This review contains spoilers.
3.4 The New Rogues
Oh, hello. Was the script for The New Rogues left over from season one? That’s not a knock on it, by the way. I enjoyed the hell out of this episode. But it sure did take a lot out of that first season playbook, which is just fine.
Villain of the week episodes are unavoidable, and fortunately The Flash is uniquely suited to them, since Central City (and neighboring Keystone) boast the best assortment of colourful supervillains anywhere other than Gotham (the place, not the TV show), or maybe Spidey’s neighborhood in Queens. For all of the great takes on classic Flash villains we saw during season one, Mirror Master was conspicuous by his absence, and The New Rogues was a great way to bring him in.
Just like Captain Cold’s introduction (which coincidentally also came in the fourth episode of season one), the show demonstrates an understanding of the important flavours of Central City’s criminal element. These aren’t maniacs or mad scientists bent on world domination… they’re crooks. Kind of old school ones, with their own code of honour (sometimes), but mostly, they just want to line their pockets.
And while Sam Scudder has a grudge with Len Snart, you can still see why they worked together in the first place (and why they may work together again… and you know damn well that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Wentworth Miller on these shows). Seriously, holy moley it’s good to have Wentworth Miller back, even briefly.
The New Rogues might be one of the most perfectly balanced episodes we’ve had of The Flash in ages. We spent the appropriate amounts of time with the supporting cast, Barry’s personal life, and proper superheroics. The visuals were terrific again, from Jesse Quick’s really cool costume to the actual super speed rundowns. Hell, even the fight that kicked things off during the flashback sequences was one of the best pieces of hand-to-hand the show has ever done. It wouldn’t have been entirely out of place on Arrow.
But as good as that stuff looked, I feel the real gems came out of costume for Barry and the team. The stuff with Joe trying to come to terms with Barry and Iris dating was legitimately funny, from the super speed “we weren’t making out we were playing chess!” joke (complete with swapping the wine for a tallboy of beer) to Joe’s “I don’t love watching you two make out” delivery, to the exchange about Barry moving out (which I swear felt improvised, and Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, and Jesse Martin have exactly the right on-screen chemistry to make me believe it was) were all wonderful. Then again, so was the parade of Harrisons from the multiverse, which I would gladly watch more of given the opportunity.
So, this wasn’t a particularly weighty episode, and it really did almost zilch to advance the overall season three story, but holy moley it was fun. I think one of the many failings of season two was that it got so wrapped up in its multiversal concepts and the Zoom mystery that it forgot to just be a Flash show sometimes. So far, season three doesn’t seem to be in any danger of that. I’ll totally take more episodes like this if it means we don’t have to spend extra instalments agonising over the identity of Dr Alchemy or for payoffs that never come.
– Holy moley, can you believe it took them three seasons to give us Mirror Master? I mean, for cryin’ out loud, he was one of the only rogues we got on the original The Flash TV series (played by David Cassidy) and it took this show, which is so very faithful to the spirit of the comics, three seasons to get to one of the core Flash villains!
Sam Scudder has been around almost as long as Barry Allen himself, first appearing in The Flash #105 in 1959. This version of Mr Scudder is perhaps a better dresser than his comic book counterpart.
Harrison brings up Evan McCulloch, who in the comics picked up Scudder’s legacy on our world, not in an alternate one. But Harrison’s Mirror Master isn’t a metahuman, but uses technology, specifically a mirror gun, and that’s far more like the Mirror Master of the comics than what we had on screen tonight, which is kinda cool.
– The Top is another story, though. For one thing, this is a gender-swapped version of the character, but to be perfectly honest, Roscoe Dillon was never exactly the most important or memorable of Flash’s foes. The comic book Top had a different power set, being able to spin at super speed, which is perhaps less useless than you might think, but still might not fit in with the show’s plans. However, if there is one Top story you read, make it The Secret of Barry Allen, which deals with some weird shit that Barry had to deal with at the end of Roscoe’s villainous career. It’s great.
– Mirror Master and The Top hang out in a Broome warehouse. John Broome co-created both Mirror Master and The Top… oh yeah, and Captain Cold. And nearly every other supporting villain you’re likely to see on this show.
– One of the Harrisons mentions “Terra Prime.” In the original DC Multiverse, Earth-Prime is the world that we live on, where we read about superhero adventures in comics. So he thinks he’s talking to “Earth Prime” but he’s actually talking to Earth One. WE are watching this show from Earth Prime. So this version of Harrison thinks he’s made contact with our world. Mind. Blown.
– Barry’s “I’ve become Oliver” joke is significant when you consider that Arrow was also in its third season when Ollie had to start dealing with a full-blown speedster in his life.
– Joe’s crack about backwards talking on Ozzy Osbourne records is a reference to 1980s parental panic about subliminal messages being concealed on heavy metal albums in the form of backwards messages. There are people who swear, for example, that you can hear the words “my sweet satan” if you play Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” backwards.
– That Caitlin ending, though. They’re doing this right. It’s gonna hurt when we lose her.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Magenta, here.