At the beginning of every episode, there is usually some sort of giveaway as to what the episode will focus on, and it starts off with a quote from Barry:
“Everyone has a hero, someone they look up to or admire, someone they wish they could be. It’s easy to believe in heroes. What’s hard is when our heroes stop believing in us.”
While this quote was being said, the police chase down three criminals riding on motorcycles in Central City. The Flash quickly intervenes as Caitlin gives him directions while Cisco manipulated the traffic lights. However, the criminals split up at an intersection. The Flash asks his trusted companions which way to go, but they couldn’t agree:
Their responses left the Flash confused and possibly frustrated, but Wells gives him directions to create a roadblock and use shortcuts so the criminals can be in one spot. The Flash takes the opportunity to take their keys to leave them for the police. “Checkmate,” says Wells.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, the Flash is greeted by a happy Cisco, and Dr. Wells congratulates him on doing such a great job. Cisco decides to take a celebratory picture which, at first, Barry declines saying that having a secret identity means he can’t take pictures of himself in his super suit without his mask, but Cisco persuades him. Barry wants everyone to be in this group photo, but Caitlin asks if she can put some makeup on before Barry takes the picture. “The future does not care about your makeup,” responds Cisco. Afterwards, Barry thanks Wells for his guidance, and Wells confesses that he likes feeling like a hero. “You’re pretty good at it,” says Barry.
Barry returns home to see Iris there taking what’s left of her things. Her dad invites her for dinner, but she declines since she’s helping Eddie paint. Joe tells Iris that someone from Central City Picture News called for her. It turns out that Iris got a job as a reporter.
Wells goes home as well. He lives in a large house with a glass fireplace, a glass-paneled roof, and has many rooms. He turns on the music as he strolls around without his wheelchair. He then pours himself a drink in the kitchen when he receives a phone call. When answering it, the music suddenly stops. “We both know what you did,” says a mysterious voice. Wells reaches into a hidden vault for a gun, and the same voice says, “It’s time to pay the Piper,” as the glass roof shatters, leaving Wells to use his super speed to avoid the falling glass.
Soon, the police and Barry have come to investigate the crime scene, while Barry is in awe of how nice Wells’ house is. Wells tells Joe that he feels like the police shouldn’t have come since to him, it’s just a prank. Joe, on the other hand, tells Wells that it looks more than just a prank. Wells responds that some people may take action because of the accident last year. Caitlin and Cisco soon arrive late since they’ve never been to his house before. “He tends to keep his private life private,” says Caitlin.
Two years ago, Wells recalls a time where he was playing chess at S.T.A.R. Labs with an employee, who is later revealed to be Hartley Rathaway. Cisco soon arrives for his first day at work, and Wells introduces Cisco to Hartley saying that he’s “one of the finest mechanical engineers” he’s ever seen. Cisco has his fanboy moment, until Hartley insults him. “I don’t foresee myself trusting someone who showed up to his first day of work at a billion dollar research facility wearing a t-shirt that says ‘Keep Calm and Han Shot First’,” exclaims Hartley with a smug smile. Hartley proceeds to tell Wells of his dissatisfaction of picking Cisco, and Wells tells him that he has “a good feeling about him”. But he tells Hartley that he’s still his guy and that “nothing and no one will change that.”
Back at the crime scene, Eddie reports to Joe that there were no vandalisms or strange cars around Wells’ home. They both find Wells suspicious since he doesn’t have a scratch on him. Meanwhile, Barry is doing his own research; he rearranges a panel of broken glass with his super speed. Wells comes in the room, and Barry tells him that no solid object broke the glass, “It’s as if the glass shattered themselves.” Barry notices that Wells is refusing their help and asks why. Wells tells him that he already knows who did it: Hartley Rathaway.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Wells, Cisco, and Caitlin fill in both Barry and Joe on who Hartley is. Hartley is brillant accoring to Wells, and was originally going to take over Rathaway Industries until he came out to his parents. In addition, Wells reveals that Hartley helped him build the particle accelerator. Barry asks them why they don’t mention him. Caitlin and Cisco agreed that he was a jerk, while Wells took on a more sympathetic approach saying that he has a hard time relating to his peers. Then, both Caitlin and Cisco reveal how jealous they were of the bond that Hartley and Wells shared. “…he was your favorite,” exclaimed Caitlin. “The chosen one,” Cisco added. Joe asks Wells why Hartley would target him, and he says that Hartley left S.T.A.R. Labs a year ago over a disagreement, which he wouldn’t speak further about. Barry then tells them that he promises to protect them.
