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 (apparently, second-)fastest man, Barry Allen, more widely known as The Flash.

This week, we’re looking at the ninth episode episode of the first season and the mid-season finale, “The Man In the Yellow Suit,” which features the return of a meta-emo Ronnie Raymond, lots of Chrimbus cheer, and, well, a Man In A Yellow Suit.

FLASHBACK: What Happened This Week

We open on peaceful Christmas scene, as some poor schmoe in a tweed newsboy's hat is just finishing hanging up the last of a lot of lights, only to have them all blown out by a Flash-off between Barry Allen and … A YELLOW FLASH! OH MAN IT'S THE YELLOW/REVERSE FLASH Y'ALL! (Still, that poor dude and his Christmas lights. Maybe next year, pal!) They race through the city, but Barry's not fast enough, the Yellow Flash pulls ahead and …

We cut to the title. When we come back, we're informed that it's "One day ago…" and Barry's sitting around decorating the tree with Joe, while the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol – about a guy who's visited by specters of the past, present and future – plays in the background. This is what we in The Biz call a "reference," as that's sort of what's gonna happen to Barry over the next 44 minutes. Barry tries using his super-speed to get the tree done, but Joe's like, "NOPE," and then Iris comes in with some bourbon-infused egg nog that Joe is apparently very into.

Joe gets called away on cop business, and Iris and Barry decide to exchange gifts. Barry, being the creeper that he is, has bought his pretty-much-sister a replica of her mom's wedding ring. Because that's not even a little weird. Anyway, Iris got Barry a microscope, so, yeah. Then Eddie shows up and Barry sulks.

He heads over to S.T.A.R. Labs and gives the S.T.A.bbers their gifts, which I'm gonna go ahead and say are … Jenga sets based on their size and shape. Doctor Wells gets all morose when Barry offers him some noggg, and wheels himself out of the room with a pout. Barry's all, "What's his deal?" and Cisco says, "Oh, the accident was like a year ago so he's kind of bummed he blew up a bunch of stuff and gave people super powers and fake-lost the use of his legs." Caitlin thinks that maybe if she gets him a present, he'll perk up, but unless that present is a new knife set or a copy of Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, I don't think it'll help.

At Central Perk, Eddie and Iris are talking about Barry. Eddie is putting his detective skills to good use by figuring out that Barry maybe sort of has a massive crush on Iris, but when he mentions this to Iris, she's like, "Ew, no. We're just BFFs." Then Eddie is all, "Well, if you say so, oh, here's your Christmas present." And slides a ring box with a spare key across the table. It takes some cojones gigantes to say to your significant other, "Out of all the things I could have purchased for you, I decided that you getting to spend even more time with me would be the best thing I could offer here." But Iris is into it, so cool.

At the mall, which I'm guessing still has that lingering scent of The Mist in that one elevator he gassed that judge in, Caitlin is walking, alone, through the parking garage, when she sees the reflection of a scraggly-haired guy in the reflection of her car window. Instead of being alarmed, she decides to follow this person into a secluded area. Luckily, (?), it turns out to be a super-disheveled Ronnie Raymond. Remember him?! We saw him get all burned up, and then we saw him in the epilogue of last week's Arrow crossover.

Anyway, Ronnie's been listening to a lot of Thursday and Dashboard Confessional, apparently, because he looks emo as eff. Sorry, Ronnie, that ship sailed 20 years ago, but Promise Ring were pretty good, I guess. Oh, and also his head and hands are on fire. Caitlin doesn't necessarily run so much as jog away and look shocked. Maybe this is the proper reaction to finding out your fiance that you thought was dead is, in very fact, very alive and also living in the mall parking lot and also can set himself on fire at will. I don't know.

We cut to the winkingly-named MercuryLabs (Get it? Mercury was the god who ran fast); in the Superliminal Development division, in fact, where a doctor is chatting with a couple of security guards about this harness-looking thing in a safe-room. They're like, "Hey doc, tell us what that thing is," but the doc just tells them "the future," and HEEEEY, there's a break-in. It's the Yellow Flash and boy does he want that Future Harness. The doctor's locked himself in an impregnable room and can only watch as the Reverse Flash makes his way in and murderdeathkills the two guards by snapping their necks all fast-like.

