[This is a review of The Flash Season 1, Episode 4 – There Will Be SPOILERS!!]
Now that The Flash has proven that its pilot episode wasn’t lightning in a bottle, and the same showrunners behind Arrow are capable of delivering a lighter, more heart-warming counterpart for The CW’s superhero universe, the pressure is on to see what new ground can be broken; both in terms of their own series, and the larger fiction they’ve created. Thanks to an appearance from an Arrow favorite and the emergence of one of the hero’s most iconic foes, this week’s episode of The Flash is without question the most polished thus far.
In “Going Rogue”, written by Geoff Johns and Kai Yu Wu (Hannibal), Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) pays a visit to Central City, and learn firsthand what Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) has been up to since his run-in with lightning. Meanwhile, a new criminal named Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller) decides to solve the mystery behind the mysterious ‘streak,’ upping his game with a new weapon that raises some painful questions for Barry’s friends at S.T.A.R. Labs.
The Arrow audience has been looking forward to this episode ever since it was announced that Felicity Smoak would be crossing over, and the writers didn’t disappoint. With the instant chemistry between Felicity and Barry likely causing many to ask if it’s possible for her to join the cast permanently, it’s also a testament to how well the same showrunners have managed to create two distinct, but linked worlds.
But the introduction of Felicity’s fan-favorite awkward innocence isn’t only a credit to Rickards’ flexibility (joining an existing cast is no easy task) – it also shows just how quickly The Flash‘s writers have established their core characters in just a few short weeks. That this accelerated familiarity becomes an actual plot point is a clever twist, and erases any sense that The Flash exists in the shadow of its darker sibling.
As the name of the episode implies, however, there’s another reason why Flash-fans will view this episode with unique satisfaction: the arrival of Captain Cold, the speedster’s most enduring arch-rival (and a far cry from the weekly monsters previously deal with). Such an addition is expected to have serious impact on the future of the series, and given that, it’s no surprise to see writer Geoff Johns handle the job personally.
Thankfully, the introduction is one that differs noticeably from villains in either Arrow or previous episodes of The Flash, with the character following a ‘less is more’ mentality. Wentworth Miller fits the bill, leaning on his brooding stare and calculated speech to show just how much of a new breed Captain Cold will prove to be. He’s not mindlessly murderous – simply determined; and that, too, makes him one of the few Flash nemeses thus far that audiences can genuinely enjoy seeing in action.
But the real achievement of The Flash‘s fourth outing isn’t its action, villain, or even the deeper link forged between it and Arrow. What will leave fans surprised is just how many subplots are touched upon in so little time: the father/daughter love triangle between Iris (Candice Patton), Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Eddie (Rick Cosnett) earns its place by adding another complex relationship to a show already carrying plenty. It’s a small reveal with an equally small pay-off, but it rivals the Barry/Felicity romance as this episode’s (now-mandatory) dose of heart.
Just as surprising is how quickly the writers have voiced the idea that even Barry could pose a threat to others, citing that risk as the very reason Cisco (Carlos Valdes) created the ‘Cold Gun’ in the first place. Those darker themes of trust and doubt are usually the territory of Batman, but succeed in showing how Barry’s team will never be exactly like Oliver Queen’s; with Felicity’s presence justified further.
It may tread in ground well-explored by Smallville, or even Arrow before it, but the episode’s story being carried off by such a young cast is what raises the promise of what The Flash can add to The CW’s Justice League universe. And if this is a sign of what to expect from the upcoming crossover event, consider it must-see television for any comic book fan.
The Flash returns next Tuesday with “Plastique” @8pm on The CW. Check out a preview of next week’s episode below:
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce for updates on The Flash as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.