Random Musings: More Flash time travel thoughts

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Eobard Thawne and Harrison Wells
In the March 31 episode of The Flash, “Tricksters”, we learn in flashbacks that Eobard Thawne (Matt Letscher) killed the real Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) 15 years ago, subsequent to his murder of Nora Allen. He also used a device to change his appearance so he looked like Wells.

This revelation answers the question of why Wells’ DNA wasn’t at the scene of Nora Allen’s murder. The real Wells was never there (and, presumably, the device that let Thawne impersonate Wells didn’t just change his outward appearance, but his DNA as well).

A teaser for upcoming episodes shows Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) and Arrow’s Detective Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) finding a skeleton. My guess: It’s the real Harrison Wells.

The flashbacks start with The Flash (Grant Gustin) chasing the Reverse Flash, whose destination appears to be the Allen home 15 years ago. It appears the Reverse Flash’s intent was to go back in time and kill Barry as a child, only to find himself stranded. So, ironically, he found himself having to wait until Barry grew up so he could orchestrate events to make Barry the Flash and then somehow use the Flash’s speed to get home.

Eobard Thawne stranded in the 21st century.

Eobard Thawne stranded in the 21st century.

It also looks like the Reverse Flash is the one who removed the younger Barry from the house. Why? To kill him? Why not do it in the house? To add to the confusion, the two speedsters were in the living room; the younger Barry was initially in his bedroom, but came out to investigate. If young Barry had been the target, wouldn’t the Reverse Flash have headed straight for the bedroom, where a child would likely have been at that time of night?

Also, what happened to the Flash back then? Why didn’t he chase after the Reverse Flash when the latter ran off with the young Barry? Or, for that matter, if he didn’t continue his pursuit, why didn’t he rush his injured mother to the hospital?

I think the moment the Reverse Flash ran off with the young Barry, he “overwrote” past events and the Barry of the original timeline ceased to exist. Just as Barry himself overwrote the events of a day or so when he tried to stop the tidal wave.

Right about then is when the Reverse Flash lost his super speed, by the way. Though, young Barry wasn’t with him, so he must have dropped him somewhere and kept going until he ran out of super speed. Again, why?

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the Flash carried off his younger self. If so, the end result is the same. He overwrote the past and the older version suddenly disappeared, leaving young Barry standing in the middle of the street however far away he’d been taken.

Leaving aside the question of which of the speedsters carried young Barry from the house, the fact remains that there’s no indication the Flash remained active in the past.

The real Harrison Wells with his fiancée, Tess Morgan.

The real Harrison Wells with his fiancée, Tess Morgan.

As for the Reverse Flash, after becoming stranded in the past, he stalked the real Dr. Wells. He didn’t choose Wells at random, however. After causing a car crash that killed Wells’ fiancée, Tess Morgan (Bre Blair), the Reverse Flash told Wells that in the history he knew, Wells and his wife activated the particle accelerator in 2020, but that he— Thawne— couldn’t wait that long. Though, given that he had to wait until Barry grew up anyway, what’s a few more years?

Presumably the particle accelerator also malfunctioned in the original history, giving a slightly older Barry his super speed. Whether Barry ever interacted with the real Dr. Wells in the original timeline is impossible to say. Even if he had, the circumstances would have been different, because in the timeline we know Wells/Thawne had an agenda in mentoring Barry.

In the same episode, Barry also revealed his identity to both his father (John Wesley Shipp), who was taken hostage by the Trickster (Mark Hamill), and Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett). He made the latter revelation because he and Joe needed Eddie’s help in convincing Iris West (Candice Patton) to give up searching for her colleague who was killed by the Reverse Flash. Eddie told her his investigation found that the man had moved to Brazil.

In the April 14 episode, “All Star Team Up”, Arrow’s Felicity Smoak and Ray Palmer (Emily Bett Rickards and Brandon Routh) guest starred. So did Amanda Pays, making her second appearance as Mercury Labs’ Tina McGee. Pays, of course, played a character of the same name in the original 1990 Flash series opposite John Wesley Shipp as Barry Allen.

