This Flash review contains spoilers.
I’ve missed this show. “Revenge of the Rogues” is a near-historic episode of The Flash, although not the best episode of the series by a long shot. The first live-action appearance of Heat Wave (Prison Break’s Dominic Purcell), the show’s first supervillain team-up (with the welcome return of Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold), and another overall reminder that this is a TV show created by people who really understand the history of this character and his surrounding world.
The opening with Barry “sparring” with one of Cisco’s drones was tremendous, and probably the single best visual in the entire episode. One of the better special effects overall in the show’s run, too, which is impressive. It’s just something a little different. We know they’ve got these speed effects down to a science, and the vast majority of the metahumans have looked good on screen, but this was the first totally CGI “thing” they’ve attempted. It bodes well for some more ambitious villains down the road. I mean, if they wanted to, for example, do an episode about a talking ape with mind control powers…
Since his encounter with the Reverse-Flash, Barry has been obsessed with the idea of getting faster. Harrison Wells is obsessed with this, too. And he’s keeping Barry from doing some of the other stuff he should be doing. At one point, Joe calls out Harrison because he heard Barry parroting something that Dr. Wells said. I know we should be passed this by now, but…remember when we were all kicking around the idea that Wells seems to sometimes have an ability to give people a little mental push? Is that still on the table? And if so, how does this line up with his bright yellow fashion sense?
But even Barry’s tendency towards obsession, particularly with his speed, is a little hint of what’s to come for this character. In some alternate futures for the Flash in the comics (notably, Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ Kingdom Come), at some point, Flash basically just DOES become an “everywhere at once” guy, and Central City is a place where nothing can go wrong. It will take years before they could even think about exploring this properly, but I can’t imagine this wasn’t placed here as a nod to fans.
Speaking of fan service, a fair amount of time was spent setting up Firestorm. That FIRESTORM acronym was truly dreadful, and it’s one of the few times I feel like a show that already has all these people running around in costumes shouldn’t try so damn hard to justify the occasional bout of code name silliness. It was great to meet Jason Rusch (Luc Roderique) this week, but…I dunno. I feel like that was two scenes that really should have been spent with new major villain, Mick Rory/Heat Wave.
While Flash handles its romantic elements considerably better than Arrow has on the whole, there was a little too much sentimentality this week. It wasn’t bad or irritating, and certainly Iris is far less of a chore to spend screentime with than Laurel was at her very worst during Arrow‘s first two seasons, things kinda ground to a halt a few times this week. Again, this is a big, historic event episode, detailing the formation of the best supervillain team around, but there just wasn’t enough meat on the new bad guy’s bones. Purcell played Mick Rory pretty broadly. He certainly couldn’t have handled being introduced on his own, but I never got much of an impression of why these two like/dislike each other, or why we should care. Iris’ “big move in” and Barry’s puzzling “moving back in” thing could have waited for another week to give the Rogues more elbow room.
That being said, there were some classic Joe reactions, particularly his “I’m going to kill you” face when he thought Barry told Iris he was the Flash. Also, when Harrison told Cisco to “stop doing that” with the code names, I suddenly found myself rooting for the villain.
Even the final battle, while (ahem…sorry) flashy enough, just felt, I dunno…low stakes. It looked great, and the flavor was right. But it also kinda felt like a video game boss fight. Barry has to get the two bosses to cross the streams, but until he gets his timing just right it…ummmm…yeah. Now that I think about it, maybe making Heat Wave the first villain to team up with Captain Cold in the formation of the Rogues wasn’t the best idea. Look, it was cool, I’m not disputing that. But it lacked the drama and danger we saw in “Going Rogue,” which is, for my money, still the best episode of the series (and possibly the greatest piece of superhero television I’ve ever seen!).
All in all, “Revenge of the Rogues” is a solid episode, but it never quite reaches the heights of Cold’s introduction in “Going Rogue” or the drama of “The Man in the Yellow Suit.” There’s too much going on, the tone shifted too heavily from scene to scene, and we never really got much of a sense of Heat Wave. It’s a good setup for future Rogues adventures, but nothing more. The Flash nearly always does more right than wrong, but sometimes, like Barry, it tries to do too much. This was one of those times.
– Oh, the Rathaways. That son of theirs is going to come to a bad end, isn’t he? We’ll be seeing more of them, and The Trickster, very soon! since next week’s villain is the Pied Piper. (thanks to the folks in the comments for keeping me honest. What a dumb mistake)
– Snurtle! That’s a member of Captain Carrot’s Zoo Crew unless I’m just crazy, which is always a possibility.
– This is a pretty killer track from that Duke Ellington record that Iris broke. I realize this isn’t DCU stuff, but pour yourself an adult beverage and enjoy this tune.
– I couldn’t tell if that comic was real or not, but I do know this. That was Space Ghost on the cover, with a vintage DC Comics logo. DC have published some Space Ghost stuff, but the only thing that came out during the “DC Bullet” era was a Cartoon Network Presents special, and this wasn’t the cover to that!
– The battle takes place at the corner of Porter and Main. A shoutout to DC Comics artist Howard Porter?
– That’s Lisa Snart coming to the rescue of her brother and his pal at the end. You may know her as the ridiculously named “Golden Glider” in DC Comics.
Mike Cecchini suddenly wants to write an article about Space Ghost. Give him some ideas on Twitter.