Cisco soon has a flashback on his first day of work. Like any new employee, he was pretty excited to start working at S.T.A.R. Labs. However, Hartley shuts him down, leaving Cisco frustrated. He then asks Hartley to prove to Wells that picking him was a mistake. Hartley begins to quiz him until Caitlin intervenes. She introduces herself to Cisco and advices him to ignore Hartley because, apparently, they all do. Caitlin tells then that she and Ronnie are leaving early today since it’s their one year anniversary. Cisco likes how Caitlin is nice to him, but dislikes the way Hartley treats him.
Iris attends her very first staff meeting for Central City Picture News, and was treated rudely by reporter Mason Bridge. Her editor, Erik Larkin, introduces her to everyone, and asks for a “mama bear” for Iris. No one responds so Larkin assigns Mason to be her guide. Mason opposes it, though. Iris tells the editor that she wants to write a piece on Keystone, a program that helps battered women back on their feet. However, Larkin has other ideas in mind; he’s only interested in her for her connection with The Flash.
At Barry’s lab, he explains to Joe how the glass broke with a fun experiment. Barry tells him that the perpetrator was using a form of sonic technology to shatter the glass. Joe then takes this as the opportunity to tell Barry that he feels like Wells is hiding something, but Barry defends Wells. Soon, Eddie arrives to get Joe because Rathaway Industries is under attack. Barry gets a phone call from Caitlin right after.
Hartley is seen shattering the glass that covers Rathaway Industries with his sonic gloves. As soon as the police arrive, he destroys a couple of their cars, too. The Flash arrives and pushes him down, “It’s over, Rathaway.” He’s impressed that the Flash knows who he is, but taunts him with the same thing, “I know some names, too. Caitlin Snow. Cisco Ramon. Harrison Wells.” He then says that he can hear them even if they aren’t talking. The Flash soon apprehends Hartley, but he tells the Flash that he knows Wells’ biggest secret.
The Flash brings Hartley to S.T.A.R. Labs where he’s greeted by Cisco and Caitlin. He tells Cisco that he’s calling himself the Pied Piper. “Hey! I assign the nicknames around here,” Cisco responds, “although that one’s not bad.” He then taunts Caitlin by saying he’s never received his wedding invite. Cisco proceeds to bring Hartley to his cell when a scanner detected foreign metallic objects in his ears. Cisco tells him to take them out, but Hartley says he can’t since he suffers from head trauma when S.T.A.R. Labs exploded; they help him deal with the pain. “We all lost something that night,” Hartley says as starts to mock both Caitlin and Cisco until Wells steps in to talk with him alone.
Wells is clearly impressed with Hartley’s knowledge on the Flash. Hartley explains to him that through observation, he’s noticed patterns like how the Flash would run towards S.T.A.R. Labs right after his job was done. Wells tries to apologize to him, but Hartley says that was for Barry while leaving him a cryptic message: “Feels good to have the great Harrison Wells behind you, doesn’t it? But one day, this man will turn on you…in a flash. And even you won’t see it coming. I only hope that he leaves you in better shape than he left me…because every day I have to live with the agonizing, piercing screaming in my ears.”
Wells then speaks to all three of them saying that he hasn’t been honest with them. He reveals that Hartley warned him the the particle accelerator could explode, but chose to ignore Hartley’s warnings in pursuit of knowledge and achievement. He apologizes to them, but Caitlin told Wells that the next time that if he ever decides to risk their and their loved ones lives again, she expects him to give her a heads up. Right after, both her and Cisco leave the room. Barry tells Wells that the two of them have been by his side even when everyone left him and that they deserve much more than an apology. Barry leaves the room after he points out that Wells needs to regain their trust, including his.
