For the last few weeks, we've been taking some time out after The Flash aired each week to discuss the various strange, often creepy and seemingly-villainous things that Harrison Wells has been up to.
Wells, for those of you keeping track at home, is the founder of S.T.A.R. Labs in the Arrowverse and the man whose particle accelerator exploded, causing a lightning storm which ultimately gave birth to The Flash. Created for the TV series, it's generally agreed tha the will in fact turn out to be someone -- or a variation on someone -- from the comics, although nobody is yet sure who.
The explosion also impacted dozens of other people, killing of injuring some and causing others to develop superhuman powers. So far, nearly every villain Barry and the S.T.A.R. Labs team have fought on the show emerged as a result of the reactor meltdown; only William Tockman, tonight's #2 villain who appeared on Arrow last year, didn't get powers from that blast -- but he's not enhanced, just a guy with a plan. Wells himself appears to be confined to a wheelchair -- which of course isn't the case, as we saw in the series premiere.
Along with the fact that Wells is not actually incapable of walking came the revelation that he has access to future technology and information, and a keen interest in The Flash personally. The newspaper headline he brought back from the future revealed that Barry Allen will disappear following a red sky Crisis, likely a variation on the Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline in which the character died in the 1980s (he got better).
Wells' identity has been teased all season long, and the mystery deepened significantly, plus gave us some new information to work with. Let's take a look at some of what we learned:
With the advent of "Gideon," the AI Wells interacts with, a new, sexy theory is posed this week: What if Wells is actually one of the New Gods?
Because he's a time traveler in a chair, there's been a small but inevitable group of fans who have suspected Metron since the series premiere. The character, who has the attachment to logic and emotional detachment of Star Trek's Spock, is able to traverse time and space in his Mobius Chair.
Jack Kirby's New Gods, with their outlandish designs and elaborate mythology, are one of the only things DC Entertainment and The CW could do to make The Flash even more utterly mad than riffing on Crisis on Infinite Earths to begin with. A somewhat more grounded, "undercover" approach to them isn't unprecedented, and has popped up in everything from Smallville and Final Crisis to Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory. It would be somewhat uncharacteristic of The Flash, though, which has gone out of its way to embrace many of the more over-the-top elements that shows like Arrow and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. typically do not.
Gideon, anyway, is a New God -- specifically, a really obscure one, and a general. He was one of the many who died in The Death of the New Gods by Jim Starlin. The idea that there's an all-knowing Gideon on the other line led some people to assume that the New Gods were involved tonight.
The other possibility is that Gideon is a variation on Booster Gold's robot pal, Skeets. In the current comics, Skeets exists but he we haven't seen him on-panel since the New 52 relaunch. Much like in Smallville, all we've seen is him talking to Booster through a headset.
There's been some speculation that Wells could be either Rip Hunter or Booster Gold, fighting to preserve the timeline, but most people abandoned that idea early in the season when Wells started killing people fairly willy-nilly. This week, though, it certainly seemed like he had a variation on their mission (particularly the way Geoff Johns wrote Booster and Rip during the second volume of Booster Gold) and Gideon acted a lot like Skeets, who frequently helps Booster save the day by providing him details of the crimes about to go down, and providing historical context for past events Booster doesn't understand via historical records (Booster and Skeets are both from the 25th Century, which is also home to one version of Professor Zoom).
So..."Gideon" could be a cover for Skeets just as easily as Wells could be for Rip or Booster. Who knows?
Logging Barry's behavior
One of the things that is most interesting here is that the episode began with Wells logging Barry's behavior.
"Unfortunately, his penchant for the heroic persists," Wells said in part, in spite of the fact that much of the rest of the episode seemed to turn on the idea that Barry needs to become The Flash in order for Wells' future to come true.
One of the most popular candidates in the "who is Harrison Wells" sweepstakes has always been Hunter Zolomon, a supervillain who insists that he's just making The Flash's life a living hell in order to make him a better hero. Chagrin over Barry's decision to continue being a hero, then, doesn't sound like Zolomon, for sure.
Future remains intact...until it doesn't.
We discovered tonight that the future in Wells' newspaper is extremely important to him. Whatever he thinks of Barry acting as a superhero, it seems his being around to help stop the Crisis is something that must happen.
When The Flash is briefly depowered, time shudders and Wells' computer begins to display the wrong headlines for the future -- including that the red skies commonly associated with multiversal Crises in DC Comics are "threatening." In the "original" version of the paper, restored by the end of the episode, those red skies were vanishing instead.
Here's the thing: it seems as though Wells must have access to more than just time travel technology if he is indeed from the future.
After all: when The Flash briefly didn't exist and the world was radically altered as a result, Wells remained in the past, alive and well. If he were from the future, shouldn't he have disappeared as soon as the future he's from no longer existed, even if it was just briefly?
There are plenty of explanations for why this could not have happened. Wells could be from the past or present, and merely have access to information and technology from the future. He could have access to hardware that keeps him "fixed" in time even when the universe around him changes (again, something common to Booster Gold and Rip Hunter).
Here's one I like: Wells could be from an alternate timeline or alternate universe where what happens here doesn't directly impact his past. If, say, his timeline/universe requires Flash's participation in the 2024 Crisis in order to survive, but isn't actually "our" universe, perhaps Wells is from the time of the Crisis, and part of his mission is to ensure that Barry participates. Put in comics terms, if he were from the Earth-2 of 2024 and his job was to make sure that the Earth-1 Barry Allen helps out in the Crisis, anything that changes the time between 2014 and 2024 on Earth-1 wouldn't affect Wells's timeline at all on Earth-2.