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Recap / The Flash (2014) S1 E17 "Tricksters"

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Barry allows his suspicions of "Harrison Wells" to affect his judgement while dealing with an imprisoned terrorist from 25 years ago who has a modern imitator.


  • Adorkable: Harrison Wells. Real and Fake, that is. We see evidence of Eobard Thawne's geekiness throughout the season, and in the flashback, the real Wells is no slouch, either.
  • Arc Number: The Trickster mentions 52nd Street when giving the fake location for his bomb.
  • Artistic License – Medicine:
    • Played for Laughs. Barry saves everyone by jabbing them with the antidote to the Tricksters' poison — seemingly using the same syringe for everyone.
      James: That wasn't very sanitary.
    • The speed and effectiveness of poison is highly dependent on a number of factors, like the dosage of poison and the person's weight and heart rate. Here, everyone gets the same one-hour clock regardless of their body type or how much champagne they drank.
  • Bait-and-Switch: After the opening credits where a different person is in the Reverse-Flash costume, you'd expect a Red Herring, right? Wrong! It's Eobard Thawne with his true face.
  • Ballroom Blitz: The two Tricksters crash the Mayor's gala full of wealthy guests and poison everyone's champagne. The old Trickster tells them unless they transfer their money to his bank account, he won't give them the antidote and they'll die within an hour.
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  • Big Bad: Eobard Thawne, as played by Matt Letscher, is revealed as the true villain behind everything, and the main antagonist of the first season.
  • Borrowed Catch Phrase: In the flashback, Nora called young Barry "My Beautiful Boy".
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Cisco attributes the new Trickster with Felicity-caliber scrambling software.
    • When Barry reveals to Eddie that he is The Flash, the latter doesn't look so enthusiastic, likely because of the events in the crossover episode where he discovered that Iris has been secretly meeting with The Flash before a Hate Plagued Barry beat him up.
  • Darker and Edgier: To the last time Mark Hamill played the Trickster. There, he was a goofball who only committed crimes at all when off his medication. Here, he's basically Hamill's Joker with some Hannibal Lecter thrown in.
  • Dead All Along: It turns out that this is the case with the real Harrison Wells.
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  • Double-Meaning Title: The title refers to both James Jesse and Axel Walker, as well as Eobard Thawne, who tricked the world into thinking he was Harrison Wells.
  • Dramatic Irony: In an emotional scene late into the episode, when Joe is speaking to Barry, he utters the phrase "I wish I could be you" (referring to Barry's nature as an All-Loving Hero). Of course, given what happens in the flashback in this episode....
  • Evil Costume Switch: In the flashbacks, Wells wears translucent-framed glasses. After Thawne steals his identity he wears dark-framed glasses in the present.
  • Evil Counterpart: As a parent, James Jesse to Henry Allen. James manipulated Axel to become a criminal and put him through constant danger just so he can be free again contrasting Henry who is a mistaken criminal but repeatedly shuts down Barry's constant attempt to clear his name just so his son can live his life.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Mark Hamill is really enjoying himself.
  • Face Stealer: Eobard Thawne uses some future device to turn into Harrison Wells, killing the real Wells in the process.
  • Facial Horror: Thawne's transformation, and Wells' face decaying as it happens.
  • Family Title: If you consider the fact that the titular tricksters are father and son.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Eobard Thawne acts chummy to Wells even as he's committing an unspeakably horrific act.
  • Funny Background Event: When Cisco comments on the Trickter's costume from the old photos, Thawne utters his own "Wow" when he sees the photos and looks like he's about to break out laughing.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • In the flashback, the real Wells initially proposed to call his laboratory named after his wife T.E.S.S. (Technical Engineering Scientific Studies)
    • Tess Morgan instead proposes Scientific and Technological Advanced Research Laboratory (or S.T.A.R. Labs for short) because Wells is her one and only star.
  • Heroic BSoD: Barry blaming himself for Henry getting kidnapped by the Tricksters because he didn't listen to Thawne's advice.