At Central City Picture News, Iris’ editor asks her to look into the Flash, and she reluctantly obliges. She approaches Mason to ask what they’ll be working on today. He tells her that he’s following up on a lead at the DWP, and that Larkin already gave her an assignment. Iris gets frustrated and tells Mason that’s she’s serious about becoming a journalist. “Why?” Mason asks, “Because you write a blog? My mother writes a blog.” He continues to treat her poorly.
Later in the day, Iris meets up with Barry at their to-go spot: Jitters. Iris rants to him how terrible her day went, and like a good friend, he’s there to listen to her. When Iris tells him how she used to admire Mason, Barry tells her that the people they admire aren’t always who we’d like them to be. Iris agrees, and he tries to comfort her. She thanks him for his support.
At S.T.A.R. Labs, Cisco was examining Hartley’s gloves when Caitlin asks him if he’s seen Wells around, and he isn’t sure. Cisco tells her that Barry’s theory was right, and notices that the gloves were on the lowest setting. Caitlin doesn’t understand why he’d do that since he can get caught easily. Cisco realizes that Hartley wanted to be caught and runs to the monitor to check on him, but he’s already gone. Cisco alarms Wells, who was in his secret room with his Reverse Flash suit. Wells attempts to use his super speed to get to Hartley, but he fails when he wasn’t able to control it, leaving him on the floor. Cisco runs off in the direction of Hartley’s cell, but is sent flying when Hartley causes the door to explode.
Caitlin tries to get in contact with Cisco, but to no avail. Hartley approaches her from behind and she notices it. When she turns around, he knocks her out quickly. He then goes after his sonic gloves and the files on the computers.
At Jitters, Barry receives a phone call from Wells telling him that Hartley escaped. Barry uses his super speed to leave, and Iris is left to wonder where he went.
Meanwhile, at S.T.A.R. Labs, Hartley approaches Wells as he’s lying on the floor and asks him a question: “Am I still your guy?”
Barry reaches the lab, and asks Caitlin if she’s okay. She tells him she’s fine, but tells him to check on the others. Barry runs down a hallway until he bumps into Wells who tells him that Hartley’s gone. Surprisingly, Wells is back in his wheelchair.
Cisco opens his eyes to see Barry looking at him, “Hey. Welcome back, Mr. Ramon.” Cisco attempts to get up, but Caitlin tells him to rest since he got a concussion. He asks Barry if he got Hartley, and Barry responds with no. Barry sees that the incident at Rathaway Industries is a fake out. Caitlin adds that was a way for him to enter S.T.A.R Labs. Both Cisco and Barry blame themselves for the incident, but Wells interrupts them by saying, “This is no one’s fault but mine. I earned the blame – I’m not interested in sharing it.” Wells begins to leave until Cisco asks where he’s going. “To earn back your trust,” he responds.
In another flashback, Wells approaches Hartley and asks him what he was doing in his particle accelerator. In disbelief, Hartley told him that he thought it was their accelerator; Hartley also warns him that it’ll be their fault if they turn it on and blow a hole in Central City. “If you don’t have the courage to admit you could be wrong, I will do it for you,” he tells Wells. However, Wells fires him and shuts him up by threatening to ruin his career.
The reporters, including Barry who’s in a corner, are at a police station where Wells is about to hold a press conference on the explosion of the particle accelerator. Wells admits, despite popular belief that no one could have know this would happen, that someone did warm him that the particle accelerator might fail. “I failed this city and I failed those who trusted me the most,” he says. Wells hopes that by coming out and sharing this secret, he can start to regain their trust.
While the press conference is going on, Hartley is in a room watching and downloading the files he took from S.T.A.R Labs.
When the conference came to an end, Wells asked the reporters if they had any questions. While many of them did, Mason, being the loudest one, asked if he was planning on building the particle accelerator once again. Wells ignores him, and asks the reporter right next to Mason, who turns out to be Iris. “I don’t believe you answered my colleague’s question, Dr. Wells, so I’ll ask it again. Do you have any intention of rebuilding the particle accelerator, either now or in the future?”
“Of course not.”
“Thank you for your answer, Doctor.”
