The Flash: 116 “Rogue Time” Review
Reviewed by Louis Rabinowitz.
Previously on The Flash: everything went a little bit crazy as the Weather Wizard rolled into town, and the show’s set status quo crumbled to dust. Barry and Iris confessed their feelings for each other, Wells’ true identity was revealed as none other than Eobard Thawne, Wells killed Cisco in cold blood, and then all of the above was undone as Barry accidentally travelled back in time to the night of Mardon’s appearance. Did The Flash keep up last week’s stunning momentum?
Not entirely. This week’s episode, Rogue Time, saw the time travel elements of last week briskly dealt with and the status quo repaired before dipping into a reasonably standalone tale. The opening minutes saw Barry cope with reliving the day Mardon arrived, and stopping the chaos Mardon unleashed by locking him up swiftly – and while Barry’s knowledge of the future lead to a few amusing moments as he quoted characters word for word, the way Rogue Time handled the fallout from Barry’s first trip back in time was frustratingly messy at points.
The reset button that was firmly pressed here was to be expected – the show was hardly going to rip up its formula fifteen episodes in – but Rogue Time made the mistake of hinting that Barry’s changing of the past could have dire consequences. This hint suggested that equally crazy things could happen in this timeline to replace the events we saw last week (another major character killed off in Cisco’s place, for example) – but all it really boiled down to was a couple of ancillary characters receiving the torture and death major characters like Joe and Cisco received last week. While resetting last week’s events is understandable, The Flash stumbled a little by promising a great deal, but essentially shifting the huge status quo shifts onto minor characters we don’t particularly care about was a dramatically unsatisfying move that felt like a cop-out.
However, one scene in particular nailed this idea – the scene with Wells and Cisco in the containment room, paralleling last week’s fatal encounter. The bait and switch pulled here was very clever indeed – with Wells repeating things he said last week in the same room, but in a dramatically different context. Instead of a brutal murder, the scene here was actually one of The Flash’s trademark heart-warming pep talks, as Wells talked Cisco into staying at STAR Labs. It’s a shame that there weren’t many more parallels like this in the episode, as this scene was an impressive example of how to completely change the meaning of a scene from last episode while keeping many elements exactly the same.
The villains of the week were once again the titular Rogues – now a band of three members: Captain Cold, Heatwave, and new recruit Lisa Snart aka the Golden Glider. Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell were as over-the-top and entertaining as they were last time, and the addition of the slightly less insane Lisa helped to balance out the heightened performances of Miller and Purcell a little, but the main plot involving the Rogues just wasn’t quite as engaging as their last appearance. The generic mob conflict and armoured vehicle heist that the Rogues were caught up in didn’t quite have the comic-book zest of their battle against the Flash last time – so despite some entertaining acting, the Rogues felt a little wasted in their third appearance, saddled with an undercooked and underwhelming plot.
However, the way Rogue Time concluded the Rogues’ story for the episode was an interesting way of changing things up from the set formula of the Rogues escaping at the end of their episodes. Cold learning Barry’s identity was a development that not only gives the two an intriguing new dynamic, but should allow the villain to have a little more of a personal connection with Barry next time. The deal struck between the two was also an interesting way to change things up for the next appearance of the Rogues, with Captain Cold’s newly enforced no-kill rule bringing him closer to his comic book counterpart. If Cold seemed like a slightly generic thug-with-a-gun before, then this new rule should distinguish him a little more from the other members of the Flash’s rogues gallery, and help Cold develop into a slightly more nuanced villain with shades of anti-heroism.
Meanwhile, the newly resurrected Cisco (thank you, time travel) had some family trouble as he reunited with his brother Dante. Their relationship initially seemed to be a fairly generic one based on jealously initially, but as the episode progressed, things became a little more interesting. Dante’s admission that, despite his status as family favourite, he’s stuck in a dead-end job and admires Cisco’s commitment to his job at STAR Labs, was a surprising one that added a great deal of nuance to both Cisco and his brother. Dante was hardly a classic guest character, but it’s pleasing to see The Flash put effort into making its guest characters more than just standard clichés.
Iris, however, continues to be a character who is continuously saddled with the weakest subplots – the concept of Barry now knowing of Iris’ true feelings due to time travel was one that could have been used in an interesting manner, but unfortunately Barry’s attempts to convince Iris to leave Eddie and begin a relationship with him put Barry in a genuinely unpleasant and slightly sleazy light. The show has been successful as showing Barry to be the archetypal humble hero – so while character flaws are welcome, his behaviour here was a little too unsympathetic, and jarred with what we’ve seen of Barry before. Thankfully, the subplot had an amusing enough payoff – but it’s frustrating that the romance subplot is continuing to be a chore, despite the notable developments last week.
The erasing of last episode meant that Wells was off the hook for most of Rogue Time – but that wasn’t to last for too long. If the total resetting of the status quo at the start of the episode felt a little egregious, then Barry’s renewed bout of suspicion at the end of Rogue Time was a pleasantly fast-paced development that ensures that while things may have initially returned to normal after last week, they won’t stay that way for long. The removal of journalist Mason Bridge from the picture might have stopped the journalist from prying into Wells’ past – but thankfully, it looks like Wells’ secret is about to be uncovered… Next week, Barry faces two generations of foes as Mark Hamill reprises a role he hasn’t played for decades (no, not that one) in Tricksters…
Rogue Time disappointingly fails to stick the landing after last week’s barnstormer, but there was still enough to enjoy in what was of The Flash’s weaker episodes.
Scene of the Episode: The Offer – Captain Cold adopts a new way to be a supervillain as Barry and Cold strike a tentative deal. That won’t last for long…