Tuesday night’s episode of the CW’s “The Flash” came out of the blocks blazing.
This is the night that Barry Allen’s mother died. It’s a night that fans now know was a battle between two speedsters, the Flash and the Reverse Flash, traveling through time.
The Reverse Flash is on a mission to kill a young Barry Allen, while an adult Barry Allen races against him, trying to prevent the death of his mother. After an intense fight at super-speed — with each second that ticks by draining the life out of Barry’s mother — we see Barry whisk his younger self out of harm’s way (a scene we saw in the first episode, but back then, we didn’t know Barry was there in that moment, too), Meanwhile, the Reverse Flash runs from the house, appearing to have run out of gas (or the speed force — hooray for actual speed force mentions).
When the Reverse Flash asks his computer what is happening to him, she confirms that his traveling through time has drained him of the speed force and that he is stuck in the time he traveled back to, unable to return to the future.
That classic action scream of “Nooooo!” accompanies a taking-off of the Reverse Flash’s mask. We already know the face we’re going to see: Harrison Wells — the man we now know is secretly Eobard Thawne. Only it isn’t Harrison’s face; it’s some guy we’ve never seen before. Who is this blond guy?
It’s the real Eobard Thawne. What? But Harrison is Eobard? Which was revealed in one of the series’ most intense episodes of the season.
Harrison, it turns out, is really Harrison.
Harrison really is the super-smart, scienctific guy, destined to design STAR Labs. But with Thawne now stuck in the past, he needs Harrison to form STAR Labs much faster. So the real Eobard Thawne — the mysterious man unmasked as the Reverse Flash in the past, now a man out of time — murders the love of Harrison’s life. He tells Harrison in the process that he is destined to form STAR labs, but that he needs it to happen much sooner.
Eobard stabs Harrison and then himself with a device that drains the life out of Harrison, while making Thawne look just like Harrison in the process -revealing that the real Harrison Wells is dead, and that the Wells who is walking around Central City has in fact been the real Eobard Thawne, not the Eobard you thought you knew.
On the one hand, it makes a lot more sense. We know Eobard is a future descendent of Eddie Thawne of the Central City police. They seem to have a family resemblance, while Harrison doesn’t look like a member of the Thawne clan. And now we know why.
Meanwhile, Barry’s trust of Wells is at an all-time low, as he suspects Wells could be the Reverse Flash. We know Barry is half right.
In a way, this new layer to the secret of the Reverse Flash could be somewhat understandably upsetting to fans who have enjoyed Tom Cavanagh’s devilishly stellar performance as a Harrison Wells we all thought to be a future enemy of the Flash. But when red and yellow clash at high speed again, who will be the man under the yellow mask?
Time — be it in the future or the past — will tell.