By comic book TV show standards, The Flash certainly can’t be accused of moving slow. For longtime comic fans, tonight’s episode was the precursor to hopefully one heck of a season finale cliffhanger as it continued building to arguably the biggest throne in Flash’s side — The Rogues.
For now, Barry is focused, scratch that mildly obsessed with getting up to speed to be able to battle Reverse Flash on equal footing. That mid-season hero beat down has been a staple of CW shows because it works. The hero has to re-evaluate his mission and deal with the doubts if he can overcome the villain who so soundly trashed him earlier. (See also: Arrow vs Merlyn, Deathstroke, Ra’s al Ghul). It helps drive the second half of the season as our hero tackles the various obstacles before that anticipated rematch.
For Barry, that means running. Way faster. So he’s out on the STAR airfield evading Cisco’s custom drones. Caitlin and Wells are a bit concerned Barry’s pushing himself too hard and as one drone looks to have the jump on him, Wells nearly springs up to save him in a blink’s eye. But Barry is getting better and he snares the missile and sends it back to the drone. The others are impressed, but Barry wants to test himself further. Cisco is game to help Barry stop Reverse Flash — a name that Wells actually likes (ha-ha) — so it’s back to work.
Meanwhile, Captain Cold is ready for his rematch with The Flash and he’s brought some back-up, his buddy Mick Rory, who’s armed with a flame-thrower. While it’s not quite the grey asbestos suit of his comic book counterpart (the show version is really just missing a hood), Rory at least is wearing a grey. They’re committing crimes to lure Flash, but so far he’s not biting.
Once Barry gets the news, he wants to stop them, but Wells convinces him it’s better to maintain his training than deal with low-level criminals. Besides, Cisco can whip up something to help the cops. The Central City Police Department are understandably reluctant to get excited for STAR assistance after the mess they made with the particle accelerator. Cisco comes up with a heat shield, but Capt. Singh isn’t as quick to trust them. Joe likewise has some words for Wells, who he thinks got in Barry’s ear and convinced him not to help against Cold.
This week all the subplots of the supporting cast moved things forward instead of just giving them something to do. Caitlin is doing more searching for Firestorm, which Ronnie said was his new name, but she’s not having any luck. Barry suggests it may not be a name, but an acronym. One speed read session later and Barry learns F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. is about matter transmutation. Good, Firestorm will have his matter changing power and won’t just be a Human Torch rip-off. Barry also finds another lead for her. Jason Rusch, who co-wrote the F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. paper, lives nearby.
Cold is annoyed that they haven’t gotten Flash’s attention, but he’s got something he knows will draw out Flash — a valuable painting is en route to Central City courtesy of its new owners, the Rathaways. Those are the parents of Hartley Rathaway, who we’ll see next week as Flash’s rival The Pied Piper. Snart arrives and tells them to call 911. The cold effects look so much better now that the effects team has more time to iron out the kinks.
Flash is still a no-show, but Joe and Eddie are feeling froggy thanks to Cisco’s heat shields. They didn’t count on Mick showing up and using his heat gun, which leaves several cops with burns, before Joe gets a lucky shot and disables his heat gun. Without a Flash appearance, Cold and Mick leave out to terrorize another day.
Barry is upset about not helping Joe out and promises to be there next time. True to their comic roots, Mick and Cold argue about their strategy. Cold offers Mick a choice: take the painting or run Central City once they eliminate The Flash. Mick responds by burning the painting. Attaboy Mick! Since Flash isn’t coming to them, Cold is determined to make him come by going after one of his team.
Caitlin meets Jason Rusch (Luc Roderique), who reluctantly tells her about the project he worked on with Professor Martin Stein. Stein tested the matter transmutation out and subsequently lost his funding. When he went to a private donor, Stein vanished and the army seized their research prompting Jason to be very cautious about his own actions. Before Caitlin can dig further, she’s greeted at her car by Cold and Mick.
Back at STAR, Wells says he hopes Barry doesn’t view him as enemies for making him train to fight Reverse-Flash. You can almost picture Wells smirking on the inside after making that remark. Barry says they’re friends and Wells helps make him better. Wells says Barry pushes him to be better too. This guy is too much.
Cisco names Mick ‘Heat Wave’ and says he’s figured out a way for Flash to beat Cold and Heat Wave. Their souped-up guns will cancel each other out if they can cross their streams. Barry name checks Ghostbusters and Cisco is amazed at its scientific accuracy.
Joe calls with the news that Caitlin is kidnapped. Before they can do much about it, Cold hijacks the news broadcasts and calls out Flash, telling him to meet them at Porter and Main or else Caitlin is history. I got the reference of Porter, named for Flash artist Howard Porter, a longtime collaborator with episode co-writer Geoff Johns.
Before they head out for their showdown, Mick pulls out his lighter (in keeping with his fire obsession from the comics) and taunts Caitlin. She is not a fan of the fire, a little subtle nod for comic fans aware of Caitlin’s comic identity, but definitely doesn’t want to be a pawn to trap Flash.
Joe reminds Barry everyone will know The Flash exists once he shows up. Thank goodness. These shows about the hero who sticks to the shadows is kinda boring. It makes sense for Arrow, but I’m glad Flash continues to differentiate itself from its vigilante counterpart.
Flash arrives and Cold calls him The Scarlet Speedster (another of Flash’s nicknames) and for the next five minutes, we get a perfect Flash vs The Rogues battle with Flash racing, Cold smiling as he unleashes his freeze blasts and Heat Wave laughing and the blasts lighting up the dark streets. Try and keep up future movie version! The only thing missing? Weather Wizard/Capt. Boomerang/Pied Piper/Mirror Master/Dr. Alchemy/The Trickster. That may be more than one thing…
Flash can’t get the stream crossing trick to work and just when he’s about to get fried frozen, Eddie rushes over with his heat shield. With Wells exposed, no need for Eddie to be plotting against Flash now, huh? Flash figures the trick in beating them is slowing down just enough for them to get sucked in and despite getting a brief crispy chill, he gets Cold and Heat Wave’s beams to cross and knock each other out.
Cold tells Flash he won this round. Looks like Cold and Heat Wave are gonna need some reinforcements… PleaseohpleasemoreRogues.
At the station, Joe and Eddie watch The Rogues get brought in. Mick is heated while Cold coolly accepts their fate. Barry congratulates Eddie for getting the arrest, but Eddie deflects the credit to The Flash. Barry overhears some cops calling The Flash a hero. Think he likes it. Singh thanks Cisco for his help so it worked out well for everyone.
Back at Joe’s, Iris is moves out. It’s a credit to the cast that Iris leaving Joe to move in with Eddie actually carries some weight in just the show’s 10th episode. With a vacant room now, Joe invites Barry to move back in and one quick packing later, Joe’s got a new roommate. Hopefully Iris and Eddie don’t have a spat anytime soon…
Post credits, The Rogues are in a truck heading to Iron Heights Prison. Mick is hot about Cold’s plan, but Cold reveals only part of his plan was to fight Flash. The other was to bring Flash out from the shadows where he’ll have to deal with others like them. And just then, the truck comes to a jarring stop. The door opens and Cold smiles and says “hello sis.” Golden Glider already? Did I mention how glad I am this show has already been renewed for a second season?
Next week: Flash vs. The Pied Piper!