Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Training To Defeat The Ultimate Threat, Barry Allen Is Interrupted By The “Revenge Of The Rogues!”

The Good: Great banter, Interesting villains, Good continuity within the series
The Bad: Dominic Purcell’s inconsistent accent, Moments of poor internal continuity
The Basics: Barry Allen’s training is interrupted by the return of Captain Cold . . . who has powerful backup in “Revenge Of The Rogues!”

Talk about counter programming! Last night, offering an alternative to the State Of The Union address, The CW brought The Flash back. This was quite the surprise for me when I learned about it this morning and it was one of the best surprises of the year so far. The new episode of The Flash is “Revenge Of The Rogues” and it forced the producers of The Flash to ask the question of “what the hell do you do to follow up the arrival of one of the most popular characters in the franchise?!” The answer is: you bring popular Flash writer (and co-executive producer) Geoff Johns back to the script and have him write an episode that returns the other popular adversary to the forefront.

Following directly upon the threat from “The Man In The Yellow Suit” (reviewed here), “Revenge Of The Rogues” acts as a sequel to “Going Rogue” (reviewed here) by returning Leonard Snart to Central City. Interestingly, “Revenge Of The Rogues” does not spoil the identity of the Reverse Flash, though co-writer Geoff Johns utilizes the opportunity of following-up the revelation by seeding a number of delightful jokes that tease viewers with what they have seen. And “Revenge Of The Rogues” is good!

Barry Allen is training with Cisco, Dr. Snow and Dr. Wells against drones to be able to defeat the Reverse Flash when he makes his next appearance. The past month of disciplined training has made Barry Allen faster and better at what he does. Elsewhere in Central City, Leonard Snart breaks into a customs garage where valuable European cars are being stored. His partner in crime, Mick Rory, is shocked when they are not stealing a single car . . . Captain Cold is waiting for The Flash to appear. When The Flash doesn’t come, the two bail, much to Rory’s disgust. When Barry Allen investigates the crime scene, he realizes that Snart is back and the Central City Police begin their search for Snart. Guided by Dr. Wells, Allen decides to focus on his training, as opposed to the hunt for Leonard Snart.

While Caitlin looks into Firestorm, the Central City Police Department comes up against Captain Cold and Heat Wave, losing a $25 million painting in the process! After Dr. Snow finds Jason Rusch, she is captured by Snart and Rory, who use her as bait to finally draw out The Flash. In the ensuing fight, The Flash is exposed to all of Central City!

Threaded throughout “Revenge Of The Rogues” is a subplot involving Barry Allen’s relationship with Iris West. Iris is moving in with Eddie and Barry tells Joe that he finally told Iris he has been in love with her. The development of the Barry/Iris relationship works fine in the episode and attaches the personal, mundane, side of Barry Allen to the rest of the episodes. Fortunately, Iris moving out on Joe is contrasted by Barry returning to Joe’s, which provides the episode with a sweet, universal character-building moment.

In a similar way, Cisco working with the Central City Police Department starts an intriguing arc for the S.T.A.R. Labs employees. S.T.A.R. Labs has been discredited for about a year and Cisco devising a defense for the cold gun for the police starts Dr. Wells’s organization on the road to legitimacy.

Mick Rory is well characterized as absolutely crazy, though the episode loses a little credibility by Dominic Purcell’s inconsistent accent while playing Heat Wave. The science of Heat Wave is somewhat ridiculous – temperatures well below “absolute hot” would ignite virtually all the oxygen on Earth, so a gun that achieves absolute hot is far less attainable than one that creates absolute zero. The contrasting natures of Captain Cold and Heat Wave are well-executed in “Revenge Of The Rogues,” though Purcell’s erratic nature for the character does not explain the weird accent issues.

“Revenge Of The Rogues” has a pretty high geek-out factor for fans of The Flash. Johns used the opportunity with scripting the episode to tease the forthcoming appearance of the Pied Piper, but that allusion does not hold a candle to the real promise of the episode: a brief flash on Dr. Snow’s smartphone reveals that Victor Garber will be making an appearance in future episodes of The Flash!!!!!!!! (This makes sense because one of the producers was an executive producer on the later seasons of Alias!) As usual, there is a final scene that does a good job of paying off investment for die-hard fans of the comics and promising a next step for the series.

While “Revenge Of The Rogues” ties into other episodes of The Flash well, it does not have the best internal continuity. The opening trap for The Flash makes sense; what doesn’t is why The Flash does not spring it. Barry Allen is out during the day testing his limits, but it is night outside when Snart and Rory break into the customs garage. Barry should have reacted to the silent alarm and outrun the police to the scene of the crime. Similarly, the bomb beneath Dr. Snow makes less sense than it ought to; a psychopath seems like an unlikely person to rig a delay on a bomb as opposed to an explosive device that would involve absolute overkill. Strangely, The Flash makes an effort to disguise his voice when talking directly to Officer Thawne . . . but not when Eddie is well within earshot. Minutiae like that drives down the overall quality of the episode.

Even so, the performances in “Revenge Of The Rogues,” slipping accents notwithstanding, are good. Danielle Panabaker sells the irrationality of Dr. Snow trying to open her frozen door and Rick Cosnett lands the awkwardness of Eddie interacting with Joe. The best chemistry in the episode remains the interactions between Grant Gustin and Jesse L. Martin. Given the soap operatic nature of the interpersonal relationships on The Flash, Martin’s character will be killed off horribly and it is episodes like “Revenge Of The Rogues” that will make that inevitability all the more horrible; Martin and Gustin have great on-screen chemistry and their relationship is uncommon on television.

It might have had a stealth return, but The Flash returned big and wonderful with “Revenge Of The Rogues” and it gives us hope that the series will not simply turn on big final act surprises!

For other works with Luc Roderique, please visit my reviews of:
The Seventh Son
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into The Flash - The Complete First Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the debut season here!


For other television and movie reviews, please visit my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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