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The Flash #1.4 “Going Rogue” Recap & Review

A mini-crossover only reinforces this show’s identity, and a great villain and well-plotted narrative makes this the best episode thus far.

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FLA104b_0254bSummary: A mini-crossover only reinforces this show’s identity, and a great villain and well-plotted narrative makes this the best episode thus far.

Recap

The Flash stops a robbery but the culprits get away after shooting a guard, and The Flash chooses to save the man instead of following the criminals.  Joe shows Barry a book of suspects and Barry identifies Leonard Snart as the leader of the group.  While investigating the case, Barry gets a surprise visit from an old friend –Felicity Smoak, who heard about his new abilities and came to check them out for herself. She joins him at S.T.A.R. Labs to help stop Snart after it’s revealed that Snart his gotten his hands on a stolen “cold gun,” which could kill The Flash. Dr. Wells is furious when he finds out that Cisco built the cold gun without telling anyone—having it on hand in case Barry woke up from his coma a psychopath–and now it’s missing. Snart uses the gun to stage a diamond heist, and then, after realizing The Flash’s “weakness” is his need to save people, he derails a trail to get away. The Flash is able to save everyone, but Snart stops him with the freeze gun; Cisco, Felicity, and Caitlin show up with a new prototype that could inflict way more damage on Snart, who surrenders but escapes. Cisco reveals it was actually a vacuum cleaner, and the team makes amends. Meanwhile, Iris is getting the silent treatment from Joe because of her relationship with Eddie, which Joe admits is really because it makes him unable to see Eddie as a partner. However, Eddie saves him during the chase for Snart, and he decides he’s a capable partner and boyfriend after all. Felicity departs for Starling, and even after everyone pressed for Barry and Felicity to get together, and Felicity admits they are perfect for each other, they both acknowledge that they are pining after other people they can’t be with. They share a kiss, and go their separate ways. Afterwards, Snart—aka Captain Cold now—meets with an old friend, and gives him a heat gun, offering to team-up to take down The Flash.

Review

This week’s The Flash is its first major crossover with Arrow, including major continuations of Barry’s story from “The Scientist”/“Three Ghosts,” and significant development for the Arrow character Felicity Smoak. And yet, this episode feels the most distinct from Arrow we’ve gotten thus far. It’s to be expected that any spin-off take a little bit of time figuring out its identity, but the process of resolving those danging threads seems to have sped up the process considerably.

Much of that might have to do with the dream team of director Glen Winter and writers Geoff Johns, along with writer Kai Yu Wu (from Hannibal, oddly enough.) Winter and Johns notably worked together on the Smallville episode “Legion,” the first big Geoff Johns episode of a live-action comic book show. That episode was both one of Smallville season eight’s most exciting and refreshing episodes, but also its weirdest up until that point, sticking out like a sore thumb after the season’s moody and character-centric first half. It’s the most meta Smallville had gotten by that point, and with all its 31st century time travel, fanservice-y Persuader appearance, and brainfreezing Chloiac plot, it was the most the show had dived into its own comic book universe origins to that extent. The show changed after that episode—for better or worse, depending on who you ask—and it became more willing to bring in obscure DC characters week-to-week in costumes nearly lifted from the page. It got more self-referential, more wacky, more comic book-y, and generally lighter.

FLA104a_0193bIt’s worth mentioning because “Legion” shares a very similar tone to “Going Rogue” and The Flash as a whole, but with similar-yet-different results. Captain Cold is ripped from the page, all the characters acknowledge their respective places in the story, and there’s a general self-awareness about all the proceedings. It’s light, funny, and wacky, with shades of pathos around the edges, and everyone seems fully in-tune with the world they’re in and what they need to do next. But while “Legion” was a new kind of episode for Smallville and marked a turning point, “Going Rogue” feels like this is what the show always was from the beginning. Felicity, in fact, fits into The Flash better than she does Arrow, at least conceptually. This episode makes a strong case that The Flash pretty much took the traits that made Felicity such a breakout and built a whole world around them, as Central City is full of quirky, fast-talking, awkward geeky youth. Hell, even Joe’s frequent tears are more akin to Felicity than his natural parallel in Quentin. This is in no way necessarily a flaw; the charm of The Flash is how it grasps the fun and joy of being a good guy with cool powers and good friends, and Felicity’s archetype is an easy way to get that across. So in bringing Felicity to Central City, suddenly the show calls all this to our attention.

