Although the action of "Revenge Of The Rogues" is disappointing, the characters and drama continues to be superb.
Warning: *Contains spoilers*
Less than two minutes into the newest episode of The Flash, “Revenge of the Rogues”, and there is already one punch-the-air and squeal with joy moment, as Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) catches a missile and throws it back at a training drone. Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) is still funny, Dr Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) still caring, and Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) still both a mentor and potential antagonist. Cut to the return of ‘Captain Cold’ (Wentworth Miller) and his new partner, ‘Heat Wave’ (Dominic Purcell), as they enter a warehouse with the intent of luring Barry to it, and the episode is shaping up to be one of the strongest. So why does it fall just a little bit flat?
Part of it is down to the episode’s villains. Neither Purcell nor Milller are bad in portraying their characters: ‘Cold’ is just as methodical and smooth as ever, and the contrast with Purcell’s ‘Heat’ actually works. Purcell’s antagonist is completely bonkers, prone to angry grunts and yelling (or whispering, depending on the mood) about how fire is beautiful. Their duality works well, and is often impressive, yet it feels oddly forced. This might be a comic book show, but this is one of the few times that its characters have felt a little bit campy. Their plan is specific to The Flash – kill him, take the city – yet not enough time is devoted to their interactions altogether for it to feel like a huge danger. If anything they feel like they’re a threat to each other.
Whilst the villains are busy doing their thing, Barry is busy with trying to step up his game speed-wise so that he has a chance of taking down the Reverse-Flash the next time he is in town (not that he ever left). But when Cold returns with his new partner, it throws a question of priorities into light for him, and of who to believe in: does he focus on getting stronger in the hope that without a challenge, Cold and Heat simply leave, as Wells wants? Or does he take the bait and fight to protect his city, as Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) believes he should? This is at the heart of the episode, as the two men pull Barry between them. In acting terms it’s subtle and effective; if it’s written a bit on the nose, it’s excusable because most of The Flash is, has been, and will be. By the end, Barry’s relationships with both his mentors are further along and stronger for it, and showcase a sense of his maturity: when he tells Dr. Wells that he’s an adult and can make his own decisions, it works so much better than having him torn about it and needing to be guided.
Elsewhere in the episode there are new developments with Caitlin’s was-deceased-fiancé Ronnie Raymond (or F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M.), Cisco taking a leading role in supporting the police (and gets a really great little speech) and reparation between Barry and Iris – their relationship is not normal, but it will get there, and Gustin’s warmth when he delivers Barry’s ‘I can see the future’ lines is simply wonderful. Yet as much as the episode sets things up and knocks them out, the one thing it doesn’t quite deliver on is the final showdown between the Flash and the Rogues. Maybe it is because that opening was so awesome, or the fact that one of the last episode’s big face-offs took place in a stadium, but watching the Flash dash about on the street, dodging streams of lights feels… slow. This is the biggest problem with the episode, but even given that, the action still incorporates a couple of great dramatic beats between the characters.
This is what this newest episode is really all about. As big as it wants the action to be, and as much as Purcell and Miller gleefully tear apart the scenery, it is about the characters we already know and moving things on from the momentous events of the mid-season finale. That is not nothing, and the episodes still to come should give people confidence that The Flash will be up and running at its fastest very soon.
The Flash is broadcast on Sky One on Tuesdays at 8pm. Watch the trailer for next week’s episode below: