The final season of The Flash has the advantage of at least knowing going in that they are facing the end. It’s giving them a chance to bring back various characters for a chance to say goodbye. There have been some spoilers about who is coming, and some that I, at least, didn’t know were part of it. The title “Hear No Evil” should have been a clue that Hartley Rathaway, the Pied Piper, was making his return.
Before we get there, though, we pick up where last episode left off. Danielle Panabaker has played Caitlin Snow and Killer Frost since the start of the series. Now, she has a new role as “Snow,” who seems to have been the result of Mark Blaine/Chillblaine’s attempt to resurrect Killer Frost. Everyone is taken aback by this, and get even more surprises when Mark explains what his plan is. Snow, the newest incarnation of Caitlin, at least seems to be friendly.
This episode features a lot of black and white flashbacks, which I hope doesn’t continue throughout the season. Allegra and Chester talk about recent events, and we get one of those flashbacks about their recent kiss. Allegra, at least, doesn’t seem too eager to talk about it. Joe and Cecile talk about the latest revelation about Caitlin, Frost, and Snow, and then we get another flashback to Joe’s recent startling pronouncement about wanting to leave Central City. He provides a bit more about his reasoning, but honestly, it still sounds like bad writing to cover the actor’s decision to cut back on his role.
Back at their loft, Barry and Iris go over Mark’s plan, and we get yet another flashback, of Barry using his weird lightning powers (an artefact of this show, not something he can do in the comics) to trash Caitlin’s lab. I thought when that happened Barry was deeply in the wrong, and I still think he was. It also felt both very high-handed and out of character for Barry, more like something Oliver Queen would have done.
In a sudden major shift, we end up at the Krakatoa Club, a night spot that seems to be doing pretty well. For the first time in several seasons, we see Hartley Rathaway, Cisco’s former rival and, for a time, the Rogue known as Pied Piper. Much like the comics, he went from villain to eventual ally of the Flash. Now he seems to be happily running a club and with his boyfriend. Hartley leaves for the night, but gets ambushed in the parking lot by a new version of the Fiddler. After a nasty fight, Hartley barely gets away, very much the worse for wear.
Back at STAR, Team Flash tries Mark’s new plan to bring Frost back. Things go badly, and Barry zips Snow out of the machines, much to Mark’s annoyance to say the least. Emotions run high in the wake of the failed experiment, secrets come out, and I’m once again in the weird position of agreeing with the reformed supervillain over the hero and star of the show.
The team doesn’t get any downtime, as on the heels of Mark’s angry departure, alarms go off. There’s a break-in down at the med-lab, and Barry rushes off to check it out. Yes, this is their headquarters and all, but really, once again, using his powers without the costume or the mask seems like a bad idea. In this case, it’s not a big problem, as Hartley has broken in to get patched up after his fight. Hartley, as he points out, used to work there and knows his way around the place. What I did find a bit weird was that Hartley asked about Caitlin, but not Cisco. That very much felt like the writers only dealing with current characters, not the ones that have left. Hartley is still fairly anti-social, confirms this wasn’t the Fiddler the team befriended a while ago, and then goes to sleep.
Speaking of the new Fiddler, she goes back to a high-tech warehouse, reports her failure to the shadowy boss figure, and we learn whoever this is, they accept employee failings in the traditional supervillain style. Mark goes to drown his sorrows, and Barry finds him. I guess this is Mark’s usual bar? Or Barry actually did an effective superspeed search of the city for once. They talk, Barry says some surprising things, and then they get called back to STAR by Chester. While the team tries to deal with some new technical difficulties, Snow has a conversation with Hartley. He’s snarky, she’s very warm and friendly, and it seems to give her some new ideas.
At the loft, Iris is working at her computer when Barry comes back from checking Thomas Snow’s notes. Barry has learned something that’s going to complicate Mark’s goal. Later, he shares this with the team for a grim vote, although Cecile and Joe aren’t there for some reason or other. Later, Barry and Iris talk down in the Cortex, and Iris makes an off-handed comment that seems kind of foolish, given everything she’s been through. Elsewhere in the lab, Snow looks out at the storm that’s been raging all episode, and has a heart to heart with Cecile. We learn something interesting about Snow, and then Barry and Iris come in and offer Snow a new choice.
More alarms interrupt their moment, and the team discovers that there’s a metahuman fight at Club Krakatoa and that Hartley’s gone. The new Fiddler is attacking Krakatoa once again, and Hartley shows up to save his boyfriend and staff. The fight goes back and forth for a bit, and Flash arrives to try and tip the scales. Fiddler has a few new surprises, but Flash shows Hartley something he missed, and we end up with a mostly happy ending. The villain pulls a last-minute getaway with some surprising help, leaving Flash to realize there’s more going on than he knew.
Returning to STAR, the team regroups to go over everything that’s been happening. Snow stands by her decision, infuriating Mark, who seems ready to go down the supervillain road again. Snow also gives herself a new name. Hartley weighs in on the issue, and shows that something has changed with him recently. Barry and Iris mull over what’s happened, and then everyone goes to Hartley’s club for a weird almost final scene. It’s nice to see the team relaxing without getting attacked in the middle of it. Allegra seems to relent in her avoiding Chester campaign, which is a good sign. Elsewhere, to finish things off, we see the villains working together and a new threat emerging. Weirdly, there is some additional footage during the credits, which is new. Also new is Iris doing something amazingly foolish during these credit scenes.
What I Liked: It was nice to see Hartley again, even if he is being a jerk. I like the way they let the Snow drama unfold. I sympathize with Mark on many fronts, and while I think he was wrong at the end, I think Barry was in the wrong when he trashed Caitlin’s lab in the first place, back when. The new Fiddler is interesting, as is the reveal at the end.
What I Didn’t: They were inconsistent with how Hartley’s abilities work, and his not asking about Cisco didn’t make any sense to me. Iris’ outburst in the final scene made no sense at all. I don’t like the Joe subplot they’re working towards.
It was a good episode, and I suspect, the first of many characters coming back for an encore and a goodbye. I don’t know if Hartley is sticking around after this, but I wouldn’t mind seeing more of him. I’ll give this a strong 3.5 out of 5.
I still don’t like that both The Flash and the Arrowverse is ending, but they seem to be going out well so far.