Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Racing Toward Finale, The Flash Tries To Save The Enemies Via "Rogue Air!"

The Good: Performances, Plot development, Most of the character elements
The Bad: Some over-the-top character moments, Details/Continuity
The Basics: Despite a few very "comic booky" moments, The Flash continues very strong with "Rogue Air!"

As The Flash races toward its first season finale, the show is working to reconcile its bottle episodes and the main plot that has been developing over the course of the entire season. The main plot has centered around Barry Allen struggling to reach his potential as the super-fast hero of Central City, The Flash. Over the course of that, Barry Allen and his team have learned that the night his mother was killed, a future version of himself and another speedster were present and responsible for the death of his murder. With the identity of the Reverse Flash exposed, Barry has been racing into a direct conflict with the Reverse Flash and perhaps the most impressive aspect of "Rogue Air" is that The Flash does not wait until the season finale to bring the thunder.

Keeping up the momentum from "Grodd Lives" (reviewed here!), "Rogue Air" puts off the main conflict between The Flash and Reverse Flash for one more episode. While Eobard Thawne's machinations are clear and have a strong influence over "Rogue Air," the episode largely reminds viewers of the many metahumans still left alive in the DC Television Universe. Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of "Rogue Air" is that for those who are only fans of The Flash, the abrupt and somewhat confusing entrance of Deathbolt to the series and the sudden dependence on the Arrow McGuffin of a mysterious prison island make the episode stand alone a little less well than it ought to.

While Barry comforts Iris and tries to reassure her that the Flash is still looking for the captured Eddie, Cisco uncovers the truth behind Dr. Wells's wheelchair. Discovering that the chair has a futuristic battery of incredible power, the S.T.A.R. Labs team is suddenly surprised when the particle accelerator begins to reactivate! Going down into the Pipeline, Joe, Cisco and Barry discover the Reverse Flash, who gets away (in part by using Peek-a-Boo as a distraction). Returning the metahuman to her prison, the team hears Eddie calling for help and rescues him from Eobard Thawne's subterranean prison room.

Shortly thereafter, Cisco discovers what Thawne was working on; a power source that is reactivating the particle accelerator and now menaces the five metahumans who are imprisoned in the Pipeline. When Joe cannot find a legal way to transport the imprisoned metahumans, Barry turns to Leonard Snart for help with the transport plan. With the relationship between Eddie and Iris falling apart, Snart comes up with his terms for Barry. Against Joe's advice, Barry agrees to erase all traces of Snart's criminal record from the world in exchange for him helping to get the metahumans to Ferris Air (where they will be taken to Oliver Queen's island prison). But when the five super-criminals arrive at the air field, the metahuman containment field breaks down and the Flash and his team have to rescue the world from the threat posed by the Weather Wizard, Rainbow Raider, Peek-A-Boo, Deathbolt, and Mist!

Almost incidental to "Rogue Air" is the episode's final act which marks the high-powered return of the Reverse Flash for a slugfest that propels The Flash into its first season finale. The episode's climax marks the return of Oliver Queen, Ronnie Raymond, and (the technology of) Ray Palmer, which is a pretty big moment for the season. Rather than saving it for a powerful beginning to the finale, it makes for an intriguing end to the penultimate episode!

On the character front, "Rogue Air" manages to take the episode into intriguing territory by exploring the answer to one of the big potential questions raised by putting the metahumans into the Pipeline. Barry Allen, according to Joe, takes a walk on the Dark Side in "Rogue Air," but it is hard for viewers to adopt the same mentality. Fans of comic book-based works and science fiction tend to be very engaged and question the decisions of their favorite characters. So, while it is hard to argue with Barry Allen wanting to save the lives of the five metahumans who remain in the Pipeline at the end of the first season, fans would undoubtedly question his methods. Enlisting Captain Cold as a failsafe is an intriguing direction and it fits Barry Allen's goal of trying to see the best in people and do the right thing (mine would have been why didn't Barry Allen incapacitate the Metahumans one by one and run them over the ocean to the island prison? He had a thirty-six hour countdown to work with . . .). "Rogue Air" actually makes Barry Allen grow up and his determination and trust help characterize him as a lawful good superhero. "Rogue Air" manages to make him interesting and watchable . . . when villains and shifty heroes usually steal the limelight.

Similarly, on the eve of joining the next DC Universe/CW spin-off, Captain Cold re-establishes himself as a somewhat monolithic villain. Captain Cold is duplicitous and angry and he makes an investment in "Rogue Air" that continues the promise represented by his character into the next season of The Flash.

On the performance front, there is a surprising potential revealed by Rick Cosnett's portrayal of Eddie Thawne. Cosnett's final performance in "Rogue Air" has him playing Eddie with a twitchy quality that will undoubtedly start a summer's worth of speculation that he will end up as another Reverse Flash. Eddie's part in "Rogue Air" is handled very well by Cosnett; he responds to Iris's melodrama with a realistic level of being disturbed.

Perhaps the most fun aspect of "Rogue Air" is the on-screen chemistry between Peyton List (Golden Glider) and Carlos Valdes (Cisco). While there appears to be some sort of in-joke between List and Panabaker (were they in something else together? were the actresses a couple before?) that has Snart's sister and Dr. Snow acting oddly snarky to one another, Cisco and Lisa Snart resume their flirting and it plays out well on-screen. The credibility of that banter definitely comes from Valdes and List having great on-screen chemistry.

Ultimately, "Rogue Air" acts as an interesting cap to the first season's bottle episodes while preparing for a big finish for The Flash that is focused on resolving the big serialized arc for the character of Barry Allen.

For other works with Doug Jones, check out my reviews of:
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer
Pan's Labyrinth
The Benchwarmers
Men In Black II
The Time Machine
Mystery Men
Batman Returns

[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 episode and season reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page!

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