  • Hypocrite: Thawne told Barry that by changing events he could damage the time stream; here we learn that Wells' Particle Accelerator was supposed to go off in 2020 (with Tess Morgan at his side) but Thawne didn't want to wait that long, so he caused a car crash that killed Tess, and then took Wells' place so he could build it early. Who knows what damage Thawne did to the time stream by doing so.
  • Intangible Man: Barry learns how to phase through solid matter.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • Even though he already knew Barry's the Flash, Barry makes it official when he unmasks in front of his father.
    • Fully done when Barry reveals himself to Eddie.
    • Barry also tells Eddie his belief that "Wells" is the Reverse-Flash.
  • Irony: Eobard Thawne is revealed to have been deliberately responsible for every villain on the show thus far...except this episode's villains.
  • Kill and Replace: What Eobard Thawne did to the real Harrison Wells.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Right after Thawne kills Nora, he loses his connection to the Speed Force.
  • Long Game: Lampshaded by Joe, who points out to Barry that whatever Thawne is planning, he's been working towards it for 15 years.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: James Jesse tells Axel that he's Jesse's son. Doubles as an Actor Allusion since this is Luke Skywalker we're talking about. You can just tell that Mark Hamill has been waiting 35 years to say that line naturally from the way he delivers it, along with the soundtrack in the background.
  • Make Wrong What Once Went Right: As part of his plan to return to his time, Eobard Thawne replaces Harrison Wells to sabotage Wells' proposed particle accelerator, which was activated successfully in Thawne's own timeline.
  • Meaningful Look: Thawne looks at Barry suspiciously throughout the episode after Barry displays his bad attitude, Barry glowers at Thawne almost the entire episode, and when they shake hands and smile at the end, both of them lose the smile when the other looks away.
  • Mood Whiplash: What starts off as a fan-friendly campy episode honoring the 1990 series — look kids! Mark Hamill! — turns into a major storyarc episode once Thawne confirms his knowledge of the Speed Force.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Future Barry is wearing the classic incarnation of the Flash costume, evidenced by the white Chest Insignia.
    • The original Trickster is said to have been a terrorist 25 years ago...the number of years between the previous Flash TV series and this one. Furthermore, his original costume appears, and the old picture of the Trickster is actually a shot from the 1990 series.
    • Vito D'Ambrosio, who played Officer Bellows in the 1990 series, plays Mayor Bellows.
    • Henry Allen:
      • Wears a trenchcoat when he goes to S.T.A.R. Labs, like his Barry habitually did. According to Mark Hamill (via Twitter), the trenchcoat is the same one used in the older show.
      • Mentions that half of what he saw at S.T.A.R. Labs didn't exist when he was practicing. In-universe, he means medicine, but it can also apply to the fact that the tech didn't exist when he was the Flash.
    • Using a kinetic bomb as a special trap for Flash, and how he gets rid of it, is a direct reference to Justice League: Doom.
    • A parallel of the fate of the real Harrison Wells can be made to The Return of Barry Allen storyline, where pre-villainy Eobard Thawne went through futuristic surgery to make himself an exact doppelganger of his "idol", Barry Allen. Both storylines also feature the Flash gradually getting disillusioned with their mentor before figuring out it was really Thawne in "disguise".
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: In talking Barry through how to access more of his powers, Thawne reveals that he must know what it's like to have that power, providing Barry the evidence he needs to conclude that Thawne has to be the Reverse-Flash.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: We finally see the fight between the Flash and the Reverse-Flash on the night Barry's mom was murdered.
  • One Steve Limit: The kid Barry rescued at the beginning of the episode is named Henry like his father.
  • Passing the Torch: Henry Allen at S.T.A.R. Labs complementing the crew can be seen as the original Flash complementing both the new Flash and the latter's co-stars into far surpassing his incarnation.
  • Plot Parallel: Both plots deal with the nature of impostors: James Jesse's Trickster mantle is supposedly impersonated by the young Axel Walker, while it is ultimately revealed in a flashback (to the audience only) that Harrison Wells himself is an impostor.
