only interested in her Flash stories. Bummer.
At the crime lab, Barry's teaching Joe about sound frequencies and how you can shatter glass by matching the vibration frequencies of an object. Remember this. There will be a test. Joe is very tickled by this. Then Joe sort of casts a lot of doubt on Wells' history, or lack of it. Barry gets all harumph-y about it, cuz now his Cop Dad is making him doubt his Science Dad and it hurts his head, I guess. Luckily, Eddie struts in the room to let them know that Hartley's out at his dad's offices, blowing up glass like it was his job.
Barry flashes over there and knocks Hartley on his butt, but Hartley shoots Barry through a big glass sculpture. Barry responds by throwing the batons of all the cops who have shown up at the scene, which is kind of a hilarious dick move. Barry super-speeds over to Hartley, rips off his gloves and gets ready to pummel him and his wizard robes, but Hartley stops him short by threatening to expose Wells for what he really is, and I'm like, "Please do this because I'm kind of sick of them just teasing info out every episode."
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry perp-walks Hartley through the facility, so he can both flirt with Barry and also antagonize C+C Science Factory. They lock him up in the secret underground prison. Cisco notices that he has some metallic stuff in his ear, but Hartley tells him he can't take it out cuz his ears got all jacked up when the reactor blew up. Then he taunts Cisco in Spanish, Caitlin in French and Wells in Latin. Wells tries to apologize, but Hartley ain't buying it.
Well decides to come clean about
his staggeringly-detailed collection of erotic friend fiction how Hartley told him that there was a chance the reactor might blow up, but he ignored it. Caitlin, naturally, does not take this all that well. Cisco doesn't seem all that pleased, either.
At the newspaper (for our younger readers, newspapers were sort of an IRL internet, only with less cat videos and drawings of Sonic the Hedgehog), the Editor in Chief is still hassling Iris for Flash stuff, but she's trying to make her mark on her own terms. She tried to small talk Bridge, but he sort of shuts her down, pointing out (kind of rightfully) that she hasn't really earned her slot on the paper, that she sort of walked in and is now demanding to be taken seriously as a writer despite not having any journalism experience besides (blech) blogging.
At Central Perk or whatever, Barry and Iris commiserate about their rough days. Barry tries to make it better and sort of succeeds for once.
At S.T.A.R. Labs, Cisco is checking out Hartley's gear, and noticing he had the power settings way low, which C+C deduce means he was just really wanting to get captured. Cisco calls up Wells, who is hanging in his future closet, gazing lovingly at his Reverse Flash outfit. He tries to Flash back to his wheelchair, but his legs get all vibrate-ey and he falls over in the hall. Meanwhile, in the Superjail, Hartley's removed one of his ear thingies (ewww) and uses it to both blow the door open and also blow Cisco the hell back. He makes his way to the main lab room, knocks Caitlin out, steals his Power Gloves back, and starts downloading all of S.T.A.R. Labs' info. Wells calls Barry over, and he helps Caitlin up before he finds Wells, in his chair, going, "Hey! Wha' Happened?!"
Cisco wakes up on the lab table/bed thingy, and Wells decides to come clean to the public about knowingly blowing up a big chunk of their city, but not before we get a flashback of when Hartley told him the accelerator wasn't 100% good to go and Wells fires him. It just sort of re-establishes what we already know. Then we're back in the present, and Wells gives a press conference at the Cop Shop. Bridge tries to ask a tough question, but Wells ignores him, asking Iris instead for a question. She doubles down on Bridge's question, which, dammit earns her some begrudging respect from him.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, they're sort of waiting for Hartley to show up. In the meantime, Wells tries to smooth things over with Cisco. It goes okay, I guess. Hartley taps into the S.T.A.R. Labs PA, gloating at Wells and dropping chess references and challenging The Flash to a fight. Turns out he's on a toll-bridge and is gonna start tossing cars over the side using his Power Gloves if Wells doesn't use his "Scarlet Knight" to chess with him … TO THE EXTREME!
Hartley starts whipping cars over the side, but Barry thankfully shows up to Flash people out of them before they splatter at the bottom of the dam the bridge crosses over. It's the usual third act fight for this show, with Barry narrowly managing to rescue the people the villain has put in harm's way. The big wrinkle comes when Cisco figures out that Hartley stole the blueprints for Barry's suit and uses the frequency of his suit's speakers to … vibrate him to death, I guess?
Anyway, it makes Barry fall to his knees and "urrrk" in pain, so it must be true. Hartley just circles around Barry, talking about how Wells replaced him and how he knows chess terms and how Barry's organs were "shearing apart." Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Wells hacks a car's satellite radio to send a frequency that cancels out Hartley's frequency and also makes his Power Gloves explode in his hands. Defeated by SiriusXM.
At S.T.A.R. Labs, everybody high-fives and stuff. Wells gives Barry a speech about how he hopes he can restore Barry's trust and Barry's like, "Aw, come on, Science Dad. Gimme a hug." Then we get Barry's voiceover about how heroes are everywhere, doing everything, we're all heroes, even Aquaman, blahblahblah. He heads back to the Cop Castle and has a good chat with Cop Dad Joe, making sure he knows he's the #1 Not In Jail Dad in his Book of Dads before he heads home. Then Eddie shows up to tell Joe about what he found when he did a super-secret search of Wells' house because Eddie has to do something this episode, poor dude.
In the secret underground meta-prison, Cisco is taunting Hartley, who is like, "You're totally gonna let me out of here because I know where Ronnie is and how to save him," and Cisco is all O_O.
The obligatory Wells epilogue is him in his sci-fi closet, trying on the "tachyonic device" and asking Gideon, his lady computer, how much longer it's "viable for," and how the Speed Force harness thing was only supposed to be a "temporary fix" and that the "endgame" is almost here, because chess.
FLASH FACTS: Random Observations
- Cisco has an Amazon Fire phone. For a tech nerd, this seems super wrong, but you can't fight product placement.
- The whole "I'm gonna get your frequency and shear your organs," thing sounds scientific enough, I guess, though something tells me that if those MythBusters nerds ever decided to do an episode devoted to the science on this show, they'd make a lot of the writers cry.
- Hartley Rathaway, the Pied Piper, first appeared in Flash #106, and was created by Carmine Infantino and John Broome. The comics version was a deaf music prodigy who, after having his hearing restored by doctors, became obsessed with sound. He later developed a flute that allowed him to control peoples' minds. Later in life, he reformed and dedicated himself to helping the homeless and needy. In Flash vol. 2, #53, 1991, he came out as gay. Here's some pages from that issue. He eventually rejoined the Rogues as a ruse, then some crazy stuff happened to him in Countdown and Final Crisis that I can't really figure out. In the New 52, he's an orchestra conductor who used to be a supervillain but is now dating Captain Singh. I'm sure some/most of this is wrong.
- Overall, a decent episode. The flashbacks were largely unnecessary, as they basically showed us stuff we'd already been told about, but it did set up Piper as a serious antagonist for Wells as well as the Flash AND Cisco. Also, the return of Business Beanie™.
FLASH-FORWARD: Future Happenings
Next week's episode, "Crazy For You," sees Barry engaging in shirtless makeouts with Malese Jow's Linda Park, and teases Ronnie's F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. (ugh, I still can't believe that is an acronym) plot inching forward as well.
See you next week. Same Flash-time, same Flash-website.