We begin Episode 1.19 with an ominous narration. Barry laments that no matter how fast he is, he’ll never be ‘fast enough’ as he speeds through the city streets. Just as things are starting to feel pretty dark and depressing, we immediately segway into a PIZZA PARTY AT JOE’S PLACE!!
Phew, nothing cuts the tension better than a slice of pepperoni. It’s always nice to take a pizza break with friends after a foreboding voiceover.
The gang’s all there – Barry, Cisco, Caitlin, and Joe. This begs the question: is Joe coping with a mid-life crisis by throwing pizza parties at his pad with folks much younger than he is? I guess there are worse ways to deal. Anyway, our heroes discuss how exactly they plan to expose Dr. Wells as the evil, conniving super villain we all know he is. Joe and Cisco plan to team up (Yes!!) and head to Starling City, a.k.a. Arrow-land, to investigate the car crash from which a ‘changed’ Dr. Wells emerged 15 years ago.
All seems fine and dandy until Caitlin decides she has to go and screw up the party with a whole “Dr. Wells is such a good man, blah, blah,” speech. Come on, Caitlin! Haven’t you been paying attention the past couple episodes? There’s no excuse for superfluous character conflict to milk some tension from the close-knit group at this point in the series. Get your head in the game.
While Joe and Cisco are off investigating, Central City has to deal with a new threat – a shapeshifter! Eddie tries to apprehend the villain during a robbery, but ends up getting smacked around. The Flash arrives to put a stop to the madness, but the shapeshifter escapes by…you know…shifting his shape. The Flash is totally baffled by this development so instead of trying to apprehend the person, he kind of just stands there in shock. He’s probably just busy trying to figure out how someone who can assume any identity by touching someone can also duplicate perfect replicas of their clothing. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But, let’s not think too hard about all this. It is The Flash, after all.
So, Barry returns to STAR Labs, where Dr. Wells and Caitlin mention that he should probably do his best to avoid making contact with the shapeshifter in battle, lest he discover Barry’s true identity. They do some research and uncover the shapeshifter’s true identity: Hannibal Bates.
Really? Hannibal Bates? Is that actually what’s happening? Alrighty then.
In Starling City, Joe and Cisco pay a visit to the good folks of the police department. Again, thank you, writers, for reuniting these two for more detective work. It is a match made in heaven. Captain Lance gives the boys all the info he has on Dr. Wells’ car crash and Cisco has a little run-in with the Black Canary herself. There’s an adorable moment in which Cisco professes his love for her and agrees to help improve one of her crime-fighting devices. That sentence wasn’t intended to be a euphemism, but, you know, maybe it was.
Back in Central City, Dr. Wells is hanging out at his place, having a drink by the fireplace as all supervillains are wont to do. Caitlin shows up to address him about all the accusations piling up against him, but Barry swoops her away before she can follow through on this phenomenally inane act.
Seriously though, Caitlin, where is all this coming from? Why does she suddenly have, like, the hugest crush on Dr. Wells?
Anyway, Barry begs her to stop messing around. If she reveals to Dr. Wells that they suspect him of being a criminal, it could ruin Barry’s chances to get his dad out of jail.
After this awkward exchange, Barry joins Eddie for a casual visit to Hannibal Bates’ (ugh, sorry, still not over that name) grandmother’s place. They interview her about her grandson’s whereabouts from the comfort of an extremely tiny love seat, which forces them to sit much closer together than either desires, but makes for a wonderful sight gag.
Before they can get too comfy, however, it turns out the grandmother is actually Hannibal in disguise! Barry and Eddie give chase with Barry calling Dr. Wells for advice, asking how he’s supposed to catch Hannibal without giving away his secret identity.
“The old fashioned way – run like a normal person.” Gotta love Dr. Wells. Even in the pressure of the moment, he’s still handing out zingers like it’s nobody’s business.
A couple police officers show up to assist, as Eddie emerges from a backyard. When they ask him how they can help, Eddie pulls out a gun and says, “Die!” It’s Hannibal in disguise!! Again!! No!!! Hannibal shoots the two officers and takes out the camera in their car before making a quick escape.
Wait, hold on a second. So not only can Hannibal shapeshift perfect replicas of people’s clothing, he can also create weapons from thin air?
*Sigh* I need to stop thinking about this stuff.
Naturally, Eddie gets arrested for the crime, and the D.A. isn’t having any of this ‘No, you’ve got it all wrong – it was a shapeshifter’ nonsense. Barry comforts Iris and assures her that he will help clear Eddie’s name. There’s a nice little moment later on where Barry tries to break Eddie out of the station and Eddie implores him to prove his innocence the right way. Barry does one of those grim, heroic nods that only superheroes can pull off and returns Eddie to the holding room.
