The Flash S02E05 “The Darkness And The Light” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on: Sky 1, Tuesdays, 8pm
Writers: Ben Sokolowski & Grainne Godfree
Director: Steve Shill
Essential Plot Points:
- Zoom’s rubbish assassin of the week is Dr Light, Earth 2’s Linda Park doppelgänger with super powers. She does kill someone, but it’s not Barry and it’s by accident (RIP Picture News editor Eric Larkin).
- Earth 2’s Wells – let’s call him Harry, like Cisco – is a general dick to everyone but has a special contempt for Jay whom he regards as a loser. Barry is faster and better and more likely to take down Zoom, he thinks.
- Jay retaliates by pointing out Harry had months to admit he created the meta-human problem on Earth 2; instead he made money out of the situation by selling meta-human-detecting technology.
- But something has changed Harry, who now admits his guilt and vows to take down Zoom (we learn in the final scene that Zoom has kidnapped Harry’s daughter).
- Harry outs Cisco as a meta-human because his powers can help locate Dr Light.
- Wells’s advice helps Barry defeat Dr Light. Buoyed with confidence, Barry announces he’s ready to take on Zoom. Jay flounces off in a strop because no one believes him that Zoom is too powerful to take on.
- Barry and Patty have a date, complicated by the fact that Barry has been blinded by Dr Light. They end up snogging.
- Surprisingly, Iris doesn’t discover any new relatives hiding down the back of the sofa.
Dr Wells is dead. Long live Doctor Wells! Okay we’ve known for a few weeks now that the Earth 2 version of Central City’s answer to Steve Jobs was skulking in the shadowy edges of the storyline. But this is his first proper full-on appearance, where we finally get the measure of the man. And the decision the writers have taken is a clever one.
Because he couldn’t just be evil again. That’s been done. And besides, it wasn’t actually Wells who was evil, but Eobard Thawne in his stolen body (a fact that’s given lip service here but most of the characters seem to have difficultly accepting). On the other hand, while making this new Wells a good guy would have been a fun contrast, it’s also the really obvious move; spend a few episode making it look like he’s a villain then reveal him ro the avenging, high-tech hero.
So what we get instead is a dick, as Cisco so precisely points out. He may turn out to be a villain; he may turn out to be a hero. It doesn’t matter. For the moment, we have a self-satisfied, big headed bully who you’d loathe in real life but is fantastic to watch on screen. There’s even a little hint and quite how much of a Jeremy Clarkson he is really early on in his very first speech when he says, “Meta-humans: men –and women! –with extraordinary abilities…” You can actually hear the exclamation mark after “women” as if that’s somehow even more extraordinary.
Dick. But what a fantastic addition to the chemistry of the series.
The other highlight of the episode is Barry’s hilarious blind date with Patty. Grant Gustin proves once again that he’s a great comedy performer and the whole scene is both silly and charming. To be fair, Patty is being written as a little bit too perfect at the moment and is in danger of coming across a little shallow; Iris may not have had such a great screen chemistry with Barry but she’s by far the more multi-layered character. If the show’s playing the long game as far as getting this famous comic couple together this is probably the right way to go about it; Barry and Iris weren’t ready for each other in season one but as they both mature maybe they can come together in the future. On the other hand, giving Patty a few flaws could add a lot more depth to her portrayal. In the meantime Patarry… or Bazatty… or whatever… are a fun couple to watch.
Dr Light is slightly better than the usual villain-with-a-gimmick-of-the-week, primarily thanks to the fact she’s the doppelgänger of an existing character so she’s slightly easier to identify with. She’s still remarkably skimpy in the backstory department, though.
Poor old Jay is a bit of a whipping boy at the moment and the arrival of Wells Mk 2 makes him come across as even more wet and useless (falling into a relationship with the increasingly vapid Caitlin doesn’t do him any favours, either). Wells’s arguments all seem far more convincing at the moment, but maybe he has the easier sell; arguing for caution and restraint, as Jay does, is always going to inherently sound like the weaker position. As much as Jay has been a bit of a disappointment so far, let’s hope there’s some retribution and re-assessment for him soon. He needs it, because your main memory of him this episode may well be his hopeless, “I don’t know!” when Barry asks what he should do to defeat Dr Light.
