The Flash: 104 “Going Rogue” Review
Reviewed by Louis Rabinowitz.
Though it’s delivered plenty of goodness so far, one thing has been pretty clear from The Flash’s opening three episodes – it has something of a villain problem. All three episodes have featured visually neat but scarcely developed and somewhat dull metahumans fished from the backwaters of DC comics, and it’s become something of a recurring problem in each of the three episodes.
Enter Leonard Snart (Joe and Barry laughed too) aka Captain Cold, villain of this week’s episode, Going Rogue. Snart bucked The Flash’s villain trend in multiple ways, and as a result easily became the show’s most exciting and interesting bad guy so far. After three superpowered villains, Snart wasn’t actually a metahuman – his only powers being a great sense of timing and a nifty cold ray gun – and he was a far more interesting character to watch as a result. Wentworth Miller’s charismatic and compelling performance certainly helped, but Captain Cold was also far better written than the previous villains The Flash has served up – aside from a couple of cursory lines, he wasn’t particularly fleshed out, but Snart managed to be both funny (his amused reaction to being called Captain Cold was a brief highlight), and far more formidable, feeling like a genuine threat to the Flash. Snart’s also notable for being the first villain to escape completely – his objective completed – leaving the door open for recurring appearances. It’s a refreshing switch up of the formula we’ve previously seen, and Captain Cold is a villain that I’m very much looking forward to seeing again.
The excitement didn’t stop with Captain Cold, however – we also saw our first crossover with Arrow as Felicity Smoak popped over to Central City for the week. Felicity and Barry are fairly similar characters (a fact that’s somewhat clunkily underlined multiple times in the script), and Emily Bett Rickards and Grant Gustin have an easy chemistry that make their scenes both charming and amusing. Felicity arguably didn’t do a great deal to affect the plot, but it was a well-executed crossover nonetheless, which cleared up some loose ends left over from last year’s Arrow episodes and provided plenty of funny and sweet moments between Rickards and Gustin – and of course, Felicity will be returning to Central City with her crime-fighting friends in tow for the two-part Arrow crossover in December.
Cisco was finally given some interesting development last week – and The Flash managed to follow it up this episode as Cisco found himself under fire for creating the cold gun. It’s encouraging to see a few more sides of a character that could often be a little one-dimensional – and it was satisfying to finally get a bit of conflict between Cisco and Barry here, as well as getting a sense of the father-like relationship between Cisco and Harrison Wells (a fairly psychopathic, and possibly super-powered father, but a father nonetheless). Wells’ quiet rage at Cisco was genuinely chilling (pun unintended) – there’s a real sense of a bubbling rage under Wells’ calm exterior now, with Tom Cavanagh doing some great work as the furious scientist. Cisco even got his own brief, fun hero moment as he managed to ward off Captain Cold with just STAR Labs’ vacuum cleaner and Felicity and Caitlin for backup.
Four weeks in, The Flash’s special effects also continue to impress (even if the police cars sliding on ice looked a little fake) – the terrific train scene, where Barry managed to save an entire train’s worth of endangered passengers, served up some film-quality effects (as well as one of The Flash’s traditional weekly Barry ‘hero moment’). Despite some fears that the Flash’s powers wouldn’t be portrayed properly on the silver screen, there have not been many dodgy effects, so far and the effects team continues to serve up some thrilling, cinematic Flash scenes.
Going Rogue isn’t quite flawless – the subplot between Joe and Eddie was acted well enough, but the conflict never really felt particularly interesting; serving up some fairly generic relationship drama scenes before a muddled conclusion where Joe suddenly flipped his views on Eddie completely. It’s not a particularly key part of the episode, but the Iris/Eddie subplot remains The Flash’s weak link for now. We also learned that Iris is setting up a blog about ‘the streak’ – while it’s not a particularly original plot device for superhero fiction, it’s a plot development that does create the potential for a more interesting Barry/Iris dynamic than we’ve seen – and that can only be a good thing, considering The Flash hasn’t quite nailed the recipe to make the unrequited romance subplot an interesting one.
Going Rogue saw a milestone in The Flash’s history – the first episode not to include a stinger where Harrison Wells gets up from his wheelchair and does something sinister (I’m sure plenty more will come). The stinger we did get was a great little teaser for the future, however, as Captain Cold recruited his pyromaniac friend Mick to a ‘new type of crew’ (I’m sure they’ll think of a name). It’s a scene that shows that in just episode four, The Flash has some rather lofty ambitions – and while it’ll be difficult to live up to the hype drummed up by scenes like this, the formation of the legendary Rogues bodes very well for the show’s future… and badly for Barry’s future.
With the show’s first compelling and entertaining villain and a satisfying guest appearance from Felicity Smoak, Going Rogue was the strongest installment of The Flash yet. It’s even more impressive that it’s has hit these heights at episode four, considering most superhero shows take a good ten episodes or so to race out of the blocks – it’s a good thing that The Flash is so fast…
Scene of the Episode: Training – Barry rescues dozens of train passengers from Captain Cold – but doesn’t quite manage to capture the Captain…