Two years ago, Hartley Rathaway had a promising career at STAR Labs but a falling out with his mentor Harrison Wells left him broken emotionally. Then the particle accelerator accident broke him physically, leaving him permanently deaf and in excruciating pain.
Now, Hartley has used his knowledge of sonic technologies to fix his hearing and empower himself. Calling himself The Pied Piper, he's out to make Harrison Wells pay for his crimes. For Hartley knows about a secret Dr. Wells has been hiding for quite some time....even from the rest of the STAR Labs team!
Of course The Flash can outrun sound... but can he out-think the mad genius who is out to destroy his mentor and friend?
Various The Flash comics over the past 55 years, including The Flash #106 - the first appearance of The Pied Piper.
The episode title - The Sound and The Fury - is taken from the name of a classic American novel by William Faulkner. That title itself comes from a line from William Shakespeare's Macbeth - "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
Early in the episode, we get to see The Flash take on The Royal Flush Gang. We don't get to see if this is the same group of criminals from the Arrow episode Legacies (A106) but it would not be unprecedented for another group to have taken on the name.
In the comics and cartoons, various groups known as The Royal Flush gang formed under the command of various super-villains including Amos Fortune, Hector Hammond and even The Joker! Most versions of the gang featured five members - Ace, King, Queen, Jack and Ten - although one version in Superman: Man of Steel #121 had cells in cities around the United States consisting of 52 members each.
Iris gets a job with the Central City Picture News. In the comics, this is the name of Central City's major newspaper - their equivalent of The Daily Planet. In the comics, however, Iris started off as a photographer rather than a reporter.
Hartley Rathaway is based on a classic Flash villain know as The Pied Piper. Born to a wealthy family, young Hartley was found to be deaf at an early age. After an experimental surgery restored his hearing, Hartley became obsessed with sound and sonic technologies. A scientific genius, Hartley found a way to hypnotize people through music and to generate tremendous damage with focused vibrations.
Hartley would later reform and become a social crusader who fought for the poor and needy. He also outed himself as homosexual and became a vocal LGBT activist, noting the irony of his being the first Rogue to "go straight".
In the New 52 universe, Hartley is exclusively dating David Singh - Barry Allen's superior officer. The DCTV universe version of Captain Singh was revealed to be gay in 108.
As in the comics, the DCTV version of Hartley was disowned by his family due to his sexuality. In the Silver Age comics, he was disowned to his criminal activities.
Iris' unwilling mentor at the Central City Picture News is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter named Mason Bridge. In the comics, Mason Trollbridge was the name of a reporter friend of Wally West - the second Flash. Trollbridge also had a brief career as the second crime-fighter known as The Clipper. The first Clipper was a Depression-era hero whom a young Mason had briefly assisted as an unnamed boy wonder.
Iris asks her editor if she should call him Chief. This is a nod to a running gag in the Superman comics, where Daily Planet editor Perry White continually tells people - Jimmy Olsen and Clark Kent in particular - not to call him Chief.
Cisco is caught in the vibrational shockwave of Pied Piper's technology when Hartley escapes the pipeline. Could this be what triggers Cisco's metahuman powers, turning the DCTV version of Cisco Ramon into this world's version of Vibe?
At one point Harrison Wells makes reference to The Norris Commission. This may be named in honor of Paul Norris - a Golden Age comic artist responsible for co-creating Aquaman, Roy Harper, The Sandman and Sandy The Golden Boy.
The end of the episode marks the first mention of The Speed Force - the energy field in the DC Comics universe that empowers most heroes with super-speed.
The glass in Harrison Well's home did not have any point of impact when it broke.
Magnetic flux is measured by Hall Effect pick-up.
The dual of a parallel R-C circuit is a series R-L circuit.
Everything has a natural frequency Since sound is expressed as a vibration, if the pitch of a sound can be made to match the natural frequency of an object, it can be made to shatter the object. This principal is most frequently observed in a singer holding a note that can shatter glass.
The radio transmitter in The Flash suit broadcasts on a frequency of 1900 MHz.
The Pied Piper has special hearing aids that treat the pain caused by the head trauma he sustained during the particle accelerator explosion. They also enhance his hearing to the point where he can hear radio waves.
The particle accelerator's anti-proton cavities were converted into confinement cells by Cisco.
Pied Piper was able to devise a hexagonal algorithm that allowed him to track where The Flash was coming from whenever he went to stop a crime to STAR Labs.
Pied Piper's equipment utilizes sonic resonance. The intensity regulator on his gauntlets measures in decibels. The lowest setting is capable of shattering windows. At high levels, it could destroy an entire skyscraper in one blast.
Pied Piper's hearing aid is capable of being refashioned into a device capable of blowing a vault door into pieces. He uses this to escape from The Pipeline.
