There’s enough romance in the air of “The Darkness and the Light” that you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s Valentine’s Day in Central City. But while Cupid’s arrows may not be timely, they have struck Barry, Caitlin, and Cisco to varying degrees of success just as Harrison Wells’ face, if not the Wells they knew, reappears in their lives.
Speaking of Harrison, or Harry, as the Earth-2’s version of the character is not-so-affectionately called, Tom Cavanaugh has the opportunity to finally show off his latest spin on Wells. And while it may not be the Wells viewers might for, it’s another distinct and powerful performance from an actor who has already portrayed two iterations of this character (the brief moments of the actual Harrison and the Eobard Thawne version).
Cavanaugh’s work was such a consistent highlight of the first season, and so I was overjoyed he’d be back in some fashion for season 2. And though he is, as Cisco so bluntly puts it, “kind of a dick,” it’s still riveting to watch the latest Wells work alongside Team Flash.
“Darkness” serves as our proper introduction to Harry, who, in his own universe, seized the metahuman outbreak as a business opportunity. He created apps and wearables to alert Central City’s citizens to the presence of metas. And unlike Barry and Eobard’s Wells, Jay and Harry do not get along. Before Jay lost his speed, he and Wells had a public fight over whose responsibility it was to stop Zoom.
Eight months later, Harry has come to Barry’s world to find a new Flash to put Zoom in his place. Naturally, the team does not take too kindly to a man wearing the face of someone who killed and/or endangered so many loved ones, but Barry wants them to give this awkward situation a try. (Calling Cisco “Crisco” starts the two of them off on the wrong foot, and their next few meetings are similarly awkward and then tense, but played with just the right dose of humor from Carlos Valdes.)
Harry’s appearance has everyone on edge, including Joe, who gives Iris a gun just in case the worst comes to pass. But in between all of the life-altering introductions, that pesky lovebug is flying through Central. Cisco decides to ask the new CC Jitters barista out on a date, but in the wake of her rejection he has a vision of a bank robbery in progress.
Barry speeds off to put a stop to it but is thrown off by the new meta’s powers. Dr. Light, as she’s revealed to be known on Earth-2, can harness the power of stars, emitting dazzlingly bright and dangerous waves of energy that allow her to escape.
On Jay and Harry’s Earth, she’s a small-time criminal, not a killer, but Harry believes she’s here to kill, just as all of Zoom’s other metas were. Jay wants them to treat Dr. Light humanely, but Harry wants to use her to finish Zoom off now. He’s been growing more powerful, and Harry wants this threat dealt with now, no matter the cost it seems. And though Jay’s not too happy with that idea, Barry has a point that shuts down both of their arguments: They first have to find and stop Dr. Light.
Barry has other concerns on his mind after he finally asks Patty out on a date, one he promises he will not let all of his “science stuff” cause him to reschedule. He may regret that promise after his next Dr. Light encounter, though.
NEXT: Barry goes on a literally blind date. [pagebreak]
Cisco is coming to blows with Harry, who has made himself at home in Cisco’s lab without his permission — and playing music Cisco does not approve of — but Harry isn’t interested in whether Cisco, or anyone on this Earth likes him. He knows he can help and that they have to work together if they’re going to end the threat to both of their worlds. Cisco may prove to be more useful in that fight than he once thought, as he has another vibe that alerts him to Dr. Light’s next move.
He sends Barry to intercept her at a bank vault, where she reveals herself to be the Earth-2 version of Linda Park, Barry’s old flame and Iris’ co-worker. Barry recognizes her and lets slip that fact just before Light escapes with such a powerful blast that she blinds Barry. And not just for the moment. She temporarily blinds him.
His regenerative powers mean he’ll regain his sight soon enough, but it is still a problem for his upcoming date with Patty. It is not a problem, however, for Grant Gustin, who handles the silly but fun plot twist with some fantastic comic timing. He also gets some help from a surprising source when Iris thinks up an idea to help Barry on his date. (She’s the one who answers his text from Patty while he can’t quite type on his phone.)