Wells declined all other questions afterwards. Mason, surprised at Iris, asked what was that, to which she responded, “Gumption.”
At S.T.A.R. Labs, Wells is sure that Hartley will contact them again. Cisco, on the other hand, won’t lay still because he wants to find out why Hartley fooled them. Wells tells Cisco that he has nothing to prove even though Cisco thinks otherwise. He reveals that he hired him because he saw humanity. Although both he and Hartley are brilliant, Cisco’s heart, warmth, and humor adds to it. “There’s no chosen one, Cisco. No second or third favorite. Never was. It’s just us,” he tells Cisco. Shortly, Hartley contacts them, just as Wells predicted. He challenges Wells and The Flash to a final game of chess and asks Wells to move his scarlet knight. Hartley uses his first move to destroy a toll booth located on top of a dam, causing a traffic jam.
Barry gets suited up to face the Piper while Cisco is having difficulty locating where he is. Wells tells Cisco to look for seismic activity since Hartley is using sonic blasts that can cause tremors.
Meanwhile, the Piper destroys a couple cars with his sonic gloves, and that sends a message to all the other drivers to run away like, right now-now.
Cisco locates the Piper on the Keystone Cleveland Dam, and Barry heads off. Wells warns him to not underestimate the brilliance of the Pied Piper, but Barry responds “Well, good thing I’ll have you in here,” and points to his ear before heading off.
At the dam, the Piper chose his next victim, which he labels ‘Rook to Knight four’, which is a driver still in her car, and using his sonic gloves, he tosses her along with her car off the road into the dam. Luckily, the Flash rescued her before her car exploded. Wells tells Barry to not get distracted since he’s a master of hiding his true endgame.
Cisco discovers why Hartley allowed himself to get caught: to get information on Barry. Wells realizes that Hartley knows Barry’s frequency, and alarms him to leave.
The Flash once again apprehended the Piper by taking off his gloves, “It’s over! You lose!” However, the Piper told him that he got him with the same trick, twice. As his gloves began to vibrate, he explains to the Flash that he got an idea to use the suit’s own speakers to kill himself. “In chess, we call that a discovered attack. You don’t see it until it’s too late,” the Piper exclaimed.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlin sees that Barry’s vitals are bottoming out. Wells uses the cars satellite radios to send out a sound wave that meets the Piper’s frequency that will destroy his weapons.
The Piper soon realizes this when it’s too late; the gloves explode in his hands as he knocks out. Wells contacts The Flash, and he’s able to hear him, well, sort of.
“Checkmate,” said Wells.
When Barry is back at S.T.A.R. Labs, he speaks loudly due to the damage in his ears. Cisco decides to listen to his doctor, a.k.a. Caitlin, and go take a well-needed rest. Caitlin follows close behind. Wells shares with Barry that he has a hard time admitting when he’s wrong, especially to his closest friends. He hopes that one day, it’ll restore Barry’s trust and faith in him. “That day was today,” said Barry as he shook Wells’ hand. Barry also handed him the picture Cisco took the other day.
Barry visits Joe at work, and he thanks Joe for everything he’s done for him, especially since he’s a science nerd. To Barry, Joe is irreplaceable.
Eddie arrives as soon as Barry is leaving to tell Joe that he hasn’t found anything at Wells’ house. He asks Joe if he’s sure he wants to continue their investigation. “100%,” replied Joe.
As Hartley woke up in his new home in S.T.A.R Labs, Cisco arrives to tell him that his evil hearing aids won’t help him this time around. Clearly, Cisco is enjoying this, but once more, Hartley shuts him down when he tells him that he knows where and how to save Ronnie.
In his secret room, Wells is seen having the tachyon device on his chest. Gideon advises Wells that it’s not recommended, but he continues to absorb the speed force anyways. He reveals that he can’t hang on to his speed since it comes and goes. He knows that this is just a temporary fix.
Lastly, but not least, the Flash leaves us with another nice quote:
“Not all heroes wear masks. Some heroes save the day in the simplest of ways. By just being there for us…or letting us know we’re believed in. If I’m any sort of hero today, it’s not because of my speed. It’s because I learned how from the people in my life…all of them.”
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