In last week's recap of The Flash, I said "Out of Time" was an average episode with a thrillingly exciting core. Since the Flash ran back in time and "Rogue Time" begins more or less at the same point, Barry has a chance to do the episode over. The result? Now it's a great episode with an infuriating core.
Here's the good news: The Flash replaces the lame Weather Wizard storyline for the return of Captain Cold and Heatwave, who are always welcome. In fact, this isn't just the best appearance of Cold — they've all been pretty good — but I think this is going to be one of their defining moments in their hero-villain relationship moving forward. It's excellent.
The bad news is that, as I feared, Barry's meddling in the timestream has wiped out all the major advances of last week's episode: Cisco doesn't find out the truth about Wells, Wells doesn't reveal his secret, Iris doesn't find out the Flash's identity. All the gamechangers have been erased, or very close to it. It's more frustrating than exciting since now we'll have to wait some more for everyone to put together their individual pieces, although it is nice that Cisco wasn't murdered.
Anyways. When the Flash discovered he's accidentally run into the very recent past, he's disoriented, but quickly figures out what's happened when he's called to the crime scene at the coroner's office. Barry immediately heads to STAR Labs and starts finishing everyone's sentences, and Dr. Wells also quickly figures out what's happened (although it probably helps that he's been waiting for this). He quickly schools Barry in how dangerous time travel is, and that he should do everything exactly the same as he did originally.
Of course, all it takes is one look at Captain Singh — who will shortly be electrocuted into a coma — for Barry to say hell with it, grab Mark Mardon in his apartment and stick him in the STAR basement-prison before he can wreak any havoc. Dr. Wells is not amused.
The lack of the Weather Wizard's attack has a variety of effects. Cisco is able to go to his obnoxious brother's birthday party, where we learn that his family esteem their jobless bat pianist son over their brilliant technician. Barry is free to ask Iris on a date, declare his love, and then get totally baffled when Iris shuts him down. But most of all, Captain Cold and Heatwave are free to come into Central City and start fighting the mob.
I feel like it would have been better to at least get a scene of these two last week, to let us know they had come, or were about to come, or something; still, Wentworth Miller's Leonard Snart is as delightfully droll as ever. And he has a good plan, too — use his sister Lisa to seduce Cisco and his brother, and then threaten the brother unless Cisco make new ice and fire guns for them. Oh, and Lisa wants one too. Something… gold.
Barry's day — excuse me, his do-over day — continues to get worse. Cold and Heat Wave hit a mob casino, but Flash has to let them go because they have Cisco (I'm not 100% sure why Flash couldn't have followed them or something, but whatever). Eddie decks him in the police station for macking on Iris. And then Cisco returns… only to confess that he had to reveal the Flash's secret identity to Snart, because he was torturing his brother.
If watching Cisco's heartbreak last episode when Wells reveals his betrayal didn't get you on board the Cisco train, then "Rogue Time" probably did the trick. Again, that simplicity that makes Cisco seem immature and one-dimensional most of the time also makes him seem incredibly genuine, especially in moments like these. Cisco tries to stammer out an apology to Barry, but Barry instantly forgives him with a hug. And in a scene obviously meant to be the inverse of Cisco's murder last episode, Wells takes Cisco down to containment field where the Reverse-Flash escaped, as lesson in a moment where the entre team failed, but got back up and continued on. Hearing Wells give Cisco practically the same speech about being his de facto son is incredibly powerful, knowing that this time it makes Cisco tear up in happiness, when we know Wells would be equally comfortable saying it right before murdering him.
Honestly, the Cisco/Wells scene redux would have been the stand-out moment of the episode… except for the scene between the Flash and his archenemy. And no, I don't mean when Cold, Heat Wave and Golden Glider (see Assorted Musings) get in two motorcycle an attack one of the countless trucks full of valuables that constantly flood Central and Starling Cities' roadways. No, I mean when the Flash grabs Snart right off his motorcycle and takes him deep into the wood for a heart-to-heart.
