So The Flash is back after its mid-season break. Last time we were with Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and Co., we’d seen the Reverse-Flash finally appear in modern-day Central City to torment our hero and dredge up further memories of the death of his mother. We were also left with what appeared to be the revelation that Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) is actually the Reverse-Flash.
Revenge of the Rogues picks up with the plot points introduced and developed throughout the first half of the season, and things are now a little different for Barry Allen. As the episode opens, the usual Barry voiceover blurb of being the fastest man alive is replaced by the admittance that he is no longer the proud owner of that particular title. We’re then brought up to speed (no pun intended) on a slightly different outlook for the Sultan of Speed, as the main focus of his time is on making himself faster. If he’s ever to catch the Man in the Yellow Suit, in Barry’s mind he simply must become faster than his foe. And so we get some early training sequences of The Flash testing his mettle against some impressive S.T.A.R. Labs tech. So testing is this particular exercise, it nearly brings Harrison Wells out of his seat. But as Barry battles bastard ‘bots of brutality, we see a new edge of determination to the character, not to mention greater reactions, as he pushes himself to limits that even the S.T.A.R. Labs crew seem wary of. And if the lingering thoughts of that chap in the yellow jumpsuit weren’t bad enough, there’s also the arrival on the scene of a couple of other wrong ‘uns.
As the title suggests, there’s some rogues, they’re back, they want revenge. Simples. The rogues in question are pulled straight from the DC comic book world, as we’re given Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell). Purcell’s Mick Rory had been seen briefly earlier on in the season, so it’s good to see him given some more screen time here, whilst Miller’s Leonard Snart was one of the highlights of a highlight-filled series when he made his bow back in Going Rogue. Whereas most of the time villains are out for some sort of immediate personal gain (i.e. power or a shedload of cash), Captain Cold merely wants to rid the world of The Flash. To do that, he and Heat Wave essentially commit crimes in order to serve as bait to entice the Scarlet Speedster to confront then. With the duos impressive fire ‘n’ ice weaponry combo, the plan is to make the world aware that The Flash does exist (something that is seemingly known by very few at this point) before the terrible twosome dispose of the hero and have free reign over Central City. Thing is, Barry Allen is a busy man. Rather than rush to the scene at the mere mention of trouble, Barry is on a strict mission to focus all of his attention on getting better, faster, stronger in order to be ready for the Reverse-Flash’s reappearance. And so The Rogues (as the team-up is known in comic book lore) wind up largely dealing with CCPD’s finest for the most part of this episode. As ever, though, Barry Allen comes to learn another important life lesson and is forced to come to the rescue once more, but only once Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) is taken hostage.
Revenge of the Rogues is a good return for The Flash, and there’s a great comic book feel about the villains on show in this particular episode. Much like earlier in the season, Wentworth Miller again does wonders at Captain Cold, delivering a calm, methodical, and generally menacing rogue who is definitely a thinking man’s villain. As for the pyro-loving Heat Wave, whilst Purcell does a generally decent job alongside Prison Break co-star Miller, the character does at times feel a little too forced and a little over the top. But then again, Heat Wave also serves as a perfect foil to the calm persona of the icy Captain Cold.
Elsewhere, Eddie (Rick Cosnett) and Iris (Candice Patton) finally move in together, although how long that happiness lasts for remains to be seen. The seeds have been long-planted for a Barry/Iris/Eddie love triangle, and that could certainly act as the trigger needed if the show decides to go the Eddie Thawne route with the whole Reverse-Flash conundrum. And on that note, there’s definitely a more knowing sense of no-good shenanigans surrounding Harrison Wells in this episode, particularly in his exchanges with Barry. It also seems more and more as it the Wells character will wind up being some sort of play on the Hunter Zoloman incarnation of the Reverse-Flash, especially given his near-obsession on pushing Barry Allen to become the absolute best that he can be.
Revenge of the Rogues has an overarching narrative of priorities and also the new notion that maybe, just maybe, speed isn’t everything; it’s not always about going as fast as you possibly can. It’s also yet another episode where Jesse L. Martin is simply brilliant as Detective Joe West, so often a father figure to Barry Allen. There’s a real sense of warmth and realism to every moment Martin shares with Grant Gustin, and we can only hope that Detective West isn’t being set up to be some sort of sacrificial lamb down the line.
In other final thoughts on Revenge of the Rogues, it was great to finally see the Scarlet Speedster nickname used in the show, with Snart firing the words at The Flash during the climactic battle. It’s also great to see that we’ll hopefully be seeing plenty more of Wentworth Miller’s Snart in the future, with sister Lisa Snart set to be joining the action. What wasn’t quite as cool as Leonard Snart, though, were a few of the decisions made towards the end of The Flash’s return episode. A main gripe was Iris West just turning up at the scene of an ongoing battle between the CCPD’s finest and two merciless supervillains. Yes, Eddie was there, but it just felt a little shoehorned to throw Iris into that particular mix. Similarly, it was also a little bit laughable at just how petty the bomb was that was placed under the kidnapped Caitlin Snow by The Rogues. It was played up as being some major explosive that would do some serious damage to Caitlin and the surrounding area, yet when Cisco (Carlos Valdes) accidentally set it off, yes Joe got Caitlin out of harm's way, but the amount of damage done was the equivalent of the aftermath of a night indulging in a far too hot curry; it may sting for a little, but all's generally fine.
To conclude, the world now knows that The Flash exists. And as many a comic book tale has told us over the years, with the arrival on the scene of new heroes comes the arrival on the scene of those who wish to take them down, meaning that there could be a very hectic future ahead for Barry Allen.
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