Last night's episode of CW's The Flash was up to its old tricks again, moving faster than humanly possible from one plot point to the next. At times it seemed to be moving a bit too fast, using its superhuman agility to smooth over what would otherwise have been a lackluster episode.
Over the course of the evening it picked up a few old characters from last season, mixed them with the current storyline's 52-odd problems and, overall, delivered a decent night's television that was not without its flaws
Family of Rogues' theme was about... well... family. Detective Joe West found strength in his own grown children, while thieves Lenny and Lisa Snart — better known to fans as Captain Cold and the Golden Glider — found danger in theirs.
The episode's action opened up early with Iris West taking cover from two gun-toting assailants on the gutted top floor of a high-rise office building. She needed help, and fast. Luckily her adopted brother, Barry Allen, is able to run up the sides of buildings.
"Do you trust me?" Barry asked when she called, an almost knowing grin creeping across his face. Out the window she leapt, into his arms and a soft landing below. It all happened so quickly, CW barely had time to roll the opening credits.
What could have been a throwaway bit, however, turned out to be part of the episode's plot. Iris was there chasing a story, one that would land her on the front page of Central City's newspaper not long after.
Just a few minutes later, Lisa "Golden Glider" Snart comes waltzing into S.T.A.R. Labs with a problem; her brother, Captain Cold, has been kidnapped. His captor? None other than their father, safecracker Lewis Snart, as played by Michael Ironsides.
I swear, every single time they did a closeup of Ironsides I expected him to talk about someone getting their brains sucked out. But it was actually more of an explosive evacuation.
More on that later.
Cisco, fresh off his proto Vibe-ing from last week's episode, spent most of this week having hushed, intimate conversations with Golden Glider and pulling obscure inventions out of thin air.
But there was a moment specially made for Cisco, one that placed him and Golden Glider alone together in his office. The pair almost established an authentic emotional connection.
Glider revealed to Cisco that she was a victim of child abuse, sharing signs of both her mental and physical scars at the hand of her father. "I learned that a bottle hurts more than a fist," she said, but the prolonged scene between her and Cisco fell flat, mainly a victim of some of the show's worst writing to date.
Cisco, for his part, felt like a mute witness, and Glider came across as a two-dimensional victim. The kiss the pair shared later in the episode felt at best trite, and at worst evidence that Glider is more damaged than she thinks.
Frankly, actor Peyton List (Mad Men, The Tomorrow People) deserved better.
Eventually, we come to learn that Captain Cold hasn't actually been kidnapped. Instead, he's being held hostage. The leverage his father Lewis Snart holds over him is a bomb, secretly implanted into Glider's neck. The balance of the episode sees Cisco and the team at S.T.A.R. Labs struggling with how to extract the weapon without killing her.
To pull it off, Barry Allen has to infiltrate Snart's crime ring and get the detonator away from him. Rashly, he rushes over to confront Captain Cold, deftly tricking the villain into vouching for him with old man Snart. From here on out it's Allen's Flash-y antics that manage to save the episode from being a net loss.
Quick as a rabbit, Captain Cold, his father and The Flash are off to a diamond heist. Allen's cover story is thin; he's pretending to be a technical wizard specializing in security systems. When the chips are down, Allen succeeds in brute-forcing his way into a bank vault by using his super speed to enter codes into a keypad until he lucks out. Later, he pulls off a crazy jiu jitsu move, plucking a bullet out of midair with his thumb and forefinger, feigning being shot and falling to the ground with the spinning, hot chunk of lead.
Everything is going well with the heist until Lenny Snart dawdles just a moment too long, setting off the bank's alarms. At that very moment Cisco saves Golden Glider, using a weird little compressed air gun he happened to have laying around the office.
With his father's leverage dissolved, Cold snaps. He turns on his father, firing off an icy stake straight through his heart.
"I thought you hated him," Lewis said with his dying breath, referring to Captain Cold's nemesis Flash.
"Not as much as I hate you," Cold, played by Wentworth Miller (Prison Break), said in reply. Seems like List wasn't the only actor saddled with cheesy lines this time around.
Also in this episode, detective Patty Spivot and Barry Allen keep bumping into each other at the coffee shop, with no lack of awkwardness on Spivot's part. We're left wondering if Allen simply isn't interested in her romantically, or if he just doesn't get that she's attracted to him.
Detective West, you'll remember, is dealing with his own personal dramas as his wife has returned from her self-imposed 20-year exile. He issues her an ultimatum; leave Central City in 48 hours, or suffer the consequences. We'll have to wait until next week to find out just what those consequences are.
In one of this season's most well-acted scenes, West finally confides in Iris that her mother isn't dead. He admits she was a drug addict who abandoned their family decades ago. His reward for that honesty, aside from some of the entire series' best lighting, is understanding, compassion and a closer bond with his daughter.
Jay Garrick... remember him? He was in this episode as well, putting in time and energy on a building a "speed cannon," a way for The Flash to deftly walk through S.T.A.R. Labs' temporal anomaly where he can confront Zoom. But, just before they can see if it works, Professor Stein — who passed out last week — has another, even more violent episode. He doubles over again, this time alternately bursting into orange and blue flames.
And as if that weren't enough major story threads for one episode, when Stein gets carted off to sick bay the team forgets to close their new wormhole. In walks none other than Dr. Wells.
Will he stay? Time will tell.
In the meantime, I'm off to order Cisco's extraordinarily appropriate t-shirt.
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