Tuesday, November 3, 2015

REVIEW: 'The Flash' - Barry Faces Off With a Couple of Familiar People from His Past in 'The Darkness and the Light'

The CW's The Flash - Episode 2.05 "The Darkness and the Light"

Barry learns a new breacher, Dr. Light, has come through the portal and sets out to capture her. Jay tells Barry that Dr. Light was not a threat on Earth-2 and that Barry can reason with her. During a fight with The Flash, she blinds him and drops some shocking news about Zoom. Barry and Patty go out on a date.

Harrison Wells of Earth Two came through the breach two episodes ago and made his presence known last week when Barry was under attack by King Shark. Everyone on Team Flash learns about Harrison Wells in this episode. But it's not the same Harrison Wells they knew last season. This is not the man who killed Barry's mother, caused the particle accelerator explosion and then killed Eddie and Ronnie. Everyone understands that. But that man is still standing in front of them. When they look at Harry, all they see is the devious and manipulative man they met last season. Harry came though the breach in order to eliminate the threat from Zoom. Barry and the team have to trust him. It's just a lot more complicated because of the complex personal feelings involved. And that makes for one great episode of The Flash.

Dr. Wells was at the center of the incident that created meta-humans in both worlds. In Earth One, it was solely to create The Flash so that he could return to his own time. In Earth Two, it was just an accident. An accident that Wells was able to keep secret. He actually profited from the disaster by marketing watches that could detect meta-humans to help ordinary people feel safe. It's a move that Jay didn't agree with because he knew the truth. That conflict boils over into Barry's world when Jay and Harry come face-to-face again. Neither one likes the other and Barry is caught in the middle of it. The differences between the two Harrison Wells also become very apparent because this new one is much more abrasive and blunt. He doesn't care about anyone's personal feelings. He wants to deal with this threat as quickly as possible so that he can go back to his world without having to worry about its potential destruction. Jay alludes that Harry has some dark secrets just like Wells did last season. It's proven that things are more complicated than they appear in the tag scene where Zoom has Harry's daughter prisoner. But things are still amiss with Harry in his current actions as well.

Harry fully believes that Barry is ready to fight Zoom right now. After seeing Zoom terrorize his city for two years, Harry knows that Zoom only gets stronger every day. Harry has watched Barry as the Flash and believes he's a much better version of the hero than Jay ever was. He's running towards the danger and facing it head on. That's something that Harry never saw Jay do. But Barry has put his trust in Jay as his new mentor. He provided him with valuable insight into his powers that helped him deal with the new meta-human threats coming from Earth Two.

The latest meta-human Zoom sends to do battle with the Flash is Dr. Light, who can control the power of light and all of its destructive qualities. Jay had some interactions with her in their world. He knows that she is just a petty criminal who got powers but has never killed someone before. Now she is being forced to simply because Zoom is making her. Things become much more complicated when it's revealed that Dr. Light is actually Linda Park from Earth Two. This is the first time the show has made a villain out of a familial character's doppelganger. It probably won't be the last time either. Barry, of course, has a history with Linda. They dated for a brief minute last season. It's not as powerful as his past with Wells. But it's still enough to catch him off guard when Dr. Light pulls back her mask and reveals herself to him.

That attack leaves Barry blinded for a couple of hours. That allows him some time to go on a first date with Patty. This is a very crowded episode with a lot of story bouncing off of each other. But it never feels chaotic. Barry's date with Patty is just as amusing as the big climatic moment with Dr. Light. Patty feels different as a romantic interest for Barry. She's not simply the show repeating the story it did last season with Linda. She's not just a placeholder until Barry can get with Iris. That still may ultimately be the case. But it definitely feels like Barry is more committed to making things work with Patty. Sure, it's very awkward that he's blind and has to rely on Cisco to walk him through the date via glasses that are neither stylish nor able to transmit in color. But it's still a very effective scene because it shows Barry being able to just be Barry for a little bit. Yes, the threat from Zoom and Dr. Light is still present. It interrupts the end of the date when they are kissing. But it never distracts from how important this moment is on a personal level for Barry.

Harry doesn't really care about that though. Nor does he care about Cisco wanting to keep his powers a secret from the rest of the team. He just wants to catch Dr. Light in order to lure Zoom into a trap. He notices that Cisco has powers and exploits them to his personal gain. He doesn't care about any of these people. He's doing what's best for his own interests. Everyone wants to stop Zoom. But no one else on the team wants to lose their humanity in the process. Harry becomes a part of the team but only out of necessity. This plan may be dangerous. But he gives it that forceful push that leads to meaningful action. He's the one who comes up with the strategy to defeat Dr. Light. He knows that Barry is fast enough to time travel. So he can handle Dr. Light and Zoom. He doesn't care about the personal feelings involved. He wants Barry to defeat this foe in order to save both of their worlds. In some way, that is an admirable quality. Barry is victorious in battle and Dr. Light is the latest meta-human to land in the STAR Labs prison. But now, the true battle is on the horizon. Is Barry ready to face Zoom so soon? It's unlikely. However, he feels personally motivated and strong. He's ready to fight with him now if it means protecting the city from even more damage. That's a risk Barry is willing to take.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Darkness and the Light" was written by Ben Sokolowski & Grainne Godfree and directed by Steve Shill.
  • The official logline for this episode refers to Jay and Harry's world as "Earth-2" but the onscreen text refers to it as "Earth Two." It has just gotten so confusing - though I suspect Earth Two is what the show wants to call it since it was actually onscreen.
  • The episode also features the debut of Ciara Renée as Kendra Saunders. Her story in the next few episodes will just be setting her character up for the spinoff, Legends of Tomorrow. And yet, her going on a date with Cisco seems very promising. They have a fun and amusing banter.
  • Linda knows that there is an evil meta-human out there who looks just like her. That's only going to create problems for her in the future.
  • This season Joe has learned that the best way to protect Iris from the dangers of the world is to tell her the truth and arm her with a gun. Though she is still keeping the big family secret she learned last week from him.
  • If Zoom is so determined to be the only speedster in the multi-verse, why is he wasting so much time sending these threats to Barry through the various breaches? Why doesn't he just fight the Flash himself?
  • Harry's meta-human detector says that Caitlin is not a meta-human. So unless there's a malfunction with the technology, it doesn't seem like any previously dormant powers will suddenly activate.
  • Jay notes that Earth Two has an Atlantis. Plus, he has a friend there. I wonder who that might be?