Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of The Flash! Proceed with caution, speedsters. For reals, if you haven’t yet watched this week’s episode, “The New Rogues,” we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.
This week’s episode of The Flash is first and foremost a vehicle for housecleaning. Since the show debuted, there’s been an undeniable layer of ickiness, however deeply buried it may be, to Barry and Iris’s relationship. Since they were raised as more or less brother and sister, no amount of denial on the show’s part can change the discomfort with which some viewers might approach their blossoming romance. “The New Rogues” addresses this discomfort head-on by giving it to Joe, and by letting us see how he handles the awkwardness. It’s a bit of a cheat, since Joe has long been aware of Barry’s attraction to his daughter, and, from time to time, has even encouraged his affections. But The Flash had to get it out in the open sooner or later, and if someone has to express discomfort it might as well be the fellow who’s closest to both Barry and Iris.
No matter how one feels about their relationship, however, it makes a lot more sense than those of the two other couples showcased in “The New Rogues.” The first is Sam Scudder and Rosalind Dillon, a.k.a. Mirror Master and Top. Two new metas formerly aligned with a pre-Captain Cold Leonard Snart, they want to be Bonnie and Clyde but they’re played by two of the blandest, most forgettable actors ever to play bad guys on the show. I’ve no doubt The Flash just wants us to long all the more for Wentworth Miller’s proper return as Barry’s best frenemy, but did it have to sacrifice poor Mirror Master—one of the comic book Flash’s oldest, most iconic foes—in order to do so? Then again, in naming the villain, Wells states that there’s a Mirror Master on Earth-2 who, like the character comics fans know and love, is not a meta but instead uses a Mirror Gun to carry out his reflection-themed crimes. So perhaps we’ll get to meet the one, true Mirror Master at a later point in the show’s run.
For now, the sole purpose of introducing this version of Mirror Master, and Top, is to give Jesse Quick a chance to strut her stuff alongside Barry on her first mission in full costume. It’s a pretty cool suit she’s got, one reminiscent of that worn by the show’s first female speedster, Trajectory; but with streaks of yellow, befitting Jesse’s much brighter personality. “The New Rogues” also gives Jesse an opportunity to introduce a new aspect of the Speed Force — a libido as fast as her metabolism. That at least is the only way I know how to read her sudden intense interest in Wally. Sure, the two of them have been friends for a few months, and they were both caught in the second accelerator blast. But I don’t recall seeing any major sparks between them, so their sudden romantic interest in one another other feels more a matter of convenience. No one else in the show is their age, so hey, they just have to fall for each other.
By far the most enjoyable new element in “The New Rogues” is Harrison Wells’ decision to return to Earth-2 and leave an extra-dimensional doppelganger in his place to assist Caitlin and Cisco at STAR Labs. It’s such a goofy idea, but it’s well within the DC Silver Age tradition of goofy ideas that the Flash is born out of. It’s the same sort of reasoning that would lead a young Clark Kent to say things like, “I’ll build an android duplicate of myself so Ma and Pa Kent will still have a super son when I go on deep space missions!” Here, Harry gets to “audition” his replacement, which gives Tom Cavanagh a chance to demonstrate his bravura range, playing, in short order, a cowboy, a mime, a steampunk nerd, and a hipster. Though the latter is ultimately settled on, it’s a safe bet Harry will be back again soon. Especially since next week’s episode looks like it might see his successor go haywire. And if Wells II (or is it III?) doesn’t prove a threat, well…Caitlin can cut her hair all she wants, but Killer Frost is ready for her comeback.
— “Oh my God, I’ve become Oliver.”
— Candice Patton appears more comfortable with her charcter the more Iris becomes a part of Barry’s life. But is it really necessary to saddle her with lines like “Do these pants make my butt look big?”
— “You can’t trust a mime.”
— This episode gives Barry one of the frustratingly few opportunities he’s had since the series began to come up with a solution to defeat the villain of the week on his own. I get that The Flash is an ensemble workplace drama, but I’d love to see more such self-reliance. Especially since the comic book Flash exhibits it in most every single issue.
— The only pep talk this week is the one Wally gives to Jesse—hurrah!
— “That’s my daughter, you don’t have to shake her hand.”
Next week: Barry does The Empire Strikes Back with a “Monster”.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).
Ever wonder about the science behind The Flash’s Infinite Mass Punch?
Images: The CW