‘The Flash’ Season 1 Recap, Episode 17, ‘Tricksters’
Welcome back to Up To Speed, home of the the Flashest Recaps Alive. Here we’ll recap the latest episode of The Flash, 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 the fastest man alive, Barry Allen, more widely known as The Flash.
This week's episode has two times the Tricksters, that patented Barry Allen subtlety, and the Secret Origin of The Reverse Flash. So let's tear into “Tricksters."
FLASHBACK: What Happened This Week
The episode starts off 15 years ago, with Nora Allen tucking Li'l Barry into bed before a little Mommy Wine Time™, which is rudely interrupted by the intrusion of two speedsters who have that fight we've been sort of alluding to all season. In the present, Joe West and Barry Allen are looking over Barry's Crazy Wall, linking up evidence about his mom's death. They both still think Wells did it, but they can't figure out how or why, though we'll get some answers to this before the episode is through.
Their brainstorming sesh is cut short by some obnoxious dink calling himself The Trickster, who's parachuting cute little bombs onto a playground. It's all pretty horrific, though there is one dude who is so scared he's clearly in the middle of dropping an S-bomb next to a jungle gym that's literally crawling with children. Real classy, dude.
Meanwhile, on that wretched hive of scum and villainy known as The Internet, Kid Trickster has uploaded his latest prank to whatever passes for YouTube in this fictional universe. He's going for Frank Gorshin but it comes out Frankie Muniz. He's terrible and not in a good way.
Joe fills the Stabbers in on the original Trickster, a twisted dude named James Jesse (Corvette Summer star Mark Hamill, sort of reprising his role in the 90s Flash series, tho he's skirting close to his vocal work as Batman: the Animated Series Joker here) who's locked up in Iron Heights for being a deranged terrorist. Joe makes a comment about how he was the most dangerous thing Central City had ever seen, and then Barry, ever the slick one, glares at Harrison Wells and says, "That is, until the particle accelerator blew up." It's so obvious that when Barry storms out of the room, Wells asks Joe what's up and Joe is like, "I literally don't know, but wow, that kid is so bad at lying."
Then it's a flashbaaaaack, and we're back at the West house 15 years ago, with Henry telling Barry to run and a yellow streak (Barry) running him far away from the house. A red streak (RevFlash) tries to follow, but collapses in the middle of the road. He summons Gideon and is like, "WTH?!" and Gideon's all, "Your speed force powers are broke. You're stuck in the past." And since they're doing the Freddy Kreuger thing with the voice, you just know that when RevFlash takes the mask off, it's not gonna be Tom Cavanagh under that mask and SURPRIIIIISE, it's not. It's the guy who played the Vice President's Chief of Staff on the first couple of seasons of Scandal. Grand Admiral Thawne is stuck in the past and he is not too happy about it.
At Iron Heights, they take Barry and Joe to see the Trickster, who's in the Hannibal Lecter Memorial Wing. They have a talk about the NüTrickster, but it just makes OG Trickster mad, prompting him to deliver the best line of the evening, telling the cops that, if he knew who this pretender was, he'd find him and "cut off his head and throw it right in his face." They try to trick the Trickster into finding the new Trickster, but he just eats some licorice (and not even good licorice, it's Twizzlers, the Pizza Hut of licorice) and gives them the location of his old warehouse of tricks.
Back at the police station, Iris is giving Eddie, a police detective, a mountain of evidence that has led her to believe that something bad has happened to her boss, but Eddie's like, "Nah. I'm sure nothing bad happened to him. You're just being hysterical."
At the Trickster's warehouse, Barry and Joe find a locked door. Barry decided to jostle it with his super-speed and it explodes. Apparently this comes a surprise to two people who work for the police. It's all for naught, though, as NüTrickster took everything out of OG Trickster's storage.
Barry and Joe head back to Iron Heights, but Barry sees his dad and is like, "Hey, Pops. I'm gonna get you out of here." Henry is not so keen on this idea, but whatever. Maybe he likes the ice cream sandwiches they serve. I don't know. Barry and Joe tell OG Trickster that he's been cleaned out and he gets all irate. Oh, and also there was a huge bomb in the storage area. Cisco calls Barry to let him know that NüTrickster's posted a vlog (short for "video blog," which is itself short for "video web log." The internet!) talking about how he has this bomb now. Barry plays the video for OG Trickster and he goes all cuckoo.
At STAR Labs, they're trying to track down NüTrickster, but it's tough. Wells takes Barry aside and is all, "I know you're upset because you keep seeing your dad in prison, and w're gonna get him out but let's just focus on the Trickster," and Barry's like, "Sure, let's go get the Updog." And Wells is all "Wait, what's Updog?" And Barry's like, "Exactly."
In the past, we see Harrison wells with weird hair and Tess Morgan sitting on a beach, talking about creating STAR Labs and also making up acronyms, which is something the writers on this show must LOOOOVE. Also, Eobard Thawne is peepin' on their smoochin like a creeeep.
At Central Perk, the Flash is meeting with Iris about Mason Bridge because her boyfriend, the detective is blowing her off. They have a cute little chat and then Cisco beeps in to let the Flash know that the Trickster's broadcasting again. NüTrickster tells them where he's hid the bomb, so Barry flashes off despite the fact that Wells is telling him it's a trick. Barry scours the area NüTrick pointed out, and finds the box, but it just has "Tricked you" spray-painted in the lid. Turns out it was a diversion so NüTrickster could break OG Trickster out of Iron Heights, and they took Henry Allen as a hostage for some reason, probably so they could have Mark Hamill and John Wesley Shipp in a scene together.