A strong episode despite a few creaky moments, “The Darkness And The Light” also benefits from a last-minute appearance from Zoom, who in a few seconds comes across as far more formidable than Reverse-Flash ever did.
- For some reason, the business with then chairs in the bank really amused us.
- Barry’s “blind” date is hilarious, made better by the fact that Patty isn’t fooled in the slightest.
- Zoom is blimmin’ scary, isn’t he? Hiring Tony Todd to do the voice was a good move.
- The death of Eric Larkin is a bit of a shocker.
- The new snarky Wells – an internet forum in human form – is a clever twist. Not evil; not nice; just a git. He’s great fun to watch and has some great lines (Joe: “How are you still alive?” Wells: “I don’t know. Because you missed?”)
- “You know, our Dr Wells may have been evil but you’re just a dick.” Cisco is not impressed, clearly.
- This moment, which so horrifically mirrors that shocking moment in season one when evil Wells thrust his hand into Cisco’s chest and stopped his heart. This Wells has even been told about that story; is he being deliberately cruel? Whatever the truth, it is an uncomfortable moment to witness.
- Earth II looks like it’s been shot using the sepia filter on Instagram.
- The shot where Iris shoots off Dr Light’s helmet is very unconvincing (as was the whole “Chekov’s gun” set-up with Joe giving Iris a weapon that was clearly going to come into play later in the episode).
- Why do the Earth 2 duplicates need to kill their Earth 1 counterparts. Will this ever be explained?
- There’s a really awkward moment late in the episode when Iris thanks Wells which feels really false and comes from nowhere. It’s not like Wells needs his ego stroked.
- Joe: “I just want one week where we’re not surprised by somebody from out past.” It’s never a good sign when a line brings attention to a cliché you hadn’t noticed.
And The Random:
- Anybody else think that Zoom’s mask looked a little bit like the Black Panther’s, but with go-faster flashes?
- Dunno whether it’s relevant but Dr Light is defeated in a train station while Zoom’s hideout seems to be a train shed. Maybe Dr Light wasn’t trying to leave on a train; maybe she was looking for a breach.
- Did you spot the remote control training dummy that Cisco built for Barry way back in the sixth episode of the first season, “The Flash Is Born”?
- Hang on. Is this some kind of dating service? Or a personality test? Imagine if your meta-match was Grodd.
- There have been two main Dr Lights in the DC comics universe. The first was a supervillain called Arthur Light first introduced in Justice League of America #12 (1962). He was never a major villain though he was a member of the Fearsome Five, Injustice Gang, Injustice League, Secret Society of Super-Villains and Suicide Squad at various times. He was eventually outed as a serial rapist and killed by The Spectre in Final Crisis: Revelations #1 (2008). Meanwhile, an entirely different Dr Light, a female scientist called Kimiyo Hoshi, was created in Crisis On Infinite Earths #4 (1985) and became a superhero. In a cruel twist, Arthur Light drained her of her powers during the Infinite Crisis crossover event in 2005. She’s barely been heard of since.
- Kendra Saunders (played by Ciara Renee) is a character from the DC universe (introduced in Earth 2 #2, 2102) but just in case you don’t want spoilers, we’ll tell you more about her when the truth comes out on the show.
- Likewise Wells’s daughter (played by Violett Beane) is destined to become The Flash’s version of another famous character from the DC comics universe (a very different version as she’s not Wells’s daughter in the comics) but we’ll deal with that when more is revealed. She’s not even named in this episode. However, did you notice her expression when Jay is outing Wells for creating the meta-humans? It’s almost like she’s recalling something at the back of her mind.
- Presumably the friend from Atlantis that Jay refers to is Aquaman.
- Foreshadowing alert: “Cisco, I don’t think any of us would become evil if we all of a sudden got powers,” says Caitlin Snow, who becomes the supervillain Killer Frost in the comics (and presumably will in the series if Barry’s glimpses of the future in the season one finale come true).
- Interestingly, however, when Wells uses his meta-human detector on Caitlin it doesn’t register her, so presumably when (or if?) she becomes Killer Frost, it won’t be because she was affected by the STARLabs blast.
- The show has referred to speed mirages before (evil Wells used them in season one) but this is the first time Barry has used this power.
- Cisco Ramon is now officially Vibe, just like in the comics.
Review by Dave Golder