Screenplay by Kai Yu Wu and Geoff Johns.
You know, Revenge of the Rogues could be the best half-season opener that I’ve ever seen. I’ve always considered half-seasons to count as separate seasons, so this is basically the opening episode of season two for me. And as such, it remembers that, whereas finales need to be significant events, openers need to trigger some sort of development. But in The Flash‘s case, this development is intertwined with personal plot threads that continue from the previous episode.
This episode is about consequences. One thing I appreciate is when writers don’t just see television episodes as filler or meaningless entertainment, but actually to make it just as worthy as other episodes. So it would seem that consequences is the theme being drawn-upon to make the development seem natural and logical. Barry Allen’s dealing with both the consequences of telling Iris West how he feels about her, and of being defeated by “the man in the yellow suit”. He’s therefore fighting a battle in his personal life and “work” life. The romantic subplot is knowingly down-played, which tells me the writers know what’s more important in this show. Yes, West’s presence can make the plot more substantial, and make Allen a more realistic character, but ultimately she only really needs to be here when it fits the story. And that’s the way she’s being dealt with: Allen revealed his feelings to her in order to be an additional problem with “the man in the yellow suit”. While he doesn’t have much of a role in this episode, a conduit for Allen’s feelings of defeat are channeled through Leonard Snart and Mick Rory. This is the first time villains are being motivated specifically by Allen’s presence, and as such also the first time Allen’s presence is causing events, rather than just influencing them. And that’s because he’s taken the decision to play an active role. He chose to be open to West, and chooses at the conclusion to take an interventionary action that will reveal “The Flash”‘s existence to the public. Things are much clearer now in his world, but they themselves will have consequences. Snart even considers himself semi-victorious as he lead “The Flash” to being publicly known. And that does make him semi-victorious. It’s a gradual escalation of events that made this episode more about what Allen can’t do than what he can, and he learns from that to invert what he’s doing and ultimately win.
The climax, in-which Snart and Rory are weakening him from both sides serves as a nice microcosm for what’s currently happening with The Flash‘s plotlines – Allen has problems on both fronts of his lives, not least because his secret one is now exposed. Few know they’re the same person, but that would probably make things easier for him. Instead, he chooses to keep them separate for numerous reasons, and West’s rebuttal of him is probably scaring him away from revealing his identity, as is the Rogues’ obsession with destroying him. Because they were almost successful, and Allen now realises he’s out of his depth, this can only lead to a confrontation with more rogues. Snart and Rory were even rescued by a new villain – Snart’s sister – so hopefully this means the season will climax with a full-on Rogues team-up. That would make for a great season finale.
The Flash: Revenge of the Rogues – superhero drama done right; excellent 8/10.