Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of “The Flash.” To catch up on previous coverage, click here.
I can’t fathom a situation where I don’t love Captain Cold or Wentworth Miller’s portrayal of the character. More than any other secondary character or villain, Miller has managed to nail the tone of what it means to exist on The Flash more than any other. His overall tone, his delivery especially when speaking to Barry, is just the right amount of comical and bemused to keep the character from being an archetype “bad guy” and this is only further expanded in this week’s episode that slowed things down (a tad) and allowed us to focus on two family dynamics: the West’s and the Snart’s.
Joe and Iris West get the smaller storyline of the episode, but no less important to the potential storylines of season two, with the return of Iris’s mom Francine. Joe has kept her from Iris her entire life, worried about the influence Francine would have on her. Francine was a drug addict when she still lived in the West household, and she was one that endangered Iris due to it, once leaving her near a open flame on an oven after taking too many pills. From there on out, Joe believed that Iris was better off without her mother in her life, until now when Francine has returned to town, believing that Iris needs her mother after having lost Eddie, “the love of her life”. Despite trying to warn Francine against seeing their daughter, Joe finally relents and at the very least tells Iris the truth. Jesse L. Martin and Candice Patton do great work as usual, but it’s another showcase of Iris being the most forgiving person in the DC universe, despite her being one of the few characters who would have a justifiable reason to be pissed. I’m curious to see how much further they drag the storyline with Francine and how much drama it will cause. Joe, Iris and Barry are their own little makeshift family unit and whenever something or someone comes to shake their foundation up there’s reason to worry.
The other family that get’s a heaping dosage of backstory is, a little more surprisingly, the Snart family, as Captain Cold rolls back into town with his sister Lisa and father Lewis in tow. Lisa is the bridge for the storyline as she goes looking for Cisco, hoping that he’ll direct her to the Flash, needing his help in locating her brother who she believes has been kidnapped. It turns out that he hasn’t been taken, but rather has teamed up with his father Lewis in order to perform a profitable heist. From the very first moment the two are onscreen together, Grant Gustin and Miller share fantastic chemistry as foes who share odd respect for one another. Even their greetings, with a great, clipped, delivery of “Barry” from Miller (reminding us that he knows the Flash’s true identity) are brimming with humor and fun. Aside from Barry’s relationship with the Reverse Flash, it’s he and Captain Cold that have the most interesting dynamic which is showcased throughout the episode with Barry refusing to believe that Snart is really as bad as he seems.
This belief is backed up by Lisa in two instances. The first is when she tells the group of her troubling childhood, where being a daughter, not a criminal, earned her the countless scars she bears. Leonard was her protector, and he loathes their father so their team up makes little to no sense until they figure out that he must be being blackmailed, and it must have to do with Lisa. The truth is that Lewis (despicable as he is) inserted a bomb into Lisa’s head, willing to blow her up the moment Cold goes to betray him. The only way Barry knows how to stall any potential catastrophe is to infiltrate their group of rogues, playing the tech guy until Lewis has no more need of him, presumably shooting him dead.
Of course, this is a show called The Flash and we know that Barry isn’t leaving us, but it does lead us to the neat visual of Barry catching the bullet, as well as Snart’s genuine “sorry Barry” when he believes he’s dead.
The team is working on overtime to try and save the day, with Cisco extracting the bomb from Lisa’s head, showcasing some untapped potential in the pairing, while Barry turns back up as the Flash to stop Lewis, but not before Cold is able to, once learning his sister is safe, kills his father. It’s violent, and it lands him behind bars, but it’s the most human and three dimensional we’ve ever seen the character, one who drops the calculated persona for one more vengeful act. I’m always excited when Miller turns up onscreen, and I can’t wait to see he and the Flash continue to develop their relationship as potential allies.
The remainder of the storylines get shuffled a bit, with Patty Spivot feeling more like a nuisance this week and Jay more of an afterthought. We even end the episode with Professor Stein in a mirroring position as we left him last week. The coolest moment has to go to Iris at the beginning as her awesome investigative journalism skills leave her getting shot at and is forced to take a literal leap of faith and jump out of the skyscraper building as Barry races to her rescue and ultimately saves her. We need more episodes of Iris asserting her position as a ruthless journalist and intelligent aid to the Flash team.
Oh, and don’t forget that tag with Wells showing up out of the repaired speed portal. That can’t be for nothing.
A lot is happening on The Flash as has become the norm for the show, and it’s refusing to relent, even if it takes pauses to tell stories of the characters surrounding our leading hero.
Also, if you haven’t already, make sure to catch up on the podcast I work on with fellow writer Evan, DC Debrief https://t.co/pwibk580Hg and check out his review of last weeks Arrow “The Candidate”.