The Flash TV Reviews

TV Review: The Flash, “Going Rogue” (S1,EP4) – The Best Episode Yet

They’re awesome. No, seriously. Sure, they have goofy gimmicks and crazy costumes, but they are “some of the most colorful, well matched, and consistently well written villains in comics.”

For years now, that’s what I’ve been hearing about Flash’s Rogues, and I’ve mostly had to believe it because I’ve never really read any Flash comic books outside of the first graphic novel from the New 52 re-boot. However, then I encountered some of the Flash’s villains in the animated shows Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Wow, no one had told me his villains have names like Captain Cold, Weather Wizard, Reverse Flash, Captain Boomerang, and Mirror Master, or that one of them is a telepathic, hyper-intelligent gorilla from a hidden society of highly evolved apes. That all sounds so…goofy, perfectly par for the course for characters mostly created in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Then I saw a Justice League Unlimited episode that had a lot of fun presenting a couple of the villains as vaguely likable criminals, burdened with worrying about paying rent, consistently breaking “I swear I am done being a super villain” promises to long-suffering spouses. The Flash seemed to actually have a somewhat cordial relationship with them, and they knew their only hope against the fastest man alive was to team up.

Suddenly, I felt like I got it, as much as I could based on a single episode of a cartoon at least. The Flash’s villains are a collection of seemingly random gimmicks who are clearly no match for The Flash, but that doesn’t drag the stories down because the writers take the time to turn people like Captain Cold into fascinating characters who just happen to function as villains.

Prior to “Going Rogue,” I wasn’t really getting any of that from The Flash, not that I was expecting it in just the show’s first 3 episodes. This early on in a superhero show, you expect Smallville-esque freaks-of-the-weeks who are more special effect than character, thrown out as an excuse to create situations which could allow the writers to further develop the show’s regular cast. So, sorry Weather Wizard, I don’t even remember why you were doing what you were doing in the pilot, but I do remember that because of you Barry Allen truly became The Flash, formed his team, and accidentally let Det. West see him without his mask.   I kind of remember that in the second episode Multiplex seemed to simply be out for revenge, but was actually doing it all for his dead wife. However, what really stuck me with me was how cool it looked when Barry had to fight through the army of clones en route to the real Multiplex. In last week’s episode, I vaguely recall that The Mist was striking out at everyone who handed him a death sentence, but I definitely remember that because of The Mist Barry and Caitlin had a heart-to-heart about her dead fiancé.

Captain Cold FlashCaptain Cold |“Going Rogue” was the beginning of The Flash’s potential for villains who are characters, not just special effects. There was just a little something extra about Wentworth Miller’s Leonard Snart, like the way he offered gum to a little kid at a museum, or the slight “Hey, that’s not half-bad” cock of his head the first time he heard the nickname “Captain Cold.” We know that instead of bothering with finishing high school he studied things like police call response times and deployment patterns, and that he prefers zero mortalities on his jobs, for pragmatic, not moral reasons. He’s not completely above hero-villain banter, making a joke about The Flash’s age at one point, but he is not given to histrionics. True to his new nickname, he’s mostly cool and collected. Sure, he’s ultimately a standard villain who simply realizes the hero’s need to protect the innocent is his weakness, but there was enough extra there make us happy that he’ll be back again, leaving our heroes with a sardonic, “Don’t push your luck” while walking your way instead of simply turning and shooting them while their defenses were down.

Oh, also, that scene with Barry rescuing everyone from the train? So much fun. That was their best visual effects moment yet.

FelicityFelicity to the Rescue | It made sense. Then I didn’t want her. Now, I’m glad she was here. That’s roughly how I felt about Felicity’s inclusion this early on in The Flash. Before I saw the show, it made total sense since there was unfinished business between Felicity and Barry from Arrow, and spin-offs normally need an early ratings boost from cameo, like how Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Spike and Oz popped up in Angel’s third episode. However, then The Flash arrived so surprisingly fully formed, and became such a huge ratings hit, the biggest in CW history by some measures, that it was jarring to realize that the spin-off had already eclipsed the parent, nullifying any need for a potential ratings boost from Felicity cameo.

