‘The Flash’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 2, Episode 3: ‘Family of Rogues’
Welcome back to Up To Speed, in which Flash TV show veteran Dylan Todd and newbie Ziah Grace break down the latest episode of The Flash, dispense some Flash Facts, and talk about what works, what doesn’t, and where the series might be headed.
Episode three sees the return of fan favorite Flash rogue Captain Cold and his sister, the Golden Glider, but there's also a mean dad, a not-dead mom, and a whole lot of conscious coupling to deal with. 'Family of Rogues' was directed by John F. Showalter and written by Julian Meiojas and Katherine Walczak.
Dylan: Alright! Episode three! This is a weird one. There’s a pretty solid A-plot that involves Barry kind of teaming up with Leonard Snart, AKA Captain Cold, in order to help save Lisa Snart, AKA The Golden Glider from getting her head blown off by Lewis Snart, AKA The Worst Dad Like For Reals. There are also roughly one million B-plots advancing, and I’d like to say it all holds together, but I’m not sure it really does.
Let me see if I have all of them straight: the Speed Cannon/Dimensional doorway thingy; Iris landing a big news story that sounds sort of familiar; Dr. Stein’s crazy medical condition; Caitlin/Jay and Cisco/Lisa and Patti/Barry flirt-fest; plus a heaping spoonful of West family drama. Did I forget anything?
Ziah: Oh, well, we have Snart reminding Barry that he knows his identity and Barry’s continuing desire to keep it a secret, which we’ll get to later. Plus, CC Jitters has come back, and looks really nice! Barry did a good job remodeling it, I think.
Dylan: They even named a drink after him! Did you notice Cisco was double-fisting those things?
Ziah: It might just be because I live the life of an LA freelancer, but one cup of coffee plus one shot of espresso did not seem like much, so go Cisco, I say. The most I’ve ever seen advertised was a cup with six shots, but they didn’t have the catchy name, so who knows.
Dylan: Ziah, please don’t make your heart explode.
Ziah: My heart rate is only 140, which according to Professor Stein this episode is the average rate for a man of 70 who used to be partly a fire-man.
Dylan: “Partly A Fire-Man” is my favorite Guided By Voices song.
I felt like the writers have managed to turn the Francine West retcon into a pretty profitable drama mine. And Jesse L. (the “L” stands for “Like A Boss”) Martin really helps sell the dramatic scenes. He obviously has a problem with telling Iris the truth, but at least it’s an established character trait at this point. How’d the Joe/Francine and Joe/Iris scenes hit you, Ziah?
Ziah: Oh, those were some of my favorite parts of the episode. I remember thinking during Golden Glider’s monologue that I wasn’t loving that the writers were relying on that, but once Joe got his own monologue, I was sold. It’s wonderfully acted and it really does make Joe into someone who definitely made a mistake (lying to Iris for the 1000th time) for what are really valid reasons (this one time).
I was also glad they didn’t have Iris fight with him and ignore him for the next three episodes instead of handling it like an adult. Finally, it means that we can make Joe jokes about how, “I like my women like I like my beanies: Business casual and empty on the inside.”
Dylan: I absolutely love Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold, though I’m much more into his character when he’s drolly poking at the Flash as opposed to being an actual, you know, character, who feels icky stuff like empathy and compassion.
There’s obviously an attempt here to give him a reason to appear in Legends of Tomorrow in January, and it works, for the most part. I’m hoping the writers see the mileage they’ve been able to get out of Cold both this season and last and flesh out some of the villains they still have and continue to introduce. Anything but having them all die horrible “accidental” deaths every episode.
Ziah: Oh man, Miller was a delight in this episode. His wry response to Barry’s Golden Retriever-style excitement was so much fun to watch. I love that Barry fights the Cold Clan this episode, and Snart freezing the lasers to just walk through was the highpoint of my life. That is the kind of dumb superhero science I love, because it makes zero sense, but looks cool.
