Review: The Flash 7×01 – “All’s Wells That Ends Wells”
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Director: Geoff Shotz
Writers: Sam Chalsen and Lauren Certo
Starring: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Tom Cavanaugh, Jesse L. Martin, Danielle Nicolet, Kayla Compton, Brandon McKnight, Efrat Dor, Ashley Rickards, Eric Nenninger
Reviewed by: Jason Larouche
As Eva McCulloch furthers her agenda, Team Flash discover how to power the Artificial Speed Force, but at a cost; Iris fights through the mirrorverse’s mental effects to look for Camilla and Singh.
Before I start, I just want to say welcome back fellow Flash fans! After a long hiatus – the longest of the other CW shows – The Fastest Man Alive is back, COVID be damned. That being said, let’s get to it.
Picking up right where we left off last year, the premiere offered three large highlights: revelations, redemption, and perseverance. Three players this week embraced them on both sides of the hero-villain playing field.
Let’s start with perseverance and its avatar, Iris West-Allen. Candice was given more incredible material to work with as Iris’s odyssey in the mirrorverse continues. We get mirror duplicates of Iris from different parts of her life, going right back to the pilot. As Candice does a fantastic job portraying Evil Iris entities wearing down on her confidence, the writing shows Iris’s deductive abilities to see through this haze, realizing it’s Eva.
The SFX department deserves props for the crystalline effects in view. They really help bring the viewer into that detrimental atmosphere. Anyone under Iris’s circumstances would suffer after prolonged incarceration. The writing also serves to show that Iris is learning to adapt, trying to contact Kamilla and Singh via mirror email. The move also makes it interactive; viewers can just take a snapshot of what she typed and then invert the image to read it properly. For those that haven’t, here is what she wrote: “Kamilla & David. It’s Iris. Eva is watching us. Be careful. Meet at Speed Lab. 19:00.” The creative team is pushing for that great escape by showing Iris learning to make her prison work for her.
Speaking of her jailer, Eva McCulloch serves as our example of revelations. But first, let’s push forward on how the writing team are establishing her by having her eliminate her predecessor, Sam Scudder. Executing the original Mirror Master is the best way to prove her superiority, which has long been established. The writing team’s decision to take Scudder’s character in the direction of a narcissistic gangster rather than a scientist diminished his capacity to rise up in threat level. But to reveal that the version of Scudder that had been with the show since season three was really Eva’s first mirror duplicate is brilliant. It also leaves open the possibility of the REAL Scudder returning since he’s still trapped in the mirrorverse. Her character embodies the notion that the villain is always the hero of their own story. Her interactions with both Barry and Iris shows she believes her actions are benign while her actions contradict her claims of being on the same side.
However, I like how the writing team delivered that gut check at the final scene of this week. For months, since his and Black Hole’s introduction, the viewers have seen Joseph Carver as a man who covered up his wife’s death to take over the company. Even him still swearing that Eva was dead with his dying breath last year was interpreted as something on the level of severing emotional ties with his wife. And now, based on that video – Eva hitting the mirror during the dark matter wave and only A COPY OF EVA entering the mirrorverse – both she and viewers now know Joseph was telling the truth. Efrat’s conveyance of this realization dawning on Eva is the first time we’ve seen actual, genuine shock in this character thus far. It also explains why she is able to control the mirror world so well; she is literally a part of it. That mirror was also hit by the dark matter, so it stands to reason the entry point could be the epicenter of that dimension. It remains to be seen how this discovery will influence the already-unstable Eva from this point forward.
On the low point of revelations is the upgrade of the female antagonists continuing with Rosalind Dillon, The Top. Again, the writing brilliantly conveys the facade of a victimized girlfriend on the verge of a face turn only to rip it off to reveal layers. Up until now, Dillon’s personality was subservient to Scudder being the brains of the outfit. Ashley Rickards’ turn from despondent to malevolent is as good as Efra’s. The scenes between her and Danielle’s Cecile are clever, since they reveal both have empathic abilities not examined yet. The irony of Cecile being the one who put Roz in jail as D.A. and now trying to get her out as defense isn’t lost on those who’ve been paying attention to the series. The fact that Dillon is able to use her own empathic abilities on Cecile to manipulate her rips the blinders off of how dangerous this Top can be. The ability to not only sense emotion, but actually project it at a target could prove a larger temptation for Cecile. While she successfully beats Dillon at her own game, it may prove a subplot the writers could further exploit down the road.
And now we get to redemption, and that representation is embodied by the ambiguous Nash Wells. Although helpful with constructing the Artificial Speed force, the burden he carries for his role in the Crisis has always been with him. He unleashed the Anti-Monitor, was forced to witness his destructive path as Pariah, and lives with survivor’s guilt. That guilt, prior to crisis, was concealed by a veil of self-centered behavior. It made this pseudo Indiana Jones the kind of person who often pushed someone else on the wire rather than be the guy to make that sacrificial play. Case in point, he decides to save his own hide at first by substituting Alegra with abysmal results. His post-crisis guilt is exacerbated by the presence of multiple Wells in his mind, as he is now the focal point of deceased doppelgangers.
In the reunion of the Council of Wells, the ever-talented Tom even pulls out one more Wells, which was a play on actor Orson Welles. A Wells that is an actor felt very surreal. But the Council had a relevant role to play in Nash’s ultimate sacrifice. This subplot offered more comedy in a detente from said sacrifice when those personalities found their way into Barry’s body. That gave Grant the chance to put his own spin on H.R., Sherloque, and the more popular Harry Wells. And, successfully, they are just as hilarious. That full circle feeling was felt as Harry Wells, through Barry, tries to help Nash get past his own sense of self-protection to find the good man inside as Barry once did for him. That full circle feeling is keenly felt in the climactic activation of the ASF. Since it was a Wells that started Barry’s journey as The Flash, and now, in getting his speed back, a Wells has to die in order to make it so.
Longtime fans of the series can really feel the legacy of the Wells character as Tom conveys multiple personas as he says goodbye. In no way do they feel forced or hurried, and you’re with Barry as he feels their sacrifice. But does this mean Tom Cavanaugh has permanently left the series? Is he no longer a regular? Have we seen the last of Harrison Wells in all of his incarnations? Time will tell. But you can’t keep a good – or ambiguous – Wells down for long.
The only negative I have to say is that, as good as the editors did, the seasons premiere still felt like the lower tier of last season. In their defense it could not be helped.
The Flash 7×01 officially gets a 4.5 out of 5. The aforementioned themes of perseverance, revelations, and redemption pushed this episode forward in spite of being a reworked second-to-last episode of last season. Everyone was at the top of their game and I truly hope that we have not seen the last of the great Tom Cavanaugh. What I didn’t mention in the positives was the fact that Alegra and Chester P. Runk are really pulling their weight as the new members of Team Flash. Could “Chunk” be the new Wells on the team to fill that void? That remains to be seen. What we’ve learned about Eva’s true nature and the return of a fully-empowered Flash will bring viewers back to find out where things go from here. There’s only one thing left to say: Run, Barry…run.