The Flash S03E04 “The New Rogues” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Flashback to three years ago and we learn of two more metas created by the particle accelerator exploding: small-time crooks and Leonard Snart associates Rosalind Dillon and Sam Scudder become the Top and Mirror Master respectively. She can induce vertigo in victims while he can use reflective surfaces like teleportation devices.
- But Scudder also becomes trapped in a mirror for three years, finally emerging, determined to get revenge on Snart for trying to kill him on the night of the explosion.
- Rosalind, in the meantime, has been sent to Iron Heights. Scudder frees her and learns that Snart has vanished. They decide they might as well become the city’s number one crime duo in his absence.
- Barry and Jesse take on the Top and Mirror Master but because this is round one things end badly for Team Flash. Barry has to rescue the reckless Jesse when she falls foul of the Top, after which Mirror Master traps Barry in… erm… well… not sure… Something reflective, that’s just the right size for Barry to fit in and is portable enough that it can easily be taken back to Star Labs. Every town should have one.
- Cisco, Wells and Caitlin work out that they can free Barry by freezing the, um, thing to super-dooper low temperatures.
- They build something to do this, but it fails…
- …so Caitlin secretly uses her Killer Frost powers to free him.
- Barry works out that he can trap Scudder in a circle of mirrors and Jesse works out she can defeat Dillon by hitting her before she has a chance to use her powers. Hurrah! Villains of the week defeated!
- In other plotlines, Harry announces he and Jesse are going home soon, so he, Cisco and Caitlin audition alternate Wellses from the multiverse. They settle on a guy calling himself HR who thinks he rocks a bowler hat but is actually a bit like an embarrassing trendy teacher trying to “get down” with the kids
- Joe is uncomfortable with Barry and Iris snogging on the sofa in front of him, and Barry is uncomfortable with him watching. So Barry decides to move into his own place.
- Jesse and Wally are into the snogging stage despite the fact they could soon be having the mother of all long distance relationships.
- Oh, and the sexy DA is coming onto Joe, but he seems to be resisting her charms. The dolt.
PLEASE HARRY DON’T LEAVE US! In an otherwise solid but unremarkable episode (unless you find Scudder wearing no socks with his brogues as offensive as we do) Tom Cavanagh is the absolute highlight playing multiple Wellses, but Harry remains the greatest Wells of all. Come on, Cisco, you don’t really want a friendly Wells, do you? It’s Harry snark that keeps you on your toes.
But it looks like we may be stuck with HR, for a while at least (we’re pretty sure Harry is too much a part of the show’s DNA now to be gone for good). It’s not clear if the writers think the audience should side with Cisco and Caitlin on this one (and immediately love him) or with Harry (and be suspicious of him). At the moment he seems to be trying too hard to be liked, like a right-on vicar or a groovy scoutmaster, complete with cringey “dad humour”. On the other hand, all of that could be incredibly well-observed character choices that will come to make sense in the coming weeks. We certainly have faith in Cavanagh to craft yet another intriguingly crafted, multifaceted character. And the writers no doubt have a few surprises up their sleeves too.
But still, we’re gonna miss Harry.
Elsewhere, the relationship stuff this week is less full-on cheese and more like a really amusing sitcom. Now, regular readers of these reviews will know that we don’t use the word “cheese” pejoratively when it comes to this show, because we’re in awe of how often it turns cheese into an art form in economic scripting. But this week, Joe’s woes, Barry’s awkwardness and Iris’s eyebrow arching never venture beyond light and frothy. Even the heart-to-hearts are deflated by Iris laughing at the ludicrousness of the situation or Joe looking too embarrassed to want to continue. It actually makes a refreshing change and it’s all really rather sweet, helped by some marvellous light comedy acting from all three. In fact the final scene – with Iris and Barry joking that Joe is kicking Barry out of the house – feels so natural it has an almost ad-libbed, or “unrehearsed, first take” freshness to it. (We’ll probably find out in some commentary that it was the 75th take… but it feels fresh.)
