Tonight’s episode of The Flash picks up where it left off because … well, it kinda had to. Last week’s hour took our hero back in time after he ran so fast that he lapped himself in a race against a tidal wave. Footspeed aside, Barry’s a little slow on the draw as it takes him a few minutes to figure out he’s done a time jump back to the previous day. To his credit, as soon as he puts the facts together, he starts to think about he can change the future and save lives. Dr. Wells, who has a particular set of time-traveling skills, warns him against altering anything. His advice is to have Barry repeat everything exactly as he did the previous day and to keep his travels a secret. (Speaking of secrets, Wells’ true identity is still unknown to the team, but he’s now able to keep tabs on changes to the future through his hyper-advanced AI.
Barry clearly doesn’t listen. Instead, he nabs Mardon before the Weather Wizard can kidnap Joe and bring about a tidal wave that would have destroyed Central City. That’s two problems avoided, but Wells warns that bigger tragedies may be on the way as replacements. Perhaps those tragedies are coming in the form of Snart and Rory, ie Captain Cold and Heat Wave. Their meeting with the head of the Santini family ends with the Rogues taking over as head of the criminal operation. A much quicker rise to power than those seen on some other superhero shows…
Elsewhere, Caitlin and Cisco attend a birthday party for his superlative older brother Dante (Nicholas Gonzalez), while Wells puts Barry through his paces to see if they can recreate the time jump. Joe stops by (the lab, not the quinceanera) to check in on his adopted son; Barry leaves his surrogate fathers to catch up with Linda for his date … which ends with them breaking up amicably, since Barry is still pining for Iris thanks to his lost romantic experience with her in the alternate timeline. (Barry also takes a moment to throw Mason off the scent of Dr. Wells, which will prove to have disastrous consequences for the reporter.) Speaking of romance, Cisco is approached by a golden-haired beauty named Lisa at a local bar. Cisco is probably correct in his assumption that Lisa is not exactly what she appears to be; this is proven to be the case when Lisa (Snart) takes Cisco home to meet her brother and his hot-tempered friend. The Rogues want Cisco to rebuild their icy/hot guns (plus a new one for sister Snart) and they plan to use Dante as leverage. Will the brothers get along long enough to survive the Rogues?
Apparently Barry’s first epic tragedy in this new timeline is that Iris doesn’t actually harbor any romantic feelings for him. Catch one bad guy, lose two ladies (and get a punch in the face from Eddie Thawne in the process); that’s the way this new universe works. Add in the fact that the Rogues are taking their battle to the streets, starting in the Santini-owned casino. The Snarts are out to play while hot-headed Rory is left home to babysit the Ramon brothers, allowing Captain Cold to use their lives as a bargaining chip and keep The Flash at arm’s distance.
When Barry and Dr. Wells engage in a bit of amateur time-traveler talk, Wells offers up some more veiled advice against messing with the time-stream. Wells/Thawne should know the perils of this sort of meddling quite well, but he also has a vested interest in keeping Barry from successfully saving his mother in the past, though he still needs him to try and attain those time-breaking speeds. It’s a conversation that could easily have gotten mind-bendy, but we’re soon spared any further brain damage by a heartfelt talk between the Ramon brothers. That little family chat is soon interrupted in turn by an ill-fated attempt by Dante to take out Rory; the older brother gets a nasty case of frostbite fingers for his trouble as Captain Cold tries to pry The Flash’s identity out of Cisco.
Since there’s no way Cisco muscled his way out of Snart’s hold, when he arrives back at S.T.A.R. Labs, it’s to tell the team that he gave up Barry’s identity in exchange for his own life and his brother’s. Barry’s got no hard feelings for him but Cisco’s taking it pretty hard on himself and wants to get some distance from the others. Before he can do so, Wells takes him into the accelerator’s sub-basement to show him something; this bodes ill. Will this end in Wells’ reveal and murder of Cisco? He starts off in a similar manner, praising Cisco’s talent and genius, saying that he considers him a son … but does he do this in order to win him back into the fold? We don’t know for sure since Caitlin interrupts them, but it certainly would have been strange for Wells to pick that moment to off Cisco, especially with his secret identity intact.
Anyway, back to the fast and furious action. The Rogues ride to make a big score by robbing the casino’s money truck, but The Flash interferes. Lisa’s terrible driving skills manage to crash the trio and Barry zips Captain Cold off to the middle of nowhere to have a face-to-face chat, sans mask. The cold, dark, moonlight-streaming-through-the-trees forest is a great setting that makes this scene stand apart from the usual urban environments. Rather than having Barry use his speed, or Snart using his cold gun, the two reach an understanding through words. Barry basically kicks the Rogues out of Central City and warns them not to bother any of his friends. (Barry needs to retake Superhero Tactics 101, though this arrangement will likely set up future crossover episodes.)
With that somewhat lackluster conclusion to this chapter of the Rogues, Barry meets up with Eddie and Iris, who are now more accepting of his weird behavior of late thanks to Caitlin’s reveal that suffers “lightning psychosis,” a cute form of brain damage resulting from his lightning strike. A strange little way to wrap that up, but certainly not the most far-fetched thing on this show.
Remember how Barry warned Mason away from Dr. Wells? Well, in tonight’s stinger, Reverse Flash attacks Mason, inquiring what information he has on the doctor. Mason gives up his flash (ha!) drive full of data after getting a beating from Wells himself, who murders the man with a punch through his chest before wiping the office clean of anything tying him to his crimes. In a somewhat surprising twist, Barry sees a headline that (rather quickly) reports Mason as “Missing” which leads him to deepen his suspicions about Wells. He confides in Joe on a stormy night, a moment which now leads into the rest of the show’s first season and ultimate clash between the two speedsters.
Rating: ★★★★ Very good — Damn fine television
(An explanation of our ratings system follows here.)
Cisco: “You need to make up some time, man. You’d better hurry up.”
Is this the first we’ve heard of Cisco’s brother? Is this just something I overlooked in earlier episodes (ie last week’s) or is it a hint of a new timeline?
Dr. Wells: “Show me the future.”
Rory: “So glad your house is made of wood. It’s going to be a pleasure to watch it burn.”
Barry: “I got a date with Linda. I gotta run.” ::zip:: Joe: “I don’t suppose you’re going to fill me in either?” Dr. Wells: “Nope.”
Lisa: “Lenny, where’s my gun? Girl’s got to be able to defend herself. No reason you two should get to have all the fun. How about something pretty and toxic, like me? How about something … gold?”
The visual effects for Golden Glider’s “Midas Touch” gun are probably the worst I’ve seen on this show, making this comment one of the rare negative critiques of the series.
Dr. Wells: “Stop right there before you cause another disruption in the timeline.”
Snart: “Oh, I don’t suppose you’d give me a ride back to town, would you?”
Snart: “The Rogues. Cute.”