Corrina: This time on Same Geek Channel, we look into a Flash episode that’s a turning point.
One, it introduces one of the most popular Flash Rogues and, two, it provides even more information that one shouldn’t trust Harrison Wells. And, three, Iris gets a job and channels Mary Tyler Moore. Now her job gives her a firm place in the overall story.
Mordechai: Confession: I know many believe a character with a code name of “The Pied Piper” is lame. but Piper has long been one of my favorites if just for the way his homosexuality was handled.
It was 1991, and The Flash at the time was not Barry, but Wally West. William Messner-Loebs outed Hartley in The Flash #53 in an almost matter-of-fact way. Comics Should Be Good covered it really well, but it boils down to this: Wally, a very immature character in many ways, asks Piper if maybe the Joker is gay. Piper says he can’t think of any bad guys that are… except maybe him. Wally, a character portrayed by some as very politically conservative, says he’s totally fine with it, but ohmygosh, look at the TIME! Piper would continue to be a major element of The Flash for years, and I admit to having a soft spot for him. So when I heard he was going to be in the episode this week, I was very excited.
Corrina: I bow to your superior knowledge of Flash Rogues. I found when I read some Flash runs that the Rogues tended to overshadow the main character in the hands of some writers, but Piper I know and liked even from some terrible storylines.
Mordechai: Agreed, but that’s because certain writers have a mad-on for the Rogues.
The Hartley Rathaway of The Flash TV show is a very different character. He’s the former protege of Harrison Wells and an all around jerk even back before he was trying to kill/discredit Wells. The writers of the show clearly do plan to do something long-term with the Piper (they’ve made a point of noting that he never actually kills anyone), but he’s a really unsympathetic character. When the guy he’s trying to kill has been shown straight-up murdering people and you still can’t work up sympathy? That’s a problem.
Corrina: I felt the same about Captain Cold–clearly, we’re meant to admire his intellect in some way but since he was busy murdering people and his last plan (call out the fastest man alive) seemed the opposite of smart, he bored me.
I thought the actor behind Piper conveyed hidden inner turmoil fairly well. But I was distracted by the fact he kept saying “I know the big secret” and then… never said the big secret for, um, plot reasons. Because he knows more about Wells than he’s saying. And I have no idea why he’d keep that a secret.
I suspect I disliked Piper so intently because he was mean to Cisco. That’s like kicking a puppy. And I liked Cisco’s shirt.
Mordechai: The question is, was the Big Secret that Wells knew about the reactor failure being possible, or more? I suspect just the former, or Wells wouldn’t let him hang around. And yeah, why he couldn’t just say that to the press without the big break in drama, I do not know.
Corrina: My theory is Wells’s big secret is that he wanted the reactor to fail to create the metahumans, particularly Flash.
Mordechai: On the Iris front, she visits her dad to find out Central City Picture News left her a message. Which is my second “hold on” moment of the episode. Iris calls herself a Millenial later, right? What sort of self-respecting millennial uses their home number on a resume (or like, at all)? I know, because the script wanted it, but it feels weird.
Corrina: My daughter is about the same age. Every now and then, she gives out the home number but only as a back-up. I guess this was just to give us a scene with Iris at home.
Mordechai: My first “hold on moment?” That would be in the first scene, where we see Wells out and about his house. He’s walking, which makes sense. Why carry on the facade? What grabbed me is this–when the Piper attacks and he switches to super-speed, his blur is red. Not yellow with red bolts, but red with yellow. It’s enough to make someone wonder if the earlier “Wells is future Barry” might not be entirely wrong.
Corrina: You noticed the blur. I looked around for equipment one would expect to find in the house of a person who can’t walk. Like support in the bathroom, for one. I thought perhaps Joe or Barry would at least notice this. That never came up, which was disappointing. (Why did I noticed this? Because I couldn’t walk due to ankle surgery last winter and, believe me, the things you can’t do without walking are legion.)
Mordechai: I actually thought of that! One thing I noticed was that there is a ramp leading up to his house. A swanky marble ramp. Also, interesting that Barry failed to notice that the pattern of the falling glass didn’t indicate anyone was hit. So glad they had Joe note that Wells didn’t have a scratch on him, though.
One friend of mine asked why it is that Hartley would call himself the “Pied Piper” when he doesn’t use pipes? He’s also not “pied” (dressed in bright colors), guys. But seriously, that should have been the first clue that he wanted to be there. He was totally saying “I’ve got you dancing to my tune.”
Of course, this all falls apart when you realize that he already figured out where the Flash was based, and on top of that he didn’t need to get captured to get access to The Flash’s data–he had already figured out the S.T.A.R. angle. He could have broken in. Also, Barry took the Piper down in full view of the cops. Is no one wondering where he went? The ethics of that prison are iffy enough without them throwing non-metas in there.
Corrina: How do they eat in there? Who brings the food? Where is the bathroom? What about the ethics of solitary confinement? Are they allowed books? Can they watch shows? Because what this prison is right now is a recipe for turning a dangerous meta-human into an insane dangerous metahuman.
Mordechai: Oh, and Wells holds a press conference and ignores the seasoned reporter to get Iris to ask the question. Candice Patton gets much better material than usual in the script, and gets to make this face when condescended to:
SO much better, you guys.
Corrina: It is better. Except everything about how the newspaper runs right now is wrong. They’re working off 20-year-old newsroom rituals. I wanted to reach into the screen and say, it’s 21st Century journalism! Put your All President’s Men stereotypes aside.
But Iris does get the Mary Tyler Moore moment and props to the writers for referencing that. Even if it went way over the head of, well, millennials, to use the show’s own word.
Mordechai: I don’t know enough millennials–does anyone even use that term? Also, quick comic book note: In this week’s Flash, Caucasian-Iris starts looking a lot more like TV Iris.
Caitlin, meanwhile, continues to devolve into the whining for Ronnie machine. She didn’t even have any good snide lines this episode. So sad. Also? Speed force mention! EEEEE.
Corrina: Caitlin did get to snark at Piper in the flashback and prove she’s nice. So there’s that.
Mordechai: Lastly, Eddie and Joe are investigating Wells. This Can Only End Well.
Corrina: Comic book spoiler warning: I expect Wells to be the Reverse Flash that’s obsessed with making Flash better, even to the point of killing his mother to provide motivation. That explains why he’s willing to kill and yet can be nice to Barry, Caitlin and Cisco. Remember, he straight out murdered Stagg earlier this season. That’s not the act of Barry Allen, future or not.
Mordechai: I wish I could agree, but the current Flash storyline says otherwise. It features a future-Barry pretending to be current-Barry, and straight-up maiming and killing. Very Wells-ian.
Corrina: And you wonder why I’m not interested in huge chunks of DC’s current superhero comics?
In any case, I hope the Wells mystery pays off this season because it’s a great subplot and one of the best parts of the show.
I guess Barbara Gordon now holds the “worst-written” female character on a superhero show award by all by herself. Go Iris!
Mordechai: Psst… you forgot Laurel.
Corrina: Laurel has sometimes been well-written, sometimes not. Sometimes it seems to me that the actress isn’t up to the material. And Laurel in Season One of Arrow was fine.
Next time on Same Geek Channel:
Will Iris file her first story at the newspaper? Will the explosion that nearly killed Cisco turn him into Vibe? And just where is the whole season heading now, if not to the reveal of the murderer of Barry’s mom?