THE FLASH Review 1.22 “Rogue Air”

The lesson in this episode: never doubt THE FLASH writers.

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"At what point do we become no different than the people we're fighting?"

We've spent a lot of time here debating the moral uncertainty of STAR Lab's meta-human prison, and as The Flash proves its merit in every other respect, this one perplexity has continued to plague the show. Barry isn't a hero like Oliver Queen: he believes in right and wrong, in black and white. It's what sets him apart and what makes us love him. He's not self-righteous, but he is so often right. It's been increasingly provoking to see him rely on a situation with such ethical implications, and to never have those implications addressed by The Flash

For those of us for whom the meta-prison has become a sticking point every week, "Rogue Air" makes great strides toward unsticking it. 

Of course, nothing's actually solved, but it's at least addressed. Everyone - Barry, Caitlin, Cisco and especially Joe - acknowledge that this situation is untenable, and with Wells putting the meta-prisoners in danger, Barry's impassioned attempts (impassioned to the point of unwise, putting him in league with the monumentally untrustworthy Leonard Snart) to save them feels like his own admission that STAR Labs has heretofore done wrong by the meta-humans of Central City. There's no real resolution yet (Joe: "So we ship them from one illegal black site to another?"), but The Flash's acknowledgement that this circumstance is unworthy of the clear-eyed optimism of the rest of the series is a giant step in the right direction. 

Season penultimate episodes are always a bit strange, often something of a wheel-spinner. They have to forward the action enough to bring us to the finale but can't forward it so much that there's little left to do in the last episode. In a way, "Rogue Air" suffers from this dilemma, with three notably disparate stories taking place on paths that never quite cohere. But The Flash fills the episode with so much action, with so many great moments and with this one, important story advancement (that of the prison debate) that the episode is still largely successful. 

First, we've got Eddie's return and his breakup with Iris. With all of the larger moments in "Rogue Air," this breakup might feel insignificant, but due to some great performances by Candice Patton and Rick Cosnett, and to the implications of what this might mean for Eddie's potentially villainous future, the scene makes a larger impact than it might have otherwise. It's also nice to see Iris save Caitlin from Peek-a-Boo - a ten-second scene that continues Iris' arc toward being a character that counts. 

Then we've got three separate team-ups in the episode: Barry with the Snart siblings, Snart's backstabbing (and inevitable) team-up with The Mist, Deathbolt, Peek-a-Boo and Weather Wizard, and the final collaboration between The Flash, The Arrow and Firestorm to take down Wells. None of these developments was really given time to breathe, and each could have made for its own great episode. The Snarts still make for a remarkably fun duo, and I could watch Lisa flirt with Cisco all day ("Really not enjoying being one of the good guys this week. Really not."), and the dynamic among the meta-humans was plenty interesting. With a few more minutes allowed for each scene, they really could have resonated - as is, the episode felt a little haphazard. 

But oh, that final battle. That's really where the time-crunch felt debilitating, because a scene as enormous and thrilling as that climax should be given the space it needs. But it was still a remarkable moment of The Flash, one that really speaks to the multi-verse DC TV has created here. Though we shouldn't believe for a second that getting captured isn't part of Wells' plan, it's hard not to celebrate when Firestorm, The Arrow and The Flash all use their super-powers to bring down the Reverse-Flash - even temporarily. "I might need a favor from you." "Wherever, whenever."

Coolest moments this week: 

Cisco's such a smartie, grabbing his orange soda before heading down to the particle accelerator. At first I thought he was just thirsty. 

Carlos Valdes and Peyton List really do have a terrific chemistry. The moment he dubs her "Golden Glider" was pretty hot. 

Wentworth Miller was extra fun this week: "He owed me money."

"I got you." I bet you don't, Barry. We'll find out next week, on the Season One finale of The Flash

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