Two key figures in Barry Allen’s life are featured in “Going Rogue” (co-written by longtime Flash comic writer and now TV producer Geoff Johns) — a friend from his past and an enemy who will bring no end of trouble to his future… As Arrow’s girl Friday, Felicity Smoak (played by the always wonderful Emily Bett Rickards) helped introduce Barry to the DC TV Universe last year, and her appearance in The Flash serves as a reminder of the similarities and differences between the two heroes, while offering the latter an opportunity to take stock of his situation and view his friends through a fresh pair of eyes. Of course her adorable trademark awkwardness is on full display — for the first time in a while, since her relationship with Oliver Queen has cooled in recent Arrow episodes.
Felicity also arrives at a time when Barry feels betrayed by one of his teammates, Cisco, who we learn created a super “sno-cone machine” while Barry was still in a coma in order to stop him should he awake and use his powers for evil. Cold, explains the S.T.A.R. scientist, is the opposite of speed. (Er, not exactly. That would be heat, if I remember my physics classes correctly. Speed is just a kind of opposing force.) Naturally, the weapon falls into the wrong hands, and criminal Leonard Snart (Prison Break’s Wentworth Miller, oozing menace) seizes it to use against the speedster when he foils his robbery plans. The freeze-ray CGI that the show’s come up with isn’t bad, but we’ve been spoiled by The Flash’s effects. Hopefully something more realistic-looking can be developed for Snart’s next appearance.
As Barry is learning to work with teammates who possess all-too-human fears, his surrogate father, Detective Joe West, wrestles with mixed emotions over his partner Eddie Thawne, whom West learned last episode was the paramour of his daughter Iris. Rather than rely on the usual sitcom cliches, the show takes a fresh approach to the scenario by having Joe confess he’s most worried that Iris’ heart would break should he fail to protect Eddie while on duty. (Jesse Martin remains the cast’s crown jewel.) By episode’s end, the younger man proves he’s more than capable of handling himself (and rescuing Joe when need be), but the fact that we don’t see Eddie asking the same question — how would Iris react if he had to tell her her father was killed? — leads one to believe there may be trouble ahead for the couple.
The Flash continues to excel at showing the variety of ways in which Barry can use his powers. It’s stuff longtime fans have seen in countless comics, but to watch it portrayed in live action makes even the little super-stunts appear brand new. “Going Rogue,” for example, opens with Barry playing Caitlin in a game of Operation while taking on Cisco in ping-pong and Dr. Wells in chess. And he demonstrates his powers to Felicity by racing from her side to the top of a nearby building to take her picture. The best bit is his rescue of a train full of passengers, when Snart takes advantage of his concern for others by escaping via derailment. Watching the crimson comet — in just the fourth episode of his TV show — rush each victim to safety like some kind of supersonic pinball, train cars hurtling in every direction, is enough to make this superhero fan believe once more, like Barry himself, in the impossible.
If only the episode’s finale offered as satisfying a visual. Instead, Barry, frozen to the ground by Snart, is forced to rely on Cisco to outsmart the newly christened Captain Cold by claiming he holds an even more powerful prototype gun. At this point, the arch-crook has proven himself far more cunning than Barry’s previous foes (he’s not just the only non-metahuman among them but the only one not yet captured or killed), so it’s unlikely he’d fall for such a bluff. Perhaps, like so many comic-book super-villains, he prefers the thrill of the chase to the loot he’d accumulate after killing his enemy. In any case, “Going Rogue” ends with Snart bringing a similar heat-based weapon to “Mick”, whom fans will recognize as Heat Wave, another member of the comics’ “Rogues.”
The Flash returns in two weeks with “Plastique,” where we’ll get to see Barry run across water for the first time. Eat your heart out, Dash Parr!
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).