Grant Gustin, Stephen Amell, Robbie Amell/The CW

“Rogue Air” may be the most comic book-like episode of The Flash yet, and not always in a good way. It’s like one of those old 80-page giants featuring tons of crossovers and special guest supervillains, except it’s the same size as every other Flash episode. It’s overstuffed and rushes through its big set pieces like Barry on his way to a crime scene. In the end Barry gets his man, but the moment isn’t quite as satisfying as it could have been.

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Part of that is because the final battle, in which the Flash gets an assist from the Arrow and Firestorm, is confusingly shot and logistically unsound. The brothers Amell show up out of nowhere for a two-minute fight, and it feels like the only reason they’re there is that the network wants one more crossover with Arrow and the upcoming Legends Of Tomorrow spinoff. Yes, Barry couldn’t have defeated Wells without their help (and by proxy of the nanite arrow, Ray Palmer’s help), but the presence of Oliver Queen is particularly hard to swallow given current events on his home series. Maybe it will make a little more sense once the Arrow season finale airs, but for now it looks like Oliver left all his friends choking on gas back in Nanda Parbat and jetted off to Central City because Barry contacted him…somehow? Granted, that’s more of an Arrow problem than a Flash problem, but it does leave the distinct impression that marketable guest spots outweigh plot logic and common sense, and this is an issue that will only be complicated by the addition of a third series next season. I’m all for an interconnected DC/CW universe, but it shouldn’t be forced to the point where the puppet strings are clearly visible.

Some guest spots work better than others, which brings us to another future Legends Of Tomorrow character, Captain Cold. Wentworth Miller serves up another satisfying helping of his expertly cured brand of ham, wringing every drop of juice out of a line like “I’m a criminal and a liar and I hurt people and I rob them.” The downside of this plot thread is yet another appearance by Dumb Barry, who’s getting far too much screen time as the season goes on. “Barry, why would you do something so stupid?” Joe asks when our hero reveals his plan to work with Captain Cold in transporting the metahuman prisoners. It’s what he does, Joe! Yes, it’s a plan of last resort, and its intent—keeping people alive even though they’re the bad guys—is noble. But everyone except Barry knew exactly how this was going to go down, and now the blame for any further deaths caused by the escaped metahumans must at least be shared by him.

As for those metahumans, their escape from the Accelerator is an event we’ve been anticipating all season, but it too falls a little flat due to time constraints. There’s hardly enough time to remember who all the villains are before the battle is over and they’ve made their escape, and I had to watch the big superpowered free-for-all twice to parse exactly what happened. Maybe all of this didn’t have to be stuffed into the same episode with the super team-up battle against Reverse-Flash? Just a thought.

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The question now: What does Barry do with his nemesis now that he’s captured him? If his plan is to reverse time and save his mother, how exactly does he accomplish that? The pieces are in place for an emotionally resonant finale as long as it’s not too cluttered with extraneous elements, so here’s hoping the creative team remembers that, even in comic-book land, sometimes less is more.

Stray observations:

  • There’s no reason Snart should give Mr. Freeze a run for his money in the cold pun department, but here he is ordering an ice-cold drink while the jukebox plays Foreigner’s “Cold As Ice.” (I guess those aren’t puns, though; just straight up in-your-face references.)
  • Eddie is free, of both Wells and Iris. Once again, Iris is right to point out that she’s her own person and makes her own decisions, despite any headlines from the future. But the same is true of Eddie, and all signs point to him making the right decision here.
  • Another week, another Cisco insta-invention, this time the superpower damper Snart disables to free the metahumans. Or should I call them Rogues?
  • Cisco’s “reluctant” flirtation with Golden Glider was an episode highlight.
  • STAR Labs: Where there are no locks and every unexpected entrance is expertly timed.
  • Ferris Air got shut down because “one of the test pilots disappeared.” A fellow named Hal Jordan, no doubt.

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