Season two of CW's The Flash has an uneven pace, and last night's episode was no exception. One week viewers were treated to a relatively leisurely stroll about town, and the next they were pressed right back into their seats by a storyline that has more hairpin turns than a Formula One race. But after last night's episode, "The Darkness and the Light," I think I get what's going on here; the CW is riding The Flash for all it's worth. Thankfully, a solid writing team and flexible acting talent are keeping them in the race.
CW is diving headlong into the DC multiverse, and embracing everything that means; doppelgangers, time travel, multidimensional rifts ... even an inexplicable man shark. They're pushing The Flash hard this season because it has to carry the weight of not only its own plotline, but also be able to give a little bump to the launch of Legends of Tomorrow in early 2016.
Somebody high up must be saying, "Screw it. How else are we going to push all this other crap off our affiliate's airwaves?" And The Flash is hanging in there. For all the ground it had to cover last night, it looked like a well-oiled machine.
But cripes is it getting complicated. Where to even begin.
If you'll recall, S.T.A.R. Labs star scientist Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) has been having visions, all centered around crimes in progress and all involving metahumans. His uncanny abilities have saved Flash and company more than a couple of times already, but so far he's kept his powers a secret.
That suddenly changed when Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) from Earth Two walked through a rip in spacetime on a mission to help the Flash hunt down and destroy his new nemesis, a speedster named Zoom.
Turns out, Wells from Earth Two is actually Steve Jobs.
Stay with me here.
Instead of running a particle accelerator, this version of Wells makes his living selling retro futuristic smartphones and smartwatches. It's a coy twist that's delightfully introduced early in the episode through a flashback where, under Earth 2's sepia-toned sun, Wells introduces his latest innovation — an app that detects metahumans.
Fast-forward to the middle of last night's episode on Earth One, where, with a few boops on the capacitive screen of his watch, Wells can tell that Cisco is a metahuman from a mile away.
Once he knows, its Wells' goal to force Cisco to embrace his powers. Of course, his method is more than a little aggressive.
Last night, Central City's villain was Dr. Light, a small-time thief from Earth Two who has gained the ability to shoot starlight out her fingertips. She's loose in Central City, and only Cisco can find her. Wells spills Cisco's secret, and before long he's putting the screws to the young scientist, screaming at him to have his vision already so they can get on with finding Dr. Light.
It's a weird kind of motivation this Wells provides. Where Wells from Earth One was sly and conniving, this Wells is more menacing, his voice more gravelly. He seems almost maniacally driven to destroy Zoom, and he believes Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and his team are just powerful enough to do it.
Long story short, Cisco reveals himself as a metahuman to the team at S.T.A.R. Labs, has his vision and becomes comfortable with his powers all in the course of about 45 seconds. Quick as you like, they've captured Dr. Light, and by the end of the night Cisco's settled on Vibe as his new nickname.
Did I mention that Dr. Light is actually Allen's girlfriend's doppelganger from season one, Linda Park (as played by Malese Jow)?
Like I said, it's getting complicated.
Meanwhile, love is in the air in Central City.
Just as detective Patty Spivot (Shantel Van Santen) has had it with Allen's evasive bullshit, he finally breaks down and asks her out on a date. Unfortunately for him, Dr. Light uses the power of the stars to blind him just hours before he's supposed to show up for dinner. What follows is a literal blind date, with Cisco feeding Allen meticulous directions while he eats Chinese food from his desk back at S.T.A.R. Labs.
When they kiss, Allen regains his sight. It's cheesy, but the scene actually works. It's carried aloft on the shoulders of Van Santen and Gustin's suddenly red hot chemistry.
Hold on, because we're not done yet.
Remember there's another Flash on Earth One at the moment? Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears), who was completely absent last episode, returned this week to have an intimate moment with Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker). He stuck around just long enough to storm off, unable to trust Earth Two's Dr. Wells, unwilling to see Allen fight Zoom head-on and painfully unfazed by Snow's affections.
The episode ends with a scene deep inside Zoom's lair, where he's revealed to be holding Dr. Wells' daughter prisoner.
Does that mean Wells is working for Zoom, his daughter's life the leverage to make him comply? Or is Wells truly on the run, racing against long odds to find a way for Allen to save his daughter before it's too late? We'll find out soon enough.
For me at least, this episode finally crystalized a few plot points, and with luck next week's episode will begin to focus the narrative through them to a dramatic mid-season cliffhanger.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. There's this one other thing that happened.
More than once, Cisco gets up the nerve to ask the local barista out. By the end of the episode he succeeds. He gets the digits, and her name — Kendra Saunders (as played by Ciara Renee). Better known as Hawkgirl from Legends of Tomorrow.
Want to catch up on the rest of The Flash's second season? Click here!