Tonight’s episode was a welcome change of pace. Yes, we got our usual villain of the week storyline. But, we also got an episode that shifted the spotlight, albeit slightly, away from Barry and placed it on some of the supporting cast—this week, Dr. Wells and Cisco. Compared to Arrow‘s first season, the development of The Flash‘s supporting characters has been slow as the show has been more concerned with Barry Allen—which isn’t a complaint, mind you. Introducing a villain like Hartley Rathaway (Smash‘s Andy Mientus) with a personal bone to pick with the S.T.A.R. Labs scientists allowed the show to expand its focus and to show Dr. Wells and Cisco some much-needed love.
Villain of the Week: Hartley Rathaway, a.k.a. Pied Piper
At the top of the hour, Barry, with Wells guidance, apprehends members of the Royal Flush Gang and then zooms back to S.T.A.R. Labs, where Cisco insists that they all take a group photo. Barry obviously points out that taking a picture with him in costume defeats the whole secret identity purpose, but Cisco believes they should because they’ll want to remember how it all started. “Maybe people in the future will want to know how this all happens,” Wells coyly says before they all take the picture. Like last week, Wells kicks off this episode feeling especially proud of himself, this time because of how he was able to help Barry catch the bad guys.
While Barry heads home to have dinner with his new roomie, Joe, Wells heads home to relax, stand-up from the chair he’s been confined to all day, and to enjoy “Nessun Dorma” as he walks around his very cool home. However, Well’s me-time is interrupted when his phone starts ringing. A voice on the other end tells him that it’s time to pay the piper right before the glass in his living room ceiling comes crashing down. Luckily, Wells speeds away in time. Yes, you read that right, we saw Wells use his superspeed tonight; we see he leaves a red streak ornamented with yellow lightning in his wake, except his streak isn’t as robust as Barry’s.
Barry, Joe, Caitlin, Cisco, and the rest of the CCPD show up at Wells home the next day. While Barry checks out the scene of the crime, Eddie takes Joe aside and points out that something’s not right with Wells’ story. If he were indeed standing under the ceiling when it came crashing down and is stuck in that wheelchair, why doesn’t he have a scratch on him? And, like that, Joe’s suspicions are renewed.
Back at the lab, Wells explains to Team Flash that he knows who was behind the attack: his former protégé Hartley Rathaway (whose parents we met last week). Caitlin and Cisco make their feelings about Rathaway pretty clear: He was an arrogant asshole. Through flashbacks to two years ago, we find out a bit more about Wells’ relationship with Rathaway and what went wrong. Rathaway and Wells were the best of buds, they played chess together and spoke to each other in Latin. However, the first speed bump in their friendship came when Wells hired Cisco, who he described to Rathaway as one of the finest engineers he’d ever seen. Like almost everyone else in his life, Wells has no problem manipulating Hartley and, observing that he feels threatened by Cisco, tells Hartley that he’ll always be his guy and nothing will change that.
In the present, Barry deduces that Rathaway used sonic technology to break the glass and is explaining this to Joe when Joe lets slip that he is not too fond of Wells. But, there’s no time for them to discuss this further because Barry is called away to stop Rathaway from attacking his parents’ company with his fancy gloves that give him his powers. Barry moves quickly to disarm and capture him.
(ASIDE: Really, an Amazon Phone? The writers missed a great moment for **synergy**—they should’ve shown him using some of Ray Palmer’s tech.)
Cisco takes immense pride in locking Rathaway in the pipeline. Likewise, Rathaway has so much fun teasing Cisco about his need for constant validation from Wells. Eventually, Wells comes in for a semi-private chat (the rest of the team is watching through the security cameras) and tries to apologize for the damage Hartley’s ears incurred during the particle accelerator explosion. It’s clear to us and Rathaway that Wells is only apologizing because he’s trying to stop Rathaway from revealing a secret he knows about Wells. Looking up at the camera in the pipeline, Rathaway tells Barry, who he knows is watching, that one day Wells will turn his back on him.
NEXT: Well, that secret doesn’t take long to come out…