In an episode as full of in-jokes as this one, it’s a shock no one at any point said, “Who’s this joker?”
Seriously, it may have been a good idea. Not particularly on a gag level – it’s a pretty obvious reference that Hamill has been voicing the Joker for years now on various Warners animated ventures. Instead, it may have helped assuage casual comic fans who were thinking, “This guy’s just some bargain basement Joker!” And it would hardly have been less of a wink at the camera than the guy who once played Luke Skywalker uttering the line, “I am your father!” And all the other meta-moments we list in the gallery below.
In most other shows, this amount of gratuitous self-referencing would be unforgivable. With The Flash it’s all part of the fun. Besides, there’s so much other great stuff to enjoy in the show, the in-jokes aren’t a distraction. You could miss every single one of them and still come away thinking, “That was great.” If you do get them – hurrah! There’s a Twitterverse out there waiting for a mutual backslapping session. Hell, surely that’s half the reason for doing in-jokes these days; the free online publicity they generate. It’s all a big game, and you really don’t mind playing it with a show as enjoyable as The Flash.
Especially when the episodes are as good as “Tricksters”.
Sure, it was a little creaky in places. Hamill’s attempt at Hannibal Lecter lacked menace, but once the (elder) Trickster was at large again he was great: a manic combination of John Lydon and Elton John. Also odd was the way CCPD was dismissive of Mason’s disappearance when it was front page news in the previous episode. And the stinger scene right the end – with Eobard telling the police he’s Wells – was a disappointing case of “Well, tell us something we don’t know!” That, though, may simply a result of the fact that many of The Flash’s stingers have been jawdropping game changers. We’ve been spoilt and expect genius weekly now.
According to a news clipping in Barry’s collection of evidence against Wells, the Professor once played Hamlet. Alas, poor Barry.
Other than that, “Tricksters” was very strong indeed. The villains of the week had slightly more depth than usual and their evil plot provided the requisite outlandish thrills, from parachuting bombs right up to slapping a “speed bomb” on Barry. Barry’s awkward, sulky attitude towards Wells played well, especially his moral dilemma at being forced to rely on Wells to save his dad.
The flashbacks revealing what happened to Wells 15 years ago were great too, revealing at last the true identity of the Reverse-Flash, full of “Ooooh!” and “Ahhhh!” moments. The flashbacks are curious in one respect, though (two if you count the instance showrunner Greg Berlanti refers to in the gallery below). They were shot, edited and inserted into the storytelling in such a way as to look as if they were memories. But whose memories? Thawne’s or Wells’s. You’d assume Thawne’s, as Wells is (presumably) dead. And yet we were also shown one scene from Wells’s life that Thawne would not have been a party too, unless he had really good hearing, which as far as we know isn’t one of powers bestowed by the speed force. We’re probably reading too much into it (it’s probably just a scripting sleight of hand) but it may hint that Thawne retains some of Wells’s memories.
Another interesting development worth speculating about is Eddie learning that Barry is the Flash. How long before he starts thinking, “Hang on… Barry still holds a torch for Iris… Iris has this fangirl crush on the Flash… should I be worried here?” Maybe this is the spark that leads to an ongoing Thawne/Allen feud.
Or maybe not. Maybe it won’t even bother Eddie, who also this week joins Caitlin in the “Really Crap Liars” club. There’s no way Iris would fall for that “Mason’s finding himself in the Amazon” BS, surely?
Barry: “So now I’m supposed to just leave my dad’s fate in the hands of a man who may have had something to do with my mum’s murder?”
Wells: “Barry, do you see any walls nearby?” What does Wells think? Barry’s sprinted to the North Pole?
Sorta surprised more people haven't pointed out what's different about The Flash the night of Barry's mother's murder. #rewatch #theflash— Greg Berlanti (@GBerlanti) April 1, 2015 We think he must be referring to the fact that the flash on the red costume is against a white disc. But what could it mean?
This week’s reference to DC’s the New 52 came when the (younger) Trickster revealed that the bomb was “somewhere between 52nd Street and Avenue B”.
Meta Alert 1
Mark Hamill played the Trickster in two episodes of the 1990 series of The Flash and a lot of the images on Cisco’s computer screen are stills and publicity shots from those episodes. Props from those episodes, and Hamill’s original Trickster costume, can be seen in the Trickster’s lair in this episode. Hamill has also voiced the Trickster for the animated Justice League series, as well as being the voice of the Joker in various Warners/DC animated series.
Meta Alert 2
This actor – and indeed character – was also in the 1990 series of The Flash. Back then Tony Bellows was a mere police officer; now he’s the mayor.
In-Joke Of The Century
Mark Hamill utters the immortal line “I am your father!” and the incidental score does a very bad Imperial March-ish impression. It must have been far too tempting for the show’s writers to pass up, and you have to love the way the dialogue leading up to the line is a teasing, building case of “We know that you know what’s coming…”
Surely the name of the publishers of Wells’s biography is no coincidence? He has a time machine and is trying to maintain the shape of things to come, after all.
The Flash airs on Sky 1 in the UK and the CW in the US on Tuesday nights.