“Do you trust me? Then jump!”
While the story of The Flash season 2 will be focused on Zoom and “The Breachers” we must not forget that Central City is packed full of methaumans and villainy all their own, namely: The Rogues. It’s true, that any episode that takes the focus away from Zoom and the breaches in reality may seem like an unnecessary detour, if it’s a fun ride, then who cares? Luckily for us “Family of Rogues” was a great break from the macro plot and gave us the return of Leonard and Lisa Snart, aka Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Golden Glider (Peyton List).
One of the key elements to The Rogues is the fact that they are blue collar villains. Sure they have super powers and wreak havoc, but at their core their just a bunch of people doing a job to get paid. This allows writers to develop personalities that are far more in depth than the standard super-villain who wants to destroy the cosmos. These characters have flaws, they have pathos, and god help us, they can be relatable. So when I read that this episode was going to give us a glimpse into the Snart family, I knew we were in for a treat as the show was going to start to pull back the curtain on the enigma that is Captain Cold.
So here’s the basic plot in one paragraph or less: Captain Cold has gone missing and Lisa Snart has approached Team Flash for help. After using some super-science to track down the cold gun our hero finds out that Snart is forced to help his father with an elaborate diamond heist or else the madman will detonate a bomb in Lisa’s neck. Determined to save his sister, Cold will do anything to make sure she survives this run in with their father, including killing people and breaking his agreement with The Flash (Grant Gustin). Not a bad premise, right?
One of the best choices made this season was the inclusion of Michael Ironside as the Snart’s abusive father, Lewis Snart, aka Colonel Cold (even though he was never given a Cold Gun). As a man who’s a cautionary tale of the past in the comics, it was a refreshing look at the character who abused and domineered his children to get what he wants. Add to that the pure gravitas that is Ironside and it’s not hard to conjure up a vision of this man willing to detonate people’s heads to get what he wants.
We were also treated to an evolution of the dynamic between the Snarts and Team Flash over the episode as Barry and Leonard began to see each other with mutual respect versus an ongoing game of one-upmanship. It’s a welcome change considering the last time these two had met, Cold was able to blackmail Barry with the threat of exposing our speedster’s identity to the world. Now that Barry’s grown up a little, we’ve resolved that problem as he would gladly reveal himself than risk the lives of others. It’s a wonderful beat that shows how much Barry has changed in such a short amount of time, which negates any leverage Cold thinks he may have.
Flash Fact: Even though The Flash‘s identity was public knowledge for decades in the comics, The Rogues never attacked the costumed superhero when he was in civilian garb. It was one of the rules, only attack people when they’re on the job. This has led to an occasional lunch between the Scarlet Speedster and his gallery of villains. Uncomfortable to be certain, but an interesting insight towards the attitudes of The Rogues.
An unexpected bonus the dynamic between Peyton List‘s Lisa Snart and Carlos Valdes’ Cisco. Since her introduction, Lisa has been infatuated with our resident super-genius and this episode built on that tension beautifully. The end result was not only a fun back and forth between two people flirting but a legitimate bond forming between the two. As she says in the episode, “You might be my only real friend, Cisco,” and you believe it. Of course, you do have to question wether or not Lisa was being genuine or merely playing him, but it seems pretty clear that threat of death allowed her to show her real affection for Cisco.
Now to be fair, the aforementioned diamond heist is pretty damn fun, so long as you don’t think about it too much. First off, it smacks of a murderous Ocean’s 11, which isn’t a bad thing. The movie is a fun romp of crazy logic and plot holes so it’s well served here. Despite that though, if you think about the logistics of the plan, the reasoning becomes paper thin and breaks under scrutiny. Super speed has a lot of the same problems as Time Travel, it’s easy to armchair quarterback decisions being made when you have such an extensive power available to you. When you ask questions like “Why didn’t The Flash simply stop Lewis Snart from activating the bomb?” or “How come the vault didn’t go into lockdown after a few attempts to unlock the combination?” it can be hard to suspend disbelief. It can be very daunting creating credible human threats against someone who can move at super speeds. It’s why Lisa was added into the mix. By holding her hostage with the bomb, it can negate some of the analytical powers of our hero. The fact that we also had a great moment of Cold killing his own father after his sister was safe just icing on the cake, so to speak. While Flash could save the innocent bystanders, he couldn’t save the vicious madman.
Flash Fact: It’s been alluded to that once Lisa was old enough to leave home, one of the first crimes Leonard Snart ever committed as a professional criminal was to hunt down and kill his own father. Cold’s determination to keep his family safe was tantamount to everything else and would become a central character point for the leader of the Rogues.
In the end though, it seems like the purpose of this rematch was a chance to reset the board between The Flash and Captain Cold. By removing a really bad stalemate between the two of them and giving Barry the moral high ground again, we maintain the fact that Flash is the shining example of what heroes can be. Add to that Barry’s belief that Captain Cold can be redeemed and we can see the groundwork for his inclusion in 2016’s Legends of Tomorrow. As one of the most important villains in The Flash‘s roster, it’s critical to expand Cold’s backstory and motivations. Otherwise he becomes a one note pony. Fortunately it seems like the producers of the show realize that and keep making smart choices with the good Captain.
Of course, that brings us to the part I wanted to gloss over, but really need to address. In last week’s episode, Joe’s supposedly dead wife reappeared and presented what I like to call a classic “CW Moment”. Will Joe tell Iris her mother is alive? Will Iris hate Joe for keeping a secret? Will…yadda yadda yadda? You know the deal, this is the staple of the melodrama contingent of TV and we’ve run afoul of it before on The Flash, but just like previous episodes where a character becomes uber-emo, we were able to cut through it quickly and with as little pain as possible. On other shows, Joe’s secret about his junkie ex-wife reappearing would be rife with exploits for a whole season, but with an inversion of the “Barry and Joe Talk” (patent pending), we’re able to see Jesse L. Martin deliver a fantastic performance as he gets sage advice from his adoptive son: “Tell Iris everything and trust her.” Sure enough, it works and Iris realizes what her father did. It’s a stumbling point that spills over the main plotline but it did serve to the dichotomy of fathers as we see the loving Joe West versus the insane and manipulative Lewis Snart.
Other than that, we had a few plot points move forward, such as a stable portal that will allow Barry and the rest of Team Flash to traverse parallel worlds as well as a fun moment between Caitlin and Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears) that cemented their friendship but also ratcheted up the sexual tension between the two. With Dr. Stein (Victor Garber) going full on Firestorm (seriously, what’s up with that) we have some crazy lingering questions. The least of which is this: How did Harrison Wells find the portal already?!?!?!?!