A very important plot development happens in The Flash‘s mid-season premiere, “Revenge of the Rogues”: Barry and Joe decide to move in together once more! Okay, other stuff happens with Captain Cold and Heat Wave, but priorities, people!
The Flash brings out the big guns in this episode with Prison Break series regulars turned The Flash villain guest stars Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell as Captain Cold and Heat Wave, respectively. Barry must choose between hunting down the Man in Yellow/Reverse Flash or fulfilling regular crime fighting abilities by stopping this man.
Yet for all of these awesome plotlines, it never quite reaches the height of the last two Flash episodes. For one, Iris is barely in it, which is disappointing (though maybe not to some fans). Mostly, though, it feels like an episode that is setting up storylines and dynamics for future episodes more than an episode that reminds us of how great the show is. To be fair, that’s a lot of pressure to put on a freshman show that churned out two great episodes before the break (and many good ones before that).
For all the hype that never quite lives up to its potential, it sure is nice to have The Flash back on TV.
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The Second Fastest Man Alive
Barry Allen is not the fastest man alive. That title belongs to the man who killed his mother, and that seems to be all that is driving Barry. He has almost a singular purpose now: train, train, train, all for preparation against another showdown with the Reverse Flash. Or maybe the opening piece is for The Flash to show off a nice budget piece for the drone, proving it has better technical effects than two seasons of Agents of SHIELD.
Barry’s mission is so focused that partner/friend (and perhaps future rival) Wells takes the opportunity to manipulate our poor Barry about focusing his priorities. That means no more crime fighting against villains like Leonard Snart, aka Captain Cold, and Mick Rory, aka Heat Wave.
You can tell how much fun the writers are having writing for Wells — he’s their ticking time bomb, bound to explode eventually, and pretty much every scene he’s in has a sinister undertone. The writers are playing the slow game with this, and it’s going to be so satisfying when everything erupts.
Of course, for now we have to focus on Barry and his behavior. Last time we saw him, he was blue with holiday cheer, and some of that melancholy has stuck with him. He’s not sure where he stands with Iris and he still feels powerless against the man who killed his mother, despite having powers. It’s a necessary character beat for Barry to have as this story unfolds — choosing between his mother’s killer and crime fighting — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t just the tiniest bit dull.
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Iris + Barry 4evah
Part of the reason I think Barry is in a bit of a funk is that his number one gal pal/love of his life is moving in with her boyfriend after he declared his very strong feelings for her. They’re interactions are plainly awkward throughout the episode because everything has to change even though neither of them really wants it to.
Alas, Iris moves out of her dad’s house and into her boyfriend’s apartment (even though she got him a sweater for Christmas) and she and Barry commit to being best friends still. They’ll work around the whole “he’s hopelessly in love with her” bit even if it kills them. I like these scenes between them because there is a whole new layer of tension — sexual tension — that wasn’t really there before. Formerly, it was unrequited love and now it’s the beginning process of acknowledgment. I don’t think Iris ever thought of Barry as anything more than her best friend before his confession, but I bet she’s thinking of it now.
And as teased, Barry decides to move back in with Joe — probably to make sure that set doesn’t go to waste — and fulfill the Millennial curse. But in this case, it’s a blessing because who wouldn’t want Joe as a roommate, amirite?
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I’ve only seen a handful of Prison Break episodes, so I’m not as stoked at this reunion as some, but oh do I enjoy how these two play off against one another. Sure, it’s that fire and ice dynamic, but there’s obviously some clear, built-in chemistry between the two that really benefits The Flash.
We’ve seen Cold as this almost charismatic, cold control freak, that it’s wonderful to see Heat Wave as unhinged, especially once we learn he actually enjoyed getting his third-degree burns. They’re a great partnership that has decided to go after the Flash so they can run Central City properly. Though why they decide to torch the $25 million painting they just sold is beyond me.
Anyway, the plan is simple (and one that I think could have major consequences for the rest of the series): kidnap one of the Flash’s known associates. The eye on the prize is poor Caitlin, who is just trying to research her “dead” fiance’s super secret program FIRESTORM and trying to get the love of her life back.
Her kidnapping and some critically burned police officers are all that Barry needs to put on the suit to stop these two imbeciles from burning/freezing the whole city. Cisco and Wells design a heat/ice shield to prevent officers from temperature extremes, which is a nice little redeeming moment for Cisco, the creator of both ray guns.
The weirdest moment of the Flash versus Heat Miser and Snow Miser is that Eddie puts his life on the line — using one of these shields — to save the Flash, who tried to kill him that one time. Suddenly he’s Team Flash? Okay.
Back to the main action. The Flash and team stipulate that since both guns achieve absolutes, they might be able to cancel one another out if only they are pointed at one another. The Flash attempts to run fast, even up buildings (to which my mind is very confused that those buildings are neither on fire or ice), before he realizes that he’ll literally have to put himself in the middle of it by running purposefully slow. So he does, charring up his beautiful burgundy suit and saving the day, with the villains on their way to prison.
But the show didn’t hire two ex-Prison Break actors to have them just sit in prison without a jailbreak. Nope — they are mysteriously rescued, possibly by an obscure DC Comics figure I’m unfamiliar with!
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— That large pile of junk food in the trash after Barry’s training session almost made me barf.
— Great moment: Snart reminding his buddy to use a seatbelt. Safety first, people! A moment that almost cancels out that moment is Captain Cold’s Joker-style ransom video. It feels a little too hammy for Cold and I wish they would have given that to Heat Wave.
— I think it’s about time Cisco had his own story instead of fixing his no-no ray gun creations and nearly killing Caitlin with an explosive. Learning about his background or giving him a bad guy to face would help ease his obnoxiousness. Though, to be clear, I generally like Cisco.
— Barry’s super reading powers are also unbelievable because that would mean he has a super brain. His reading comprehension levels are off the charts! I’m very jealous!
— Subtle, but the rich couple with the painting are the parents of the Pied Piper, an upcoming and high-profile villain.
— By the way, if Captain Cold could deduce that Caitlin is on the Flash’s team, how difficult will it be to deduce that Barry Allen is the Flash? I mean, he was struck by lightning and put in a coma for nine months, and when he awakes, suddenly there’s a turbo-charged superhero bouncing about? Then again, the good and bad guys of Starling City have yet to figure out who the Arrow is, despite many signs pointing to it being Oliver Queen. But the people of Starling City can strike that theory because Oliver went to great lengths to get his own name cleared to hide his identity as the Arrow. So how long’s it going to take?
— “I hope we’re not enemies,” says Wells, in the dark. Okay.
Don’t worry, folks; the next episode of The Flash will be here faster than you think. What did you think of “Revenge of the Rogues”? A return to form or a staging-the-pieces episode? Are you feeling the West/Allen love and tension? Do you want Barry to get back to his regular old self? Sound off below!
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8pm on The CW.
(Image courtesy of The CW)