The next day, Joe, Eddie and Barry are at the crime scene, and Barry figures out that it's some sort of super-fast metahuman who offed the guards. The doctor confirms this, telling them he saw a guy in a yellow suit. Naturally, this freaks Barry out, and he starts to take off, telling Joe that this has to be the same guy who killed his mom. Joe, sporting a jaunty beanie, says, "Well, yeah. He threatened me a couple episodes ago." and Barry's like "Whaaaaaaa-?"

Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Joe briefs the Science Gang about the murders at MercuryLabs. Turns out that they were the #2 lab before S.T.A.R. went supernova, and Wells knows the head doctor over there, Dr. Tina McGee (Amanda Pays, from the 1990 Flash TV series). They develop, and I quote Cisco quoting the Wikipedia entry for MercuryLabs, "prototypes for the technology of the future." Which Wells identifies as tachyons, which I will now quote myself quoting from Wikipedia, are "hypothetical particle[s] that always move faster than light." So, time travel thingies, which we sort of already knew because Wells is obviously from the future. But MercuryLabs is messing with them and the RevFlash wants them and if somebody were to, say, build a harness for them, they could be invincible.

At the coffee shop, Caitlin stops by to visit Iris, who is one of those people who wears a Santa hat to work, I guess. C asks for some advice about what to do when your ex-fiancée shows up on fire, but just kind of beats around the bush, asking about The Burning Man that Iris blogged about a little bit, but it's not a ton of help. Then Iris is like, "Hey Barry's acting weird, is he keeping something from me?" and Catlin's all, "What? No. No way! Nope. Not ol' Barry Allen. What could he possibly be keeping from you? What, like he's … I dunno, THE FLASH? LOL No, no way. Not Barry. Anyway, you should ask him about it, Gotta go!"

At Police House, Barry's called in McGee and invites Wells along as an consultant, but really he's just there to antagonize McGee and chew bubble gum and he's all out of bubble gum.


McGee's not gonna budge on letting Wells and the CCPD use her tachyon thingy to lure the RevFlash out of hiding, despite Wells going full creeper with a line about how, "You know nobody's more committed to protecting the technology of the future more then me," while wagging his eyebrows suggestively. Because he's from the future, remember?

At S.T.A.R. Labs, Cisco lays out a plan to create a force-field to trap the RevFlash, but Caitlin's a little broken up about Ronnie and asks Cisco to help her find him. Cisco tries to be like, "Listen, you're just hallucinating and emotional and stuff," even though he's been party to crazier stuff than the fact that Ronnie maybe surviving the blast.

Then a FLASHBAAAAACK to the night Barry's mom died. As usual, she's a perfect angel sent from Heaven, pontificating about Barry's fear of the dark instead of just saying, "PLEASE JUST GO TO BED," like any actual parent would do. Then we see the murder, only this time it's even clearer that there's more than just a yellow streak. There's a red one, too.

Iris startles Barry, who's sort of zoned out on his crazy wall of evidence form his mom's murder. Iris drops the bomb that she's moving in with Eddie. She mentions that Eddie thinks that Barry might be in love with her and Barry tries (and fails) to look like he's 1000% okay with this news and totally not completely in love with Iris, even though Iris literally laughs when she proposes that Barry might have romantic feelings for her.


Barry goes to the window to cry be totally cool about Iris moving in with Eddie, but WHAT THE HECK it's the Reverse Flash staring at him from a building across the way. He books it down the side of the building and Barry takes off after him, aaaand we wind up where we were at the beginning of the show, with that poor schmuck and his Christmas lights ruined by the Flash-off.

They wind up in a football stadium and they have a Flash-fight, but Barry really gets his Flass handed to him by the faster and stronger and reverse-er Reverse Flash. Barry tries to get answers out of him, but he's disguising his voice and blurring himself so he sounds like a tiny helicopter all the time. It's kind of adorable.

RevFlash tells Barry that they've been at this a long time, because time-travel, but Barry's like, "Whaaaa-?" and just gets the snot kicked out of him while the Reverse Flash brags about killing Barry's mom.

At the Cop Store, McGee's laughing off a search warrant Barry and Joe have for her. It's implied they just searched MercuryLabs, though it's never really established. Barry sort of blackmails her into letting them have the tachyon thinger, basically saying he'll leak their stuff to Science Showcase magazine if she doesn't comply. Which is kind of a crummy thing to do. McGee's worried that Wells is trying to steal her device, and SPOILERS: that's exactly what ends up happening.