  • Red Herring: After Jesse reveals to Axel that he's his father, it's set up like another of the Trickster's tricks, but isn't refuted by the episode's end.
  • The Reveal:
    • Eobard Thawne assumed the identity (and duplicated body down to the genetic level) of the real Harrison Wells after his attempt to kill Barry as a child fails, explaining why the DNA at the crime scene didn't match that of Thawne and how Thawne had a history prior to 15 years ago.
    • Thawne's fight with the Flash 15 years ago cut him off from the Speed Force, trapping him in the past.
  • Role Reprisal: Mark Hamill reprises his Trickster role from the 1990 Flash series.
  • Saying Too Much: Thawne's speech coaching Barry through running fast enough to phase through matter contains far too much detail on what it feels like to use super speed. It's what tips Barry off to him being a speedster, and therefore the Reverse Flash.
    Thawne: Listen to me, Barry. Breathe. Breathe. Feel the air. Feel that wind on your face. Feel the ground, your feet lifting you up, pushing you forward, and the lightning Barry, feel the lightning. Feel its power. Its electricity pumping through your veins, crackling through you, traveling to every nerve in your body, like a shock. You're no longer you now. You're part of something greater. You're part of a Speed Force. It's yours. Now do it.
  • Shout-Out: The episode features several...
    • Aside from the above-mentioned Star Wars reference, the Trickster's haircut while in jail highly resembles Luke Skywalker's hairstyle in A New Hope.
    • This line revealing the Trickster's taste in television:
      James Jesse: [talking about his evil plan] It's going to be my masterpiece, my Mona Lisa, my Breaking Bad season 5.
    • Barry and Joe's first visit to the Trickster is a pretty blatant homage to Silence of the Lambs: the glass cell, the mention he talked someone into committing suicide, and that he smelled something about the person visiting him.
    • Jesse admits he got the idea for his kinetic bomb from Speed.
      James Jesse: You're the bus and that's the bomb!
    • The part with Eobard connecting to Harrison in order to Kill and Replace him is reminiscent of the blood transfusion at the beginning of The Dark Knight Rises — although there, it's done to Save and Replace, and a plane crash is used instead of a car.
    • He does it using a device a lot like the ones used by the dopplegangers on Fringe.
  • Slasher Smile: The titular Tricksters both give sinister ones.
  • Stranger Behind the Mask: Deliberately invoked with the Reverse-Flash in the flashback at the beginning of the episode when he unmasks himself. As the flashbacks go on, however, it gradually becomes clear who this man is and what his connection is to the events of the present, finally being confirmed at the end.
  • Wham Episode: Thawne lost his speed right after he killed Nora. So he stalked the real Dr. Wells and arranged the car accident that killed Tess Morgan all so he could assume Wells' identity and accelerate the production on the Particle Accelerator.
  • Wham Line:
    Gideon: Your latest time jump against the Flash caused a massive drain on your powers. Your cells contain no trace of the Speed Force...Your ability to move at super-speed as well as travel in time has been completely depleted.
  • Wham Shot: When the Reverse-Flash unmasked himself after using all of his speed to battle the Flash, we see the true face of Eobard Thawne.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After the fight at the Allen house we follow Thawne, but we don't see what happens to the Flash after he whisks his younger self out of harm's way.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • While he doesn't start anything because they have more important things right now, Eddie is not happy that Iris is Locked Out of the Loop.
      Joe: Keeping her in the dark, it's for her own safety.
      Eddie: That's debatable, and we will have that debate.
    • A comedic example when Barry saves the people at the gala by injecting them all with the same syringe.
      Trickster: That wasn't very sanitary.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The (second) Trickster's gift bombs seem to be designed precisely to target children, as they get curious about the "presents" and don't get suspicious about them even after some of them have already detonated.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?: In-universe. Everyone who sees the 1990s-era Trickster costume comments on how eye-wateringly ugly it is.


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