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"My name is Barry Allen, and I am not the fastest man alive."
"Revenge of the Rogues" sees Barry dealing with the wake of his revelation that Reverse-Flash ("Actually, I kinda like it," says Wells) is faster and stronger than Barry, and that he did indeed kill Barry's mother. Barry opens the episode exhaustively training with the STAR Labs team, determined to put everything on hold - including his day-to-day heroism - in order to meet the physical demands required to best The Man in the Yellow Suit.
So it's poor timing that we've got a bad guy team-up this week, between Wentworth Miller's Captain Cold and Miller's Prison Break co-star Dominic Purcell as Heat Wave. These former colleagues are clearly having a blast working together again as the first of the Rogues to get organized, and it's a joy to watch them play fire and ice with Central City's citizens and police force. With Barry distracted by his Reverse-Flash demons, Cisco takes his moment to shine with the Central City PD, gifting them with temperature-resistant shields and earning back a little respect for STAR Labs.
Caitlin gets her own plotline, as well, as she continues to look into Ronnie's reappearance-then-disappearance ("My dead fiance can fly. I haven't broken that to my parents yet"), and her investigation brings her to F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M., a scientific research project headed by the handsome and mysterious Professor Martin Stein. While so far, Ronnie's storyline has been running distinctly separate from the other events of The Flash - to its detriment - I believe Caitlin's investigation is about to cross over into STAR Labs' mission in a big way, and I'm looking forward to it. In the meantime, it's just nice seeing her have something else to do; she even gets kidnapped better than many comic book damsels in distress, as she remains steely once The Flame and The Frost abduct her to bait Barry. "Do whatever you want to me, but leave him alone," she tells them, and it's yet another glimpse into the hidden depths of Caitlin Snow.
The two guiding male forces in Barry's life (and no, I'm not counting his father) battle it out for his - well, not exactly his soul, but his heroic spirit. Wells wants Barry to focus solely on training in order to take out Reverse-Flash, while Joe knows that Barry's true heart belongs to the small and large rescues he delivers to Central City's citizens every day. Joe tells Wells, "You know what makes Barry so special? He wants to help everyone he can, however he can. Always has. Until now," and Wells shrugs, "I guess it's just a matter of priorities, then." Joe counters darkly, "You know, Barry said the exact same thing to me. And I thought, 'doesn't sound like him.' I guess because it sounds like you." Naturally, and as it should be, Joe's influence wins out, and Barry realizes that he can be The Flash day-to-day and still train to battle the man who killed his mother. Wells makes amends with Barry in an interesting way, telling him, "I hope we're not enemies...for pushing you to pursue your training rather than help the police," but Barry responds wisely and maturely, because Barry is both wise and mature, "Look, I'm an adult. I make my own choices, my own mistakes. And I'm glad you push me to be better."
Meanwhile, Iris is dealing with the fall-out from Barry's declaration of love in the last episode, and she's not handling it very well. She and Eddie are still moving in together, but things between Barry and Iris are painfully awkward - until Barry steps up and says the perfect thing, as Barry always seems to do. "Well, did you know that I can see into the future? Did I forget to tell you that? ... I see you and Eddie being really happy together. And things aren't weird between us anymore. It took a little time, but everything's back to normal, and we're still best friends." It's a wonderful moment, and the two share a long hug before Iris departs to move into her new home with Eddie, leaving a disconsolate Joe and Barry drinking beers on the couch together. Disconsolate, that is, until Barry suggests with a smile that he should move back in with Joe because his loft above the police station makes it hard to do any Flash sneaking. Joe tells him, "Don't do it on my account," but Barry's moved in and unpacked within seconds, and you can tell they're both so happy about it. So am I, for what it's worth.
"Revenge of the Rogues" offers the ideal balance needed after the breathless stakes of "The Man in the Yellow Suit." It both forwards the plot of the Reverse-Flash a bit while bringing us back to status quo regarding The Flash's obligations to Central City, and Captain Cold and Heat Wave together make a compelling enough villain team to fill the void left after the genuine creepiness of Reverse-Flash. And it reminds us, always, that The Flash is best when it's concerned with the relationships and emotions of its warm, interesting, hilarious and sometimes diabolical characters. This is a superhero show, but it's also a show about the family we make for ourselves - and Barry's made himself quite a special family.
Coolest moments this week:
Ghostbusters shout-out! Always appreciated.
"Look, Barry, Cisco and I will work with Joe and the police and devise a way to catch Cold - yes, I said it, Cisco. As soon as it came out of my mouth, I heard it."
The nerdy neat-freak in me loves it whenever Barry cleans, packs, unpacks or does any household chore in Flash mode. It's truly the most useful part of his powers.
When Barry apologizes to Joe for neglecting the Captain Cold and Heat Wave investigation, Joe's reply is the best: "It's all good, BUT - the next time Snart and his pyro pal show up, you make them sorry they ever messed with you."
And he does! Until they escape, that is. "Hey, sis."