This review contains spoilers.
1.22 Rogue Air
There have been plenty of episodes of The Flash season one dealing more in the CW half of its DNA, focusing on relationships or Barry’s emotional arc. There are others, like Rogue Air and Grodd Lives before it, that don’t bother doing that at all. One of the reasons fans are ready to declare the show the best example of superhero television on air is that it’s not ashamed of its comic book roots, and that’s abundantly clear from watching this penultimate episode.
If we were being honest, the hour is just another one biding time before the finale, but that doesn’t mean it can’t go all out at the same time. Part of what’s wonderful about the universe The Flash and Arrow exist in right now is its impressive size and scope, which makes bringing back a lot of the guest stars from across season one an example of the writers taking advantage of everything they’ve built thus far.
It’s a comic fan’s dream to see so many villains team-up, but that’s not all the show is willing to offer here. We also have a call to arms on the good guy side, with Ronnie and Oliver coming to the rescue right at the crucial moment.
It would have been nice for Oliver’s guest spot in particular to have been a tiny bit more substantial but, kitted out in his Ra’s al Ghul uniform and speaking cryptically about needing help in the future, it’s understandable why it was so brief. Really, the shorter the cameo, the more impressive the logistics and the more we can appreciate that these two shows really do exist in the same universe – a crossover doesn’t need to be a huge event.
The episode also brings up one of the nagging issues many viewers have had all year, calling into question the moral implications of keeping defeated meta humans in the STAR Labs basement, with no word on how they were being fed or otherwise cared for. Of course, this is a television show and a lot of logical allowances can be made in that area, but its interesting that The Flash cares enough to have one of its main guys – Joe – stand against the practice.
His conversation with the district attorney suggests that the makeshift prison and Joe’s qualms with it are something that could be revisited in season two, and I hope that’s the case. It’s an interesting dilemma and now, with the meta humans on the loose once again, one that clearly doesn’t work as well as the STAR Labs team had hoped.
As usual, the Iris stuff sticks out from this episode like a sore thumb, and the best we can say about it is that at least she and Eddie are officially broken up. But I hate the way it was done, with Eddie yet again completely ignoring the words coming out of her mouth and instead assuming that what Barry, Joe and Wells have told him is the truth.
The better emotional throughline for Rogue Air was Barry’s growing desperation surrounding Wells, and his subsequent willingness to make inadvisable decisions in order to gain the upper hand. I found his admission of trying to emulate Oliver’s style of heroism both fascinating and hilarious, because anyone watching both series right now knows that Barry has been doing a far better job all year.
It’s fun to see Barry lose control, because he’s right. Wells has been several hundred steps ahead of them all since before Barry woke up from his coma, and as of right now there’s seemingly no way to stop him.
I sense that, while there’ll certainly be a huge amount going on in the finale, its preceding episode will equally serve as the storm before the calm. It’s the big, broad hour of mindless fun before we get into the nitty gritty of Thawne’s master plan and Barry trying to save his mother, and that’s probably the smartest decision The Flash could have made when ending its first season.
What makes it great is its ability to blend those two sides of itself so, if this was candy for fans of the campy, comic-inspired half of things, next week will get personal.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Grodd Lives, here.
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