Joe, Cisco, and Captain Lance continue their detective expedition, heading out to the crash site with one of Cisco’s nifty little gadgets, which does who knows what. Something that helps them find a dead body buried in the ground, apparently. A hand sticks out of the soil, which prompts this wonderful Cisco moment: “I thought it was a foot but a hand is just as bad.”
There’s a really great exchange between Joe and Lance as they talk about the complications of being a parent. Both Jesse L. Martin (Joe) and Paul Blackthorne (Lance) really shine here and it further confirms my belief that Martin is the best actor on the show.
Back in Central City, Barry’s hanging out at home when Eddie shows up. He’s been cleared! All is well.
Come on, now, you really buy that, Barry? With a shapeshifter hanging around? One who JUST took Eddie’s form and murdered a couple of cops? Really??
‘Eddie’ knocks Barry out with the butt of his gun and takes on Barry’s identity. Caitlin shows up to tell ‘Barry’ that she may have found a way to cancel out Hannibal’s powers for a short time. They head to STAR Labs together. This is where ‘Bad Barry’ gets to strut his stuff and Mr. Gustin seems to relish the opportunity to play a bit more of a villainous side.
As Caitlin explains how the shapeshifter-cancelling serum works, ‘Bad Barry’ gets down to business, pulling her in for a smooch. And the best part? After the initial shock wears off, Caitlin is totally into it and kisses him back. Ruh-roh. Don’t tell Ronnie.
They’re interrupted by Iris’ arrival. (Dammit, Iris! Always ruining everything for everyone!) Iris has got some irrefutable evidence in her pocket that proves her boy-toy Eddie is innocent. She shows them the surveillance footage – ‘Eddie’ shot the cops with the gun in his left-hand, but the REAL Eddie isn’t left-handed! Mystery solved. As all this goes on, Barry sneaks around like a creeper and for some reason no one suspects him of anything despite his odd behavior.
Guys, seriously. Maybe you haven’th eard, but there’s a shapeshifter in town. Did everyone suddenly become a total moron? You’d think ‘odd behavior’ like impromptu make out sessions would make it obvious, but apparently not.
Dr. Wells saves the day by tazing ‘Bad Barry’ before he can shoot the girls. (Again, where did the gun come from? Did Hannibal create it out of pocket lint?) Caitlin and Dr. Wells try to convince Iris to let them keep Hannibal in containment, but Iris is determined to prove Eddie’s innocence. Not wanting to give away their meta-human containment center, Caitlin and Dr. Wells agree to let Iris take Hannibal to the police station. She and Caitlin put Hannibal in cuffs and are off on their way, but before they can get there, Hannibal has shapeshifted into a little girl and starts shouting for help under the window. Some construction workers take notice and head over to help the ‘little girl’ and Iris, immobilized by her overwhelming stupidity, doesn’t even bother trying to drive off. Hannibal slips out of his/her handcuffs and escapes during all the chaos.
Caitlin heads to Barry’s home, finding him unconscious, gagged and tied up on the floor. Her logical conclusion is to slap him in the face to wake him up. The pair returns to STAR Labs where Barry picks up the anti-shapeshifting serum and heads to the airport to track down Bates. The two of them engage in a super shapeshifting battle as Hannibal transforms into everyone Barry knows and loves. Barry’s thrown at first and hesitates to attack (??), but recovers quickly and delivers the superspeedy smackdown we were waiting for. (I’ve gotta admit, I found it extremely satisfying when Barry punched ‘Iris’ in the throat. Is that horrible? I’m sorry. She’s really obnoxious.)
Barry shows the footage of the Hannibal battle to the skeptical D.A. and she finally agrees that Eddie is innocent. Eddie and Iris reunite and Iris finally chills the eff out and is happy. Eddie tells her the reason he’s been so distant is because he’s been working with the Flash and he just leaves it at that, keeping Barry’s trust. Nicely done, Eddie. Though by this point, I’m pretty sure Iris is the only cast member who doesn’t know the Flash’s true identity, so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to let her in on the secret? Just a thought.
So, all is well in Central City.
Or is it?
Right at the tail-end of the episode, Barry, Caitlin, and Cisco stumble on Dr. Wells’ secret Reverse Flash room, confirming their suspicions once and for all. Plus, a foreboding news article from 2025 entitled: “The Flash Missing in Action.” Gah!!
So overall opinion, this was a really great return to form for Flash. The villain was goofy, but still fun and felt more ingrained with everything that was going on. We also got to dig a little deeper into the Dr. Wells mystery. It feels like we’re finally regaining some of the focus that was missing over the past few episodes and the stakes are definitely getting higher and higher. If this episode is any indication, the next couple episodes could be some of the best of the season. We’ll see how things pan out, but I, for one, am stoked.
The Flash feels like it's back on track after a couple weaker episodes. Judging from the quality of this one, we're in for a real treat as we head towards the 'Big Finale.'