At one of Central City's many abandoned warehouses, Nü and OG Trickster fill us in on their backstory and also OG Trickster got a haircut somewhere in there. Turns out NüTrick has been writing letters to OG Trick. Why? OG Trickster tells NüTrickster it's because (wait for it!) he's his father. This is an obvious homage to one of Mark Hamill's greatest film roles: Max Reed in The Guyver.
At STAR Labs, Barry's beating himself up over his dad getting taken hostage because he's Peter Parker without the spider motif. But then we flash back to 15 years ago and Wells and Morgan are driving down the road, sexy flirting, when Eobard Thawne walks out in front of their car and they crash. Wells is like, "Help my sexy girlfriend!" and Thawne's like, "Nah."
Deep in the bowels of the accelerator, Barry's caught a case of the feels as confides in Joe that working with Harrison Wells is tearing him apart. On one hand, he's protected Barry and helped his friends, on the other hand, he's behaved like an evasive, murderous creep since jump street. It's a real conundrum. Joe's like, "If nothing else, you're friends with the Real Live Harrison Wells and not a doppelgänger inhabited by a time traveling villain with super speed."
Meanwhile, Iris has just shown up at a fundraising gala for the Mayor of Central City looking fine as heck in a red dress. Two waiters in bad wigs who keep giggling at everything are handing out champagne, which is probably not weird for this town. The older wig waiter heads up to the podium and starts ranting. The mayor tries to shut him down, but he rips off the wig and shocker, he's the Trickster, oh, and he's poisoned everybody at the party with the champagne and if they want the antidote, they have to cough up some dough.
Iris slyly calls her dad and the Stabbers concoct a plan: they'll starts synthesizing an antidote for the poison while Barry tries to take care of the Tricksters, but when the Flash shows up, OG Trickster slaps a bracelet on him that will explode if he tampers with it or stops running under 600 mph. So, Barry runs. Wells tells Barry to try and match his vibration to that of the air around him and --- in a moment that was spoiled by a professional comics writer on Twitter a good three hours before I was able to watch it on TV --- Barry swallows his doubts about Wells and manages to run through a semi truck. It's a cool moment that lands despite Cavanagh delivering the most hippie nonsense monologue in the lead-up to it.
Barry flashes back to the mayor's ball and inoculates all the attendees, including, I'm sure, some horrible anti-vaxxers. He then coughs up the location of Henry Allen, who Barry manages to save right before a huge crate was gonna drop a ton of knives on him. In an alley, Barry unmasks in front of his dad and brings him back to STAR Labs for a little break before he has to go back to prison. He gives them all a, "You're all my heroes," speech before hugging Harrison Wells and thanking him for taking care of Barry.
Then it's a flashbaaaaack, with the real Harrison Wells crawling through broken glass to get away from Thawne, who sticks a doohickey into Wells' chest that turns him from Future Creeper to Harrison Wells and Harrison wells from normal human guy to desiccated husk.
Back in the present, Joe and Eddie have a chat about hiding the truth about Mason Bridge from Iris, and then Barry flashes in, takes off his mask, and they add Eddie Thawne to the long list of "People Who Know Barry Is the Flash," which is basically, "Seriously Everybody Except Iris And That's Kind of Messed Up, Isn't It?"
In fact, I made a list:
Eddie tells Iris that Mason Bridge has moved to Brazil to "live off the grid," which is the human equivalent of "going to live on a farm upstate," I guess. Barry tells Joe what we've all known for like forever: that he thinks Wells is the Reverse Flash because of his hippy-dippy spiel while he was gonna run through a truck. Like he knew about running fast from experience.
Meanwhile, we finish up the flashback, with Fake Wells crawling from the wreckage of the car and saying his name. (It's a really anticlimactic ending that's supposed to feel big, but tells us what we already knew from the other flashbacks.)
FLASH FACTS: Random Observations
- James Jesse, the original Trickster, was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino and first appeared in Flash vol. 1, #113, June–July 1960. A former circus acrobat who decided to become a criminal, he specialized in pranks that were also, you know, bombs.
- Trickster 2, Axel Walker, showed up in Flash, vol. 2, #183, April 2002. Created by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins, he was a criminal who took the original Trickster's gadgets, because at this point, the original Trickster was working for the FBI or something like that. Trickster 2 is a rude dude with a bad attitude.
- I kind of think that Eobard Thawne being a future dude who took the form of Harrison Wells is a bit of a cheat, like having the killer in your mystery be a character you introduce in the third act of your mystery novel, but what do I know? I'm just a guy who's writing recaps for a comics site.
- Seriously, just tell Iris already. Or have her figure it out on her own.
- Mark Hamill, who you probably know from his creator-owned comic book The Black Pearl, is also a successful voice actor, most notably the Joker on numerous animated Batman iterations. He also appears as the skipping Sasquatch Skips from Regular Show. His most notable role, however, was appearing as Commodore Christopher 'Maverick' Blair in the Wing Commander computer game series.
FLASH FORWARD: Future Happenings
We're back on April 17 with a Arrow/Atom/Firestorm crossover episode titled "All Star Team Up." Here's a teaser for that episode as well as a glimpse at the last few episodes of the season.
Until then, keep on Flashin'.