But “Going Rogue” succeeds with this in a much more surprising manner. Felicity and Barry spend much of the episode playing up the will they/won’t they, but mostly because of outside sources telling them they should. Grant Gustin and Emily Bett Rickards have no less chemistry than they did in Arrow, so it’s hard to not be on board with Iris’s incessant attempts to force them together. Felicity fits in well with the team, too—for the aforementioned reasons—but she brings a different enough vibe to the proceedings to shake things up a bit. The show admittedly plays up her “specialness” to a slightly annoying extent; Dr. Wells exposits a long, mostly boring history of why Felicity is so awesome that’s somehow the most backstory we’ve ever gotten for her, for example, but luckily that barely register in the grand scheme.

It’s the final train scene that really has the characters click. Barry and Felicity open up to one another in a very refreshingly upfront way, and the episode is very satisfying because of that acknowledgement. It’s a very different type of scene from one that Arrow—or really, a lot of shows like this—would do, and much of that has to do with the types of characters Gustin and Rickards have set up. This an open acknowledgement of their feelings for one another and other people, with a necessary lack of subtext and drama bubbling underneath. It’s rare to see characters so straightforward with each other, and as a result, it seems to reflect the relationship between Arrow and The Flash as a whole, too. Felicity and Barry are two sides of the same coin, and representatives of their respective interconnected shows. But despite how connected they are, the places they belong are are quite the opposite. Arrow is a gloomy, moody, gritty show; The Flash is light, funny, and whimsical. They are tightly entwined, but can only survive if they operate independently, barring the occasional crossover here and there.

FLA104b_0263bIt’s significant that this episode is the first to not feature a metahuman, in that sense, keeping the world from being too wacky when it’s crossed over with Arrow. Captain Cold as he’s portrayed here is an amalgam of a typical Arrow villain and a Flash villain, with Arrow‘s penchant for casting a renowned genre actor to deliver flowery-written lines and The Flash‘s general ridiculousness and straightforward adaptations.

As such, Leonard Snart is the best villain of the show thus far, with a chilling performance (no pun intended) from Wentworth Miller that’s unnerving because how much he underplays it against an otherwise over-the-top show. He still relishes in the part and chews the scenery, but he’s also impenetrably stoic the entire time, which makes his “escape,” while up against the thought-to-be prototype freeze cannon, both scary and funny. There’s a little too much leaning on the cold puns at first, what with “Keep your cool” and “We don’t need the heat” and such, but Snart surprisingly chills out as soon as he gets his hands on the actual freezing weapon. Snart as a character isn’t that interesting—he’s a criminal who likes to do crime, because whatever—but Miller hooks into that concept, making Snart about as sociopathic he can get without going too broad. His final costume also fits in wonderfully, striking a good balance between realism and looking exactly like his counterpart. This is an example of a solid and faithful adaptation all-around, and it’s good we’re already setting up his potential return with a supervillain team-up.

A disappointing side is that this is also sorta kinda a Cisco-centric episode, barely. This is the first episode with no flashbacks, which means we don’t learn much new about Cisco’s backstory, but his contribution to the actual plot is more significant than Felicity’s. That’s a bit frustrating considering how Cisco needs the most development to keep him from teetering off the edge of comic relief and into annoying. He’s not there yet, and the reveal of some of his motivations this week help round him out, but there’s more work to be done.

That said, what he does is exceptionally well-plotted; Cisco built a weapon that could kill Barry in the event that he woke up psychotic, which is a perfectly viable reason considering how all other metahumans thus far have turned out. And Barry probably could have had a more understanding reaction, if that weapon hadn’t fallen into Captain Cold’s hands and been used to kill the first person Barry has directly failed to save. So with this STAR Labs weapon concept, we get the creation of Captain Cold, a glimpse into the dark side of Cisco’s genre-savvy psyche, we see Barry process the grief of failure, we see the STAR Labs team fracture and subsequently repair themselves, and we even get the first major acknowledgement to other characters that Wells is a little unhinged. There’s actually quite a big chunk of character and plot development packed into this little thread, which enriches an episode that still otherwise worked because of its humor. The reveal that Cisco’s new weapon is actually a STAR Labs vacuum “with a lot of LEDs” is a perfect capper to the comical hour, and a fitting resolution for a Cisco-based plot.

