Season One, Episode Sixteen – “Rogue Time”
By Molly Jane Kremer and Jarrod Jones. This week’s episode of The Flash not only took a step back onto last week’s humdinger of a plot twist, it effectively trampled all over it. The thrill of witnessing Barry Allen finally transcend time – a milestone this series actually earned – was squandered for safe (and surprisingly boring) storytelling. And the show’s writers eliminated any head-scratching time travel paradoxes by completely jettisoning them all together. For a series that looked like it was zooming towards exciting, uncharted territory, it sure wimped out at the last minute.
WHAT WORKED: While a complete 180 from the thrilling dramatics of “Out of Time,” the combined ham of Captain Cold and Heat Wave was so over-the-top, it effectively cleansed the palate from the darker turns endured from last week. Wentworth Miller continues to do his best scenery-chewing (and his best Edward G. Robinson impersonation) as Leonard Snart/Captain Cold. Snart’s just so bad, and you can tell Miller’s obviously having a marvelous time playing the villain.
WHAT DIDN’T: Well, we found out why last week was so drastic and insane: “Rogue Time” went and undid everything in fifteen minutes. Iris (Candice Patton) doesn’t have romantic feelings for Barry (or refuses to admit it), Cisco (Carlos Valdes) is still alive and well (which, admittedly, is a relief), and Central City isn’t being threatened by an impending tsunami. Barry saved the day only to open his life up to further misery. Interesting conceit, boring outcome.
All of the very real stakes that made last week’s episode feel like a weighty season finale have been negated, mostly replaced with silliness (Caitlin explains away Barry’s bonkers behavior with the made-up malady “lightning psychosis”) and sentimentality (last week’s extraordinarily sinister scene between Cisco and Dr. Wells is replayed, but with twice the squishy and none of the creepy).
The show had a serious opportunity to dive into the headier (and more frightening) aspects of time travel, but instead the show’s writers took the safe, padded route and simply gave Barry (Grant Gustin) a serious case of déjà vu. We’re not asking The Flash to break our brains with paradox, but a show that has secured such solid characterization is welcome to take some serious risks. It’s earned our trust. Now it needs to run with it.
“Please don’t kill me for kissing your sister.” – Cisco, to Captain Cold. It’s pretty adorable to see Cisco so damn vulnerable, but getting picked up by Captain Cold’s sister in an awful fright wig is a whole other level of funny.
“’The Rogues‘… Cute.” – Leonard Snart. And so it begins.
BEST MOMENT: Um… Is it okay to say there wasn’t one? The Reverse-Flash (Tom Cavanagh) pops back in to shut that muckracking heel Mason Bridge (Roger Howarth) the hell up, and Cold and the Flash make a rather strange deal with each other, but none of it registered on the level of the world-crushing events that occurred last week. That’s the rub about letting time travel act as your narrative landing pad: If you play it too safe, The Flash, you squander real drama.
EPISODE’S MVP: Captain Cold. There’s a reason why The Flash keeps returning to the frosty felon. Wentworth Miller’s, um, icy performance as Leonard Snart eclipses memories of nearly every single foe the Flash has faced so far. Reverse-Flash is too evil. The Pied Piper is too much of an asshole. Miller’s Cold is the perfect balance of sly cunning and – er – chilling malice. More Snart, please.
– Heat Wave and Captain Cold are back, but they’re not alone: Leonard Snart’s little sister Lisa (Peyton List) joins in on the larcenous mirth-making. For those keeping score (and we know you’re out there), that’s not some kind of creative flourish, that’s reverent comics history: Lisa is none other than the Golden Glider, the figure skater turned criminal who swore revenge against Barry after the death of her lover, The Top. (Who may just pop up next season, you never know.)
– Holy Rogues, Scarlet Speedster! There were five – FIVE – Flash villains in this week’s episode: Weather Wizard (Liam McIntyre), Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell), Captain Cold, Golden Glider, and the Reverse-Flash. That’s gotta be some kinda record. (Unless you count the Suicide Squad over on Arrow, which is just cheating.)
– Barry continually tells us that he’s “the fastest man alive,” but at the beginning of the episode, when he rushes into Mardon’s apartment and swooshes him away into a jail cell within seconds, it was probably the most realistic portrayal of how fast the Flash really is. But it also shows how little drama or suspense would be gleaned from that application of power.
– When Linda and Barry “break up” (were they serious enough for that to merit being called a break up…?) Linda says to Barry, “Your heart should ache for me.” Our stomachs ache for Alka-Seltzer.
– Um. Linda. How many dates did you guys go on…? As Captain Cold would say: Chill.
– Strange that a guy as sweet as Cisco would have such a dick for a brother (Nicholas Gonzalez), and yet Cisco still tries his very damnedest to save him. YOU DON’T DESERVE HIM, DANTE, YOU PUTZ.
– Sooo, if Cisco can make a gun that turns everything it shoots into gold, we think S.T.A.R. Labs won’t have to worry about fundraising for a very, very long time.
Next week’s episode – titled “Tricksters” – features Mark Hamill! Now that’s appointment television!