Dylan: IDK man, that was kind of too stupid, even for me. Also, Barry’s suit was supposed built from an insulated super-firefighter prototype that Cisco built, so… why was he freezing again?
Ziah: Because he was in a hot spot?
Dylan: I’m calling the cops, Ziah. But seriously, nobody show Neil Degrasse-Tyson this episode. Dude’s head will splatter like that one henchman’s. (RIP That One Henchman.)
Ziah: Well, next time one of us is sick, maybe NDT can sub in for us. It could be called Flash Fact or Flash Fiction?
But good segue Dylan, because that brings us to my next point. Speaking of dumb super-science, we’ve got two pretty cool uses of Barry’s super speed: typing in every possible combination of numbers for a door code all at once, and catching a bullet and pretending like it hit him anyway. Superheroes using their one power (speed, strength, mind-reading) in new ways is my jam, so this season’s going strong in that regard.
Also this episode: dead villains. This time it made sense though! Cold killing his dad takes care of the lingering plot point of the favor Barry owed him, while still keeping him a likable villain who does sorta-bad stuff.
Dylan: Also, as much as I love Michael Ironside, there’s no reason to keep Papa Cold around.
Ziah: Fair, and now Snart’s in prison, and probably going to break out. But, ah… Why is he being transferred to the metahuman wing if he’s just good at building freeze guns?
Dylan: Yeah, he’s not a metahuman at all, but whatevs. And umactually, it’s a cold gun. Captain Cold said so in the episode. Also umactually, Cisco built the gun. Snart stole it from STAR Labs in season one and then held Cisco hostage and made him rebuild it in the episode that introduced Lisa/Golden Glider. This is why I told you to watch the episodes, Ziah!
Ziah: Oh man, that is cold-blooded. (Also, I am, Dylan, it is slow going, I am not the Flash. There’s like 23 hours)
Dylan: Like a snake. So, Iris’ breaking news story sounds sort of like the Kingpin’s plan in the first season of Netflix’s Daredevil, right? Is it just me?
Ziah: It’s interesting that you zoomed in on Iris’ story breaking as relevant because it definitely seemed to me more like just a sign that she was basically Lois Lane than that this particular story beat would come up more. I saw it more as, “Hey, this is what Iris is going to do now. Snoop around waterfronts and expose corruption”, which I’m totally fine with.
Dylan: Yeah, the opening scene was pretty great, and it’s nice to see Iris actually doing something. Oh! We also saw the return of Linda Park, who you might recall as being a proposed love interest in for Barry in season one, but wound up dumping his ass because all he did was mope about his sister.
Ziah: Oh, I totally forgot about her. Do you think she’s actually going to be around, or is this just a, “Hey, I’m around, okay goodbye now”?
Dylan: Oh she’s totally not gonna stick around. But getting back to the opening scene: if somebody told me to “just trust them” and jump out a window, I would totally not do that. I love my friends, but nooooope. I'd be all on the other end of the phone going, “You know what, I lied. I’m a liar. I’m a dirty liar who tells lies. There are no windows, actually, anywhere. Ever. So just run up here and get me. I’ll be cowering in a corner. Ignore the pee stains on my pants. K thanks bye.”
Ziah: Haha, yeah, that was definitely a little more of a Superman bit than a showcase for our favorite Running Man. It was a killer opening, though, and showed Barry being a fun guy again, which continues throughout the episode. You’ve talked in past recaps about how it’s bothered you how much Barry’s been The Rudest Man Alive lately, but I felt like this got back to his core character. What’d you think?
Dylan: Barry was okay! I still feel like he’s the least interesting person on the show, and him letting Patty Spivot twist in the wind when she gave him her number made me sort of roll my eyes. Like, “She is so obviously into you, you dolt. Make a dang move!”
Ziah: Yeah, that was strange, but their flirting is super cute and awkward and fun to watch, so I don’t mind that being spread out a little more. Some of her jokes are pretty terrible though. Her joke about stepping on That One Henchman’s ear was so bad I legitimately thought it was a Blue Velvet reference rather than believe that she made a joke that weak.
