Random Musings: Updates on The Flash and Arrow

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Flash and Arrow
First, The Flash.

Okay, I wasn’t expecting that.

Turns out Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) did kill Nora Allen 14 years earlier. In last Tuesday’s episode, “Out of Time”, he admitted to S.T.A.R Labs mechanical engineer Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) that he’s the Reverse Flash; his real name is Eobard Thawne and he’s from the 25th century. He also said killing Nora Allen (Michelle Harrison) hadn’t been his intention. Instead, he was trying to kill Barry that night.

Cisco confronts Dr. Wells.

Cisco confronts Dr. Wells.

Wait. What?

First, a recap of recent events in The Flash to explain how and why Dr. Wells/Thawne revealed his true identity to Cisco: Over the course of the season, detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), who raised Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) after Henry Allen (John Wesley Shipp) went to prison for his wife’s murder, has begun having doubts as to whether Dr. Wells has been entirely honest about himself and his actions. He’s even begun to wonder if Wells might have been involved in Nora Allen’s murder. Joe shared these suspicions with Cisco, who refused to believe them.

Still, Joe and Cisco searched for answers as to what really happened in the Allen home that fateful night and found blood splatters beneath some wallpaper. Cisco ran some tests and discovered that it was Barry’s blood. What’s more, the blood contained certain chemicals that build up as you age, chemicals an 11-year-old wouldn’t have accumulated. Conclusion: the adult Barry Allen had been at the scene (the young Barry had reported seeing both red and yellow streaks that night), which means that at some point in the future Barry will travel back in time to that night.

Streaks of red and yellow surround Nora Allen.

Streaks of red and yellow surround Nora Allen.

Despite his refusal to believe that Dr. Wells— whom he hero-worships— could have killed Nora Allen, something bugged Cisco about the containment field used to temporarily trap the Reverse Flash earlier this season. The Reverse Flash escaped and beat up Dr. Wells, but according to all the instrumentation, he shouldn’t have been able to do get out. Cisco asked bio-engineer Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) to keep Dr. Wells out of S.T.A.R Labs for a time while he conducted some tests.

So, while Caitlin kept Dr. Wells at a coffee shop, Cisco studied the containment mechanism and discovered a holographic image of the Reverse Flash, complete with pre-recorded “dialogue.”

The possibility that the Reverse Flash might not have actually been in that containment field never occurred to me. Which is ironic, considering that in the 1970s I bought a magic trick in which the magician “converses” with a tape recorder, just as Dr. Wells “conversed” with the “captured” Reverse Flash.

I also never expected Wells to be the man who was in the Allen home all those years ago. Okay, yes, Dr. Wells is a speedster, but I thought he might turn out to be Barry’s descendant, Bart Allen, and that he was impersonating the Reverse Flash in the present day for some reason to give Barry the proper motivation.

Dr. Wells, for his part, suspected something was up and when Caitlin was at the coffee counter, raced to S.T.A.R Labs, leaving his (unnecessary) wheelchair behind (and revealing the truth to Caitlin as well).

So, that’s how Dr. Wells came to confront Cisco. And subsequently to kill him.

Dr. Wells kills Cisco.

Dr. Wells kills Cisco.

Okay, so Dr. Harrison Wells is really Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash, a man from the 25th century somehow stranded in our time. Why, as he told Cisco, would he have wanted to kill Barry? It doesn’t make sense that he’d try to kill the 11-year-old Barry, especially since he needs the adult Barry’s speed to help him return to his own time.

Also, why was Dr. Wells/Thawne in the Allen home that night 14 years ago? One possibility is that he went there looking for The Flash. By the 25th century, the Flash’s true identity might be a matter of public record. But maybe their records aren’t/won’t be entirely accurate and the Allen home (perhaps the site of the Flash Museum) is believed to be where Barry lived as an adult.

Maybe when the Reverse Flash found himself in the early 21st century, unable to generate enough speed to get back to his own time for whatever reason, he sought out the Flash for help.

Now, suppose that just then the time-traveling Flash arrives from the present day. He attacks the Reverse Flash and in the course of the struggle, Nora Allen is killed.

It would be ironic if Nora Allen died because Barry had gone back in time to save her, but the question remains: Why did Dr. Wells/Thawne attempt to kill Barry that night, as he told Cisco? Again, this wasn’t a case of the Reverse Flash finding himself in the early 21st century, seeking help from the Flash and being attacked for (from his perspective) no reason; Dr. Wells/Thawne told Cisco he’d intended to kill Barry.

Unlike Barry, who has yet to travel back in time to that night, Wells/Thawne has already experienced the confrontation in the Allen home. So it’s not a case of the two later becoming enemies, traveling back in time and having a fight in the past.

