So, over the past year, one of my favourite TV shows has been The Flash. It was a genuinely fun and compelling show, with an amazing cast and quality writing, which was always really exciting to watch. Cannot wait for next series, I’m really looking forward to it.
One of the key things I liked so much about The Flash was the character of Harrison Wells, played brilliantly by Tom Cavanagh. (Spoilers from here on out, by the way.)
Wells is Barry’s mentor. He helps him to save others, supports him in his endeavours, and teaches him things about his own abilities. But the fact is, he has a secret agenda – he’s actually the man who killed Barry’s mother, Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash. He travelled from the future to kill Barry in the past because he hates him that much.
“I come here to destroy you, but then to get home, I have to be the one who creates you”
There’s a really interesting irony at the heart of this, which is summed up by that line – Wells has to be the one to create his worst enemy. Every interaction they have, even though Barry doesn’t know it, carries with it a history – and a future – of so much conflict and hatred for one another.
But, brilliantly, it’s not that simple. Because Wells does begin to care about Barry.
“I know that rage. I used to feel that rage every time I looked upon you. And now, somehow, I know what Joe, and Henry, feel when they look upon you with pride, and with love.”
I suppose it could be argued with relative ease that Wells is simply lying here, with the hope of manipulating Barry, but I like to believe it’s a bit more complicated than that – the fact that his hatred for the Barry he knew, and his love for the Barry he has come to know, can and do coexist is one of the more compelling aspects of the narrative, to my mind.
It’s an interesting new take on the idea of the hero’s mentor being the hero’s enemy, and one which also presents some compelling possibilities for future stories: Barry will, eventually, have a “first” meeting with Thawne at a point before he’s Harrison Wells (presumably played by Matt Lescher in this instance). There’d be a lot of parallels between these interactions, and the ones we’ve already seen on the show so far – the positions would be reversed, with Barry knowing and hating Thawne based on past interactions that are all still ahead of Thawne.
How would Barry deal with him? Is he able to do anything to stop him, knowing that he has to keep the past – and future – intact? (Actually, given the weird timey wimey nature of The Flash at the minute, how much of this is still predetermined?)
Or, in a moment of maximum dramatic irony… Will Barry’s hatred of Thawne lead to Thawne’s hatred of Barry? Will Barry create the Reverse Flash, in much the same way that Wells created the Flash?
Honestly, I think it’s likely. And I am really looking forward to it.