Harrison Wells is back this week and oh boy is it mediocre.
After a pretty kick-ass mid-season return arc, we are treated to an episode that makes me regret getting excited for what's coming up in season three. It's not noxiously bad, it's just a tremendous disappointment. For all of the potential in this week's setup, we are treated to a weird collection of clichés and character developments that belong in the first season of the show.
H.R. has been publishing fan fiction online about his crime fighting escapades, casting himself as a vortex cannon-wielding murder machine who quotes Die Hard when a bounty hunter named Gypsy takes on the job of returning H.R. to his rightful dimension. Turns out dimensional hopping is punishable by death, and H.R. needs to face the music — unless someone can defeat Gypsy in a trial by combat. Barry challenges her, but not before Cisco can blurt out a challenge first.
What follows is an entire episode of pep talks and training montages. What are we doing here, guys?
Honestly, between not knowing what H.R. was actually like on his Earth and watching this collector show up to unite the team onto his side, it seemed like a better setup for a ... setup. H.R. using showmanship to make friends out of the guys who have been consistently distant and hiring a fake murder cop to chase everyone around — this sounds like a better fit than an earnest series of motivational talks.
Needless to say, Cisco wins out (and develops yet another meta villain crush) and H.R. is allowed to stay on Earth Prime but is forbidden from ever returning to his world. Again, this all sounds like a setup and if it isn't, boy, it’s the definition of a missed opportunity.
Meanwhile, Iris is now operating with a death wish since discovering she'll die in May at the hands of Savitar. Barry isn't doing much to change this. She's also covering her brother's rapid rise in popularity, but never mentions that maybe someone with a secret identity should take fewer selfies while wearing a mask that only covers a percentage of his face.
Finally, new team member Julian Albert is establishing himself as the prickly math dude that Harrison Wells was in the second season. He's been working on the math and thinks that preventing Iris' death would be impossible. So Team Flash is turning to the other speedster in their midst who is already catching up to Barry's land-speed records.
This collector character who also has the power to vibe is one of the first new introductions in season three that I'm genuinely excited to see more of. If that doesn’t happen, it feels like an entirely skippable entry. Unfortunately, it already feels like the show is treading water until the May season finale. Luckily, it's only February and there's plenty of time to turn this around.