This Flash review contains spoilers.
You watch enough superhero television (and believe me, I do) and you start to develop a sense of how things are gonna go. After nearly fifty episodes of Arrow, and now three (well, four counting tonight) episodes of The Flash, I have a pretty good feel for the rhythm of these episodes. I’m not saying I can tell when it’s a good one during the first five minutes but…well, sometimes I can. And that’s exactly what happened with “Going Rogue.”
Right away, The Flash came off the blocks doing what it does best, adding that light touch to its superheroics that has been sorely missing from every other DC live-action property for the last twenty-five years, without ever descending into parody. Opening with the laid-back riffage of Free’s “Alright Now” with Barry doing all kinds of multitasking at the behest of Harrison Wells is a good chuckle, especially as he struggles to play Operation, chess, and ping-pong. Guess which one he loses at?
But as both of these shows are known for doing, you also have to give the audience a bit of a bang up front, and here, it’s with some excellent stunt driving as a group of proto-Rogues, led by Leonard Snart, try and pull off a daring daylight armored car heist. There’s a bit with an 18 wheeler driving in reverse to hook the armored car, and it’s an Arrow-class bit of stuntwork, including a great special effects sequence when Barry shows up to stop them.
And this is our introduction to Len Snart as a leader of a gang of crooks. These aren’t the superpowered Rogues, but the basic MO is here. It’s a (sorry) flashy, high profile crime, and he’s the calculating badass behind it all. What’s more, we’re told that Snart “shows up every six months” to pull a big job like this, which feels like a bit of a sideways reference to how supervillains pop up from time to time in comics. This episode was co-written by a guy who has done his fair share of Flash comic book stories, Geoff Johns, so I can’t imagine this was an accident.
I don’t even know where to begin with Wentworth Miller as Len Snart. I believe the technical term I’m searching for here is “badass.” I realize this isn’t very review-y, but so be it. Just like when Manu Bennett turned up in Arrow season two in full-blown Deathstroke mode, the vibe that Miller puts out here as Snart is so note-perfect that, until further notice, his is the voice I will hear when I’m reading Flash comics involving Captain Cold.
It’s so great that Snart has his own band of rogues already, and that he loves pulling off big crimes, even without powers. This is exactly what has always set Flash’s core bad guys apart from the maniacs that Batman fights, the mad scientists and robots of Superman’s world, and the tragic freaks who populate Spider-Man tales. The Rogues are crooks and criminals. They aren’t necessarily bloodthirsty, they usually aren’t deranged, and they enjoy the theatricality of it all. And all of that is conveyed perfectly here, even with the whole Rogues concept in its infancy on this show.
I love that it’s Cisco who designed the cold gun, and that he did it specifically to stop Barry if he turned out to be a bad guy. I like that there are consequences to that action. And I really dig how completely different the attitudes are towards weapons between Team Arrow and the STAR Labs squad. Can I call them the All-STAR Squadron? Am I allowed to do that? C’mon, folks, that’s some deep nerd stuff right there, help me out. Fine, I’ll get my coat…
Anyway, the fact that this episode ultimately focuses on how many ways our heroes can LOSE is also refreshing. Barry can’t beat Captain Cold on his own. He has to watch somebody die because he wasn’t fast enough, and then even with his team, he loses. What’s gonna happen when Snart starts building his gang? The stakes, for the first time on this show, have been raised. It’s a nice contrast to how we’ve slowly seen Barry become more confident in his police work since he got his powers, as well. If anyone was worried that Grant Gustin was too lightweight, “Going Rogue” should sweep the last bits of doubt from your mind.
Perfectly paced, with some really nice special effects work (the shot of Flash racing the beam from the cold gun is exceptional), director Glen Winter should be commended. We even get a clever cut to commercial at one point. The script from Geoff Johns and Kai Yu Wu brings out the best in everybody, too. For yet another week, The Flash manages to balance virtually every minor subplot it’s been building (no John Wesley Shipp as Henry Allen this week, sadly), and even with the added baggage of an Arrow character (not that Felicity is baggage), nobody comes out really shortchanged. The bits with the increasingly annoyed Joe West and Eddie Thawne are a treat, Eddie and Iris feel legit, Barry and Felicity work well together, there’s tension introduced between Harrison and Cisco, and Caitlyn, who gets the least amount of screen time I think we’ve yet seen from her, still manages to get her whacks in.
I mean, it’s not ALL great. Why does “trivia night” take place during the daytime? Oh, who am I kidding? I’m just looking for something to complain about. “Going Rogue” is about as perfect a piece of superhero television as I’ve ever seen. It’s a dead-on Flash story, it’s a perfectly paced piece of adventure TV, it looks great, and adding Emily Bett Rickards to the proceedings this week only helps elevate the already high charm factor of the cast.
Is this an objective review? Not even close. Since I was a little kid, I’m the biggest Flash fan you may or may not actually know (and I have the Halloween photos to prove it…thanks, Mom). “Going Rogue” hit me right in the lightning bolt.
– The Kahndaq Diamond comes from future Shazam villain (played by Dwayne Johnson, no less!) Black Adam’s home country of (you guessed it) Kahndaq! Kahndaq has come up a bunch of times on Arrow, as well. What I wouldn’t give to see some Shazam action on one of these shows, though…
– The fella at the end that Captain Cold goes to see is Mick Rory. You will come to know and hate him as Heat Wave, played by Dominic Purcell. God, this show rules.
– Oh, and he goes to see him in Keystone City. That’s the “twin city” with Central, and in the comics was where original Flash Jay Garrick operated, and where future Flash Wally West set up shop for awhile. But speaking of Jay Garrick…
– Every time Barry gets on that treadmill, I get excited. He WILL break the dimensional barrier soon. Just you wait and see. Jay Garrick here we come!
– There’s another sneaky “52” reference in the STAR Labs tech storage, where the cold gun was kept.
– There’s a “Hall of Heroes” in the Central City Museum. In the comics, the city ends up dedicating a Museum to Barry…while he’s still alive. Right now their biggest hero is a cattle king named Bobby McFeely. Yeah, they might want to change that. This is also the second Flash Museum tease in as many weeks.
– Felicity asking if Barry can eventually run so fast that he just turns to dust leaving a Flash suit is a reference to Crisis on Infinite Earths #8. If you don’t know why that’s significant, you might not want to click this article I wrote. Or you might. But it’s a serious spoiler, and it ties into the ending of the first episode of this show, too.
– So, ummmm…if Harrison has “foreseen great things” for Felicity, and we think he’s from the future…where is this going?
– 4th and Kolins is probably a shout out to Scott Kolins, the artist who did some really terrific work on The Flash comics when Geoff Johns was writing them.