The Rogues are Back in Town. Not.
Warning! Full spoilers for the episode below.
Coming off of last week’s stellar Magenta, The Flash returned with rogues in the aptly titled The New Rogues. While Barry has been tangled up with various speedsters and one-off meta-humans as of late, The New Rogues promised to bring back a vital aspect of The Flash that has been absent in recent memory. As often as his own gallery of rogues defines Batman, The Flash exists on a similar plane. While this idea of a reestablishment of Rogues was full of promise, The New Rogues couldn’t piece a team together after all.
*Again, this week we had a continued tease of Wally chiming in with, “I am The Flash!” during the opening monologue, and while there were no developments with Professor Alchemy this week, Kevin’s Speculation Corner will continue on.
The New Rogues began with a flashback to three years prior, introducing Sam Scudder (Friday Night Light’s Grey Damon) and Rosalind Rosa Dillion (Awkwards’s Ashley Rickards) pre Mirror Master and Top, respectively. This flashback, while as generic as a heist flashback could be, still managed to keep me invested, but only because of the returning Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold. His presence has certainly been missed on The Flash, as well as Legends of Tomorrow, with his role in both shows currently unknown. It was great to have him back, even if it was in a limited capacity. Anyway, Snart is sick and tired of the duo’s actions, and attempts to remove them from the equation. As luck would have it though, this was also the night of the particle accelerator explosion! Both Scudder and Dillion become meta-humans, although Scudder is both unfortunately and conveniently trapped in a mirror for three years. Scudder emerges from the mirror in present day, a true Mirror Master, determined to get revenge on Snart.
While all of that nonsense is happening, Barry and the Star Labs team continue to train Jesse. Jesse wants to be faster and be just as heroic as Barry, and Barry aids in training. Unfortunately, we’ve seen training and training and even more training with Barry over the course of The Flash, so it wasn’t anything new. Barry exclaiming, “Oh my God. I’ve become Oliver!” after giving advice to Jesse was almost worth the sluggish bore through the rest. Almost. Yes, we are mildly invested in Jesse’s character, but as quickly as she appeared, she and Wells must return to their Earth. While it will be nice to see her surely return in Season 3, the investment isn’t quite there.
Oh my god. I’ve become Oliver!
Along the same lines, we are given more bits and pieces of Wally and Jesse. Again, while there is “cuteness” to this relationship, there isn’t much else. The New Rogues doesn’t give us any more reason to be invested in their relationship, while still trying to push it forward. We are given a scene where we’re supposed to feel connected that Wally is scared of a “relationship” with Jesse, but there’s little to support it. Even with Wally accepting a smooch from Jesse and getting over his fear at the end of The New Rogues, there was little reason to care. With Jesse gone, I hope that The Flash continues on with Wally’s jealousy and resentment towards Barry and his speedster ways, and some true conflict emerges for Wally. Until then, Wally is forced to sit in a weird limbo, one that provides little interest.
Even with our mainstay couple, Barry and Iris, watching their romantic awkwardness this week felt like a disaster. Going from a great theme of Barry and Iris accepting The Flash, to the awkwardness that presented itself this week, was hugely disappointing. Yes, I often praise The Flash for remaining rooted in the humor that we’ve all come to love, but this week existed on a cringe-worthy level of awkward “humor”. It was lovely to see Barry and Iris finally getting to kiss and smooch and be intimate, but everything that followed was an unfortunate mess with the progress they’ve made in previous episodes.
Not everything in The New Rouges was awkward though, and Tom Cavanagh’s Harrison Wells continues to be a driving force. Wells and Jesse have to return to Earth 2, but Wells has an idea to recruit another Wells for Team Flash. Wells presents the idea to send out a “multiverse intergalactic IQ test” for all of the other Wells out there to solve. It’s an odd choice for The Flash to take going forward, and I had to bite my tongue with my own previous praising. I lauded The Flash for letting Cavanagh play the same character for more than one season in my review of Magenta, but now, I have no idea where this thread could go. Wells as a character has been a vital part of Team Flash, something that they themselves reinforce in this episode, so it makes sense, despite the odd choice. It was an absolute delight to see the various multiverse versions of Wells though, from Western Wells to Wells of Earth-19 that they chose. Still, it remains an odd choice, one that I’m cautious about going forward.
As a quick aside, it was nice to see Joe and his brief romantic interactions with Central City’s District Attorny, Cecile Horton (Central Intelligence’s Danielle Nicolet). While The New Rogues was packed full of forced and awkward romance, it was nice to see sweet and honest interactions between Joe and Cecile. While Cecile’s character is famous for defending The Flash during a murder trial for Zoom, it was nice to see a new character introduced through Joe. Whether or not The Flash will proceed past her one other episode listed in Season 3, that is yet to be seen.
The chuck of The New Rogues, was obviously dedicated to Mirror Master and Top. While Cisco and Wells had great interactions when naming the due, their arc was uninspired and didn’t end up going much of anywhere. Scudder hunting down Snart’s old associates, to breaking Dillion out of jail was all par for the course. While we’ve seen other villains, Snart included, fleshed out and given a bit of humanity, Mirror Master and Top were vanilla villains through and through. Yes, Barry got temporarily trapped in a mirror, but The New Rogues didn’t even capitalize on this moment. You’d think that with Barry trapped, Jesse would be forced to take into account all of her training and feedback in order to save the day on her own. This would translate perfectly in Jesse being ready to return to Earth-2, as that much more of a trained and complete hero. Instead, we were given another awkward scene between Barry and Iris, a miniscule payoff with Jesse, and an obvious progression with Caitlin’s journey.
Even the promise of “New Rogues” came up far too short. While I would have loved to see Captain Cold return in full glory, The Flash pulled a fast one and he was all part of Team Flash’s plan, amounting to nothing more than a hologram. While The Flash has used holograms with varying success in different episodes, the use in The New Rogues felt like a cheap way to promote the return of Captain Cold, without an actual return of Captain Cold. But of course, Barry and Team Flash beat up the baddies, tossed them into a cell, and that’s that.
The New Rogues ended with two big points, two points that were far more interesting than most everything else in the episode. We had the arrival of a new Harrison Wells (HR), and the continued tease of Caitlin’s transformation into Killer Frost. While HR could last for an episode, or the rest of Season 3, there’s no way of knowing where this odd choice may take us. On the other hand, Caitlin’s transformation into Killer Frost will certainly have repercussions in the near future, and holds far more emotional weight with Team Flash. Regardless, these points, while strong, were too little and too late in an episode bogged down by mediocrity.
The New Rogues held so much promise, in concept. We could have had Mirror Master and Top and Captain Cold becoming a new formation of Rogues for The Flash to face off against, creating a true test of teamwork for Barry and Jesse to overcome. What more could you ask for? Instead, we were given two more throwaway villains, a wasted Captain Cold cameo, all aligned alongside asinine relationship drama. There are certainly exciting prospects on the horizon for The Flash, but The New Rogues was squandered filler.