While this week’s episode title, “True Colors,” might evoke a song that you slow danced to in your youth (okay, maybe that’s just me?), there is so much cool stuff to unpack from it. Even better, almost all of it has to deal with Warden Gregory Wolfe played by the awesome Richard Brooks!
If you didn’t like anything else about this character or this performance, that’s totally fine, but you must admit that Richard Brooks playing Ralph Dibny playing Warden Wolfe was TO. DIE. FOR.
Shout out to Supergirl, which had a very funny and very similar scene a couple episodes back where Melissa Benoist played J’onn J’onzz playing Kara Danvers. I’m loving this emerging trope in the larger #DCTV Universe. More please!
Warden Wolfe is the man running Iron Heights, much like he was in his comic book debut, Geoff Johns’ THE FLASH: IRON HEIGHTS. Unlike Dwarfstar/Bert last week, Wolfe has undergone very few changes in his transition from the comic book page to the screen. As the title of his debut series suggests, he entered this world as one of the most vile and hateful people to be in charge of a penal institution. Wolfe has a particular hatred for metahumans that drives his disgust for the metahuman community and even the Flash, the man who is keeping Iron Heights so well populated.
Fun fact: In DC Comics continuity, Iron Heights is actually located in Keystone City (the sister city to Central City), which is the home of Wally West! It was only moved closer to Central City when The Flash took to television.
Wolfe is not above inducing physical or psychological pain on any of the Rogues who have come under his wardenship. In “True Colors” this distills down to a partnership with Amunet Black (shout out to Katee Sackhoff for being outstanding every time that she appears on The Flash!) to auction off each bus meta to the highest bidder.
During the New 52 comic book era, Warden Wolfe became a bit of a metahuman himself, which I always thought was a very interesting detail. He is eventually able to cause people within close proximity to him to suffer spasms of pain. Given his own proclivities and his own prejudices, there are obviously dangerous implications there, but this does allow Wolfe to achieve some of his goals and engage in a number of power trips whenever the mood strikes him.
When the character was first introduced on The Flash, there was a brief moment where I thought that might have been the direction this character was taken in, but - SPOILER ALERT - following the events of “True Colors” that seems much less likely to ever come to past.
Maybe that will be something fun or interesting to include in an upcoming crossover, maybe between Flash and Supergirl? I’d love to know your thoughts on this idea down in the comments section. You know I’m reading!
The Flash has a long history of dealing with the prison system and wrongful convictions. Granted, so much of that is canon-accurate and does come from the original DC Comics Universe, but it feels especially topical in a post-Serial, post-Making a Murderer world. With that in mind, I found Warden Wolfe an important character to be included. Team Flash is populated by so many good cops and good lawyers, and to have a character who appears in opposition to that who isn’t an over-the-top supervillain is powerful. Of course, it is deeply gratifying that Warden Wolfe doesn’t get his way, doesn’t make a ton of money and doesn’t get to leave “True Colors” suffering zero consequences. I think we can all agree on that.
While there is always potential for any character to return to The Flash, I will admit I’m a little sad to see Warden Wolfe go. Whenever The Flash does manage to slide in some social commentary or reflect a little bit of the real world back at us, I think it really soars. Comic books are modern myths and using this medium to tell a sort of morality tale is interesting. It’s challenging and it forces viewers to remember that Barry Allen is the standard that we really want to be holding ourselves up to. The Flash is the hero who brought all of the Rogues to Iron Heights and he is the one who is willing to break them out of the secret prison because he knows that it’s the right thing to do in the end.
The contrast between Barry getting to know Hazard and coming to realize that she is actually a good person underneath the weight of the mistakes she has made and Warden Wolfe threatening Barry at the end of the previous episode shows the two roads that have diverged and what type of person chooses each.
Ashley V. Robinson covers The Flash as a part of the #DCTV Couch Club. You can find her on Twitter at @AshleyVRobinson and on the Jawiin YouTube channel. The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST) on The CW.