Bloody time travel. Everything was going so well for this series then time travel manages to put a spanner in the works.
Of course, if you’re not a sci-fi geek, you can probably sit back and enjoy the ride – it’s certainly an episode full of surprises, intriguing character developments and clever dialogue. But if you’ve seen or read more than two time travel tales in the past five years, you watch “Rogue Time” with a sinking feeling as a paradox minefield unfolds in front of your eyes.
After last week’s jaw-dropping cliffhanger the first shock this week is the manner of the time travel. When, in the previous episode, Wells explained away Barry seeing another Flash as some kind of “speed mirage” we assumed Wells was just trying to throw the youngster off the scent, and that, for a moment, Barry had been indeed been running alongside himself.
But no. As his “Oh boy!” hints, Barry has, in fact, leapt back in time into his own body, Quantum Leap-style. So disappointingly we don’t have two Barrys running about. Hang on, though… We’ve previously been told that older Barry and baby Barry were both present the night Barry’s mum was killed. So what version of time travel are we dealing with in this series?
See. Paradox minefield. Maybe the writers will manage to tiptoe through it, but we’d be surprised. Cross fingers, though, eh?
It’s amusing to see Barry try to travel through time again while running on the treadmill, as the Cosmic Treadmill was often his vehicle for time travel in the comics.
You also have to wonder why Barry isn’t suspicious about Wells’s sudden expertise in time travel. From Barry’s point of view, shouldn’t Wells just be speculating like the rest of them?
Aside from the temporal wobbles the episode was a lot of fun, though maybe not quite as slick as we’ve come to expect. The sheer weight of incidents that needed to happen – the Groundhog Day aspects, the return of the Rogues (plus one), Barry trying to get with Iris round two, Cisco’s family woes and kidnapping, Bridge’s death, Wells’s various pep talks – caused a few stress fractures in the scripting. To be fair, it’s amazing it came out as coherent and entertaining as it did. On the other hand, it would be nice to have a “Rogues” episode where Snart and Rory aren’t quite so one-dimensional but there’s little room for them to do much more than snarl and quip here.
Equally, the packed plot meant that both Barry’s deal with Snart and his suspicion/realisation that Wells killed Stagg and Bridge – both important developments – wavered on the trite side.
On the other hand, the episode was full of knowing lines which take on an extra meaning if you’ve see the previous episode. Such as when Wells says to Barry, “Do you have any idea what you’ve just done?” to which Barry replies: “Yeah, I just saved loads of lives,” and the viewer knows what even Barry doesn’t realise: that he’s just saved Cisco’s life.
Another great moment was Reverse-Flash’s murder of Mason Bridge, not just from a shock point of view but because the while sequence looked stunning too – especially Reverse-Flash punching the journalist into the ceiling.
Perhaps the cleverest thing about the episode, though, is the fact that it’s actually just a very elaborate version of that much-maligned telefantasy trope – the reset button that doesn’t feel like a reset button.
In the comics, Leonard Snart’s sister Lisa was known as the Golden Glider, though she created her own jewel-themed weaponry. She first appeared in Flash #250 (1977).
Barry: “It needs to end.” Leonard Snart: “Can’t do that. It’s what I do.” Barry: “Then find a new line of work.” Leonard Snart: “Don’t want to.” Barry: “Why’s that?” Leonard Snart: “The same reason you keep running after guys like me. The adrenaline. The thrill of the chase. I love this game and I’m very good at it.”
Peyton List (Lisa Snart) has played the sister of a comic book character before, having appeared twice as Lois Lane’s sister Lucy in Smallville.
Even Joe alludes to Barry’s superfast healing activities during the episode, so you have to wonder if an ice pack was really necessary? Maybe Eddie’s secretly a metahuman too…?
We suspect Mick may need a hearing test after he fails to hear Dante kick the leg off a table just a few feet behind him.
The Flash airs on Sky 1 in the UK and the CW in the US on Tuesday nights.
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