Now that her extended cameo is over and done with she was, well, Felicity. Her accidental sexual innuendos were flying at us left and right, as were her varied costume changes (how many dresses did she pack?), and as per usual she found herself being pushed and pulled in a love triangle. It’s difficult for me to imagine what you would have thought of her if you are a Flash-only watcher (sorry, Arrow), but they did at least basically say, “Remember that guy Barry talked to on the roof at the end of the pilot? Well, Felicity works with him, and she overheard everything.” Wait, how did she overhear all of that? Eh. Don’t ask. Instead, enjoy the sight of Barry super-speeding his way to a rooftop, taking a picture of Felicity from the rooftop, and then whooshing down to her on the street to show her that picture, all in 3 seconds. Then laugh as his shoes catch on fire. Wasn’t that great? You had a question, though, right? What’s that? You’re too entertained to care anymore? Excellent.

The admirable thing about Felicity’s cameo is that it did ultimately serve a functional purpose. She was there to provide mentorship to Barry’s Scoobie Gang, giving them a blueprint for potentially functioning as a cohesive unit. It is because of her suggestion that we saw Cisco and Caitlin actually venture into the field, away from the lab, during a climactic final fight. Granted, if Captain Cold had called Cisco’s bluff they’d all be dead, but, hey, it all worked out, though maybe Cisco should wait until the villain is further away to announce that his death ray was just a vacuum cleaner with LED lights. He’s a rookie.

The unfortunate thing about Felicity’s cameo is that when Felicity and Barry lament on the train at the end, “What are we doing? We’re perfect for each other!” your reaction is not, “But Barry is clearly meant to be with Iris.” That’s probably what you’re supposed to think, but it’s just not, despite Candice Patton’s best efforts. Plus, how many love triangles is Felicity potentially connected to at this point?

Team FlashTeam Flash | Arrow didn’t become the Arrow we know, love, threaten to quit when it gets crazy, and then inevitably come to until it found its way to the crime fighting unit of Felicity, Diggle, and Oliver a little over halfway through its first season. That’s better than some. Agents of SHIELD is just now finding the right mix of characters its second season, and Angel didn’t get to its best crime fighting until its second if not third season. However, finding that perfect balance is crucial to Joss Whedon-esque genre shows built around workplace families.

It remains to be seen how long Barry’s extended family on the show will include Cisco, Caitlin, and Dr. Wells to go along with kind-of-not-really dad and sister Det. Wells and Iris. They pretty much have Barry and Det. West nailed. Those characters completely work right now; you love seeing them every time they’re on screen. The question marks had been Cisco and Caitlin, and last week’s episode began the process of stretching them out dramatically, Cisco allowed to be more than comic relief in what was really Caitlin’s showcase episode. This week may have felt a bit like, “Hey, wait, did I miss a scene or something?” when it was revealed that Cisco was the one who created the freeze ray, but I was surprised at the depth from Carlos Valdes’ performance when he had to come clean about it to Barry, particularly the “I thought we were friends!”/”We are friends!” exchange. The potential pitfall with Cisco was that he wasn’t taking any of this seriously enough, and they didn’t wait very long to show his serious side, making him not just somewhat responsible for a man’s death but also aware of it and sincere in his contrition.

