TV Review: The Flash – The Darkness and The Light (2×05)

The Flash Logo review analysis retrospective barry allen grant gustin greg berlanti andrew kreisberg cw

I’ve already had my worst nightmare. His name was Reverse-Flash, and I spent a long time being afraid of him. I’m not gonna be afraid anymore.

One of my favourite aspects of the series last year was the character of Harrison Wells, as portrayed by Tom Cavanagh. I’ve written about it at length in the past, but suffice to say, I’m a huge fan, and I’m really glad to see Tom Cavanagh back in the series in a more substantial role. (Technically, there hasn’t actually been a single episode of series 2 without him.)

Now, the Earth 2 Harrison Wells is a very different character to the one we got to know last year; he’s much more abrasive and acerbic, for one thing, and he crucially isn’t actually the Reverse Flash. (Presumably.) Still, though, every interaction that the regular cast has with him is informed by the events of the last series, and it creates a very interesting new position for the character to occupy.

What’s most interesting, I think, was the new Wells’ relationship with Cisco. Amongst the other characters, it was essentially as you’d expect; Cisco’s response to the E-2 Wells, however, was explored in more depth, and afforded a bit more nuance. Carlos Valdes and Tom Cavanagh are both excellent actors; Cisco actively resents and resists against Wells’ presence, creating a palpable sense of animosity between the two men. One scene that stood out in particular to me was when Wells revealed to the group that Cisco was, in fact, a metahuman; it was a very clever way of structuring the reveal, taking the choice away from Cisco, and emphasising once again how dismissive and callous this iteration of Wells is. Good choice on the behalf of the writers here; I was similarly impressed by the parallels drawn between Wells killing Cisco last year and revealing his powers this year, with the actual physical actions being a mirror of one another.

(Similarly interesting is the fact that this Wells has a daughter, actually; that’s something I’m expecting to become very important in the coming weeks, and I think gives some rather heavy hints as to a potential identity for Zoom…)

the flash review the darkness and the light season 1 star labs tom cavanagh carlos valdes harry wells cisco vibe

Another character from last year who returned as a parallel universe counterpart was Linda Park, showing up as the villain of this story, Dr Light. It was an interesting concept to include – particularly given the reappearance of our Linda Park in this episode – but I do feel that perhaps the potential was entirely filled, and certain possibilities not explored. The appearance of your doppelgänger in such a way is going to throw up a lot of questions, but very few of the characters seemed particularly interested in asking them – surely Cisco would be inclined to enquire as to the existence of alternate versions of himself? It did feel a little like this was an important beat they’d missed, but for all I know, it’s something they’re planning on delving into in the future. So, minor niggle, but not the end of the world.

Certainly, the metahuman plot in this episode was an entertaining one – the idea of weaponised light was an impressive one, especially given that the ability to see is something that is pretty important to Barry when he’s running at such high speeds. Tying this into the speed mirage ability that the Reverse Flash had last year was pretty clever too – it worked well to add just a little bit more tension and intrigue to the character of Wells, as well as simply being a clever resolution to the episode in its own right.

It was also nice to see Linda back, in both capacities; including her as a supporting character for Iris at the Central City Picture News is a really nice touch, and hopefully it’ll lead to further development for both characters. Linda will presumably have something of an increased role over the course of the series, given the importance of the character in the source material, and it’s a smart move on the behalf of the program to begin to further develop her character now.

the flash review iris west candice patton central city news journalist editor

Speaking of Barry’s girlfriends, actually, it’s worth bringing up Patty Spivot, who remains utterly charming. She has a lot of chemistry with Barry, and the literal blind date the pair of them went on was wonderfully written (despite a few misgivings about the use of blindness as a device here, but admittedly I’m willing to let it slide). I’m really looking forward to seeing their relationship develop.

There was also progress with the Caitlin/Jay relationship, which I remain unsure about. They’re both two interesting characters that I enjoy seeing on screen together… but I do feel like there were more interesting choices that could have been made with regards to their characters, rather than simply putting them straight into a romantic relationship. Or, frankly, rather than putting them in a relationship so soon – there are another 18 or so episodes left of the series, and it does feel like this has a limited shelf life to it.

(Cisco and Kendra Saunders was quite fun to see as well, actually, because Cisco is eternally hilarious. I wonder how that’ll play out – especially given the identity of Kendra Saunders…)

So! The Darkness and The Light. An enjoyable episode, not without its flaws, but with an abundance of strengths to it as well. It’s most notable, I think, for re-introducing Harrison Wells, and indeed Tom Cavanagh, who has always been one of the strongest performers on The Flash.

8/10

Related:

The Flash reviews

Supergirl reviews

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