FLA104b_0367bThe action is also awesome overall, with the train crash sequence easily on top as this show’s best effect thus far. The actual images of Barry in bullet time saving the last woman aren’t too refined, but that’s the only smudge on an otherwise breathtaking sequence. What Arrow has in stunt choreography, The Flash is slowly building for itself as the best in TV superhero effects. The freeze gun effects are hit-or-miss much of the time, though, but that might just be the nature of that kind of effect. Even the lightning around Barry’s red streak is a little cartoony, so it might be a case of the show embracing the less-realistic looking effects for its more outlandish things. That might be a wise decision to get us used to it for when things get inevitably crazier down the line.

Until they do, though, “Going Rogue” stands up as the best episode of the show thus far. This is the lightest and most comedic the show has gotten—especially in its quippy, joke-heavy first half—but it never ceases to add layers to the characters and play with their dynamics. It’s also, again, lots and lots of fun, with the best villain we’ve seen and an appearance from Felicity that was not as self-indulgent as it could have been. The Flash excels with just enough character and drama that it’s able to otherwise succeed by just being—and I’m really, really sorry for this—cool.

Odds & Ends

  • The Iris/Eddie subplot is kind of a slog, the sort of obligatory early season plot that keeps the two in a holding pattern until they become useful. It doesn’t help that the “no more secrets even though there are secrets” bit between Iris and Joe directly contrasts the refreshing Barry/Felicity stuff, which highlights the tiredness of that trope.
  • That said, the awkward radio gag with Eddie and Joe in the car is hilarious.
  • Why can’t we just go ahead and call him The Flash? Smallville ran all variations of the coy non-naming joke into the ground, and Arrow at least let it make sense thematically by forcing Oliver to grow from murdering vigilante before he could adopt the Arrow moniker. But tiptoeing around The Flash by using “Streak” and “Blur” is just so awkward and nonsensical.
  • Converse is the worst type of shoe for Barry to wear if they’re going to catch on fire all the time. They’re made of thin material and they’re expensive. It’s the worst possible choice.
  • Barry’s reaction to Cisco asking if he knows The Arrow’s identity is hysterical.
  • E=MC Hammer is perfect.
  • So, Wells telling Cisco to “never do anything like that again”–is he referring to building the weapon, or saving Barry? He already expressed his anger about the former, but if it’s the latter, it would play into this future stuff, where Wells wants Barry to get out of the obstacles on his own and learn from them rather than his friends saving him. Tom Cavanaugh is more overtly ominous in general this week, and time will tell what the endgame is.
  • “And she happens to come from your very rare species of adorable nerds.” Is that a subset of the “hot nerd,” or are the two terms synonymous? Any relation to “hot librarian”?
  • “The lightning didn’t just give me speed, it also gave me friends.” – I think we’ll just have to accept that Barry’s monologues are going to be the cheesiest of cheesy just because Barry’s a big dork anyway.
  • “Leonard? That’s almost as bad as Bartholomew.”
  • “The internet is full of weirdos and nerdrage. Lots and lots of nerdrage.” 
  • “Stay safe. And I’m talking to air now. Which is odd. I’m still doing it…”
  • “Ow! That was not as badass as I pictured.”

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Blu-ray Review: The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season

Review of The Flash Season 6 Blu-ray set from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

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The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, and we have been provided with a copy of the set to review on the site!

The set features all 19 episodes of The Flash Season 6 plus extras — the Blu-ray includes all of the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover!

Here’s what’s up:

Packaging & Design: Starting with this because it’s probably the first thing you’ll notice. The box art for this set has changed since the original press release — the fired Hartley Sawyer’s Ralph Dibny is no longer on the packaging. While I understand the show distancing themselves — Ralph was indeed an important part of Season 6, with his Sue Dearbon story, and I’m not 100% sure how I think they should have handled it. As it is, it looks odd with just the other four members of Team Flash on it. Though, to be fair, Nash Wells isn’t on the cover either.

With that said, The Flash sets usually have some of the best designed packaging and menu art and this set is no exception.

