As soon as you see the name Mark Hamill in the opening credits, hopes are high for what Tricksters brings to the table. And the episode does not disappoint, delivering arguably the best episode of The Flash to date.
Whilst The Trickster(s) is a huge part of the episode, so once more is the death of Nora Allen. In fact, the episode itself opens with a brilliant look at that fateful night but from a slightly different angle; this time we get to see the two speedsters battling it out as The Flash (Grant Gustin) attempts to put a stop to Reverse-Flash’s plan. But that’s not all we get to see of the Man in the Yellow Suit, for we also get to delve further into the backstory of Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh). After that revelation to Cisco (Carlos Valdes) about Wells really being Eobard Thawne – which seemingly doesn’t count anymore due to Barry’s dart back in time – we get to see that Harrison Wells and Eobard Thawne were actually two separate people at one point in time. Flashing back to Wells as he’s about to launch what would become known as S.T.A.R. Labs, we see that the Reverse-Flash who killed Barry’s mother was indeed a different looking Eobard Thawne (Matt Letscher) who has troubles with the speed force and so ends up taking over Wells’ body in order to accelerate Wells’ work and give himself the ability to travel back to his own time once the particle accelerator and The Flash are born. And breathe. That’s certainly a lot to take in, but it was awfully well handled by the show. This particular development could essentially be a make or break moment in The Flash, with some possibly being turned off by it, but this particular writer thought it was done brilliantly. It’s a variation from the comic book Thawne in certain ways, yes, but this is a fresh show for a fresh audience and so can get away with certain liberties when handled with enough tact and solid conviction. So yes, Eobard Thawne is indeed Harrison Wells, although that was not always the case.
If all of the Reverse-Flash happenings weren’t enjoyable enough, there was also absolutely tons of other stuff happening in Tricksters. Whilst the present day sees Barry and Joe (Jesse L. Martin) looking further into the murky world of Wells, this also lends itself to a change in attitude in Barry towards the man he now believes murdered his mother. Barry Allen no longer trusts Wells, with his approach towards him filled with snide comments and a hesitancy to follow the lead of Harrison. This additionally gets fleshed out further on in the episode when Barry is conflicted over just why Wells is being so nice to him and has helped him so much. All will become clear soon enough, we suspect, but for now it’s all a guessing game for poor Barry Allen.
Back to the titular villains on show this time out, and we find a new Trickster on the scene in the shape of Axel Walker (Devon Graye). This irks the locked-up James Jesse, who’s angry at this apparent copycat stealing his legacy and tarnishing his “good” name. Hamill is absolutely on fire here as he reprises his role from the 1990s CBS Flash show, with his Jesse playing out as part Hannibal, part Joker, and all menace. Complete with plenty of nods to the classic CBS show, this is a villain who feels like a true comic book character brought to life in all his glory. As for the new Trickster, he has a distinctive feel of Arrow’s first Count Vertigo (Seth Gable) to him, which is definitely a good thing. Of course, this whole charade would prove to be a rouse, with both Tricksters actually working together and Hamill even getting to mutter an “I am your father” line that will have hit home with many a fan of a galaxy far, far away. As The Flash steps in to stop this father/son duo in their plot to torment Central City, complete with having kidnapped Henry Allen (John Wesley Shipp), the Scarlet Speedster is slapped with a device taken straight from Speed, meaning if he drops below 600 mph than he goes kaboom. Fear not, for a new ability is conveniently added to The Flash’s arsenal as he learns to “phase”.
Adding further to the episode, Tricksters also sees Barry finally reveal to his father just who is under The Flash’s mask. Any moments between Grant Gustin and John Wesley Shipp always seem to be full of genuine emotion, and this moment is no different, with the reveal coming off as heartwarming. And much like Gustin and Shipp, any moments between Gustin and Jesse L. Martin are also a joy to behold. This time out, we get to see Barry breaking down to Joe over the prospect of losing his dad, with Detective West swiftly reminding Barry of his strength at always seeing the good in people. As well as Henry and Joe in father roles, this episode also has some of the more sincere Harrison Wells/Barry Allen moments on show, with Wells again built up as a father figure to some extent, especially as he seemingly pulls on his own experiences of the speed force to talk Barry through phasing. But of course, this only furthers Barry’s suspicions that Harrison Wells is indeed Reverse-Flash.
Another interesting reveal in a jam-packed episode is that Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett), the one and the same distant relative of Eobard, now learns that Barry Allen is The Flash. This will likely turn out to be a huge turning point for the Eddie character, and it’s planted the seed for plenty more to come down the line for Detective Pretty Boy. Recent trailers and sizzle reels certainly indicate that to be the case.
When all is said and done, we’ve found out the real backstory to Harrison Wells, Barry Allen has revealed to both his father and Eddie that he is The Flash, and we were also treated to a superb appearance from Mark Hamill in a fantastically fun nod to the previous incarnation of The Flash. And then there was the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nod that The Flash involved with Reverse-Flash is not “our” Barry Allen but one from the future – as seen by the classic white logo on his chest – throwing up the potential for multiple Flashes to appear on screen together, likely as Barry struggles with the decision whether to save his mother and change the future as a result. As well as a mountain of action, the episode was crammed with character development and twists, with Tricksters being arguably the best episode of the show to date.