After last week’s kind of disappointing episode, ‘The Flash’ bounces back with perhaps the show’s best yet. (Admittedly, we’ve only had four episodes so far.) In addition to a small fan service crossover stunt, we’re introduced to what may be our speedy hero’s first supervillain, and that’s… wait for it… pretty cool.
(Hey, the pun makes sense when you’ve seen the episode.)
Initially, I thought that the big two-part crossover event with ‘Arrow’ was this week, until reader Drew informed me that it’s not actually happening until each show’s eighth episode this season. However, I wasn’t totally off-base in my confusion. ‘Flash’ episode ‘Going Rogue’ in fact does feature a special guest appearance from ‘Arrow’ supporting character Felicity Smoak, who arrives in Central City to pay her friend Barry a visit. As far as I’m aware (as someone who doesn’t watch ‘Arrow’), there’s no plot carryover between the two series, unless Felicity happened to mention something on the other show about taking a trip.
Barry and Felicity spend most of the episode innocently flirting, and Barry’s totally oblivious unrequited crush Iris keeps trying to push them together. (You’ll note that I’ve never mentioned Iris in my previous recaps of this show. That’s because her character and storyline are the least interesting thing about the series.) Ultimately, Barry and Felicity decide that they aren’t meant for each other. He’s still pining for Iris while Felicity pines for Arrow. They share a smooch as she leaves, though.
Until now, previous episodes of ‘The Flash’ focused on criminal-of-the-week plots involving meta-humans created by the same event that gave Barry his powers. The villain this week isn’t a meta-human at all, just a very smart and very dangerous guy with the goofy name Leonard Snart (‘Prison Break’ star Wentworth Miller). We first meet him trying to hijack an armored car transporting a priceless diamond en route to a museum exhibition. Although Barry foils the robbery, one of Snart’s men shoots a security guard, which distracts Barry long enough for the crew to get away. Snart doesn’t approve of the shooting, because he doesn’t want the heat that a murder will bring, but he recognizes that Barry’s compulsion to save everyone could be his weakness.
Looking for a weapon that will stop “The Blur” (as he refers to Barry), Snart acquires an experimental freeze ray gun that was stolen from S.T.A.R. Labs, thus prompting Cisco to dub him “Captain Cold.” At their next encounter, Snart shoots Barry with the gun, giving him third-degree frostbite. Barry’s fast-healing powers are the only thing that keeps him from being killed by the gun. Snart also deliberately shoots at another bystander. For all of his speed, Flash isn’t able to save the man in time. He feels terribly guilty about being responsible for an innocent person’s death.
Snart steals the diamond and hops on a train out of town. Barry catches up to him, but Snart expected as much. He shoots his gun into the train itself, causing it to derail in a spectacular accident that forces Barry to race through the wreckage and debris to save all the passengers. Just as Barry pulls the last victim to safety, Snart blasts him with the gun and freezes him to the ground. Luckily, before he can finish him off, Cisco shows up brandishing what he claims is a souped-up version of the freeze gun. Snart withdraws, taking the diamond with him, and Cisco reveals to Barry that his “gun” was really just a vacuum cleaner with a bunch of blinking lights attached to it.
In a quick epilogue scene, Snart recruits someone off-camera he refers to as “Mick,” who apparently likes fire. Whomever that is, I’m sure that he and Snart will make a formidable team.
Personally, I find that Wentworth Miller is an actor with a very limited range, and I think he goes a little too hammy as the villain here. On the other hand, he’s playing a guy named Captain Cold, so hamminess is perhaps exactly what was called for. He may not have been my first choice for the role, but I really like the idea of the show having a recurring supervillain storyline to break up the freak-of-the-week formula. This is a fun episode with some of the show’s best visual effects work to date, and I didn’t mind the amount of time spent on a crossover with another show I don’t watch.