Not With My Daughter | This was the first episode which actually made me care about Det. Thawne and Iris’ relationship, and it was pretty much entirely because of Jesse L. Martin’s continually assured and heartfelt performance as Det. West. Poor Candice Patton gets to watch TV and make cold-based puns in the West living room (something about it getting cold in there since her dad’s being so icy toward her) immediately before Martin blows all of us away with that speech about how her dating his partner means he must now worry about having to someday be a dad informing his daughter that he was somehow responsible for her boyfriend’s death. Plus, they clearly must have been listening to the Irony radio station, but the awkward songs coming up on the radio in the car with Thawne and West? Hilarious. This was also the first episode in which Rick Cosnett was given something other than “Gee, aww shucks” facial expressions to play as Thawne, although they were there plenty during the trivia night double-date with Barry and Felicity.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The villain was dramatically compelling, the final fight scene was the best thing they’ve done since the big budget pilot, and Felicity dropped by not just for the heck of it but to help elevate those around Barry. It was quite simply the best episode yet. Granted, that’s only out of 4 total episodes, but, still, they wanted to go out making us mad that they’re not going to be on next week. Well, this was a great episode, and I’m officially mad that a new one won’t be on next week. Job well done.

NEXT TIIME

THE NOTES:

1. Cisco created some sort of failsafe gun in the event that The Flash turned evil? Batman would be so proud. He does that kind of thing for the entire Justice League. A lot. In fact, I think Iron Man also pulls some similar shenanigans with all of the Avengers.

2. As soon as Captain Cold’s freeze ray was introduced I couldn’t get “My Freeze Ray” from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog out of my head.  “With my freeze ray, I will stop…the world”

3. If you watched tonight’s episode, and your first question is, “Why didn’t Barry just use his super-speed to take the gun out of Captain Cold’s hands?” then you are thinking too much about this show. But, seriously, why didn’t he do that at the theater? He had the element of surprise!

4. I assume Felicity means that when she overheard Barry’s conversation with Oliver she heard it through Oliver’s earpiece, but, honestly, the first image that popped in my head was of Felicity hiding somewhere on the roof, peeking around a corner.   Also, didn’t Oliver have that talk with Barry like immediately after Felicity walked away from him after their first kiss at the hospital in the Arrow season 3 premiere? Would Felicity really have gone right back to work being Oliver’s IT gal, or simply gone home for a good cry?

5. When Barry was trying to show off his powers on the treadmill for Felicity, Grant Gustin’s tone of voice was entirely perfect. He sounded exactly the way my nephew does when he wants me to marvel at his ability to jump down the bottom two steps of the stairs, “Look, Kelly. Look what I can do! Look what I can do!  Why aren’t you looking?”

SECOND OPINIONS:

ScreenCrush – “At some point, villains are going to have to stick around past a single episode in order to make a dent in this universe. And while Wells might ultimately be the Big Bad (to steal a ‘Buffy’ phrase), it will be good to see recurring figures match powers AND wits with the Fastest Man Alive.

TV.com – “The Flash still has a few small kinks to work out, but if ‘Going Rogue’ is any indication, those kinks may not last much longer.”

I’m done with my ramble. What about you? Is my praise for this episode perhaps a tad bit too effusive? Are you exactly as over the moon about it as me?

4 comments

  1. Excellent write up, we’re in agreement that the Flash comes in fully formed and I’m liking it more than it’s parent show right now. I’m not familiar with Cpt Cold from the comics but I think Wentworth Miller did a good job. Having the Felicity crossover was fun too. This is also the most I’ve liked the actor playing Cisco. Cool that Dominic Purcell as Mick is joining the cast, now they just need T-bag from Prison Break to join them … oh wait he was already on Arrow.

  2. I agree, this was the best episode yet, and much better than Arrow the next night. The cast was working really well and even Eddie wasn’t as bland as he usually is. Joe is written very much like Quentin Lance, too much for my taste, but JLM is as good as Paul Blackthorne and they both make the role funny and interesting. Caitlin has unthawed, the actor playing Cisco got to prove he can do drama and Wells remains justly creepy. I wish they would write Iris better though, she’s nice and I like that she supports Barry (as Laurel did, so they did that right) but I can’t see them moving beyond friendship and I like her relationship with Eddie. I hope he doesn’t have to die so that Barry and Iris can get together.

