The number of metahumans Team Flash has tangled with over the course of five seasons is easily in triple digits, with most of them inspired (sometimes very loosely) by villains who originally debuted in the DC comics. Most of them are one-offs, hardly worthy of a return visit...unless they decide to team up. I would argue that the CW show passed up a golden opportunity with the original rogues. The classic villains of my childhood like Captain Cold, Mirror Master, Trickster, and Weather Wizard have all appeared on the show, some of them several times, but we were denied the full team-up that once felt inevitable. A full season of the Rogues as the collective Big Bad became something to dream on while the show did other things.
“Gone Rogue” doesn’t come close to making up for that missed opportunity, but it’s a largely enjoyable outing that brings together some B-list (or, in one case, bee-list) villains who probably couldn’t sustain another hour of the show as solo acts. The supergroup includes Weather Witch, Rag Doll, and—reaching way back in the mists of time to the first season—Bug-Eyed Bandit (a name even Cisco seems to have forgotten he coined, referring to her tonight as “crazy bee girl”).
This “Rogues cover band” is assembled by XS, whose exposure to Thawne’s Negative Speed Force appears to have driven her to the dark side. Nora’s plan is to break into a defense contractor facility in order to steal some meta-tech weapons crafted from the shards of the satellite that exploded at the end of last season. Since the weapons are protected by a metahuman dampener, Nora needs help from associates armed with meta tech. (I’m not really sure how Rag Doll fits into this plan—shouldn’t the dampener put the kibosh on his contortions?—but he still makes for a creepy visual in small doses.)
In addition to having multiple villains on hand, “Gone Rogue” assembles the full Team Flash for the first time in...so long I can’t remember. I’m not sure whether Joe or Cisco has had less screen time this season, but they’re both on hand tonight, along with Cecile, Ralph, Iris, Caitlin, and Sherloque. Along with the four Rogues, that makes for a lot of characters to service, but they all get their moments. Ralph and Caitlin pair up to check out the wreckage of her father’s lab and try to figure out what Cicada II was doing there. There’s an amusing fake-out toward an “OH NO, THEY’RE NOT GOING THERE” moment, when it looks like romance is in the air, but it’s quickly deflated.
The angst this week is generally Nora-related, as Barry and Iris continue to butt heads over what to do about their daughter. At one point, Barry goes right back into single-minded mode with a plan to capture Nora, but Iris insists that they need to trust her, and that Barry is letting his mistrust of Thawne get in the way of that. It’s a thematic callback to the last appearance of Weather Witch, when Nora struggled with the question of whether villains could have a change of heart. In that case, Nora’s faith in Weather Witch was not misplaced, which makes the final act of tonight’s episode something of a head-scratcher.
Nora and the young Rogues pull off their plan to break into the Forge, the secret room where the weapons are stashed, but the villains immediately turn on her. They want to make a name for themselves, so they call upon the Flash to show up within thirty seconds and reveal his identity to the world. There’s a very strange moment when the Flash arrives and puts on a William Shatner-esque soliloquy, but it turns out this is a hologram being operated by Sherloque. Barry, Joe, and Iris are already on the scene disguised as employees of the defense contractor, and are able to foil the young Rogues plan. What’s odd is that Weather Witch’s characterization from her previous appearance is all but forgotten. Although she sympathized with Nora earlier in the episode regarding her parent trouble, she certainly appears ready to kill her before the Flash shows up. In an episode that’s all about Barry learning to have faith that Nora has not truly broken bad, it feels like an off note to hit.
By the end, Nora is back with Team Flash and reveals her true plan: a stolen weapon that can be used to destroy Cicada’s dagger. The fact that this is actually Thawne’s idea rankles Barry some, but he gives the plan his blessing. Even if it works, however, there’s every reason to believe it will end up benefiting Thawne, setting up another showdown with Barry. We’ve got two episodes to go.
- Sherloque has been around for almost an entire season now, and he still can’t get anyone to pronounce his name correctly. However, he does now have possession of the Book of Ralph, which will surely help his wooing of Renee Adler (whose name he can’t pronounce correctly.)
- Ralph also has a pamphlet on 27 Steps to a Better Mourning. Killer Frost doesn’t want any part of it.
- Thaddeus Brown of Earth-51 taught Sherloque the art of escape. I would expect nothing less of Mister Miracle.
- Orlin Dwyer may be dead, but his niece still sees him hanging around and urging her on.