Captain Cold knows the Flash is Barry Allen, and tells Barry he can't imprison him without a private uplink being automatically sent that would reveal the Fash's identity to the world. Barry can't convince Snart to leave or give up crime, because he's as passionate about it as the Flash is stopping it. So all the Flash can do is appeal to Snart's vanity — that if he's as good as he says he is, he can commit his crimes without hurting innocents, and without going after family members. Snart knows Barry is baiting him, but he also can't say no at the opportunity of proving his superiority. So the Flash and his archnemesis Captain Cold reach an agreement — one that will define their relationship for the rest of the show. And thus Barry manages to thwart an enemy he can't capture… as well as any villains that choose to work under Cold in the future.
Honestly, if we could have kept the movement on the Iris front from last episode — if they could finally get past the rote separation period, and the even more obnoxious let's-never-tell-Iris-anything decision — "Rogue Time" would be one of the best episodes of The Flash's inaugural season. Note I didn't mention the Wells' true identity as needing to be revealed. Because although it isn't, the Reverse-Flash decides to stop by and see Mason, Iris' boss, and the reporter who's been asking about the disappearance of Simon Stagg. It goes like you'd expect, which is to say Mason gets a vibrating yellow hand through his chest.
Remember Barry went back in time before he discovered what happened to Cisco, or Caitlin could tell Barry her suspicions about Wells. So despite living the day over, he has no idea that Wells might be hiding something… until he sees a news flash that reporter Mason Bridge is missing. So that night, he calls Joe over.
I think Wells' secret is about to be revealed for the first time… again. And soon.
• I love how smart Barry and Wells are in figuring out he traveled back in time. This could have gone on an obnoxiously long time, as they slowly figured it out, but it's always refreshing when smart characters act smart.
• Which makes it extra-annoying that Barry is somehow so dumb as to think his confession to Iris would immediately work, or that Cisco isn't suspicious of the hot blonde who hits on him. Cisco has very much grown on me, but come on. Surely at least Barry would be a tiny bit suspicious.
• Speaking of the blonde who is actually Lisa Snart — she's the villainess known as the Golden Glider in the comics, who had ice skates that generate their own ice to skate on, and jewels that hypnotize people. Much more fun than a gold gun, but more expensive to do the VFX for.
• Linda Park breaks up with Barry, because Barry clearly wants to break up but doesn't have the guts to say it. However, Barry may have dodged a bullet. "Your heart should ache when you think of me," Linda tells him. They've gone on, like, what, three dates? You're moving too fast, girl.
• Cisco's brother, when they're both captured: "What, you're going to save us with your 'mechanical engineering' skills?" he says contemptuously. "Oh, I'm sorry. You're right, please use your piano-playing skills to save the day," Cisco should have said. Then spat on his face.
• Normally I think Arrow and The Flash do a great job making their sets look more expansive than they really are, but man, that was one tiny-ass casino the trio attacked.
• Caitlin's sole purpose in this episode is to tell Eddie and Iris that Barry is suffering from "lightning psychosis," which makes him do dumb shit like confess love to Iris. Eddie and Iris buy it, because they have to, because they need to have scenes with Barry in the future. It's dumb.
• That said, Eddie give Barry a hug when he hears about the ailment, and it seems totally genuine. I kind of love Eddie. I'm really excited to see how Eddie becomes Eobard Thawne's Flash-hating ancestor.
• Okay, I didn't want to mention this in the recap proper, because I may be totally high. But when the Reverse-Flash is talking to Mason, did he sound entirely unlike actor Tom Cavanaugh to anyone else? Maybe it was just the modulation, or again, maybe I'm just high. But…
• Next week: Mark Hamill! As the Trickster! Who decides not only to make the Flash re-enact the movie Speed, but specifically references the movie when doing so! I CAN'T WAIT.
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