The Flash – Recap: Some Like It Hot
Recap and review of The Flash – Episode 10 – Revenge of the Rogues:
The Flash is back, and it’s been sorely missed. Not many shows on TV offer this sense of adventure in an urban setting. “Revenge of the Rogues” is a comic book come to life, and continues in the spirit of what The Flash is doing — offering an inherently gimmicky, comic book story, and imbuing it with genuine human emotion.
Among the things that worked best about the episode was its villains, as Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell chew the scenery in impressive fashion as Leonard Snart (Captain Cold — or, in Snart’s words, just “Cold) and Mick Rory (Heat Wave). The relationship between the two rogues is an interesting aspect of the episode: Rory simply wants riches, and is keen on leaving Central City once he and Snart have captured a valuable “Fire & Ice” painting that’s worth millions. Snart, meanwhile, has other designs, hoping to commit high-end break-ins as a means of drawing out The Flash so he can have his revenge. Rory is annoyed that Snart’s grudge is preventing them from quitting while they’re ahead, but Snart offers a more pragmatic rationalization for wanting The Flash dead, explaining that the quickster is the only thing preventing them from ruling Central City. Snart essentially offers Rory the choice between taking whatever millions he can get from the painting, or teaming with him to take out The Flash and earn even greater riches as the unstoppable kings of Central City. It’s a solid storyline, illustrating the difference between a well-oiled team like the S.T.A.R. Labs crew, and a more rag-tag, adversarial team like the Rogues. If nothing else, it made me appreciate how effective Barry (Grant Gustin) and his team are. Maybe they don’t always agree on methods, but they actually feel like a genuine team. And if they didn’t, well, then tonight’s abduction storyline wouldn’t have carried as much dramatic weight.
In order to lure The Flash out, Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) is abducted by Rory and Snart, and imprisoned in a warehouse where the heat is kept running all night, as we learn just how deeply Rory’s obsession with fire runs. It isn’t simply that he likes it hot, but rather that he believes in the purifying powers of fire. Years earlier, he was caught in a fire, but escaped from the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Because he never received treatment, he was left with third degree burns, scars he would come to view as indicative of his true self, saying that the fire burned away all the artifice and revealed the man underneath.
Of course, this brief moment in which he reveals his origin to Caitlin is more interesting than most of what Purcell gets to do as Rory, as he’s mostly played as an insane, over-the-top pyromaniac. But what I love is the contrast with Miller’s more calculated, icy (no pun intended) portrayal of Snart, who’s a man with a plan for everything, and a faithful dedication to the bigger picture. In this case, the bigger picture is The Flash: although The Flash is able to defeat both Rory and Snart by forcing them to cross their guns’ streams (Ghostbusters style!), we discover that Snart’s failed plan was simply his Plan A…there’s a Plan B in store, and it involved exposing The Flash to the world. As Snart explains, the world now knows The Flash exists, and “this changes everything.” Case in point, Snart and Rory are bailed out of their prison transport by a mysterious woman whom Snart refers to as “Sis”. He claims this rescue is part of “the plan,” suggesting that there’s a longer plot in place for Snart and Rory. I wholeheartedly expect them to return, and for there to be tragic consequences for Barry and company. But as for now, I simply find this overarching feud between The Rogues and The Flash to be one of the more fun aspects of the season, creating compelling villains that aren’t just once-and-done baddies.
But the more successful parts of the episode mostly centered on the more human elements of the story. For one, Caitlin’s attempts to get to the bottom of F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M., and unraveling a conspiracy that includes a mysterious investor into the sketchy research project (someone whom I’d bet money on being Harrison Wells), made for a fun side story before her abduction by Rory and Snart. And Barry doing his best to get things back to normal between he and Iris (Candice Patton) felt earned, as that’s a relationship that runs far deeper than the awkwardness of Barry’s confession could reach. I also found myself loving the father-son bond between Barry and Joe (Jesse L. Martin), who spend the end of the episode ordering pizzas and drinking beer, as Barry decides to move back home to help Joe get over his empty nest syndrome. While The Flash is largely a show driven by big, exciting setpieces, it’s the personal moments between these characters that makes the show as endearing as it’s been. It’s also what makes it so tense when those characters are in peril. “Revenge of the Rogues” is an episode that’s as fun as it is resonant, and it has me pretty excited for the second half of this first season, since not many genre shows get to have a first season this strong.