Harrison Wells makes reference to a 10 volume report issued by the Norris Commission regarding the STAR Labs particle accelerator malfunctioning.
Cisco is unable to track Pied Piper's broadcast signals. He finally tracks Pied Piper by monitoring seismic activity, theorizing his sonic attacks may cause tremors.
In chess, a discovered attack is one you don't see until it is too late to counter.
Wells makes use of a satellite radio to broadcast a signal that will disrupt Pied Piper's technology.
Cisco: We need a picture!
Barry: Pretty sure Rule Number One of having a secret identity is NOT taking pictures in your super suit without a mask on.
Cisco: Oh, come on! Please? This is just for us. Just to document all this.
Harrison: Who knows? Maybe people in the future will want to know how all this happened.
Hartley: We both know what you did. It's time to pay the piper!
The Flash: It's over, Rathaway.
Pied Piper: You know my name? I know some names too. Caitlin Snow. Cisco Ramon. Harrison Wells. I can hear the radio waves emanating from your suit. About 1900 MHz. Is that them on the other end listening? Are they going to hear you die?
The Flash: No. They're going to hear you get your ass kicked.
Pied Piper: Being scooped up by a guy clad in head-to-toe leather is a long-time fantasy of mine, so thanks!
Caitlin: The next time you choose to put our lives and the lives of the people we love at risk, I'll expect a heads up.
Iris: I may not have a lot of experience, but I have -
Mason: Spunk? Grit? Gumption? What is this? A Chick-Lit novel?
Barry: The people we admire aren't always who we'd like them to be.
Harrison: Has Hartley made contact yet?
Caitlin: What makes you so sure he will?
Harrison: Because he's Hartley and he'll want to have the last word.
Cisco is a competent enough hacker to change stop-lights.
Barry is now fast enough to take a picture with a camera phone, run into the shot and then run back and catch the phone before it can hit the ground.
Iris is hired as a reporter at Central City Picture News based on her blog. While she intends to become a real reporter, she finds that her editor is only interested in her ability to get scoops on The Flash.
Cisco was hired at STAR Labs one year before the particle accelerator accident. At that point, Caitlin and Ronnie Raymond had been dating for one year but were not yet engaged.
Rathaway Industries was founded by Hartley Rathaway's grandfather and his father expanded the company. Hartley was poised to inherit everything until he outed himself.
Hartley was responsible for helping design and build the STAR Labs particle accelerator.
Hartley is capable of speaking Spanish, French and Latin. Cisco speaks Spanish. Caitlin speaks French. Harrison Wells speaks Latin. Barry, to his embarrassment, did not take a foreign language in school.
Wells confesses to Caitlin, Cisco and Barry that Hartley warned him that the particle accelerator might explode and that he decided to activate it anyway. He later makes the same confession at a press conference.
Cisco is caught in the vibrational shockwave generated by Hartley's technology as he escapes. He is left concussed by the experience.
Wells claimed Hartley left STAR Labs around the time of the particle accelerator explosion. We find out later in a flashback that Wells fired Hartley when he said that he knew that the accelerator might explode. Wells further threatened to ruin Hartley's career if he went public with that knowledge.
At his press conference, Harrison Wells calls on unknown cub reporter Iris West, hinting that he knows something of her destiny to become a great reporter.
Joe West and Eddie Thawne decide to start investigating Harrison Wells after being unable to find anything about his past in his house.
Hartley claims to know where Ronnie Raymond can be found, what happened to him when the particle accelerator exploded and how he can be saved.
Harrison Wells' use of a wheelchair is not entirely an act. We see him loose his ability to walk during Pied Piper's escape from The Pipeline and mutter "not again".
Later, we see Wells using the tachyon device from 109 to treat his unnamed condition, At maximum output, the Speed Force absorption rate is at 35% and rising, though this is past the acceptable tolerance range. This is not enough to allow Wells to stabilize. He says he cannot hang on to his speed and he can't control it. However, Wells notes the tachyon device was only ever mean to be a temporary fix.
The Boomerang Factor
For someone with many secrets, Harrison Wells is remarkably nonchalant about walking around in front of windows that offer a clear view into his home.
The Bottom Line
An interesting episode, but not for the reasons I think the creative team intended. The Pied Piper is decent enough but what really sells this episode is Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells. By this point, the viewers know far more than the characters do but even we are in the dark as to what Wells motivations are and just how much of the truth we know... if indeed we even know the truth! Wells is a manipulator - that much is certain. But is he continuing to manipulate his employees at STAR Labs even now? Or does he honestly enjoy their company in spite of his villainous plans? That is the crux of this episode and Cavanagh plays it perfectly.