[WARNING: This article contains spoilers for The Flash Season 1, Episode 16]
Having sent the mythology and science of the show into the atmosphere with last week's episode, The Flash returns right where it left off: Barry Allen, set to re-live one of the most shocking and violent days in his crime-fighting career thus far. Instead of sticking to a single subplot or theme this week, the show's writers brought back old villains and brand new ones, additional supporting cast members, and one massive warning for what lies ahead.
Seeing how much comic book lore was drawn upon for "Rogue Time," the steps taken in the formation of a Rogues Gallery, and what the true cost of Barry's time travel may be are all up for discussion, so we invite all to share their own thoughts and predictions in the comments below.
Time Travel Continued
As was to be expected after last week's episode saw Barry travel back in time, the repeated moments and dialogue sending Barry out of sorts begins immediately. Despite Harrison Wells' urging that Barry take care to play the day out the exact same way so as not to upset time itself, he quickly throws all events into disarray. Fortunately, Barry isn't entirely absorbed in pursuing his romantic feelings for Iris, or ending things with his new love, Linda.
Now knowing the whereabouts of Mark Mardon, Barry arrests the would-be Weather Wizard and imprisons him at S.T.A.R. Labs before he ever had the chance to paralyze Captain Singh, torture and kidnap Joe, or launch the tidal wave that pushed Barry to travel back in time in the first place.
Wells supplies some serious foreshadowing, implying that the timestream has its own way of sorting things out (remove one disaster, and invite a potentially even bigger one). But after the time travel method was left intentionally vague, a few nagging questions surrounding Barry's ability to tear a whole through space-time were (somewhat) answered. With Barry matching his speed in the lab and failing to recreate the effect, the pair come to the conclusion that Barry's time travel was not a product of his speed alone.
Just as Wells warned, events soon spiral out of control, leading Barry to confess all that took place in his prior day to his mentor. Instead of limiting his criticism and advice to the day now unfolding in unpredictable ways, Wells took an extra step, warning that if Barry was ever able to travel years backward in time, there was no telling how many lives could be lost as a result.
For fans who've been paying close attention, Wells' message carries several meanings. The most obvious example would be returning to save his mother's life (from Wells), potentially altering his own path towards the Speed Force (which Wells needs to return to his own time). But the ripples of time travel continue outward to nearly every character - and more changes are certainly on the way.
One would assume that forgetting your mentor and hero betrayed you, killed your best friend's mother, and killed you to keep his secret would be a good thing; for Cisco Ramon, however, this day seemed destined to be a truly poor one regardless. Without Barry raising Iris' suspicions about Harrison Wells (given to her by reporter Mason Bridge), Cisco was free to go on with his existing plans. In short, being embarrassed and belittled by his older brother and family.
As if that weren't enough, he was once again pressed into turning his brilliant engineering skills to crime, returning Captain Cold and Heat Wave their signature weapons - and crafting a brand new one for Cold's sister. Things didn't work out much better for Cisco's brother, Dante, though the pair were allowed to leave once Cisco divulged the true identity of Central City's Flash (sidenote: he did learn that his high school crush also liked him, so we'll call his day a draw).
Fans will no doubt be most relieved to see Cisco remain ignorant of Harrison Wells' deception, since he failed to discover that the Reverse-Flash stand-off was a ruse to throw suspicion off of the wheelchair-bound doctor. However, Wells did express his view of Cisco as not just a protegé, but a son as well (this time much easier to take without a looming murder to sour the sentiment).
We would like to believe it was an honest admission, but it may simply have been another manipulation to keep Cisco's efforts focused on unlocking Barry's full potential.
As further evidence that there was much more going on in Central City than Joe West's kidnapping, Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) return on the scene with a new addition. Joining their team is Leonard Snart's sister, Lisa (played by Peyton List), who relies on her feminine wiles to grease wheels that her brother's campy scheming can't.
Though she demands a gun of her own to feel like part of the gang, we certainly hope that a future appearance will bring with it a more unique power/trademark (turning people to gold can only be so intriguing). A casino attack AND a moving heist give all three villains a chance to show their stuff, but it's Leonard Snart who once again emerges as the de facto leader of this new breed of super-crime.
After acquiring The Flash's actual name, Snart shows that he's more than just a thief. Listening to reason, Snart strikes a bargain with Barry. He'll keep Allen's identity to himself, as long as he allows him to remain free. Barry demands that if that's the deal, no more innocent citizens can be killed just for appearing in the crossfire.
It may not seem like a deal for a true superhero to make with a thief and murderer, but it moves this ragtag group of henchmen another step toward the Rogues Gallery of the comics. Snart is not 'evil,' per se, but an adrenaline junkie who simply wishes to live outside of society's laws. And as the rest of the episode, showed, Barry may have far bigger threats to worry about before long.
In the midst of so many life-threatening and identity-revealing twists, these smaller plot beats are worth pointing out for future episodes:
- With knowledge of Iris' real feelings for him, Barry seeks to drop the charade. Unfortunately, without the emotional stress of a kidnapped father and mile-high tidal wave, Iris is significantly less open with her feelings.
- Since Iris thought it wise to apparently tell her boyfriend about Barry's advance, Eddie let his fists do the talking, bringing an end to their budding friendship.
- Thankfully, it's Caitlin Snow who really saves the day, convincing both Iris and Eddie that Barry's strange behavior was a symptom of mental instability brought on by his lightning strike. Iris reveals a bit of disappointment, while Eddie reveals that he's a hugger.
- Reporter Mason Bridge has his story and life cut short by the Reverse-Flash, but not soon enough for Barry to see that his mentor may actually be the villain so many believe him to be.
Be sure to share your own thoughts on these twists and reveals, and where you think Harrison Wells, Barry, and the rogues are headed in the next episodes!
The Flash returns next Tuesday @8pm with "Tricksters". Check out a preview of the episode below: