If you didn’t know already, Barry Allen likes being the Flash. No, he loves being the Flash. His love for the mantle he wears as the Central City Speedster is captured perfectly in the first two minutes of this week’s show when, along with Joe and Eddie, the trio share a busy night of taking down a hat trick of armed robbers and a couple other criminals as well. Despite their success, it’s painfully clear Eddie’s yet to fall into the same ease of working with Barry’s alter ego, and his discomfort is just as obvious to Iris as it is to the viewer. But more on that later.
After the first few minutes of grab-a-crook plays out, the episode’s main course, if you will, takes off when a Dr. Kang is stung to death in her car by a swarm of bees. When Barry examines the crime scene, he cannot find a trace of the miniature instruments of death. When Joe suggests using STAR Labs to help analyze the murder, Barry hedges. He’s having a rough go hiding what he knows about Wells from not only the man himself, but Caitlin and Cisco as well. Joe reminds him that they need to keep everything close to the vest for the time being and though he’s not crazy about the plan, agrees. He takes the data to the lab and the group surmises these bees are being controlled by a meta-human. To complicate matters, Felicity and her super suit wearing boyfriend Ray Palmer arrive from Starling City. The newly christened ATOM needs a bit of assistance with his suit and Cisco’s all about offering up a helping hand.
And then things get interesting.
One look at Barry and Felicity knows her friend’s hiding something big, despite him denying it and Iris sees the same thing in Eddie. To make matters worse, Eddie’s struggles to keep things quiet raises the tension between he and Joe. At a loss, Eddie goes to Barry for support and Felicity, who hasn’t gotten Barry to spill his own secrets, suggest the five of them go out for a nice dinner. Of course, we all know how well “nice dinners” turn out in this world…
But first—Cisco and Ray are having some success with the latter’s suit and when Ray responds to a wonderful idea from Cisco, he tells the STAR Labs genius “you’re incredibly clever”…
Which sparks a familiar memory of Wells approaching a horrified Cisco with the Truth of his true nature…
Before the doomed dinner begins, Barry’s called to another bee attack. He’s unable to save the victim and nearly becomes one himself. The defibrillator built into his suit is the only thing that saves his life and, when he returns to the lab, Cisco provides the mea culpa. The schematics to the building were not up to date, a first for the gang. But it can wait; it’s dinner time.
The long and short of dinner becomes: Barry confiding in Felicity on the truth behind Dr. Wells, Iris leaving Eddie due to the secrets and Cisco (working with Joe) having another inexplicable flashback to events that happened in another timeline. As for the case itself, the second victim (Bill Carlyle) was another robotics expert and the clues lead Wells and company to Christina McGee of Mercury Labs. She fingers Brie Larvan as the perpetrator. Larvan was a genius creator whose experiments with robotic bees for agriculture morphed into a more militaristic path. McGee fired Larvan for this work and it seems the bug-eyed bandit’s (thanks Cisco and Ray) set her sights on those that wronged her. McGee is the last person on Larvan’s revenge list but the good doctor declines protection from STAR Labs and the detectives, still a bit perturbed by the loss of her Tachyon prototype.
Eventually Larvan’s swarm comes for McGee and this is where the episode’s namesake (“All-Star Team-Up”) comes into play. Ray’s dispatched to safeguard McGee while Barry, with Felicity’s hacking help, tracks down Larvan. The climax is a hacking war between Felicity and Brie Larvan, one which our ‘Arrow’ transplant wins with a flourish.
The battle’s done but the war is still raging. Barry has a chat with Dr. McGee and she tells him that, after Tess’s death, Harrison Wells became an entirely different person. In a preview of what’s to come, Ray realizes he’s looking at the ATOM suit wrong. It’s not about bigger, but smaller. And finally, ignoring Barry’s explanation of Eddie’s reticence, Iris gives her boyfriend an ultimatum: tell her the truth or they are no more.
Barry and Joe bring Cisco and Caitlin into the Wells conspiracy. Though Caitlin can’t bring herself to believe it, an unusually quiet Cisco breaks his silence with a jaw-dropping admission. He’s been having nightmares, and in them “Dr. Wells is the Reverse Flash…and he kills me.”
- Secrets and lies; they are the staple of any mask wearing super hero. The “should I tell/should I not” dynamic is a natural drama producer for the hero and his/her friends and family. As Eddie found out, the drama isn’t relegated to the hero, but those who fight at the hero’s side. Iris puts the detective in an unfair position when she demands the truth for him—even using the “if you love me” angle. What Eddie’s keeping from her is not his secret to tell and though it’s understandable of Iris to want to know the truth, her idea that people who love one another tell each other everything is both a fantasy and, in some cases, beyond that person’s ability to share.
- Sometimes the truth can be shared but past situations may prevent someone from knowing who to trust. Barry runs into this when, despite wishing to bring Caitlin and Cisco in on the Wells secret, he initially listens to Joe’s warnings. Though it’s far-fetched to see the two scientists as anything other than the good guys, it’s not as out there to believe they would alert Wells to Barry’s knowledge of his true identity, whether in a misguided attempt at proving the sentiment wrong or, more likely, being unable to ‘play it cool’. The big reveal in the epilogue though, has to be Cisco’s jaw-dropping admission of Wells killing him. While as viewers we know how that happened, will Barry put together this new information with his traveling through time and realize that the original timeline did not end well for Mr. Ramon? Only time will tell…