Barry dons a pair of shades (think he’s been watching Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock for tips?) to the date, with Cisco acting as his eyes for the evening. He’s connected remotely with a feed from the glasses to help Barry along the way in a delightful twist on a classic date trope. But Barry needs little help because he and Patty hit it off. Gustin and Shantel VanSanten are, frankly, adorable, and it’s a breath of fresh air to see a scene played completely for its joy, particularly after Patty reveals she can tell Barry hasn’t been able to see her the entire evening. (There’s no telling what will happen to the relationship if or when Barry has to reveal his alter ego to her, but so far it’s a nice bit of normalcy in a world of time travel, doppelgangers, and parallel universes.)
Unfortunately, the date ends on a down note after the first kiss, when both Barry and Patty receive calls from work. The editor at Iris’ paper is dead thanks to Light, who came to kill this world’s Linda. She accidentally kills their editor when he attempts to attack her, but she flees shortly after Iris shoots Light’s helmet off.
And with a man dead, Harry is only further convinced that Light is a dangerous threat. (She also has attacked Jay and Caitlin, who were on stakeout duty around Linda’s office, just as they’re about to share a kiss.) Luckily, once Harry learns they have Light’s helmet, he knows exactly how they’re going to find her. That method reveals Cisco’s power to everyone a little earlier than intended, however. Though really, who was fooled by his earlier feeble on-the-spot lie about receiving an alert on his phone to find Light?
The team is shocked (Harry uses his meta-detecting watch to reveal it, noticeably not detecting any traces of metahuman in Caitlin as he does, but Cisco wastes no time in channeling his power for a vision. The only issue is… he doesn’t know how to actually control it and thinks he can’t provide any help. Harry believes otherwise, crystallizing in a great scene how different he is from the other Wells. He barks at Cisco to try again and again. Harry is not a nurturing mentor, but his harsh method works for the moment, as he slams Light’s helmet into Cisco’s chest, triggering a vision of her at the train station.
NEXT: Hello, Hawkgirl. [pagebreak]
Barry speeds off to stop her and is forced to learn a new trick on the spot to stop her. He has to create a speed mirage, running so fast he leaves afterimages of himself behind to confuse Light. He fails at first, and Harry’s admonishments (No supportive “Run, Barry, run” here) aren’t helping. Jay does believe in him, though, and Barry summons the speed to successfully confuse Light so he can knock her out.
Light is secured in STAR Labs, but Jay and Harry are once again at a standstill. Harry wants Zoom destroyed now, and Jay knows attempting that will only get Barry killed. Jay won’t let Barry fight Zoom alone, even if he is faster than Jay, but Barry tells him he’s not alone. He has the team, and this new Wells, and Jay.
But Jay can’t in good conscious be party to what he sees as a suicide mission, so he leaves them to figure out their next move without him. Before immediately jumping to the task at hand, though, the team relaxes with a few coffees at Jitters, where Cisco comes face to face with the girl he asked out.
He orders his drinks, but she asks if that’s all he wants. See, she was caught off guard when he asked her out, having just moved to a new, bigger city, one full of superpowered people no less. She introduces herself as Kendra Saunders (Ciara Renée, who will be continuing to play the character on Legends of Tomorrow), and gives Cisco her number.
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Everything’s turning up Cisco, and the only thing left to do is give the newly minted meta, who his friends are quite accepting of, a name. Barry suggests Vibe, and both Caitlin and, most importantly, Cisco, approve. But with Harry menacingly watching them from outside Jitters, picking a superhero name may be one of the easiest decisions they’ll face.
And Harry will likely be faced with plenty of tough choices himself, as Zoom is revealed to be holding his daughter captive on Earth-2. He tells her that her and Harry’s fates have yet to be decided, but he certainly has a fate in mind for Barry. Hopefully that certainty proves to be misfounded in the weeks to come.