So, I’m going to say in advance: this week really comes down to two big points for this review. I mean, the episode overall is good, but there’s really two things that merit the particular shoutout here.
The really odd part being that the story bombshells in this case actually come in second to the VERY welcome return of Mark Hamill to the front of the camera.
This was something I will admit I was already pretty hyped up for back when they first announced it was going to happen on the show some time ago. I mean, it’s Mark Hamill – beyond Star Wars, the man’s performance as the Joker in DCAU’s productions is still considered one of the best interpretations of the character to this day. How could I not be hyped for this?
Fortunately, the hype has paid off here; as the imprisoned James Jesse, Hamill has fast secured himself a spot among the most memorable enemies this show has introduced so far. While one can detect touches of his work as the Joker in the role, Hamill has also made him a different role in his own light. Some of the most enjoyable parts of this are actually in his less ‘playfully evil’ scenes, when he’s flying into a rage over a young pretender (Devon Graye) riding his coattails.
Those moments are part of what sets this apart from his earlier addition to the DC canon – he definitely shares the thematically similar area of lethal pranks, but Hamill also makes James into more of a case of professional craftsmanship. Even when it’s revealed the ringer was in on his plans all along, he operates with a twisted sort of pride in his work that Hamill taps into to great effect.
I feel kind of bad short-changing Graye as the younger Trickster here, because he’s definitely not bad and he makes a good support, but really, this is Hamill’s episode. Every laugh, every devious grin, and every insane quip reminds me how much I’ve missed the maniacal bastard, and it’s nice to see he’s still got it in front of the camera as well as behind the mic.
As far as the bombshells, this week brought three major twists to the tale. As is often the case, all three revolving around the mystery of Harrison Wells, and all three raising new questions as they answer old ones.
Having this week indirectly clear Wells of any involvement in the death of Barry’s mother was an unexpected reveal. It’s actually interesting to see how Wells had changed before the fateful encounter that lead to him becoming Reverse Flash, and to his credit, Cavanagh plays it well. It’s actually a little surprising to see him sympathetic after some of the things his character has done on the show, but it still feels believable here.
In the present, the other two changes go together with regards to everyone’s favorite devious supervillain incognito. After his last reveal was undone, Harrison again tips his hand, this time to Barry by letting him in on the Speed Force. Seeing Barry pull a successful phase seems like a relatively small event in the course of this episode, but it’s also one that opens the door to a lot of other developments to come.
Not the least of these is the fact it now means Barry knows part of Wells’s secret. With that, and based on the preview of episodes to come, it looks like this season is going to be ramping up in a big way from here out.
It’s a bit frustrating that it will be another two weeks before the next episode. But from the signs of things to come, I imagine All Star Team Up will certainly be worth the wait.
-Mark freakin’ Hamill
-Wells’ reveal to Barry a natural slip that avoids feeling too convenient
-As big as the reveal of Wells is, it does feel somewhat sidelined by the A plot.
-While I see the reasoning behind it, Mason’s fate being swept under the rug makes the whole thing feel kind of pointless