Is Harrison Wells Good or Evil? 'The Flash' Scientist May Be a Complicated Villain After All
If a week ago you had asked for my thoughts on whether Harrison Wells is good or evil, I would have told you that The Flash was setting him up to be an anti-hero. But this week? I think it is pretty clear that Wells' motives are far too selfish for him to be a good guy. In last week's episode "Power Outage," instead of waiting until the end to pull back the curtain a bit more on Wells, his true motivations were put front and center. Up until this episode, what we've seen of Wells could go either way. Yes, he's manipulated friends and enemies alike, even going so far as killing Simon Stagg. But all of it was in service of keeping Barry's legacy as The Flash intact, which on the surface seems like a total good-guy move. But as we learned last week, Wells isn't interested in Barry as a superhero so much as his metahuman abilities. Which makes it undeniable that Harrison Wells is a villain on The Flash.
In the beginning of "Power Outage," Wells is pretty pissed that Barry's abilities haven't grown further, blaming it on his "penchant for the heroic." Wells doesn't want Barry to be a superhero, he wants him to realize "the full scope of his abilities" instead. Around his colleagues, Wells uses the pretense that Barry's abilities could help cure diseases and other altruistic motives. But from what we've seen about Wells in his lair, that isn't true at all. He's keen to keep the future seen in the 2024 newspaper intact for reasons that aren't exactly clear. But perhaps what's most telling about Wells happened at the end of the episode.
After Farooq, nicknamed Blackout post-mortem by Cisco, died, his body was brought to the lower levels of S.T.A.R. Labs. Wells takes some of Blackout's blood and says, "You had the ability to steal The Flash's powers and I'd love to know how you did that," which is creepy in and of itself. But even worse, it makes it clear that Wells is not only selfish, he's straight up evil and his interest in The Flash's abilities are more sinister than I gave him credit for.
Throughout the entire episode, Wells motivations are also questioned by Blackout, which leads to Barry calling him out. When confronting Blackout, Wells lists people who have been killed because of the particle accelerator going haywire. It's enough for Barry to change his mind about Wells and get over the mental block that was holding back his powers (and future). But I recognized a lot of the names he listed and realized this was just another side of Wells' own cunning. Basically all the people he lists are superheroes. For example, Bea da Costa is Fire, Will Everett is Amazing-Man, and Ronnie Raymond will be revealed as Firestorm.
Io9 commenter signofzeta explains Wells' possible motives well:
Harrison knowing all those names seems to be what satisfied Barry mentally on what Harrison did, but I think it served two purposes. It was a nice DC comics call out, but all Harrison did was name people who were affected by the accident who [become] superheroes. He didn't care about his victims at all, he just knew their names because they are famous in the future, showing how calculating he is.
All of this adds up to The Flash finally revealing that Harrison Wells is Reverse-Flash or Professor Zoom, popular theories among fans. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly discussing the upcoming episode in which Reverse-Flash is introduced, Grant Gustin said, "I’ve heard so many theories surrounding Reverse Flash that are all interesting. I was like, ‘Oh, I know what’s going on,’ but literally no one knows what’s going on.'" There are a few other interesting tidbits revealed in the interview, including that while we see a lot more of Reverse Flash/Professor Zoom in the midseason finale, "The Man in Yellow," the show won't reveal his true identity, while Wells is involved in trying to bait the villain. So how can Wells be Reverse-Flash or Professor Zoom if that's true?
I have come up with a theory that explains Harrison Wells' true motivations and how he could be Professor Zoom. Time travel hijinks are standard issue for The Flash in the comics, and as we've seen thus far, the show is clearly bringing that part of his mythos into its narrative. One important thing to note about Professor Zoom is that he was manipulated by his future-self, meaning that his present and future selves existed in the same time and place. We haven't seen Wells show any metahuman abilities, but maybe that's because we're seeing a version of him that doesn't have them yet. Meanwhile the Professor Zoom or Reverse-Flash we've presumably seen as the blur killing Barry's mom is Wells from a different point in his timeline, after finding a way to give himself Barry's abilities. It sounds a bit bonkers, but gives the show a way to tease out the reveal that Wells is one of The Flash's biggest foes, while still letting another version of him cause superpowered mayhem elsewhere.
Undeniably, The Flash is making it boldly clear that Wells is, at the very least, closely linked to Reverse-Flash. In the unlikely event that Wells himself isn't Reverse-Flash or Professor Zoom, he's still a villain. And considering how close he's become to Barry, that spells a lot of trouble for the future of our favorite Scarlett Speedster.
Images: Jack Rowand/The CW; theflashgifs/Tumblr (2)