The Episodes: Also seems I am repeating myself but the Blu-ray presentation on The Flash is loads better than what we see on TV and is pretty cinematic. All 19 episodes of Season 6 are here, and — spoiler warning — because of COVID-19, they were cut off at 19 episodes, so that means some storylines aren’t completely wrapped. With that said, this season saw Eric Wallace taking over as showrunner, and with him came a new tactic that he referred to as “graphic novels.” The first “graphic novel” included the character Bloodwork (Sendhil Ramamurthy) as characters are facing death, and the second, after Crisis, dealt with a new “Mirror Master.”

I will say that The Flash under Eric Wallace has a great vision and I love his enthusiasm, which you can actually hear on the “Kiss Kiss Breach Breach” commentary. He’s as big of a geek as we are, and I mean that in the absolute best way. The only thing I’d have to say negative about Season 6 is that the mirror storyline has gone on way too long — and I wonder, if they had known all along that we’d end with 19 episodes (an impossibility, because who would?), it might have been a bit shorter.

This “graphic novel” set-up, however, does offer the chance to binge the season in parts, which is pretty cool, and the Blu-ray bonus disc of all of Crisis on Infinite Earths is a good thing to throw in the middle to tee up Graphic Novel #2.

The other thing I will say about Season 6 is that I really liked some of the new characters that are set up. Chester P. Runk, Sue Dearbon, Kamilla, and Allegra — all fun characters that add to rather than detract from the series.

The Extras: The set includes a bonus black and white noir version of “Kiss Kiss Breach Breach” with commentary by Eric Wallace. Commentaries don’t happen too often these days, so I’m so glad they put something on this set. There is also a gag reel and deleted scenes. And, of course, all of Crisis which has a lot of great Flash content!

Is It Worth It? If you’re a Flash completist or want to see the most recent season in high definition, sure. You might want to start at the very beginning, though. Still, I think The Flash is on its way back to its former glory and Season 6 is the start of that journey. Can’t wait for Season 7, and for now, this set will be revisited often.

Get your copy of the Blu-ray from Amazon.com at a discounted price and support FlashTVNews!

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Blu-ray Review: The Flash: The Complete Fifth Season

Review of the Flash Season 5 Blu-ray set.

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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided FlashTVNews with a free copy of this set for review in this post. The opinions shared are my own.

The Flash: The Complete Fifth Season hits Blu-ray and DVD this week, containing all 22 episodes of Season 5 plus bonus episodes from the Elseworlds crossover. In addition to the entire season, there are few extra features for all to enjoy, though some are duplicated from other sets that were made available this year. Here’s the review.

The Episodes: As mentioned, all 22 episodes plus extras are on this set. And as I tend to write every year, the show isn’t quite at the high level it was in its first season, but there are definitely standouts in Season 5. A big theme for the season is family, and the conflicts between parents and their children. Caitlin and her parents are a part of that. The season’s villain is a part of that. And the biggest part of that is Nora West-Allen (Jessica Parker Kennedy), the daughter of Barry and Iris brought back from the future. Kennedy is fantastic in the role, though it is at times disappointing to see so much attention on a new character when we are here for the ones we’ve seen for 100+ episodes.

The Flash Season 5 contains the series’ 100th episode which is a great journey through the five years of the show. Sadly absent from Episode 100, though, is Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) who was recovering from an injury for a good part of the season. Martin’s presence was certainly missed though it is nice that the show upgraded Danielle Nicolet (Cecile) to series regular this year.

I’ll be honest: I wasn’t very invested in the Cicada story, at least not as much as I probably should have been. And I was even less into the latest Wells, “Sherloque,” which was a joke that stopped being funny within about 2 minutes, with no offense meant to the writers or Tom Cavanagh. It was nice to see the talented Cavanagh in another role, though part of me still is wondering why it was not Matt Letscher, though I’m forgiving that because, again, Tom Cavanagh.

I’m also not sure what to make of Vibe’s eventual fate, unless it is a way to make things less easy for next year’s crossover. In any event, watching these episodes still has me excited for Season 6, and The Flash is certainly a series that is worth the Blu-Ray upgrade.

The Extras: There’s a fantastic featurette about the origins of Killer Frost which is really well put together. I was, however, surprised that such attention wasn’t paid to XS/Nora as she was also a major arc for Season 5. Was there only room to cover one story? I’m also surprised there wasn’t some kind of 100th episode spotlight, especially since Warner Bros. did have press kit people on the line interviewing the cast.