What’s more, unlike the Reverse Flash of the comics, Dr. Wells seems genuinely interested in Barry’s welfare. And not just because he wants to use him as a means to get home.

Of course he confessed to being fond of Cisco, but killed him anyway, telling him that from his point of view Cisco has been dead for centuries.

But if my theory as to why The Reverse Flash was in the Allen home that night is right (and he did tell Cisco he had only recently arrived in our time), he didn’t yet know Barry. And, as I said, killing him wouldn’t help him get home.

Now, it’s possible that from his perspective the Reverse Flash has already fought many battles with the Flash, ones that took place before he found himself stranded in our time. Maybe he thought the Flash who confronted him in the Allen home was an older version, one who was already an enemy. Maybe he intended to kill his enemy then ironically seek out the younger version of the Flash for help in getting home, only to discover that Barry Allen had not yet become the Flash.

So, he created the persona of Harrison Wells and played a waiting game.

Could be.

I don’t know what middle initial “Harrison Wells” has, if any, but it would be amusing if it were “G.” “Herbert George Wells” as an alias might have raised too many questions, but “Harrison G. Wells” as the name of a time traveler works as a subtle nod. I assume the producers chose that name for the character for that reason.

By the way, time travel “bookends” the episode “Out of Time.” At the start, Barry thought he saw himself run past while he was racing somewhere. And at the end, as he raced to stop a tsunami caused by the Weather Wizard (Liam McIntyre), he found himself running alongside himself. Surprised, he stopped and discovered he was back when and where he’d been at the episode’s beginning.

From the trailer for tonight’s episode, it’s clear that Barry has “overwritten” recent events. And his past self, since there are no indications that two of him will be running around tonight.

Which means A) Cisco’s discovery of the truth and his subsequent murder haven’t happened; B) Barry, who knows the threat the Weather Wizard poses, can prevent the tidal wave from ever happening and thus avoid having to reveal his identity to Iris (Candice Patton) and C) Dr. Wells still has his secret, because although Caitlin tried to tell Barry about him, Barry was in a bit of a rush at the time.

No doubt Barry will learn the truth about Dr. Wells, but not just yet, it would seem. It’ll be interesting to see how things develop.

As for Arrow, the Feb. 25 episode, “Nanda Parbat” ended with Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) saying he wanted Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) to be his successor. In last Wednesday’s episode, “the Offer” , he explained how certain waters that keep him young are no longer healing him as they once did and that his time will soon be up. He said he believes Oliver is the man to succeed him and “as a gesture of goodwill”, let Oliver, John Diggle (David Ramsey) and Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) leave, all debts forgiven and all blood oaths waived.

Ra’s al Ghul makes his point to Oliver Queen.

Ra’s al Ghul makes his point to Oliver Queen.

Before he did, he told Oliver that Starling City would turn on him and that he would eventually be hunted down and killed as a vigilante. But, as the head of the League, he would have vast resources with which to make a difference.

As it turns out, Ra’s is stacking the deck against Oliver, because at the end of the episode, he kills some criminals— leaving one survivor— while dressed as the Arrow. He’s clearly orchestrating events to make his “prediction” come true and thus force Oliver to accept the leadership of the League.

Ra’s al Ghul impersonates the Arrow.

Ra’s al Ghul impersonates the Arrow.

These “healing waters” essentially fulfill the same function as the “Lazarus pit” of the comics, in that they allow Ra’s to live beyond a normal lifetime.

We also learn that “Ra’s al Ghul” (which means “the Demon’s head”) is a title, of sorts, one passed on from time to time. I don’t think that’s the case in the comics. I think “Ra’s al Ghul” is the name one man chose for himself.

No, the healing waters weren’t used to save Oliver’s life. Seems he survived his battle with Ra’s on that mountain due to a combination of the extreme cold, his indomitable will to live and a lot of luck.

By the way, Thea Queen (Willa Holland) now knows that she killed Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) while under Malcolm’s control. She has told both Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy), who doesn’t blame her, and Ra’s daughter, Nyssa (Katrina Law), who doesn’t believe her.

In the comics, Ra’s al Ghul is primarily a Batman adversary and (as was the case with Oliver in “The Offer”) has often tried to convince Batman to succeed him. Despite his love for Talia al Ghul (Nyssa’s older sister), Batman has always declined the offer. By contrast, Oliver, feeling he hasn’t really accomplished anything, was starting to give it serious thought. By the episode’s end, he’s snapped out of that mindset, but he might snap right back into it when people start thinking he’s dropping bodies.

Both The Flash and Arrow look like they’ll have exciting developments in the weeks to come.

Copyright 2015 Patrick Keating.

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