Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Replay The Day (Poorly): "Rogue Time" Has Barry Allen Take A Different Path!

The Good: Moments of character, Cool comparison to the prior episode, Performances are fine
The Bad: Entirely troubling science/engineering, Missing details to make the new plot make sense, Caitlin Snow . . .
The Basics: "Rogue Time" tries to save The Flash after its biggest moments . . . and it does the best it can.

It is impossible to discuss "Rogue Time," the latest episode of The Flash without mentioning important aspects of how the prior episode, “Out Of Time” (reviewed here!) ended. While it seems like "Rogue Time" would be a direct sequel to "Out Of Time," it actually picks up the dangling thread left by the end of “Revenge Of The Rogues” (reviewed here!). The burden on "Rogue Time" was to follow up an astonishingly good episode with one that did not simply leave viewers feeling cheated. That's a tough task, given the quality of "Out Of Time."

And "Rogue Time" succeeded about as much as it could have.

"Out Of Time" was a knockout episode that took an unlikely villain - the second Weather Wizard pops up to wreak havoc in Central City - and used the formulaic a-plot as a chance to advance the characters and create a b-plot that had astonishing consequences and a real "wow" factor. Unfortunately, "Out Of Time" ended at a point where it was easy to undo all of the episode's biggest moments and that is what "Rogue Time" does . . . in record time. Barry Allen managed to run back in time at the climax of the prior episode and "Rogue Time" begins there, where he has the chance to save a lot of lives by stopping the Weather Wizard (Mark Mardon) before he becomes a genuine threat and unwittingly save the life of the one man who has uncovered the secret of the Reverse Flash. Going into "Rogue Time," the safe money from most fans was that that was going to happen and the big question was "Could you undo all of the best moments of the prior episode and create an episode that takes the series in a different direction without leaving the audience feeling completely cheated?"

The answer, from "Rogue Time" is "no, but we sure tried!"

Barry Allen breaks through the time barrier and, in the episode's first major issue, his native timeline version disappears. This is a problem because it makes no real sense. Barry Allen from tomorrow afternoon appears the day before, running beside himself. From that moment on, there should be two Barry Allens . . . at least until the initiating incident is averted and the tangent timeline collapses (at which time, either the Barry Allen from the altered day disappears or he remains as an anomaly from an alternate universe). What doesn't make sense is that the first time through the timeline, Barry Allen sees his alternate self, stops, and there is no second Barry Allen there. In short, because Barry Allen was not overwritten by the future Barry Allen the first time around, there is no reason for it to happen the second time around.

Harrison Wells is determined not to let the future be changed or to learn anything about the day that Barry exhibits foreknowledge of. But Barry cannot let Mark Mardon stand, so he goes to where he knows the Weather Wizard is, captures him, and locks him up in the pipeline. While Wells is infuriated, Barry is thrilled at all the wrongs he has righted - though Cisco is forced to go to his brother's birthday party now that he does not have an excuse. At the same time, Leonard Snart and Mick Rory arrive in Central City where they take down the local crime family. Lamenting how badly things went with his family, Cisco and Barry go out to a bar, where Cisco is hit on by a beautiful young woman. Lisa takes Cisco back to the house at which she is squatting and reveals herself to be Lisa Snart, Leonard's sister.

At this point in "Rogue Time," there's nothing actually wrong with the episode, though the devil is in the details and here the episode gets a little wobbly. Snart, Mick, and Lisa come into town and knock over the local crime boss. No problems there. In fact, with Mark Mardon on the loose, it makes sense that the police would be so busy and focused elsewhere that they would not realize that the trio was in town or that the Santini Family has been disrupted. But then, Dante Ramon is abducted. If that happened the first time through the timeline, it makes some sense that it might not have gotten priority and noticed by the wrecked Central City Police Department. In the revamped timeline, though, there would be far more police available and undistracted to notice when Dante Ramon was abducted.

