THE FLASH: “Family of Rogues”

At some point, we’re going to run out of “rogue” based titles.

Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold (aka Leonard Snart) was one of the very best surprises on all of television last year. He was pitch perfect in tone, perfectly embodied the character all the way down to his blue parka, and most of all seemed to have a hell of a fun time with it. He was so good that, very quickly, he was announced as a part of 2016’s Legends of Tomorrow, which brought up an interesting conundrum: how, exactly, are we to take a character who so obviously enjoys being a crook and a liar and make him “good” enough to be believable on a team of heroes?

Tonight’s episode takes the first concrete steps towards that, first by bringing in Michael Ironside (!!!) to play the Snarts’ father, an unrepentant crook and murderer who, as we find out, has implanted a bomb in Lisa Snart to get his son to help him with one last job. Things kick off when Lisa comes to Team Flash (well, Cisco), asking for help. After a run-in with Cold and a new heat…thing on the suit saving him from said run-in, Barry resolves to help the Snarts as best he can, by infiltrating the crew and posing as a tech (which he can do, considering, you know, he’s a tech).

The subplots of tonight’s installment are threefold: firstly, Caitlin really likes Jay Garrick (don’t we all) and wants him to stay, using his scientific expertise to aid Team Flash. He eventually relents. Secondly, Dr. Stein is having some sort of medical problem, which is played in the background before he erupts into a blue Firestorm and collapses at the episode’s conclusion. Thirdly, Iris’s mother Francine is back and wants to see her daughter. Joe refuses, but makes sure to tell Iris what’s going on, which is a nice change of pace from Season 1.

With that stuff out of the way, Barry posing as a techie is an excuse for Grant Gustin to revert into bro-mode, and he does well with the chance before Lewis Snart “shoots” him and leaves him for dead. The interplay between Wentworth Miller and Grant Gustin has always been quite fun, and despite Snart’s confusion and anger throughout, he obviously is getting a kick out of watching Barry pretend to be a criminal. Given how casual they are with one another, Snart probably sees the Flash as one of his few actual friends, which is a very accurate representation of the strangely casual adversaries they are in the comics.

Anyway, Barry eventually races in to confront the elder Snart as Cisco saves Lisa from the micro bomb implanted in her neck and everyone lives happily ever after, except for Lewis, who is almost immediately brutally murdered by his vengeful son. I don’t want to neglect Michael Ironside here, who was cruel and vindictive without seeming stupid, and was a great single-episode foil. If there were a way to bring him back, I’d be all for it.

Also worthy of mention is Peyton List, whose unrequited attraction to Cisco was played for laughs last season but now somehow seems mutual and inevitable without making Cisco seem like an amoral pervert or Lisa any less a wild child. Her revelations of the abuse (possibly sexual, though I’m very sure a show on the CW doesn’t want to make that anything more than subtext) make it surprisingly okay when Cold murders his father, and her goodbye to Cisco is surprisingly effective. I’m unsure if she’ll be on Legends or Flash going forward, but I anticipate her next appearance greatly.

If it seems like I breezed through this episode, it’s because this episode was quite breezy. It was simple without being stupid, and was a bit of a return to form from the high-concept stuff of last episode. The key to this show is that not every episode can be a “Man in the Yellow Suit” or “Fast Enough.” We need monsters-of-the-week for this thing to hold together, and this was one of the very best thus far.

Besides, Earth-2 Harrison Wells appearing from a breach in his own STAR Labs in the teaser was more than enough for me. Pretty sure he’s a red herring as far as Zoom’s identity is concerned, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it.

As for Cold himself, he’s in prison at the episode’s conclusion, though as Joe and Barry agree, not for long. How does mid-season 2016 sound?

Episode Grade: A

NOTE: I’m trying to slim these reviews down a bit, though I reserve the right to put another 2,000 words down on this if the need arises.

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