In Arrow, Ray recently began operating as the Atom (though this iteration does not (yet?) shrink to six inches or smaller). In one scene, Felicity, Barry, Caitlin, Cisco and “Dr. Wells” watch the Atom fly in.

Caitlin: “Is that a bird?”

Cisco: “It’s a plane.”

No, it’s an inside joke. Brandon Routh played Superman in Superman Returns.

The Atom.

The Atom.

Meanwhile, Cisco is having flashes of memory from his fatal encounter with the Reverse Flash in the previous timeline (not unlike sound from a previous recording bleeding through a re-recorded audio tape). At the end of the episode, he tells Joe, Barry and Caitlin that he remembers that Dr. Wells is the Reverse Flash (adding weight to what Barry had just told a disbelieving Caitlin) and that he remembers Dr. Wells killing him.

In an earlier scene, Dr. McGee told Barry that after the car accident, Harrison Wells— once a close friend— became a completely different person. According to the teaser for tonight’s episode Barry will either realize (or deduce) that it’s literally true.

Question: Why has Eobard Thawne, in his persona of Harrison Wells, helped Barry capture and contain dangerous metahumans? Two reasons: He can’t risk any of them harming or killing Barry before he can use Barry’s super speed abilities to return to his own time and if there comes a time when Barry could pose a threat to his plans, he could release the captured metahumans to keep Barry occupied.

Another question that remains to be answered is whether Barry will learn that another version of himself was in his childhood home; not his future self. Even if he does, I doubt it would dissuade him from trying to go back and save his mother.

How do we know that it isn’t Barry’s future self? Because, again, the Reverse Flash has already experienced those events.

Also,  to what degree has Eobard Thawne’s 15 year impersonation of Harrison Wells changed him? He has to keep Barry close and safe for his own purposes, but he also genuinely seems to care about Cisco, Caitlin and others. The fact that Thawne allowed himself to get close to any of his colleagues during his impersonation of Dr. Wells is curious. Why not maintain a cool, professional detachment? Why did he “bond” with Cisco, watching an old silent film? Could Thawne have come to identify so much with his Wells persona and life in the 21st century— where he is effectively a hostage— that he’s affected by some ironic form of the Stockholm Syndrome?

Perhaps, but he wasn’t affected enough to let Cisco live in a previous timeline. Still, would he have risked exposure to save Cisco’s life in circumstances were Barry wasn’t around (and Cisco wasn’t investigating the Reverse Flash)? I think the answer to that is a definite maybe.

Even so, I don’t think we should expect the Reverse Flash to have a “road to Damascus” moment of revelation and attempt to set things right by changing history so Nora Allen never died. Even if such a thing were to happen, it would only be because the Reverse Flash had realized he’d created a new timeline and he’d need to restore the original to return to the 25th century he knows. In short, any act of altruism would be a means to an end.

Barry and “Dr. Wells.”

Barry and “Dr. Wells.”

Still, it’s curious that in his persona of Dr. Wells, Eobard Thawne has been grooming Barry Allen to be a hero. If all he needs to get home is the Flash’s speed, how Barry uses that speed is incidental.

It’s ironic that the Reverse Flash’s attempt to change history and eliminate his enemy led him to become stranded centuries in his own past. Whatever the cause of their enmity in the original timeline, you have to wonder if he had wished he’d never met the Flash.

I’ve no idea if such a scenario would ever happen, but suppose the Reverse Flash met someone who could return him to his own time, only at the cost of the permanent loss of his super speed? Would he accept the deal? It’d be more ironic if that were the only way he could get home.

I’ve no doubt that Barry will get justice for his father, falsely imprisoned for his mother’s murder; but whether he exposes the truth about Eobard Thawne or goes back and changes history remains to be seen. Either way, I feel certain some close approximation of the original timeline will be restored.

Copyright 2015 Patrick Keating.

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