Eddie walks in as Barry walks out, saying he wants in on the Flash-Trap plan. Joe's like, "Nah, you don't want in on this," but Eddie threatens to tell Singh on him, so Joe relents.

C+C Science Factory are deep in the bowels of the mall, hunting down Ronnie with a clicky Geiger counter-type thing, (not to be confused with an H.R. Geiger counter, which looks like slimy genitals) when they run into Ronnie, who says he's not Ronnie any more, he's "Firestorm." Then he immediately and literally goes nuclear, blasting his head and hands on fire and running off.

At S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry's cop dad and science dad tell him that he's grounded from the Flash-Trap action, while down in the Pipeline, Cisco comforts Caitlin after their run-in with The Nuclear Man. They have one of many SadChat™s in the episode, with Caitlin saying that she'd rather Ronnie was dead than an amnesiac pyromaniac.

We bounce from that SadChat™ to Barry's SadChat™, this time at Iron Heights, with Barry apologizing to his dad for not being able to stop RevFlash and clear his dad's name. Henry goes all in on the SadChat™ action, pointing out that Barry's put his whole life on hold to help him and that maybe it's tim to let it go and just live his life.


It's actually a pretty good speech, though when he calls the RevFlash "The Man In the Yellow Suit" (titular line!), I keep thinking of Curious George's guardian, The Man In the Yellow Hat, and that … would actually be a pretty cool episode?

Barry takes his dad's advice to heart and heads back to the West homestead and gives Iris an unreasonably long hug and then comes clean about his feeling for her. I'm not sure if it was a conscious decision on Candice Patton's part, but the way she plays Iris in the scene, she could not look more uncomfortable. I know how you feel, Iris. I'm weirded out by this scene as well.

At S.T.A.R. Labs, Wells is furiously refreshing the webcam, seeing if they've caught anything in their Flash-Trap, while Eddie and Joe and a bunch of cops in tactical gear watch and wait, but BINGO, they got something. They all roll into the forcefield room and confront RevFlash, who sounds even more like a helicopter than before.

Joe asks him about Nora Allen's death, but he ignores Joe and hones in on Wells, saying "at long last," they meet. Wells goes on and on, even though Cisco is trying to warn him that the force field is starting to degrade. Sure enough, it weakens enough that RevFlash can snatch Wells, pull him into the force field and beat the holy hell out of him. Joe takes a comically-oversized wrench to the field generator and the RevFlash is on the loose. The cops all draw down on him, but RevFlash kills them all, leaving only Joe, Eddie and Harrison alive. Luckily, Caitlin alerts Barry, who shows up and brings the fight out into the parking lot.

The RevFlash then proceeds to mop the floor with the ForwardFlash, and it looks like he almost might finish him but WAIT, A New Challenger Appears! It's Ronnie Raymond, who shows up, blasts the Reverse Flash and then tells Caitlin not to come looking for him again before he Flames On into the night. AND HOLD UP, it just occurred to me that RONNIE RAYMOND IS TOTALLY DARKMAN. I am now 1000% behind this subplot, despite the fact that we will most likely not see Ronnie in his amazing poofy-armed costume on this show.

Also, when Ronnie takes off, he totally does a Thriller dance beforehand.

Back at the Police Palladium, Eddie is kind of seriously freaking out after his first real encounter with a metahuman besides the time last week when Bad Barry pulled him out of his car and beat him up in the street. Joe fills him in on, well not everything, but enough to know that the world is a much weirder place then he assumed it to be. Also Eddie asks why RevFlash didn't kill him and SPOILERS: I think it's because RevFlash is Future Eddie, despite the obfuscation every week.

At S.T.A.R. Labs, C+C are patching up Dr. Wells, who is remarkably chill about Cisco's force field failing. Remember when he blew up on Cisco because he built that cold gun? Dude is a loose cannon. Wells is more upset about them not telling him the Ronnie is alive, but Caitlin rightly tells him that she wasn't really sure how to process it all.

At Barry's lab, he has a SadChat™ with Joe about missing out on life and Joe tells him that he loves him and wants him to be happy, and that "the world may need the Flash, but I need my Barry Allen." Again, it's super-sweet and Jesse L. Martin is the best thing about this show and I wasn't getting all misty YOU WERE GETTING MISTY SHUT UP.

