Tuesday, October 20, 2015

REVIEW: 'The Flash' - Barry Needs to Help Captain Cold Out of a Tricky Family Situation in 'Family of Rogues'

The CW's The Flash - Episode 2.03 "Family of Rogues"

When Barry and the team find out Captain Cold has been kidnapped, they form an uneasy alliance with his sister, Lisa. Barry feels double-crossed when he finds out Snart is working with his father, Lewis Snart (Michael Ironside) on a heist. Joe is faced with a difficult decision.

"Family of Rogues" doesn't feature a whole lot of forward momentum with the season's over-arching storylines. Zoom doesn't send a new meta-human to do battle with the Flash. Jay Garrick and the need to handle the various bridges between the two Earths is largely relegated to the background. However, this episode is the most successful one of the season so far because it puts so much of its focus on the characters. The best thing the show did last season was flesh out all of the characters with clear emotional wants and needs. The big plot moments are important but the show is successful because the audience cares about the characters. The show has these big sweeping emotional moments in spades during this hour. It's wonderful watching as the show really embraces that tone with so much enthusiasm.

It also helps immensely that the episodic story doesn't revolve around a bad guy of the week. This episode doesn't feature a bland villain to do battle with the Flash only for plot concerns and then never be seen from again. "Family of Rogues" features the grand return of Leonard and Lisa Snart. The show brilliantly fleshed out a compelling dynamic between Barry and Snart last season. It's the kind of classic good guy vs. bad guy who may not be so bad after all dynamic. It's been captivating to watch because Grant Gustin and Wentworth Miller are so perfectly cast in the roles.

The Snarts make their debut for the season because Leonard has been kidnapped by their father, Lewis Snart (a wonderfully cast Michael Ironside), to pull off a heist. Lewis is not going to be winning any father of the year awards. He repeatedly abused Lisa when she was young which reasonably put a huge strain on his relationship with his children. That continues in the present because he is forcing Leonard to help him by putting a bomb inside Lisa. It's a complicated family situation that Barry finds himself in the middle of. He is trying to do the right thing because Lisa came to the team desperate to save her brother. The siblings only have each other and will do anything to protect that bond. Barry respects that and is willing to help even though he risks running into another double cross orchestrated by Snart. It's amusing that Barry ran into all of these trust issues with Jay last week but here he's more than fine with taking Leonard and Lisa at their word.

Barry goes undercover in order to help with the heist and make sure that no innocent people get hurt. It's a chilling sequence when Snart is pointing his cold gun at the Flash while Cisco is using his suction gun (literally) to get the bomb out of Lisa. It's a moment where Snart has to decide where to place his trust. Barry and the team are the only people who can get the bomb out safely. Lewis put him in this predicament and will always be untrustworthy. This family dynamic is messed up. It's not surprising that Snart doesn't use his weapon on Barry. But he also has to prove that he's still willing to kill. He turns the weapon on his own father in order to rid him once and for all from his and his sister's lives. It's a move that later lands him in jail. But that probably won't last long. It does give him some time to contemplate his actions. Barry truly believes that Snart can be a hero. He just needs to break free from his past and embrace that identity for himself.

All of the Snart family drama is balanced nicely with Joe needing to tell Iris the truth about her mother. When Francine popped up in the last episode, it was unclear how her return would play with the rest of the ongoing storylines. Here, it is just as important as the rest of the show because it revolves around the emotional dynamics of the characters. Joe told Iris that her mother died. He kept it a secret for the past twenty years. And now, he has to tell her the truth and deal with whatever consequences that might bring. It's an emotionally devastating moment when he confesses to her. He was just doing what he thought was right in order to protect his daughter. She knows him well enough to understand why he did what he did. She isn't upset by what he did. That's a fascinating character moment for Iris. People may love keeping secrets from her. But she has proven herself to be very tough and resourceful. She may not know what the future brings with her family but she recognizes just how much love surrounds her right now.

Of course, not everything that happens in this episode revolves around family drama. Jay is able to build the speed cannon that can stabilize the portal between the two worlds. He is convinced into staying on this Earth by a clearly smitten Caitlin as long as the Zoom threat is present. But that's not the most important thing that happens with the portal in this episode. The teaser in the end shows it being used successfully for the first time. The man who steps out into this world is the Harrison Wells of Earth-2. That was to be expected. But it's still a very tantalizing and exciting tease for what's to come this season. Everyone has trust issues with Wells. How will the Wells of the other world be different from the Eobard Thawne that the team knew? That answer is the most exciting thing to come in next week's episode.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Family of Rogues" was written by Julian Meiojas & Katherine Walczak and directed by John Showalter.
  • Both Barry and Cisco were getting their flirt on this week with Patty and Lisa, respectively. The Barry-Patty connection still seems a little forced. It featured two meet cutes at Jitters! However, the Cisco-Lisa kiss was much more natural than that dynamic was last season.
  • Dr. Stein is starting to combust without Ronnie to stabilize Firestorm. It's only getting more severe so it's something the team will need to address soon.
  • It's good to know that there is a meta-human section of the prison now. The show just has to use it in a meaningful way soon.
  • It's somewhat surprising that Jay is so willing to have his world referred to as Earth-2. He's too focused on building the speed cannon to really care.
  • Snart says it will only be a matter of time before he gets out of Iron Heights. That's probably true considering he's slated to star in the spinoff series, Legends of Tomorrow. I just hope he appears on this show one more time before he goes off to that one in January. He is just so good.