The problem of having a series of media being made from the same source is inevitably one of the offerings is going to be worse than the others. Look at Star Trek: Insurrection, Spiderman 3 or X-Men: The Last Stand. They aren’t exactly bad- they just pale in comparison to what they’re up against. The Flash fits squarely into this category. Going up against juggernauts like Gotham and Arrow and the darkness of Constantine leaves a huge set of footprints for the show to follow in. I hate to say it but of the four television shows based on DC Comics out right now, The Flash is arguably the weakest offering. The Flash is such a naturally jovial character, even when facing grave threats, and yet somehow the series has to fit in with the trend towards darker series. Arrow managed to pull it off successfully by redefining the parameters of the character. The Flash wants to do this and gives it an earnest effort, but falls essentially flat.
The one exception this season were “The Man in the Yellow Suit” and “Flash vs. Arrow”. The former allowed the series to explore the one true dark aspect of Barry Allen’s past- the speedster that killed his mother and caused his father to be sent to prison for her murder. The latter succeeded mainly because of the cast of “Arrow” and having Barry be “infected” by that episodes baddie. But when it comes down to it Barry’s “darkness” in the rest of the series comes from constantly reminding us that his mother was killed and his father is wrongfully imprisoned. It was, like, twice every episode at first that he mentioned that. It really got annoying, really fast.
Luckily there’s no mention of that in “Revenge of the Rogues”, but it’s weak plot and worn out points of conflict make this a lack-luster opener to the second part of the first season. As we come across Barry, he has been humbled with the realization that he is not, in fact, the fastest man alive, even though he says that in the episodes opening, again. I mean, seriously, Arrow does a great job of amending the episode opener to change with the story line. I think it would’ve been nice to have that happen with The Flash too, seeing as how the two shows are planets in a binary orbit in the DC Television Universe. I know The Flash isn’t Arrow, but even though the former series set the bar really high you still have to strive to hit it. And audiences appreciate when their hero acknowledges that he is wrong.
Barry is also hurting because the woman he pines after- Iris West- is moving in with her boyfriend Eddie Thawn…who IS REVERSE FLASH! I’m sorry, I’m not biting on that whole Dr. Wells having the outfit so “oh he must be the Reverse Flash.” Argument. Eddie Thawn is the freakin’ reverse flash in my mind until they convince me otherwise!
Anyways, after going over these plot points, we get to the meat of the story- The Flash’s arch-nemesis, Captain Cold and his new accomplice, Heat Wave. From the start the whole premise is as flimsy as a door Captain Cold has hit with his freeze gun. The Flash can’t fight these two because he has to train to take on Reverse Flash. The pair of super-villains insist on trying to defeat The Flash, even though their lives would be a lot easier if they didn’t. I mean, seriously, if you want to commit these crimes, Leonard Snart, why not, I dunno, move to another city. Here, I’ll make it easy for you- don’t move to Starling City. There. The whole rest of the world is there for you…at least until the Justice League comes around. Oh but that movie’s not in the same universe, so they’re going to be getting different actors. So you guys are fine! I doubt there’s gonna be a Superman TV show in the foreseeable future- move to Metropolis!
In a little subplot, S.T.A.R. Labs scientist Caitlin Snow is investigating the last words her zombie-fire breathing dead fiancee said to her before he flew away- Firestorm. Sounds like a great nickname for his character, right? Don’t get me started. But no, instead it turns out that Firestorm is actually the ludicrously long acronym F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M., which stands for “Fusion Ignition Research Experiment and Science of Transmutation Originating RNA and Molecular Structures”. Seriously, WTF! I had to take a smoke break in the middle of writing it, it was so long. I mean, why can’t “Firestorm” just be a codename for the project? Or better yet, just call it alchemy! Cause that’s exactly what all that means- turning stuff into different stuff.
Meanwhile, after failing to lure The Flash out TWICE (I mean, really guys, give it up), Captain Cold and Heat Wave decide to take the tried and true method of “Hurt the superheroes friends and he’ll bend to your will.” I know it’s a first in-universe, but it felt really contrite and forced. So they abduct Caitlin, because if they would have abducted Cisco he would have annoyed them to death. They announce live on television that they’re gonna meet The Flash in public to finally reveal who he is. What’s Barry’s plan? Well Captain Cold has a cold gun and Heat Wave has a heat gun…we’ll just make them cross the streams because it worked in Ghostbusters. But at least the writers had the good taste to acknowledge what they were ripping off.
In the end, of course The Flash wins. He just takes blasts from both guns at the same time until their streams cross- even though a few minutes earlier he was nearly knocked out by one shot from Snart’s cold gun. Yeah, go figure. That’s not even the worse part. Lying there on the ground after being defeated by The Flash, Captain Cold says “I guess you win this time.” Really? Like…am I watching a bad Saturday morning cartoon?
But it’s not all bad. When the writers do acknowledge that Barry Allen is a comical character he and the rest of the cast can be quite funny. Detective West actually is more concerned with Barry having told Iris how he truly feels about her than he is with the possibility of Barry revealing himself as “The Flash” to her. Man, even superheroes don’t understand women. A few other quirky one liners serve to elevate this episode from being bad, instead making it just kind of “meh”. I still have high hopes for the series, but hopefully this is one forgettable episode that won’t be revisited.
Wait, what’s that? Captain Cold has a sister? WTF!
Solid performances from series lead characters Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Tom Cavanaugh (who gives stellar performances week after week as Doctor Harrison Wells), and Jessie L. Martin. In addition, Dominic Purcell’s Heat Wave was menacing and fierce and immensely more watchable and even likable than Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold.
The humor of the show stays on pace here, with good quips coming from all sides that serve several functions, from releasing stress in tense situations to explaining more complicated scientific principles.
There was good tension in between certain characters. A great, albeit all-to-brief scene between Dr. Wells and Detective West exemplifies this, with other honors going to the tensions between Iris and Barry in their newly weird friendship and Eddie Thawn and The Flash, though that one is only implied.
A worn out plot and conflict line made the episode really very predictable.
The show is still struggling to define itself amidst darker DC Television shows Arrow, Gotham and Constantine.
At this point in the season I’m gonna call the writers out on not developing Cisco’s character more and that can even extend to Caitlin as well, though we have seen a bit more of her characters arc.
I’m pretty sure using Heat Wave’s heat gun to heat things up to their Planck Temperatures would, like, incinerate the Earth. Or just really, really, really, really fuck up the surrounding environment. Just to give you an example, the Planck Temperature- what’s known as absolute hot- comes in at roughly 1.416785(71)×1032 Kelvin. A hot summers day clocks in at just 308 Kelvin. Yeah…that might damage some other things around it.
If we have another Flash/Arrow crossover, can we get a scene between Firestorm and Arrow? Just to see two cousins fighting on screen. (Yes, Stephen Amell aka Oliver Queen aka Arrow is the older cousin of Robbie Amell aka Ronnie Raymond aka Firestorm)
Have you guys seen that stupid Nissan Altima commercial? All those well to do people in the downtown district being amazed by a damn Altima? It’s like “Oh wow, look everybody- an average American car!” The chick at the end gets out of her car like “Yup, check out my over-prized mid-sized Sedan. I’m ballin’ bitches!”