So, Cisco is captured by the three Rogues and forced to rebuild their weapons . . . and make an entirely new one for Lisa Snart. While one might buy that Leonard Snart and Mick Rory might have all of the supplies they need to make their weapons -though, if that were the case, why would Snart need Cisco, when he knew his own weapon so well that he could take it apart and put it back together?! - the idea that Cisco could replicate from memory both weapons over the course of a single night and develop an alchemy gun is pretty ridiculous.

That ridiculous quality spreads into the next scene. The Snarts knock over the Santini mob casino and The Flash tries to stop them. Leonard extorts The Flash with the information that he has the two Ramons held hostage. Fine. But then Barry lets them go. At this point, Barry Allen has enough speed to be virtually invisible. There is no credible reason why Barry Allen doesn't run after the Snart's car, wait for it to stop at a house, then run in and get both captives out before Leonard and Lisa realize they were followed. Utterly ridiculous.

Fortunately, the episode gets better from that point on. In fact, as Cisco and his brother fight for their lives and Captain Cold extorts him for information on the identity of The Flash, the episode picks right up. The episode leads to a stalemate between The Flash and Captain Cold that is well-presented, while Cisco returns to S.T.A.R. Labs a credibly broken man, who is not about to look into the truth about Harrison Wells.

But, in reworking the day, the biggest problem comes from a lack of a scene in "Out Of Time." Near the climax of "Out Of Time," Dr. Snow calls Barry Allen and he brushes her off. As a result, Barry goes back in time without knowing that Cisco has been killed, that he and Snow came to suspect Harrison Wells and only knowing that Mason Bridge had an encrypted file on Wells about the disappearance of Simon Staggs. The problem, then, is that Barry does not have enough information to try to consciously save anyone or suspect Harrison Wells and in "Rogue Time," he does not make the important, inadverant, slip to Wells. I kept waiting for Barry to make some comment to Harrison Wells about Mason Bridge and his encrypted file. While "Rogue Time" has a delicious mirror image of the critical Wells/Cisco scene, what is entirely lacks is any reason Wells would even know of the existence of Mason Bridge! Barry Allen elminated the day that caused Harrison Wells to have any tracks to cover . . . so Wells had no reason to hunt Bridge in "Rogue Time." Moreover, because he didn't slip to Wells about Bridge's encrypted file, Barry had no reason to instantly suspect Wells at the peak of the episode!

The only other issue is a character one. Dr. Caitlin Snow has been portrayed as asocial and somewhat socially awkward throughout the first season of The Flash. But, by "Rogue Time," it's hard for viewers not to be screaming at the screen "pick a lane!" Snow is explicitly in love with her fiance, Ronnie Raymond. Unfortunately, as news of a spin-off that will feature Victor Garber (and possibly Firestorm?) keeps breaking, The Flash seems to be painfully setting up for Snow and Raymond to break up as a way to explain why Snow will remain on The Flash and not go over to the spinoff. In "Rogue Time," she shows partnerish affections for both Cisco and Barry Allen (and this is not the first time). The result is a character who is somewhat annoying in her inconsistencies.

Still, this is one of Danielle Panabaker's better episodes as she plays Snow's bluff beautifully at the climax of "Rogue Time." In fact, beyond the plot and detail problems, the performances in "Rogue Time" are homogenously good (though there are no huge emotional moments required of the actors, like "Out Of Time" demanded). Peyton List does a fine job playing off Grant Gustin (The Flash), Carlos Valdes (Cisco), Dominic Purcell (Heat Wave) and Wentworth Miller (Leonard Snart).

Continuity and detail issues aside, the writers and producers of The Flash had pretty much run themselves into a corner with the prior episode and with "Rogue Time," they do the best they possibly can to right the listing ship.

For other works with Leonard Snart, check out my reviews of:
"Going Rogue" - The Flash
The Flash: Rogues By Geoff Johns
The Flash Vs. The Rogues By Carmine Infantino
Brightest Day The Flash: The Dastardly Death Of Rogues By Geoff Johns
The Flash: Rogues Revolution By Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato

[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 reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

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