The Flash is about to meet one of Harrison Wells’ prodigal sons: the super-intelligent Hartley Rathaway, aka the Pied Piper!
On tonight’s all-new episode, titled “The Sound and the Fury,” Hartley (played by Smash’s Andy Mientus) returns to Central City to seek revenge on his former mentor (Tom Cavanagh) after being affected by the particle accelerator explosion. A manipulator of sound waves, he just may be Dr. Wells and Barry Allen’s (Grant Gustin) toughest match yet.
Translating the Pied Piper from comic form to the small screen could have been a Herculean task, but emphasis on realism helped hone in on the character’s true essence.
“Like many of the comic book characters, they sometimes are a little bit silly. The Pied Piper [in the comics] dressed a little flamboyantly and he would play his pan flute to warp people’s minds. We wanted to do something a little bit more grounded,” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg told reporters.
The casting of Dr. Wells’ openly-gay, ex-star pupil also proved crucial – and it was Mientus’ theater credits that helped land him the job.
“We were all fans of Andy’s from his work on Broadway. When he came in, we said he was ‘Evil Harry Potter,’ ” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg said with a chuckle, a nod to the dark caped outfit Hartley favors.
One trait that differentiates Hartley from other previous rivals is the fact that he doesn’t fall under the metahuman category. A technology-based foe like Captain Cold, Hartley provides a unique challenge for Barry, Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) – though he has a deep history with the latter duo that is further explored in flashbacks.
“They hadn’t really gone up against anybody like him before, and we really wanted them to go up against someone who was brilliant and a genius and somebody they had to outwit,” Kreisberg explained, “which is different because a lot of the time it’s Barry having to outrun or out-speed the villain.”
Kreisberg believes there are redeemable qualities to Pied Piper, much like his comic-book counterpart. “That was why we went to great lengths to [have him] not actually kill anybody, or, he tries to kill people but there aren’t any actual deaths,” he said. (And here’s a fun fact, in the comics, Hartley dates Barry’s Central City PD superior Director Singh!)
Because we just can’t get enough of The Flash over here, here are three more teases courtesy of Kreisberg!
1. Joe and Barry’s endearing dynamic is here to stay (yay!)
While we’re advocating for a Joe and Barry: After Hours spinoff centered on the duo’s exploits when they’re off the clock, Kreisberg gushed about their evolving father-son/friend dynamic. “Every episode with a Joe and Barry scene is gold, it just is. They’re so good together and you can see it – that love between them, that’s not only acting but that’s also between Grant and Jesse. There really is a father-son dynamic in real life too,” Kreisberg assured. “That’s the heart of the show and you don’t want to mess with that. There’s enough pain and heartache everywhere else.”
2. There’s a huge plan for the Rogues
“This season is really about introducing them all,” Kreisberg said. In fact, episode 16 will return Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold, Dominic Purcell as Heat Wave and introduce Peyton List as Golden Glider, while the following episode focuses on the Trickster. “We’re going to do something with all the Rogues. I can’t promise it’ll be this season,” he said, “but we know that the original [1980s] Flash series, if they had gotten a second season, the first episode was going to be a giant Rogues episode so that sounds like maybe a good thing for us to do what they didn’t get the opportunity to do.”
3. About that drunken karaoke night…
Who is Barry’s singing partner during karaoke? Caitlin Snow! “Danielle said, ‘I can’t really sing,’ and I said, ‘As bad as you think you are, you have to sing worse than that,’” Kreisberg teased. “Barry and Caitlin go on an inadvertent date, which is one of my favorite scenes of the whole year. They’re hilarious together.” And as Gustin revealed, karaoke night leads to Barry meeting his new love interest.
Looking forward to Pied Piper's introduction tonight? Tell us your thoughts on Twitter by using the #ETnow hashtag!
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.