Dylan: I dream of the day somebody references Blue Velvet on a CW show. Also weak: Barry’s criminal costume. I was really hoping for at least a fake mustache and some sort of outlandish accent, but I guess a dark, baggy jacket is all we get.
Ziah: That and wonderful early-aughts slang. Oh man, I said it before, but Barry just acting like a big dumb dog when it comes to Snart is amazing. He just wants to be friends and hang out and pretend to be a master safe cracker because it’s his jam, man.
Dylan: Speaking of unrequited love, the Cisco/Lisa flirt-train continues its slow, circuitous route. I’ve said it before, but they need to give Cisco a girlfriend/boyfriend like yesterday. Having Golden Glider show up to smooch up on him a little and then take off on her dope motorcycle is just cruel.
Ziah: Okay, first off, Cisco calling Golden Glider “Sister Cold” is a solid burn, so that was pretty good. Second, I was surprised that the Golden Glider was not the Golden LIEder this episode,
Dylan: Ziah no.
Ziah: But you’re right in that she doesn’t really add much to the dynamic besides giving Cisco a little boost in his step.
Dylan: “Boost” in his “step.” So that’s what you kids are calling it these days.
Ziah: He’s picking up some good vibrations from her. Okay, sorry, sorry, I’m done now.
Jumping to the other Snart sibling real quick; is there any real reason Barry wants his identity protected when Snart threatens to blackmail him? I know it’s a genre convention, and that’s fine, but he’s universally beloved as Flash, and the entire supporting cast knows he’s Flash except for Spivot at this point, so he doesn’t have a ton to lose.
Dylan: Yeah, that’s one of those things where it just is because it is. Like, what’s the worst that happens? People come after his friends and family? Well, spoilers: they’re already doing that like every week. He loses his job as a CSI guy? Fine. He has his STAR Labs inheritance and Singh hates him anyway. Like you said, there’s no reason for him to worry about his identity except for tradition. [Starts singing the Fiddler On the Roof song.] [Immediately gets kicked in the nards.]
Ziah: Yeah, fair enough. It’s kind of glossed over, and those kinds of plot holes are easy to swallow if the show doesn’t dwell on it.
Dylan: So hey, the scene where Jay (who got a haircut and looks 100% better) and Caitlin are talking about how he doesn’t need powers to be a hero; most awkward exposition in an episode yet or most awkward exposition in an episode yet?
Ziah: There was also some really awkward gilding the lily (also what the kids call it) on taking the themes of the episode and just spelling them out. Barry and Joe comparing their family dynamic to the Cold Clan’s, and Caitlin and Jay’s conversation. I guess making it clear to the audience that it’s totally cool that Jay can be a Science Hero instead of a superhero mattered, but they’re not fun to watch.
Dylan: Yeah, it definitely felt like it was written for people who missed the last episode, but you know what? Screw those people!
Finally, the little stinger at the end! Earth-2 Harrison Wells made his way to Earth-1! I’d probably be freaking out a little more if I hadn’t already read Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s JLA: Earth 2, because the set up sounds a lot like the Lex Luthor from that series, you know?
Ziah: Well, I suppose. I’ve bought in pretty heavily to your theory that he’s a total fakeout and not the villain at all, so him showing up wasn’t too surprising. Did you catch Jay being a little awkward when they were talking about how his world is Earth-2 though? Poor guy’s home universe gets the number two billing.
Dylan: Oh, I don’t disagree with the guy. I’d be like, “Well, maybe your earth is Earth-Turds. Did you ever think about that? Jerks.”
But yeah, Wells is obviously a fake-out, but at least he got a cool entrance via the Blob Door. Very Quantum Leap/music video for “Billie Jean” of him.
Last episode, I asked for some theories as to who Zoom might be and got some interesting answers. The most popular one was that he’ll turn out to be the Earth-2/evil version of Barry Allen. Which I am very into.
Ziah: More like Barry Alien. Because he’s from another world?
Dylan: Aaaaand that’s a wrap.