Season One, Episode Ten – “Revenge of the Rogues”
By Molly Jane Kremer and Jarrod Jones. Six weeks is far too long to wait for CW’s The Flash, but there was always comfort in knowing that whatever came running our way January 20, it would be as exceptional as everything that came before. When a show is as consistently entertaining and exciting as The Flash, it’s always a safe bet to remain positive.
Though the series’ final episode of 2014 definitely sent Barry Allen and his intrepid pack of supporting players down a dark and uncertain path, “Revenge of the Rogues” is a return to the dizzying optimism that has always been present in The Flash. The emotional havoc wrought by the Reverse-Flash is still felt in this episode, and that means there’s much to prepare for: Barry (Grant Gustin) and the team over at S.T.A.R. Labs – Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), Dr. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker), and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) – have been working overtime to strengthen Barry’s abilities.
To better prepare for war – that’s the only thing on Barry’s mind, and for the first time since the series began, instead of opening the show with the iconic “my name is Barry Allen, and I’m the fastest man alive” bit, Barry’s first line of narration is admitting that he isn’t, that that particular title now belongs to the Reverse-Flash. (“But not for long,” Barry reassures us.)
That kind of proactive thinking is what makes Barry such an agreeable hero, but it doesn’t always help him in making the right decisions. And since there’s never a good time for an old villain to return swearing revenge, Barry’s schedule of dodging mean-as-fuck killer drones (designed by Cisco, naturally) means that Leonard Snart’s sinister plans to kill the scarlet speedster have required some innovation. Enter: Heat Wave.
And while the episode introduces yet another villain to the series – Dominic Purcell’s Mick Rory – his presence has a decidedly different impression than a lot of the other “freak of the weeks” that Barry & Co. have encountered thus far. He’s an established villain in the Flash’s comic continuity – easily as recognizable as Captain Cold or Reverse-Flash – and once he’s partnered up with another of Central City’s infamous Rogues, Captain Cold (previously seen in the episode Going Rogue, played by Wentworth Miller) puts the pyromaniac to immediate use. The two men work well off each other, and the show gives them much more character (and much better dialogue) to work with than, say, Plastique or Multiplex ever had. (Remember them? Right.)
In a series where the villains have decidedly upped the dramatic ante, Barry is not the only character who seeks to improve himself. Cisco Ramon, overcome with guilt for having personally invented the weapon Captain Cold stole to use in his criminal activities, decides to help the Central City Police Department in their fight against this formidable freezing gun. He creates a shield to defend the officers against being frozen to death, and since he’s such a clever fella, he also figures out that if they get Snart’s cold gun and Rory’s heat gun to “cross the streams” the reaction would put the kibosh on both weapons. (It’s fun to see Cisco stepping out from behind his desk to play the hero this time around, doing more than merely assisting Barry and giving villains catchy monikers – and by catchy we do mean catchy as hell. Love that dude.)
Comics veteran Geoff Johns is back on scripting chores for “Revenge of the Rogues”, this time collaborating with co-writer Kai Yu Wu. This script definitely has a heightened, comic book feel to it, maybe more so than any episode we’ve seen yet. Most of the melodramatics between Barry and Iris have been blissfully sidelined (though there has to be some of that too), making room for a streamlined narrative that focuses on Barry’s continued path as a hero, and on his new nemeses, who now look upon him as what stands in the way of what they want in life. That kind of paradigm shift is vital to making The Flash a viably strong comic book adaptation.
And, lest we forget about the subplot: more light is shed on the subject of Firestorm, or Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell), Dr. Snow’s not-so-late fiance. After saving Barry’s butt from a severe beating at the hands of the Reverse-Flash in the last episode, Robbie’s gone missing yet again, so in her quieter moments Caitlin researches “Firestorm”, the word Ronnie called himself during their brief encounter, and during that research she and Barry discover that it’s actually an acronym (and, whoo, it just might be the most ridiculously unwieldy acronym ever conjured).
Caitlin discovers that a man named Professor Stein (which, !!!) was working on the so-called F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. project before he disappeared (seriously though, if you happened to take down what that stood for, let us know in the comments), and she goes to see one of Stein’s former students Jason Rusch (whose name set off yet another geekalarm) to try and get more information. This is all leading to a pressing matter of some import, and the methodical pace with which it sets itself suits the show well. What use Firestorm will have in The Flash remains to be seen, but it’s fascinating as hell watching the mystery unwravel.
Unlike another comic book based television show we could mention, The Flash has so much working for it. With a whole second half of Season One to enjoy (and following that, an already highly anticipated second season), there’s so much to expect from the world of Barry Allen. And with Barry’s first public appearance as the Flash generating fairly positive senitments from the Central City Police Department, it’s safe to assume that we may be seeing the venerable hallways of the Flash Museum in the near future. And that is an encouraging thought.
– It’s enjoyable to see that even the nerds in our nerdy TV shows make pop culture references. When discussing how to defeat the weapons of Captain Cold and Heat Wave, the S.T.A.R. Labs staff say they need to “cross the streams”, mentioning Ghostbusters. It was a lovely moment.
At the end of the episode, after Iris has moved out (to move in with Thawne, barrffff), Joe invites Barry to move back in. And we would like a whole separate sitcom (sans laughtrack) focused just on this, please.
– There were easter eggs aplenty for the comic nerds in this episode. The painting Snart and Rory were stealing (hilariously called Fire & Ice) belonged to a wealthy couple named the Rathaways, who remark upon their estranged son Hartley: that name belongs to none other than the Flash villain Pied Piper, who has already been cast, and is shown in the sneak peek of next week’s episode.
– A few points in Revenge of the Rogues were verrry reminiscent of our favorite superhero movie The Dark Knight, but in a supervillain-centric episode, we can’t fault them for borrowing from the best. The video Captain Cold and Heat Wave release after they’ve kidnapped Caitlin smacks of the Joker’s videos, and Snart drawling out lines like, “It’s part of the plan”, and “We’ve changed things” definitely gave us some flashbacks to those heady days of July 2008.
– Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell have utterly fantastic chemistry together. Miller’s dry, deliberate, almost at times lethargic, delivery is perfect for a guy who has the ability to slow down the fastest man alive, and Purcell’s performance as incendiary hothead Rory is just as fitting.
– When Captain Cold yells out, “The Scarlet Speedster!” as he and Heat Wave advance towards the Flash brandishing their weaponry may have been our favorite moment in the series yet. Also, it was possibly the series’ most comic books! moment as well: it was glorious (and possibly the tiniest bit schlocky).
– An additional villain was teased at the end of the episode, breaking Snart and Rory out from prison transport (the two actors’ shared past on the show Prison Break gave this scene an additional giggle-factor): Lenny’s sister Lisa, also known as Golden Glider. Hopefully we get to see her soon.
– We really can’t get over that F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. acronym. It’s just the worst. Can someone rewind the episode on their DVR and tell us what it was? Please?