Legacy has been a very, very large part of the Flash mythos since The Flash #123 was published in 1961, featuring “The Flash of Two Worlds” a story in which Barry travels to an alternate reality and meets Jay Garrick, The Flash from the golden age of comics. Legacy was pushed to the center of The Flash when Barry died and his protégé, Wally West, took over, becoming the first sidekick in comics history to move up into the big leagues. Legacy has been turned on its ear with the latest episode of The Flash.
The year was 1991 and The Flash starring John Wesley Shipp was in the second half of its first and only season. Major buzz surrounded its eleventh episode because Mark Hamill would be portraying the villain du jour: the Trickster — and he did not disappoint! He played James Jesse over the top, just shy of his insane tenure as the voice of The Joker which would follow in 1992. For fans, it was like a vicarious mashup of our favorite things; superheroes and Star Wars. The Trickster couldn’t be more removed from Luke Skywalker and Mark Hamill’s range was fantastic. As a fan of comics himself, Hamill knew exactly where to take that character and he was pitch perfect. The final episode of the season, and the series, featured his trial. Yet another memorable performance.
Fast forward to 2015 and Hamill returns to play THE SAME CHARACTER in one of the greatest displays of fan service in television history. We see Hamill differently than we did in 1991. At that time, he was viewed as a typecast actor more than likely on his way to obscurity. We loved him anyway. Here he is in a new century and Hamill is poised to break big again as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens and here he is playing the Trickster again on a new incarnation of The Flash.
Everything old is new again!
Once again, Hamill was perfect, playing an incarcerated James Jesse whose manic behavior is just below the performance he provided for decades as the Joker. It was just perfect. The writers even managed to put Hamill together with Shipp and fanboys like myself squealed with delight. The way they brought the 1991 Trickster into current Flash continuity was brilliant. They didn’t try to reinvent the wheel. This James Jesse WAS the Trickster in 1991 and he’s been in prison since that time. The writers salvaged what they could and forgot the rest. It was delightful.
The “Legacy” aspect was delivered by Axel Walker (Devon Graye) who appeared as the new Trickster. TV imitates comics again since Axel Walker became the new Trickster after their version of James Jesse retired from crime. It’s a great time to be a geek (and I wear my membership badge proudly) since this show fires on cylinders only visible to people in the know.
Thank you again, Flash, for giving the world a show that I can watch with my kids, works on a meta level, and is just plain fun.
Not everything came up roses in this episode since the side-story partially revealed Wells’s origin. For once, I’m keeping this review Spoiler-Free because you should watch the episode yourself. I’d be very interested if it pissed you off as well. I’m not truly upset about the revelation, it happened in the only way it could; I’m only upset because I cared for Harrison Wells as a character. Tom Cavanagh did that. The writers made me feel that way. Last week’s episode provided yet another layer to his character and made him, in my estimation, less sympathetic. I am trying to keep in mind that, as much as I like Harrison Wells, he’s also the Reverse-Flash, greatest of all the Rogues and the main instigator of the worst moments in Barry’s life. We should hate him, he’s an awful person. But, on some level, I wanted to see him win.