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Last week's episode of The Flash was a magical one for fans of actor Tom Cavanagh (and I assume everyone on the planet can be described as such). Viewers got to witness not just one new version of Harrison Wells popping up, but several, and Team Flash ultimately chose to bring in the fantastic Earth-19 Wells to aid in their quest to keep Central City safe. This latest version of the brilliant scientist is a total goofball, and the actor shared some thoughts about what makes this new iteration different from past versions.
Last year I was trying to fill in gaps that we don't have on a daily basis on our show: we have a big bad, but not a daily antagonist. Everybody is very winning on our show....They're so great, that I thought it would be a guy who wasn't great. That's what I was last year; it's good to have a daily antagonist, someone you can't trust, a malcontent -- a bit of a bitch, socially inept. But ultimately he's kind of a good guy. In the first season, he seems good but he's bad and in the second season, he seems bad, but he's good, and then in the third season -- well, I wonder what he is? A bit of a con man.
What a guy, right? You bring in Tom Cavanagh to play a role, and instead of just reading the lines and hitting the blocking, he delves inside the purpose of the character to carve out his key performance angle. I mean, it's possible that executive producers like Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg gave him a ton of notes on how to play this new version, and Cavanagh is just ripping the credit from them, but that would actually be something that Season 1's Harrison Wells would do, and something that Season 2's Wells would chide him for.
Indeed, everything surrounding Tom Cavanagh's Reverse-Flash from Season 1 made the season explosive, and while the more subdued version in Season 2 didn't have the same kind of twists and turns, it was still fun to watch him awkwardly socialize his way through the season. But now we have a total wild card on our hands with Earth-19's Harrison Wells. The very first thing he did upon seeing everyone in person was pretend to be an alien, and even though that was just a silly little joke, it absolutely falls in with Cavanagh's description of him being a con man. And now we get to study his actions for use in speculating his "secret" plans.
Tom Cavanagh told ComicBook.com that the character was developed to bring some more comedic power to The Flash, but in a way that wouldn't completely overshadow the high-stakes arcs where laughter would feel out of place. However, just because he's got some wit doesn't mean he's completely on the level. The actor also said this.
He's a bit of a con man and the same element of 'can you trust him, or not?' is there, but in a different way. A superhero show works best with conflict, large and small, and I'm happy to drop off these little firebombs here and there. This is one more fire that they have to put out, and is it better to extinguish it completely, or to keep the embers burning?
The Flash will soon be busy with a lot of other serious firebombs that new Wells may not want to joke about, as we'll get to see Caitlin reaching out to her mom for help with those Killer Frost tendencies. As well, Wally is starting to get antsy about trying to reclaim his Kid Flash powers from Flashpoint, so that's gonna make things difficult. Not to mention all the new metahumans and Alchemy and the upcoming arrival of Savitar and...okay, now I could use a laugh. Can we get Earth-19 Wells and Mark Hamill's Trickster in a scene together?
The Flash is racing to that massive DC TV crossover event later this month as it airs Tuesday nights on The CW. To see what else is coming to the small screen soon, check out our fall TV schedule.