About 10 days ago, news hit the web that CW had finally gone ahead and renewed The Flash for a second season, and to go along with that we also learned that Arrow had been renewed for a fourth season. Phenomenal stuff. With all the new records that The Flash has set and with all the continuous positive buzz it has generated since the start, this was inevitable, but it is also great to see that the higher-ups also fully believe in the show. And well they should, because the first nine episodes were an awesome rollercoaster ride and the mid-season finale was totally awesome, by any metric you care to measure it by.
It is time for the mid-season premiere though, and Revenge of the Rogues has all the right feels for an episode that brings back a previous villain, and also introduces a new one, while also moving several other stories forward simultaneously and setting up yet more surprises for future episodes. In the wake of learning about the Man In The Yellow Suit, Barry has been working himself hard to up his abilities, to run faster, move faster, think faster. The Reverse-Flash showed him up again and again, and for their next confrontation, Barry wants to be ready. But when Captain Cold returns, this time with his friend and partner Heat Wave in tow, that’s when the show takes a huge step up to show that Barry Allen is every bit the same kind of guy we saw in the first episode, and that despite everything he has seen and done since his transformation, there are things about him that haven’t changed.
Back in episode 4 of the show, “Going Rogue“, we saw Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold/Leonard Snart in action for the first time on the show, and it proved to be a rather surreal experience, especially since it was partly written by Geoff Johns, who has a long history with writing The Flash comics and is a self-admittedly huge fan of Captain Cold. His enthusiasm for the character carried over well in the script that Miller had to work with, and he delivered a powerful performance as well, with the kicker at the end of the episode that he went to his former partner Mick Rory for some help in fighting The Flash, which all sets up for this week’s mid-season premiere, “Revenge of the Rogues“.
In the new episode, we have Leonard and Mick make their criminal comeback as a duo, with the main objective being that they intend to take down The Flash before they properly resume their criminal activities. The appearance of the almost-fabled The Streak means that they can’t safely pull off a job until they take the hero down, and so they set a trap for him again and again, to get him to come out and face the two of them together, when they can turn the powers of their…. new gear on him and eliminate him from the board.
And this is why I loved the episode so much. Because like the mid-season finale, it wasn’t so much about a crime caper as it was about the villain taking out the hero so that he had a clear run to the finish line with whatever other job he/she wanted to pull off. What writers Geoff Johns and Kai Yu Wu do so well in this episode is that they focus almost the entirety of the villains’ scenes on their internal disharmony and their need to take out The Flash. For Captain Cold it is almost an obsession since he’s already lost once to The Flash and he knows that the hero is all that stands between him and the big score, whereas Heat Wave just cares about getting the score and bugging out with no thought to any possible repercussions. They are characters completely at odds with each other and yet they make a great time.
And all of this is enhanced by the performances of both Wentworth Miller as Snart and Dominic Purcell as Mick Rory. When Purcell was cast as Central City’s resident pyromaniac, I was pretty overjoyed since he’s like the perfect choice for the role, and he doesn’t disappoint. Neither does Miller in his second spot as the frosty villain. Their rapport with each other is pretty evident, perhaps a carry-over from their days as co-stars on Prison Break, and I think that they are definitely going to be a very important part of the mythology for The Flash, moving forward, if the ending of this episode is anything to go by, and I dare say that it is.
Fighting against the villains isn’t the only thing that Barry does in this episode. Yet again, he has to navigate the treacherous waters of his relationships with his friends and his family. He has to make peace with Iris after making her aware of all his romantic feelings for her in the mid-season finale. He has to come to terms with the fact that saving people on an everyday basis is more important than spending all his time preparing to combat just one villain and letting others do jobs that he can do more safely and much more effectively. He has to help his friends overcome their own problems, such as what happens with him and Caitlin as regards Ronnie (whole another thing entirely) and also has to support Cisco when he goes to the CCPD to give them some advanced gear to help them against Captain Cold and Heat Wave.
See, this is why I love this show so much. Each episode isn’t just about the villains in focus, but is so much more. There is character development and meta-plot movement in every episode. Take for example the whole subplot with Ronnie Raymond, Caitlin’s fiance and lead engineer on the STAR Labs accelerator that tragically misfired back in the pilot episode. He died during the explosion that followed but he has somehow been able to come back, and is in possession of some major powers, such as spontaneous combustion that doesn’t harm him or his clothes, and the power of flight as well.
We learn some more about what may have happened to him, especially as related to a project called FIRESTORM which was put together by a Professor Martin Stein and on which a student named Jason Rusch worked on, before the former’s disappearance some time back. With Ronnie’s transformation as the superhero Firestorm partially completed in the mid-season premiere, it is time for the show to delve even more into his transformation, and it is pretty great that we have, at hand, both the original partner in crime he had and the current one. That is, Professor Stein was part of the dual entity Firestorm in comics until the recent reboot where it was Jason Rusch and Ronni who formed Firestorm together (I have not fact-checked this and am going by my limited experience with the character).
So, in conclusion, yeah. This was a pretty awesome start to 2015 for The Flash. It ended 2014 on a bang, and it is coming back with a bang too. Can’t wait to see what the next episode brings, or even what Arrow has in store tomorrow!