Joe and Barry head back to the West home and find all their friends there, drinking egg nog and being festive. Barry tries to "be the bigger man" and congratulate Eddie on Iris moving in, but Iris is acting all sad and weird now. Joe and Cisco have a sidebar about the fact that during the speed-fight, there were red and yellow streaks – just like when Barry's mom dies -- meaning there were two speedsters there that night. Dun-dun-dunnnnn! Then Joe puts the angel on top of the tree and everybody smiles.

Of course, there's a Harrison Wells epilogue. Turns out he ducked out on the West tree-topping ceremony so he could go play in his creeper future room. He put on a Flash ring and accesses a sci-fi closet containing a … black, shiny mannequin. He puts his ring into a slot in front of the cage that holds the mannequin and … a yellow speed-suit appears. He does that smarmy creeper smile that Tom Cavanagh does so well, and then fits the yellow suit with the tachyon device, recently liberated from MercuryLabs, only now it's fitted with the matrix that Wells mentioned earlier in the episode that would grant the user invulnerability and the ability to move faster than the speed of light.

Then he smiles again, says "Merry Christmas" in a creepy, modulated voice, while the suit pulses with a weird energy and makes that weird helicopter noise.

Aaaand, that's the first half of the season.

FLASH FACTS: Random Observations

• Profesor Zoom/Reverse Flash was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, and first appeared in Flash #139, published in 1963. Zoom is a 25th Century time-traveler who basically wants to undo everything the Flash has ever stood for through murder and deceit. I think from the epilogue scene we're supposed to believe that he's Wells, but I don't know about that.

Here's my theory, for what it's worth: I think Eddie Thawne's gonna wind up being the Reverse Flash and Harrison Wells is the 25th-century time-traveler who's sort of grooming him for the role, . Wells does resembles the Hunter Zolomon iteration of Zoom, a guy crippled by a Speed Force accident who dedicates his life to making the Flash better through tragedy. Zolomon was a cop alongside Wally West, which fits the Thawne story, so … who knows.

The most likely conclusion is that the writers took both the Zoom and Thawne characters, stirred them up in a pot and sort of picked bits from both, figuring out how best to use them in this season-long tease. I feel like we'd have a better idea if the weekly epilogues went somewhere beyond, "Isn't this mysterious?! It is! It's very mysterious, right?!", but here we are.

• When strong-arming McGee into letting them use her tachyon device as bait for RevFlash, Barry mentions selling the secrets he saw on his tour of MercuryLabs to Science Showcase Magazine, which is a reference to Showcase #4, which marked the first appearance of the Barry Allen/Silver Age Flash.

• Let's take a second and discuss the Iris/Barry dilemma. Okay, I understand that people who grow up under the same roof and are not related to each other can fall in love. It's a little weird, but love is love. So my objections to the Barry/Iris pairing aren't coming solely, or even largely, from this point of reference. My main sticking point is that Iris has made it clear on numerous occasions that she does not see Barry in that way, and yet he persists.

I've been thinking a lot about this piece at the AV Club about Joe Lo Truglio's hilarious Boyle character on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and how his borderline stalker behavior just wasn't funny. (Go read the piece, and if your'e not watching B99, shut up and watch it. It's really good.) The same idea applies to Barry, though. It's not heroic to hound a lady who has made it clear that she's not into you the way you're into her. I'm glad Barry finally, after decades, got his feelings off his chest, but at the same time, I have problem with fiction that says it's okay to disregarded another person's repeated "no"s in favor of some warped notion of romance. It's creepy and gross.

• After dropping hints since basically Day One, Firestorm finally made a legit appearance! Created by Gerry Conway and Al Milgrom to appear in Firestorm, the Nuclear Man #1, 1978, Firestorm was initially the psyches of Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein, a high school student and Nobel-Prize-winning physicist, respectively. During a lab accident, both brains were trapped in the fused nuclear body of Firestorm, with Ronnie the dominant personality and Stein as the voice of reason. Firestorm's powers include the ability to transmute and change shape of matter. And also his head is on fire all of the time. There have been other iterations, but the original seems to be closest to the CW version.

• Finally, here's a video of Carlos Valdez and Tom Cavanagh doing some sort of fake horn rendition of  "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," and "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town." It's a lot of fun.


FLASH-FORWARD: Future Happenings

So we're taking a brief hiatus for the holidays, and we'll be back on January 20, which sees the return of Captain Cold and the other guy from Prison Break in an episode titled, "Revenge of the Rogues." Yay! A villain we didn't see die is back! See you next year, suckers!