FULL EPISODE SPOILERS FOLLOW
My goodness are the Rogues freaking awesome in the show. With the exception of the Reverse Flash no other villain has stood out as being very excitable to see and watch the characters interact with. But even then, these guys are way more fun and the actors are having the time of their lives portraying our current Rogues gallery.
But hey, it wasn't a half-bad week for Grant Gustin's Barry Allen either. I expected some disorientation from the time-travel, but he portrayed it very well and showed how much this would effect someone. From the beginning of the episode where he is finishing everyone's sentences to when he excitedly asks Iris out (quite the facepalm moment, really), it was just a fun time watching Barry cope with what he's done.
It was also interesting to see how Dr. Wells had such a fierce reaction to what he's done. It really shows how much weight he is putting on this mission. We already know how far he is willing to go to keep things fluid in the timeline, so something as big as this--as well as the major changes Barry makes in taking down Mardon and having the Rogues come to town--would really set him off and did help what would come later on, where Barry finally smartened up and began putting pieces together about Dr. Wells.
I think the weakest part of the episode was the Cisco material. Yes, it built up to him ultimately being forced to reveal Barry's identity to Captain Cold, but everything before that felt cliched. From the moment I saw Cisco's older brother acting all snooty, it was very obvious that by the end of the episode he would reveal that he actually was jealous of his brother and he pursued his dreams and blah blah blah. Though having Caitlin awkwardly follow him around to the party was pretty funny. Caitlin's fun.
Getting into the nitty-gritty, this episode was pretty all over the place, but I think it had to be like that. So much has changed for Barry that he has to do everything...in the opposite way. He approached Iris about their true feelings, he approached Linda about breaking up, he approached Bridge about Dr. Wells, and he was the one that went straight to Mardon. Besides the Cisco stuff, everything else worked pretty well. Even the Iris material. I mean, yeah, it was a tad annoying, but I do like how the time stream was effected that Iris wouldn't immediately feel the same about Barry. I did think Dr. Wells nailed it on the head: it was the crisis that reawakened feelings Iris might have once had for Barry. It's something that we've seen many times in TV and makes sense here. There's no other explanation for her sudden shift into leaving Eddie for Barry. This isn't a particularly good one, but at least it is one.
I do wish the focus had been more on the Rogues themselves, but they got a very good amount of screen-time. Lisa Snart aka the Golden Glider got a good introduction as a member of the Rogues gallery (also, they got their name this episode, yes!) by showing how lethal and dangerous she really is to the unsuspecting, and even in a fight. Heat Wave had to take a backseat, which is a shame since his cheesiness was a bit missed. They didn't provide as high stakes as the villain from last episode did, but, I imagine that if this were Arrow, the fact that a big mob family went down would affect the plot later on. But this is The Flash so a major mob isn't going to do too much.
They still provided for the best parts of the episode, and were the main source of entertainment. Lisa was so over the top in her zeal for destruction that it was hard not to get a good laugh out of it, and Cold continues to be a man unaffected by anything. I particularly like the way his dialogue is delivered. Itsoundslikehetalkswithhiswordstogetheruntil...there. is. an. emphasis. It's like everything just sort of flows for him.
I also got a feeling there was a great appreciation for him as a villain this episode. Barry hasn't really come to "respect" any of his villains, but that conversation at the end felt like some of the best hero-villain talks we've seen on TV in a while. Oliver and Slade have had plenty of good moments and I get the feeling Barry and Cold are just beginning on their road of being arch-rivals. Their little talk at the end was actually my favorite part of the episode, because it epitomized what the Rogues have been on the show.
That scene could have been taken straight off the panels of a comic book and you wouldn't know the difference. There weren't really any cliches, but, I felt the writers captured the tension and potential respect the two have for each other. It reminded me of the scene at the end of The Dark Knight. The Joker knows he lost, but he doesn't want to give up. Why? Because it's fun. And while Batman would probably have given a more brooding reason, Barry never really said that he didn't want to go more rounds with him. This probably isn't the direction they went with, but it could be seen that since Barry only put other people off-limits that he gets a bit of a kick out of fighting Cold as well. I mean, he did get a small laugh from Cold at the end of their talk.
Cold also came off as a villain that we could take seriously at times. Given how the goofy the character has been portrayed, and hopefully will continue to be, that's going to be impossible. But there will be a few moments of seriousness to space out the goofiness and not make it grating. I don't want him to become so serious that it hurts they're forcing it, though, because that would be far more annoying. Nah, just have him walk into casinos carrying an ice-gun in a thick jacket shouting one-liners, or busting into a mob office spewing one-liners again. Super fun.
Speaking of fun villains, again, Wells bringing Cisco down to the place where he killed him last episode was a great scene. It perfectly juxtaposed the scene from last episode, all leading up to the final line of Wells saying Cisco was like a son to him. It worked to build Cisco back up. We all knew he wasn't going to leave, but I'm really happy--even impressed--that the writers chose to show this alter in the timeline.
Overall, nothing really happened this episode. The Rogues caused some trouble, Cold knows Barry's identity, but really, things are pretty much back to normal. We know that nothing drastic has changed in the future--though Wells relying on one newspaper page doesn't feel like enough to go on--and things are slowly going in motion for Barry to collide with Wells over his dual identity.
Oh, and Mason Bridge was killed by Wells for finding out he killed Stagg, but that's nothing major. Right? You know, for wanting to keep the timeline fine, it seems like Wells doing that could also alter the timeline. Heck, anything could. I'm glad that he did calm down by the end of the episode though, and have that nice moment with Cisco.
For me, this episode was leagues better than last episode. Sure, the final act of last episode was fantastic but let's not forget that it's all irrelevant except for what we learned, including the Iris bits. This episode was a completely joy to watch, with the cheesiness of the Rogues returning, Barry's character continuing to flourish and adapt to the major change in his life, and Wells and Cisco having a very touching moment. That final scene between Cold and Barry was quite marvelous and I hope to see more of them in the future. Barry's little inclination that Cold could find a new line of work also might be foreshadowing toward his role in the upcoming spinoff. I'm still unsure--well, nobody knows really--if he's going to play a hero or villain. I have some thoughts on why this group is coming together and I don't think it's very willingly (aka Amanda Waller will have a hand in it) but nothing at all certain.
But next week is the episode I personally have been waiting for this whole season when it was announced who would be playing the villain. If Captain Cold, Heat Wave, and Golden Glider are over-the-top fun, I can't begin to imagine how corny Mark Hamill's Trickster is next week! Oh it's probably going to be a TERRIBLE episode as far as the plot goes, but it'll be one heck of a blast to see. So, then who cares about the plot?! Barry's gotta "Run run run run run!"
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