As for Jesse and Wally… well, it’s happening. There’s not really enough screen time given to them to really make you buy into the relationship. And it does seem slightly odd that Wally has got over his disappointment that she’s a speedster and he’s not so quickly, after it seemed such a big thing for him last week.
The villains are… fine. They’re both pretty much the standard Flash formula bad guys – defined by their powers and one character motivation – though both their powers are visually impressive. But Wentworth Miller seems completely wasted; we hope his cross-show contract gives him more interesting material in future appearances.
- “There’s a whole multiverse of Harrison Wells out there at your fingertips. You want one? Let’s go get one.” The whole idea of auditioning alternate Wellses is inspired. Here are the ones we get to see, just for the record:
- “Oh, my God. I’ve become Oliver.” – Barry becomes a mentor, and it suits him.
- “Will it test their attitudes, too? ’Cause I’m not sure I can stomach another Wells with your bedside manner.”
“I care for you too, you jack wagon.” – Please don’t be gone too long, Harry! We’ll miss the snark!
- Though all that “we need super-subzero temperatures to free Barry” nonsense was technobabble at it babbliest, it was a great excuse to prompt Caitlin to surreptitiously use her powers.
- Barry and Joe’s awkwardness about Barry and Iris snogging on the sofa was hardly high drama, but it was fun, and very believable – it must be an odd situation seeing your real daughter and surrogate son snogging, despite what Iris says. But kudos to Iris for laughing at Barry when he tried to get all serious about the problem while being trapped in a mirror – it was kinda bizarre, and a very natural reaction.
- Some of the high-speed action sequences are really confusing to watch – it’s not always immediately clear what’s supposed to be happening, which isn’t normally a problem on this show. Jesse’s “reflex” test early in he episode is especially baffling on first viewing.
- What the hell is that thing Barry gets trapped in?
- We’re with Harry – there’s something about HR that immediately grates with us. Why are Cisco and Caitlin so keen on him?
- Actually, maybe this should be in “Good” as it was a wonderful little character touch for fashion-victim Sam Scudder (the Arrowverse’s first hipster supervillain?) – but the fact that he wears brogues but no socks is INTENSELY IRRITATING!
- Wentworth Miller’s guest appearance is pretty much wasted.
And The Random:
- This is the show’s 50th episode.
- The film Barry, Joe, Iris and the others are watching is Forbidden Planet (1956). The specific scene they’re watching is particularly pertinent, as it’s the moment Altaira, who has grown up on an alien planet with only her dad, a robot and her tame menagerie for company, kisses a man for the first time.
- The opening scene takes place in a Broome Industries warehouse. This is presumably a homage to John Broome, co-creator of Silver Age DC Comics characters such as Captain Cold, Kid Flash, Mirror Master and Hal Jordan, the Silver Age Green Lantern.
- Did you spot the plane carrying the Mardon brothers (the two Weather Wizards) from the pilot episode, getting caught in the particle accelerator explosion?
- What was going on with this close-up shot of a wine glass during the Snart/Scudder fight? Was is highlighted purely because it was a reflective surface? It was a very strange choice.
- Cisco mentions Twin Peaks because it featured dream sequences that involved a dwarf who spoke backwards.
- The Top in the comics is a man called Roscoe Dillon who also has the ability to spin at high speeds. He first appeared in The Flash #122 (1961).
- The Sam Scudder version of Mirror Master first appeared in the comics in Flash Vol 4 #12 (2012), following DC’s New 52 reboot. Previous to that he had been Evan McCulloch, a character who used a mirror gun. He was first introduced in Animal Man #8 (1989). So when, in the episode, Wells says, “We had a Mirror Master on our Earth, Evan McCulloch. Wasn’t a meta, though. He had some kind of mirror gun that he used,” that’s where the reference comes from.
Review by Dave Golder