Barry Allen isn’t a superhero because he has super-speed. He’s a hero because of his strong sense of what’s right and wrong and his commitment to protecting the innocents. As we’ve seen over the past four seasons with the countless metas Team Flash has fought, that sense of justice isn’t something everyone has. No doubt, Barry’s comes from his father’s wrongful conviction and from living with Joe, a police detective. Unfortunately, Ralph didn’t grow up with Joe, and while he does have a good sense of right and wrong, he still struggles with other aspects of being a superhero.
“When Harry Met Harry” is all about Ralph learning that a superhero’s first responsibility is to protect people, not fight bad guys. Obviously, this is something that doesn’t come naturally to him, which is clear from the show’s fairly humorous opening scene, in which Ralph doesn’t seemed too fazed when he injures someone. As Barry and Ralph leave Jitters, a mugger pulls a gun on them and eventually shoots Ralph as the two of them try to come up with a plan of attack. However, Ralph’s stretchy powers send the bullet flying back at the assailant; Ralph basically shoots him. This happens once more, but Ralph doesn’t care, and it’s up to Barry to zoom this guy off to the hospital.
Ralph’s obsession with catching the bad guy — which makes sense given what he got fired for — obviously clashes with the Flash’s modus operandi when it comes time to how they handle this week’s meta: Mina Chayton, a professor-turned-activist of Sioux descent with the ability to bring inanimate objects (specifically effigies) to life. Before gaining her powers on the bus, Mina was already using violence to reclaim stolen Sioux artifacts in order to return to them to her people; however, she’s stepped up her game with her new powers, and at the top of the hour she kills a guy with a panther statue in her quest to collect the pieces of a lost bison statue. Having a meta who isn’t solely driven by revenge continues to be a breath of fresh air; however, it still feels like Mina is only a sketch of a person. She never feels fully realized throughout the entire episode.
By the time the Flash and Ralph, who’s sporting a lame-looking costume prototype Cisco made, catch up with Mina, she’s busy using an animated suit of armor to kill the owner of one of the bison pieces. The suit of armor sends Ralph flying, leaving Barry the only one standing. Barry decides to let Mina escape in order to save Banks from the armor, a decision Ralph can’t seem to wrap his head around.
Ralph’s tunnel vision becomes a real problem during his and Barry’s next encounter with Mina. Mina attacks an armored car carrying another piece of the bison necklace and sends an animated caveman statue to attack the heroes. While the Flash takes on the caveman, Ralph stops Mina’s car from fleeing, but in the fight, the caveman breaks a power line, endangering nearby civilians. The Flash, who was injured in the fight, begs Ralph to save the people by the live power line, but Ralph ignores him and a little girl ends up getting injured in the process. (Next: The Council of Wells convenes)
The injured girl is the wake-up call Ralph needs, and after the doctor tells them she’s lucky to have survived the accident, Ralph returns to his P.I. office to brood. Cue a Barry Allen pep talk! Obviously, Barry knows how it feels to hurt innocent people when you have the best intentions (hello, Flashpoint!), so he understands Ralph’s pain and assures him that he’ll be there for Ralph, who isn’t used to feeling guilt like this, when things get hard.
Unfortunately, Mina manages to escape police custody and sets her sights on a museum where the final piece of the bison necklace is being held. The Flash and Ralph arrive on the scene, and she sends an animated dinosaur skeleton after them. (This isn’t the only dinosaur you’ll see on a superhero show this fall, which makes me so happy!) A security guard stumbles into the fray, and Ralph makes the right decision to protect the guard from the rampaging T-Rex while Barry goes after Mina and eventually cuffs her. After the day is saved, Ralph goes ahead and mails the necklace back to the Sioux people because the Sioux have been in pain for far too long and “a superhero’s first job is to protect people.” To be honest, I was worried how the show was going to resolve the part of the plot about the appropriation of stolen Native American artifacts, but this little denouement helps it stick the landing, striking the balance between recognizing that Mina’s actions were illegal but that the U.S. government’s theft of these artifacts wasn’t just either.
While Barry and Ralph handle Mina, Cisco and Harry work on finding DeVoe. In order to do that, Harry convenes a panel comprised of Harrison Wellses from other Earths. It’s a development that reminds me of Jonathan Hickman’s iconic Fantastic Four run, which saw our Earth’s Reed Richards join forces with Reeds from across the multiverse to solve problems. In tonight’s episode, we meet the arrogant German Harrison Wolfgang Wells from Earth-12; H. Lothario Wells, a Hugh Hefner type, from Earth-37; and half-man, half-machine Wells 2.0 (think Deathlok) from Earth-22, a post-apocalyptic world where man and machine have become one to survive.
Placing all four Wellses in the same room brings a lot of humor to the episode, specifically from their bickering. But the show also uses this as a learning opportunity for Harry. At one point, the Council of Wells falls apart because they can’t seem to agree on a method to find DeVoe. Cisco watches this all go down and astutely observes that Harry is clashing with his doppelgängers because there’s still a part of himself he doesn’t like. In a sweet moment that captures what I love about this friendship, Cisco suggests the only way for the council to work is for Harry to learn to treat himself (both his own personality and flaws and the other versions of Wells) with compassion.
Because this is The Flash, this works, and the Council of Wells narrows down the long list of DeVoes to one Clifford DeVoe. With this knowledge, Team Flash heads out to pay Clifford a visit. When Barry and Joe knock on the door of his home in suburbia, they’re surprised to come face to face with Clifford’s wife — a.k.a. The Mechanic, who ditches her futuristic style for a colorful dress — and Clifford himself, who, it appears, is confined to the wheelchair. The Thinker and the Mechanic had their cover identities ready to go in case this happened. The episode ends with a speechless Barry.
Overall, “When Harry Met Harry…” was a perfectly fine episode. It showed off some of this season’s humor, but it feels inconsequential, like the show was biding its time for next week’s episode, which sees Barry match wits with the Thinker for the first time.
Wall of Weird:
- The biggest thing that didn’t work for me in this episode was Ralph’s lewdness, which felt like it was dialed up to 11 with him referring to women as their measurements throughout the episode. Usually, this little character trait would’ve been easy to ignore, but in the wake of The Flash executive producer Andrew Kreisberg being suspended after multiple allegations of sexual harassment — allegations Kreisberg strongly denies — it feels very icky and makes the character very unlikable.
- Caitlin mentioned that Killer Frost went to Burning Man during her time away from the team. The CW, I implore you, please write, film, and release this adventure on the season 4 DVD set.
- Obviously, Tom Cavanagh’s portrayal of each Wells made laugh out loud. Again, I will watch Cavanagh do anything on this show.