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THE FLASH Review: “The Darkness and the Light”

THE FLASH Review: “The Darkness and the Light”

Two favorite characters arrive in Central City in this week’s episode of The Flash. And, like I said last week, you know you’re watching a quality superhero show when a character created just for that show is as welcome as the first appearance of a veteran comic-book character. In this case, we have Harrison Wells and Doctor Light.

This Wells, that of Earth Two, is the second iteration of the character who served as last season’s Big Bad, the STAR Labs founder whose body was taken over by the Reverse-Flash. This new Wells, or “Harry” as Cisco insists on calling him, isn’t much more welcome than his predecessor, even if he hasn’t killed anyone. At least in cold blood. Jay Garrick blames him for not taking responsibility for the creation of metahumans on Earth Two, including this season’s new Big Bad, Zoom, and for profiting from their existence by selling gadgets to warn humans of their arrival. For his part, Wells accuses Jay of running from Zoom instead of fighting him and defending his Earth. As we learn at the end of “The Darkness and the Light”, Wells’ own daughter has been taken prisoner by Zoom, thus prompting him to run to Earth One for help.

As for Doctor Light, as created by writer Gardner Fox and penciller Mike Sekowsky, the character first appeared as a man in Justice League of America #12 (June 1962). However in July 1985, the character was reimagined by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, the character first appeared as an Asian woman in Crisis on Infinite Earths #4. Here, the writers wisely draw on the show’s own history to make her the Linda Park of Earth Two, who’s running from Zoom. Like her predecessors, this new Light wears a black-and-white costume, befitting her luminescent abilities.

The theme of fear is one that runs throughout this episode. Cisco’s afraid his new powers may take him down a dark path, and is consequently afraid to tell his friends about them. Caitlin is afraid to be on her own in the wake of Ronnie’s death, and finds solace in Jay. Barry is afraid to ask Patty out. Jay, like Light, is afraid of Zoom, both for himself and his newfound friends. And everyone is afraid of Wells, including Joe, who opens fire on him the moment he sees him. He then forces a gun into Iris’ hand so she can defend herself should Wells really pose a threat. Naturally it’s only when our heroes face their fears (though Cisco is forced to do so when Wells outs him as a metahuman to his friends), that they capture Doctor Light. Jay, alas, can’t be a party to Barry confronting Zoom, as he plans to next episode, and departs for now. It’s probably a smart move, since Barry can only have so many father figures before he starts to look like a child.

Even with all this heaviness, “The Darkness and the Light”, remains true to its name, and provides us with a hilarious sequence of Barry, temporarily blinded by Doctor Light, guided through his first date with Patty remotely by Cisco. It’s the first time this season I’ve laughed out loud, and it’s terrific to see the show remember that it should be a lighter series than Arrow. Carlos Valdes was funny in his role last season, but this year he’s getting the chance to imbue Cisco with far more of his own natural charm. It makes the overall show much more relaxed.

Speaking of natural charm, it has been a while since we were treated to a whole episode with Tom Cavanagh, and the actor wastes no time in reminding us why he was one of the best things about season 1. Here he’s tasked with creating a new personality, which he does in just a few short scenes. Rather than take the easy route and make Earth Two’s Wells the exact opposite of Earth One’s, The Flash doesn’t make the new Wells an easy fellow to like, and Cavanagh creates a distinct vocal pattern and set of mannerisms for the brilliant, arrogant scientist. I could happily watch him play a new version of Wells each season.

As a bonus this week, we’re introduced to yet another two more fan favorites. For Cisco finally gets to become Vibe, and we meet Kendra Saunders (a.k.a. Hawkgirl), who features in 2016’s Legends of Tomorrow. If there’s one thing the DC TV Universe benefits from, it’s a rich tapestry of characters culled from the company’s almost eighty year history. And next week we’ll meet one of the biggest and baddest in Zoom himself.

The Flash 2

Accelerated Particles

  • Jay drops the first hint we’ve had that Aquaman, King of Atlantis, exists in the DCTVU when he mentions his friend from the lost continent to Caitlin during their stakeout.
  • “You know, our Doctor Wells may have been evil, but you’re just a dick.”
  • Does Iris have a license for that gun?
  • I’m calling it now: Cisco can flirt with Hawkgirl as much as he wants, but he will wind up with Patty by the end of this series (assuming she doesn’t get killed). He’s already played Cyrano de Bergerac to her Roxane.
  • “Now how ’bout we take it down a lumen?”
  • Is it just me or does Doctor Light’s helmet look a little like that of Winslow Leach in Brian De Palma’s cult fave Phantom of the Paradise?

Phantom of the Paradise - 4

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).

IMAGES: The CW

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