The emotional tug-of-war between fathers and sons is a theme that’s run through The Flash since its pilot episode. Barry Allen has had multiple father figures in his life, from his falsely imprisoned birth father to his surrogate dad Joe West to his current mentor Harrison Wells. But in “The Sound and the Fury”, Wells is revealed to have been the “father” of another young science whiz, Hartley Rathaway, a former S.T.A.R. Labs employee (played by Smash‘s Andy Mientus) who was fired by Wells when he warned him that the particle accelerator he was planning to activate could explode and destroy the city. The dismissal was crushing on multiple levels for Rathaway. It was the second time a family tossed him aside, after his own dad shut him out of his inheritance upon learning he was gay; and since he eventually lost his hearing when the accelerator exploded. Using his intellect to restore his ears and construct a pair of sonic-wave power gauntlets, he dubs himself the Pied Piper, and exacts an elaborate revenge upon Wells and his newest protege, the Flash.
Iris is also undergoing some disillusionment in this episode via one of the men she looks up to. She begins working as a cub reporter for Central City Picture News, but learns she was brought on board for her attention-grabbing blog about the Flash, and that the newspaper’s veteran reporter resents being assigned to watch over her.
A third light in “The Sound and the Fury” is cast on Cisco, who gets a little more backstory. We witness his first day at S.T.A.R. Labs, the beginnings of his friendship with Caitlin, and his intense rivalry with Rathaway, whom he accuses Wells of favoring over the rest of his team. Though when the “prodigal son” allows himself to be captured (and after The Dark Knight, The Avengers, and Star Trek Into Darkness, this trope just had to happen on The Flash sooner or later), Wells confesses to his nerdiest staffer that he hired him for his humanity, which Rathaway lacked. The former mentee escapes after learning the Flash’s frequency from S.T.A.R.’s computer and tries using it to destroy the speedster atop a dam. Wells, however, who’s played Rathaway enough times in chess to know how his mind works, counters the young man’s move by seizing control of the sound emitted through the surrounding cars’ speakers.
Wells imprisons Rathaway in one of his makeshift cells. It’s not explained why — since he’s not a metahuman and he doesn’t known any of Wells’ secrets that the scientist hasn’t already revealed — he can’t simply go to jail. But then Cisco wouldn’t soon be able to release him, as Rathaway tells him he will, since he knows how to find and save Caitlin’s ex Ronnie Raymond, whom we last saw burst into flames and fly away. Meanwhile, Joe and Eddie secretly begin investigating Wells after they conclude there’s no way the wheelchair-bound genius couldn’t have been injured when Rathaway first attacked him.
“The Sound and the Fury” is another fun episode that finds a new way to invest us in the villain of the week, while featuring plenty of the show’s inventive special effects. My only real qualm with it is a pet peeve — that Barry has saved the day more times this season through the ingenuity of his friends than his own cleverness. As I’ve mentioned before, in today’s world of ensemble TV dramas, The Flash‘s protagonist is required to have a team, and there’s no way that team can sit idly by while he wins week after week. Batman: The Animated Series this isn’t. But then there’s no reason it should be. The Flash isn’t just about fathers and sons. It’s about family, in all its forms. And in the end, it’s Barry’s family, i.e. the people in his life, as he states in this episode’s closing moments, that makes him the hero he is.
— Longtime Justice League foes, the Royal Flush Gang first appeared in the DC TV Universe in Arrow‘s “Legacies”. Unfortunately, since some of its members were killed in that episode (in which they wore hockey masks) and we don’t see their faces beneath their motorcycle helmets this time around, we don’t know for certain if this is the same gang.
— The one new trick Barry demonstrates in this episode is his ability to take super selfies.
— In Iris West’s original comic book incarnation, she was a photographer for Central City’s Picture News.
— I know I’m picking nits, but exactly how does Barry rescue all of the motorists trapped in the cars that the Piper hurls through the air? Are all of their doors unlocked?
— I’m guessing Iris will soon learn Barry’s secret. Her first clue is here, when he runs away from her in the cafe.
— “Keep Calm and Han Shot First” You’re damn right, Cisco. Represent!
Next week: Team Flash takes on a new metahuman and Barry falls for the Flash comics’ Linda Park.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).