    I thought we learned more about Felicity in one episode of The Flash than two seasons of Arrow, which tells me that Arrow is so busy burning through stories, they don’t spend enough time on characters like Diggle and Felicity. Here, as well as her usual hacking and funny lines, Felicity took on the Diggle role of knowing what it takes to form a cohesive team, and helping Barry, Cisco and Caitlin learn how to function as a team.

    My one problem with this episode — as soon as Cisco learned that Barry was a good guy, why didn’t he disarm the gun? It also bugged me that Oliver didn’t tell Felicity about Barry, especially since he got so angry at her for spending time at Barry’s bedside but that’s a problem with Arrow, not The Flash.

    1. “Wells remains justly creepy.”

      Agreed. Imagine what Cisco must have thought after Wells essentially threatened him at the end of the episode. It was so perfectly just over the line, not enough to for Cisco to be completely terrified, but enough for him to be truly spooked, realizing, “I didn’t know Wells has that side to him.”

      Iris is a very nice character, but sometimes that’s not actually a compliment. There needs to be a little complication, and their version of that is her drama with her dad over Eddie. Oddly, the one who’s coming out the most interesting out of that is her dad, or at least he is to me. As for Eddie, he’s nice….maybe a little too nice. I don’t mean that the same way I did with Iris. I mean that in the more classical “I think he’s hiding something” kind of way. I could be totally off base, though. It is sad that you have to worry about him maybe dying to get out of Iris/Barry’s way, but with the way Arrow has handled this stuff that’s a legitimate concern to have.

      “I thought we learned more about Felicity in one episode of The Flash than two seasons of Arrow, which tells me that Arrow is so busy burning through stories, they don’t spend enough time on characters like Diggle and Felicity.”

      TI thought something similar while watching the episode the first time. My only negative takeaway was that having all that background info. coming from Harrison Wells because he’d been watching Felicity, expecting great things from her, felt a bit much to me. I said it in my Arrow review, but to me Felicity is so appealing because she’s the audience surrogate figure who somehow became a full-time character. Their natural impulse is to comic book her up, and add in an intricate back story, elevating her to this amazing status. I kind of like it better when she’s just a super-smart IT girl who doesn’t actually always get the job done. However, I think a lot of the Harrison Wells moment with her was just an exposition dump designed to concisely inform those Flash-only viewers just who the hell this girl is and what’s she capable of. So, they dropped her credentials on us in a way that Arrow never has, not to that extent.

      “It also bugged me that Oliver didn’t tell Felicity about Barry, especially since he got so angry at her for spending time at Barry’s bedside but that’s a problem with Arrow, not The Flash.”

      That all felt so unnecessary, i.e., Felicity having learned Barry’s secret from overhearing his conversation with Oliver. Not to go back to this again, my assumption is they did that for the benefit of the non-Arrow watchers. Oliver could have told Felicity about Barry at any time in the past couple of Arrow episodes, but the only time Flash-only viewers saw him was in the pilot. So, instead of following the more logical, “Clearly, Oliver would have just told Felicity about Barry at some point off-screen” they pegged her knowledge about Barry to the only Flash scene involving anyone from Arrow prior to this point. Plus, I’d bet that having Felicity figuring it out through her own snooping was meant to make her seem that much cooler (as well as infatuated with Barry) instead of being intended as any kind of commentary on Oliver’s state of mind for not telling her about it. Either way, though, that does come off as a total dick move on Oliver’s part.

      “as soon as Cisco learned that Barry was a good guy, why didn’t he disarm the gun?”

      Who’s to say Barry couldn’t go evil down the road, or need that gun to fight….Actually, I have no real explanation. I think you found an obvious hole in the episode’s logic.

      1. That’s a good point about needing the gun in case Barry goes evil down the road. (But in that case, always store your gun and your ammunition in separate places.)

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