After all the excitement, events and revelations of the last couple of episodes before the Christmas break, “Revenge Of The Rogues” feels a little run-of-the-mill; an astonishing thing to say about an episode that features a supervillain team-up that forms the first major step towards the formation of the Rogues – a cartel of evil capes who regularly caused problems for the Flash in the comics.
Not that there’s much wrong with the episode; from the training session at the start to the “prison break”* at the end, it’s solid, entertaining, pacy, fluffy fun. (*Okay, it wasn’t a prison, but with Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell playing the two characters being broken out, it’s an obvious gag).
But this was pretty much Flash-by-numbers, right down to the usual Joe versus Wells for the right to be Barry’s Jiminy Cricket scenes (Joe wins, of course). Oh, and Barry having to bite his lip and wish Iris and Eddie all the best in their new life (while mentally sticking pins into a voodoo doll of the guy).
There were so many not-so-subtle attempts to frame Wells as a villain here, you have to wonder whether we’re being fed some red herrings. As he skulks in the shadows asking Barry archly, “I hope we’re not enemies…?”, the hint is so nudge, nudge, wink, wink, that it’s either a really naff piece of scripting or a deliberate piece of misdirection. Maybe when Wells says, “And I'm glad you push me to be better,” he’s admitting to himself that Barry may be forcing him to rethink his own motives. Or maybe that he just needs to be cleverer to keep a step ahead of Barry.
Don't Cross The Streams!
You can’t beat a good Ghostbusters reference. And Wells is a fan, it seems.
On the other hand, Wells seems to be ignoring his own advice in “Power Outage”, where he decided that letting Barry be a hero was a better way to inspire him to greater speeds than endless training. Now here, once again, Wells is back to arguing, “As fast as you are you cannot be everywhere at once… in the last month you have made a commitment to increasing your speed, enhancing your reflexes, and it’s working – you’re finally getting faster.” Silly man.
Captain Cold and Heatwave are decent-enough villains, helped enormously by committed performance from Purcell and Miller, whose tongues are well away from their cheeks. But they’re a little one-dimension (Cold is cool, Heatwave is hotheaded) and the constant ice/fire gags paint them a little too much in the ’60s Batman TV series mode. Hopefully, as ongoing villains, they’ll develop more depth.
The action and spectacle are as good as ever, though (even the opening training sequence is a visual highlight), and the infectious sense of fun remain the show’s most appealing reason to watch (Barry and Cisco’s delight about the training drones having lasers is a tiny but truly effective character beat). To be honest, if this is a run-of-the-(tread)mill episode of The Flash, the show has little to worry about.
After Barry has destroyed Cisco’s drone, Cisco says he has a couple more handy and these ones have lasers. But the one Barry’s already destroyed looked like it had lasers too (as in our screen grab) though they could have just been an over-enthusiastic FX guy’s fanciful idea of what mini-projectiles might look like.
Blowing Hot And Cold
The ’60s Batman TV show-style puns are back with a vengeance. In an episode where the main villains’ MOs involve fire and ice we get: “You iced him”, “We’ll dev-ice a way to catch cold”, “Snart, freeze!”, “Why do they call you people the heat? I’m the heat!” and “Your partner’s a real hot head.” Additionally, the painting the pair steal is called “Fire And Ice” and when Rory says “Crossing t’s and dotting i’s” he makes “i’s” sound like “ice”.
The new owners of the Fire And Ice painting, Rachel and Osgood Rathaway, mention that their son, Hartley (who’s trying to reach them by phone) is no son of theirs any more. In the DC comics universe, Hartley Rathaway is supervillain the Pied Piper, who was one of the Rogues.
You’d think Flash fangirl Iris might mention something about the colour scheme of Barry’s backpack.
Meta Alert Avoided
The comic Barry pulls from his backpack is an issue of Space Ghost, which isn’t a DC character, thus avoiding any problems of clashing levels of reality.
We googled “firestorm” (and indeed “firestörm”) and didn’t come up with either a 2011 film or Norwegian cuisine.
Caitlin’s pep talk to Barry (“Before I met Ronnie, I knew exactly what was going to happen every day of my life. It was predictable. I like predictable. But when Ronnie and I started dating, everything started to change…”) is rather tactless. She’s basically telling a guy who’s just lost the girl he loves to another man that her life improved when she met a guy.
What A Mouthful
The acronym FIRESTORM is a masterpiece of lexicographical retrofitting of which Gerry Anderson would have been proud: Fusion Ignition Research Experiment and Science of Transmutation Originating RNA and Molecular structures.” It’s an acronym that contains an initialism! Is there a word for that in The Meaning Of Liff? If not, can we suggest a Wisbech.
Jason is a character from the DC universe, who becomes another aspect of Firestorm after the death of Ronnie Raymond.
Professor Martin Stein
The original comic version of Firestorm was two people fused into one: Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein. Ronnie has most control and Martin was like a voice in his head. We’ve already met Ronnie on the show; Victor Garber (of Alias fame) has been cast as Stein in The Flash, and that’s him we can see in this screen grab.
Snart calls Barry “Scarlet Speedster” the first time that nickname from the comics has been used in the show.
The Flash airs on Sky 1 in the UK and the CW in the US on Tuesday nights.