It may sound contradictory to suggest that The Flash is sometimes better when it slows down a little, but after last week’s frantic, overstuffed hour, which had to do the heavy lifting of launching the season’s arcs and introducing the exposition-heavy complications of a parallel earth, “Family Of Rogues” is a welcome return to what the show does best. It puts the characters we love front-and-center and maintains a perfect balance between executing a compelling A-story and setting the stage for future events. It’s easily the best episode of this young season to date.
It’s all well and good to continue introducing new major threats like Zoom and one-off metahumans like last week’s Sand Demon, but when you’ve got a Hall of Famer like Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold on the roster, you’d be a fool not to bring him to the plate—especially when he’s due to be traded to Legends Of Tomorrow in mid-season. The relationship between Barry and Snart has become one of the show’s most pleasurable in only a handful of outings; it’s the classic case of the hero and the bad guy who isn’t so bad after all… but isn’t exactly a reliable friend, either. It’s the Batman/Catwoman dynamic minus the sexual tension (or minus 90 percent of it, anyway).
It’s funny that only one episode after Barry was experiencing severe trust issues with Jay Garrick, he has no problem walking right back into another Captain Cold double-cross. There’s a twist this time, however; Snart is working with his father Lewis (Michael Ironside, perfectly cast) against his will. It seems Snart Sr. was not the ideal father figure, particularly to Lisa Snart, who he beat with a bottle when she was a child. Now he’s installed an explosive device in her brain, which isn’t going to win him any Father of the Year competitions but does ensure that his son will do his part to help him steal some diamonds. While Cisco works on getting the bomb out of Lisa’s head, Barry goes undercover as Snart’s techie so he can bring down Lewis as soon as he gets the all-clear from STAR Labs. The payoff is an exquisitely edited suspense sequence cutting between Snart holding his cold gun on Barry and Cisco preparing to extract the bomb with a super-suction gun. (That is not a metaphor. It’s an actual super-suction gun.)
A father-daughter relationship that is anything but homicidally dysfunctional provides a clear contrast to the Snarts. Joe is concerned about breaking the news to Iris that her mother is still alive. The real story is that Francine was a drug addict who overdosed on pills, and that a very young Iris called the police and saved her life. Francine escaped from rehab and had been in hiding until her recent return to Central City, but Joe had always told Iris she was dead. If you’ve been watching this show from the start, you just know Jesse L. Martin is going to bring the waterworks in this scene, and he doesn’t disappoint. Any worries that this will lead to a histrionic falling out between Iris and Joe are quickly put to rest, and it’s great to see Candice Patton freed from the wet blanket role she was forced to play much of last season.
The parallel worlds arc is shifted to the back-burner this week, but even in a few short scenes, it progresses nicely. Jay Garrick manages to build the “speed cannon,” an express tunnel between the two worlds, and he agrees to stay on Earth-1 until Zoom is captured (thanks to some prodding from a clearly smitten Caitlin). They probably should have installed a security booth, however, as the very first person to take the cross-Earth expressway is the Harrison Wells of Earth-2. His timing couldn’t be better, as Prof. Stein is now self-combusting and collapsing without Ronnie to share Firestorm duties. STAR Labs may need a new lead scientist, and Wells already has the resume for it. His arrival is the fitting capper on one of The Flash’s best episodes to date.
- Cisco incorporated thermal lining into Barry’s new Flash suit just in case of run-ins with Captain Cold. He’s always thinking, that Cisco.
- Barry’s flirtation with Patty Spivot felt a lot more organic and relaxed this week than last, although having two separate meet-cutes in Jitters was a bit much. We get it, there’s an attraction here.
- Snart ends up behind bars in Iron Heights, but says “it’s only a matter of time” before he gets out. Or a matter of time-travel. With any luck, though, he’ll be able to squeeze in at least one more appearance on The Flash before Legends Of Tomorrow kicks off. Miller’s performance is so perfectly calibrated for the character—he invests every line reading with dry, sardonic wit that never quite curdles into camp—that it would be a shame for him to vanish from the Flash-verse altogether.
- People just do not like telling Iris their deep, dark secrets, do they? Well, she is a reporter, after all.
- I was kind of hoping Jay would take some offense at his home world being dubbed Earth-2, but he seems to be fine with it.
- It was a good week for Cisco overall, from his impression of Prof. Stern to his smooch with Golden Glider at the end.