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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The Flash S2E3: Family of Rogues.

The Flash
Series 2, Episode 3
Family of Rogues.

I complained last week that the first two episodes of this current series of The Flash had been 'Barry struggles with an enemy within' episodes, and expressed my deep hope that this episode would have zero angsty self-examination on his part and much more dealing with an external problem. Well, luckily for me, it did.

When Lisa Snart approaches the team, saying that her brother has been kidnapped, Barry goes looking for him - only to swiftly find that Snart is being blackmailed by his father, Louis, who wants to enact a daring, and potentially violent, diamond heist. Meanwhile, Jay and Caitlin try to construct a device that will stabilise the breach in S.T.A.R. Labs' basement, and Joe is visited by his supposedly-deceased wife.

I've made comments about how unsubtle this series is with its foreshadowing, but wow, this episode takes it to whole new levels, with Barry and Joe explicitly drawing attention to the idea that if Barry was raised by somebody else, he might have ended up as a supervillain. Now, I don't know that Zoom is going to end up being an alternate Barry who was raised by Harrison Wells, but I know that Zoom is going to end up being an alternate Barry who was raised by Wells, unless all of this foreshadowing towards that (Zoom literally having the same costume as Barry, Barry making remarks about how being raised by someone else could've made him a criminal, Jay literally describing Zoom with the same phrases Barry used to describe Wells, Zoom only appearing at the same time that Jay got his powers meaning that he can't be Wells, multiple references to Zoom being the fastest man alive) is one big misdirection.

I think that's just bad lighting, and he doesn't have white hair or anything.

Maybe I'm just old and cynical, but this really feels like it's some even more unsubtle foreshadowing than in the first series, where I literally knew that Harrison Wells was the villain from the moment he spoke.

Apart from that, though, good god is this episode a breath of fresh air. No angsting, no speeches about how Barry needs to trust people, just fluffy, bright fun involving Barry and one of his best not-quite-villains. Everyone in this episode puts on absolutely stellar performances, too: Barry is earnest and puppylike, Patty is peppy and bright and fun (I want her to meet Felicity, I want this), Lisa alternates between being earnestly concerned for her brother and playfully facetious. 

The standout performances of the episode are Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold and Jesse L. Martin as Joe, although for very different. For Martin, he does an excellent job in his few scenes of bringing dramatic and emotional weight to his role in this episode's subplot; and Wentworth Miller meanwhile is wonderfully expressive. You can practically see the expletives that Cold is thinking when Barry is pretending to be 'Sam the criminal'. 

'Barry has to pretend to be a criminal and Snart needs to help him but is rolling his eyes
and getting very frustrated' sounds like bad fanfic, and I'm okay with that.

(Speaking of, I know that Barry/Snart is a popular ship in the fandom, and I admit, I did not see it until this episode, and now I really kind of do. Like, wow, writers, please, hammer in how deeply Barry and Snart understand each other more. Give them more playful banter. It's fine, I'll wait.)

While the main villain for this episode, being essentially just an elderly dude with a detonator, is perhaps not the most compelling threat the writers could come up with, the situation that the team is put in nevertheless feels tense and precarious. Most of all, though, this episode is just fun, and a nice break from the much more serious, even brooding episodes that we've had up to this point.

Which isn't to say that this episode isn't plot relevant. Clearly, Barry's talk about how Snart could become a hero is meant to be a set-up for Legends of Tomorrow, but we also have Jay and Caitlin stabilising a portal to Earth-2, which somehow nobody realised could be used in the other direction - which it does, with the final moments of the episode showing Earth-2 Wells arriving through it. We also got Stein firestorming up unexpectedly before collapsing, in yet another hint that Ronnie is actually alive and either in Earth-2 or absorbed into Stein.

Aw, they have matching judgmental stares.

It looks like we'll be finding out what's going on, given that the episode is called 'The Fury of Firestorm', in reference to several Firestorm comics of the same name - some of which have included transformations into Firestorm going horribly wrong and giving rise to a being called 'Fury', so that is at least one possibility.

If the preview is anything to go by, though, next episode will be introducing Jay Jackson, played by Franz Drameh and previously announced as a central character in Legends of Tomorrow, who will be playing Stein's new Firestorm-ery partner. Whether that lasts after Ronnie's totally inevitable return, I don't know, although in the comics Firestorm has been made up of three people before.

Also, maybe we'll see Earth-2 Harrison Wells actually do something. Who knows. It's a possibility.

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