Tuesday, October 28, 2014

REVIEW: 'The Flash' - Barry Battles Leonard Snart Who's Armed with a Cold Gun & Felicity Visits Central City in 'Going Rogue'

The CW's The Flash - Episode 1.04 "Going Rogue"

Barry identifies Leonard Snart as the leader of a group of robbers who shoot a guard during their latest heist. Barry gets a surprise visit from Felicity Smoak. Snart has gotten his hands on a stolen "cold gun," which could kill The Flash. Dr. Wells is furious when he finds out that Cisco built the weapon without telling anyone. Iris is getting the silent treatment from Joe because of her relationship with Eddie.

"Going Rogue" simply is the strongest episode of The Flash since the premiere - and that is largely because it is introducing various things that will have a recurring presence on the series. Those are both good and bad. The episode features two very notable guest appearances - Arrow regular Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak and Wentworth Miller as Leonard Snart (who will go by the much cooler name, Captain Cold). Both characters bring about new dynamics on the show that are very rewarding in the present while remaining very hopeful for the future.

Captain Cold simply is the strongest villain the series has shown so far - largely because, by episode's end, he is still alive and out there planning his next nefarious deed. Miller doesn't have a lot of time to truly create a memorable and multi-dimensional villain. And yet, he absolutely sells every moment of screentime he gets while also making some corny dialogue work. His character is the first bad guy Barry goes up against who recognizes that The Flash is a man with weaknesses just like everyone else. In this case, that's Barry's need to save everyone. The death of a guard during their first encounter weighs heavily on Barry who is still figuring out the best way of protecting the people of Central City. In that moment, Barry wasn't fast enough to save that man from Snart's cold gun. It's a device that has the possibility of killing Barry as well. More importantly though, it was created by Cisco when the STAR labs team didn't know what kind of person Barry would wake up as.

So far, Cisco has been the comic relief in almost every appearance. He still exists in the same realm of characters as everyone else on the show. But it's also very apparent that he just likes having fun seeing everything that Barry and the rest of the meta-humans can do. Creating this device and its later theft gives him a dynamic with the rest of the team that is much more important than just being comic relief. And yet, it sure does come out of nowhere. One second he's being funny and the next Wells is yelling at him for creating this device in the first place. Because of what we know about Wells, it is a part of every interaction he has with every other character. We still don't know what is up with him just yet. Which only makes his dynamic with Cisco even more intriguing.

As Felicity points out when she joins the team for a brief moment this week, the STAR labs team was thrown together all of a sudden. The team over on Arrow has had time to work out most of the kinks and develop into an efficient unit. That quality is missing with this team because we haven't gotten that much time with them. It's fun watching Barry play operation, ping-pong and chess with Cisco, Caitlin and Wells. But beyond their broad characterizations, we don't exactly know how each member of this team will react. That allows for moments of genuine surprise. But it also alludes to better moments of team bonding on the horizon. Barry is a friend now. They don't need the cold gun in order to contain him. Now, that friendship on a personal and professional level needs to develop.

But Felicity's visit to Central City also highlights the gapping black hole that is the dynamic between Barry, Iris and Eddie. Multiple characters over the course of this hour say that Barry and Felicity are perfect for each other. I agree with them one hundred percent. Barry has vastly more chemistry with Felicity than he does with Iris (or Iris has with Eddie as a matter of fact). And yet, the show is convinced in the Barry and Iris as sole mates plot. It's perfunctory - especially when Felicity walks into trivia night in that dress but Barry is still eyeing Iris. Their concluding train ride scene was immensely pleasurable as even Barry and Felicity admit that they are great for each other. And frankly, an ongoing relationship between the two would be greatly enjoyable. It's tricky because she's a regular on another show. And Iris is just such a mess - which I'm attributing most of the blame on the writing for the character. The show needs to just get past the whole Barry gets flustered around Iris because he wants to be more than friends thing. The series as a whole would be vastly improved.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Going Rogue" was written by Geoff Johns & Kai Yu Wu and directed by Glen Winter.
  • Seriously, that sequence in which Barry saves all the passengers on a train mid-collapse was the best special effect on the show so far. Bravo for the show growing more confident in the special effects department.
  • I like that Captain Cold is not a meta-human caused by the explosion at the STAR labs just like every other villain so far. It shows that there are more villains in this universe than just the ones created on that night. It's a little irksome that he got the gun from STAR labs though. Not every defining characteristic about the villains has to come from a part of that facility.
  • Snart is just a really weird and funny name. Snart! Snart! Snart!
  • Fans of the comics likely already know this. However, Captain Cold is talking with Mick Rory aka Heatwave (to be played by fellow Prison Break alum Dominic Purcell) in the tag sequence.