Emily Bett Rickards, Grant Gustin/CW
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Before The Flash premiered and broke every CW ratings record, “Going Rogue” must have been designed to give the show a boost with audiences. Not only does it feature one of the Flash’s best-known enemies, it’s also a crossover episode, bringing a special guest star over from established hit Arrow. As it turns out, The Flash doesn’t really need the help ratings-wise, but the presence of both characters helps make this the best episode since the pilot.

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Instead of dragging a dusty DC villain out of the attic and turning him into the latest meta-human Freak of the Week, “Going Rogue” lives up to its title by introducing a classic comic book foe who will no doubt become a recurring thorn in Barry’s side: Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller), or as he is inevitably dubbed by Cisco, Captain Cold. Although not a meta-human created by the particle accelerator blast, Cold is, in a sense, a product of STAR Labs: His weapon of choice is a freeze-ray gun developed by Cisco as a failsafe in case Barry was the one to go rogue. It’s a smart bit of plotting that adds a little depth to a character who has veered dangerously close to being the annoying comedy relief dude at times. Coming up with a way to neutralize Barry should it become necessary doesn’t exactly endear Cisco to the rest of the team, but was it really such a bad idea? Wells reads him the riot act, but as with every else that has happened on this show, he must have known about it all along.

With their bond fraying, the STAR bunch needs a good lesson in teamwork. Enter Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) from Starling City, where the Arrow hangs out. This sort of crossover may strike some as a cheap ratings grab, but it’s actually perfectly faithful to the comics, where this sort of thing happens all the time. It doesn’t even matter if you aren’t a regular Arrow viewer (and I’ll admit to having only seen a handful of episodes); I remember many an issue of The Flash where a character from some other comic I never read dropped in for an appearance, usually accompanied by a text box giving a bare-bones description of who they were and where I could find out more about them. Here, all we need to know is that Felicity is a nerdy-hot scientist who knows a thing or two about the superhero game.

The other thing that’s immediately apparent is that Felicity and Barry have the kind of palpable chemistry that’s so far been lacking in Barry’s interactions with Iris…which is kind of a problem, since Rickards is a regular on another show. The fact that Barry still only has eyes for Iris even after Felicity shows up to trivia night in that dress is a little hard to swallow, but at least the episode goes on to acknowledge the fact that the two “adorable nerds” are made for each other, even as it insists that opposites attract.

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As for Captain Cold, Wentworth Miller didn’t have a great deal of time to flesh out Leonard Snart in this episode, which is why it’s a good thing he’s the first villain to make a getaway, setting him up for a multi-episode run. Mercifully, especially for those of us who endured Batman and Robin, the cold puns are kept to a minimum (although I did flinch early on when Snart said “Cool it”). I appreciate that the show didn’t try to burden Cold with some grand, vengeful purpose; true to the comics, he’s just a thief who wants to steal a diamond. There’s the suggestion near the end that the presence of the Flash has inspired him to up his game, and the tag scene (the first not to involve Wells) would appear to point the way toward the formation of the Rogues Gallery, which is definitely an enticing development.

“Going Rogue” also gives us a break from the mystery of Barry’s mother’s murder, which is welcome. That storyline serves its purpose, I suppose, but it would be best resolved sooner than later, before Barry has to pay too many more teary visits to his father in Iron Heights. The Flash is at its best when it’s allowed to indulge its playful side: Barry simultaneously playing Operation, ping-pong, and chess with his STAR colleagues, or gleefully showing off his powers to Felicity, or even the goofy trivia night double-date. Let’s leave the brooding to Oliver Queen and his team…and if they want to send Felicity to Central City full-time, I won’t complain.

Stray observations:

  • E=MC Hammer isn’t a bad trivia team name. I mean, it’s not gut-bustingly hilarious or anything, but it’s not bad.
  • The diamond is from Kahndaq, DC’s fictional Middle Eastern country, home of Black Adam. But you probably knew that.
  • You probably also know who that is with Snart in the tag scene, both the character and the actor who plays him. I won’t spoil it here, but feel free to discuss in the comments.
  • “Snart” is never not funny. Snart! Snart! Snart!
  • No episode next week. See you on the 11th.

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