written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
Hot on the heels of CW's The Flash officially forming the Rogues, another member of the Rogues plays villain-of-the-week in this most recent episode of. The Hartley Rathaway of CW's series retains much of his comic origin, born to an affluent family until his coming out strained relations with his “old values” parents. Playing an integral role in aiding Harrison Wells to create the Particle Accelerator that inadvertently decimated a large chunk of Central City, while giving birth to the “meta” in some humans.
The episode opens with Flash tackling members of the Royal Flush gang. For our Arrow fans, we'll know the gang from their initial appearance in Starling City as a family of bank robbers. While the name is the same, it wasn't clear if Central City's brand of the Royal Flush gang has any ties to the ones we first saw in Starling City.
After assaulting Harrison Wells in his home, Hartley very publicly attacks his family's company before being taken into custody by Team Flash. Hartley's attack is further fueled by his feeling that Harrison Wells hasn't fully paid back his debt to the city. Harrison is forced to come clean with Team Flash, that Hartley had warned Harrison of the possibility of the Particle Accelerator going critical and despite those concerns, he plugged it in anyway. Of course this creates a rift in the team, and via a very public press conference Wells comes clean to the people of Central City.
Via flashbacks, we see Hartley and Harrison matching each other equally in a game of chess... and this chess theme further drives the entirety of the episode. From Hartley strategically getting caught to the final battle, these two geniuses are forced to think several steps ahead in a deadly game.
I've maintained that Harrison Wells unveiling the Reverse-Flash suit at the end of “The Man in the Yellow Suit” was more so a red herring, an attempt to throw us off to who the man in yellow really is. Of course with time travel prominently featured in this series and the theme becoming central in the coming episodes, it's possible that thanks to some wibbly wobbly timey wimey physics Harrison Wells could have kicked his own ass, but personally I'm not convinced this is how the show runners plan to take it. Perhaps Wells is a true master of deception, but a part of me wishes that his concern of Cisco, Caitlin, and Barry was genuine.
Though brief, Wells flexes some of his speed powers... complete with red lightning. This feels like damning evidence but I still don't want him to be a complete villain. The notion of the speed force finally comes to the surface and further explains what Wells needed the tachyon device for.
As for Hartley, fans of the comics also know of his reform. Hopefully this is also something they plan to explore. In the comics Hartley becomes involved with David Singh, for fans of the show we know him as Captain Singh played by Patrick Sabongui. It may not be for a while, but eventually bringing Hartley over to the hero side could make for a strong addition to Team Flash. In the context of the episode though, the Pied Piper pushed Flash to his limits, forcing his support team to prove their dedication to Barry and his mission.
On the family side of the story, Iris finally gets her big break. Her blog catches the eye of a Central City Picture News, undoubtedly because of her coverage of all things “meta.” Joe begins to act wary of Harrison Wells and secretly launches an investigation with Eddie.
The series has been one surprise after another. While I've been a die hard fan of what CW's Arrow has become, The Flash has fast become an exciting show I look forward to week after week. I'm hoping for great things, and while honestly this episode characteristically felt very villain-of-the-week... I felt they did a bang up job with this episode! Personally I've always thought that Pied Piper was kinda lame (really... a flute is your weapon?) but the CW-verse Pied Piper translated to screen amazingly... plus green glowy “Power Gloves” really added to the bad-ass-ness of it.