There are Elseworlds, villains, and Comic-Con featurettes that you can find on the other DC TV shows this year, which I can only imagine is a cost-cutting measure to include them everywhere.

The set also has deleted scenes, with the most notable being Superman running with Oliver Queen from “Elseworlds Part 1.” It’s a shame that was cut. There was also a “My Name Is Barry Allen” from “Elseworlds” with Stephen Amell replacing Grant Gustin as Grant replaced him in the aired Part 2 — this was surely cut and unfinished so as to not blow the reveal that Oliver was Barry in Part 1. It’s still really cute and fun.

Finally, there’s a gag reel. While they are introduced with credits like The Office, they’re still a bit… meh.

Packaging and Design: Seeing Barry and Nora running side by side is the perfect way to sell this. Very nice looking.

Is It Worth It? I’ll always recommend picking up Flash Blu-Rays from the beginning, but this is certainly worthwhile, especially to prepare for Season 6 to premiere on October 8. You can purchase this set (and support this site!) here.

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Blu-ray Review: The Flash: The Complete Fourth Season

Review of the Blu-ray set for The Flash: The Complete Fourth Season

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The Complete Fourth Season of The Flash hits Blu-ray and DVD this week (Tuesday, August 28), and we’ve got our hands on a review copy!

Before we get to the review, here’s how the season is described:

In Season Four, the mission of Barry Allen, aka The Flash (Grant Gustin), is once more to protect Central City from metahuman threats. First, he’ll have to escape the Speed Force. With Barry trapped, the job of protecting Central City falls to his family – Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin); his fiancée, Iris West (Candice Patton); and Wally West/Kid Flash (Keiynan Lonsdale) – and the team at S.T.A.R. Labs – Dr. Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker), Cisco Ramon/Vibe (Carlos Valdes) and brilliant scientist Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh). When a powerful villain threatens to level the city if The Flash doesn’t appear, Cisco risks everything to break Barry out of the Speed Force. But this is only the first move of a life-or-death chess game with Clifford DeVoe aka The Thinker (Neil Sandilands), a mastermind who’s always ten steps ahead of Barry, no matter how fast he’s running. Shocking surprises come fast and furious in all 23 action-packed adventures featuring The Fastest Man Alive.

So, how’s the set?

The Episodes: It’s going to be very hard to ever replicate the greatness that was the first season of The Flash. Unfortunately, one thing that The Flash Season 1 did so well that still didn’t connect for Season 4 is a strong villain. While I have more appreciation for The Thinker after rewatching some episodes and checking out the extra interview features on this set, I still don’t really feel that empathy and care for him that I had for, say, Eobard/Wells.

Season 4 also tried to course correct with more humor to varied success. Sometimes it worked; others the show was far too amused with itself. (I don’t need to see any more Wellses no matter how much I love Tom Cavanagh, for example, and “psychic pregnancy” will never not be too campy for me.)

There’s some good stuff, though. The best version of Barry’s suit so far premieres in Season 4, and Barry and Iris finally get married this year, even if every time they got married, they ended up interrupted. There are some episodes that worked to innovate, and there are also things like Barry in jail which seem to go on for too long. But at least with a DVD or Blu-ray you can fast forward, right?

Season 4 is also where we meet Ralph Dibny. He grows on you until you finally stretch your appreciation levels. By season’s end, you love Ralph as much as everyone else might.

The Extras: Of all the DC TV shows, The Flash usually gets the best treatment as far as extras go. We’ve got deleted scenes (including some WestAllen!), bloopers, and the all-encompassing Comic-Con video… and some other great extras, including Sterling Gates and Eric Wallace with Katee Sackhoff offering commentary on Amunet (who I do enjoy more after seeing Sackhoff speaking about her, but I still don’t understand why the silly accent was a thing). There’s also a really nice feature about the Elongated Man, and all four episodes of this year’s DC TV crossover are represented.

There’s also talk about The Thinker, and as I said, I appreciate the storyline more but I still didn’t have that emotional connection with the character that I feel I needed. The other bodies thing at midseason made that all even worse.

Packaging & Art: This is one of the best looking Flash Blu-ray sets so far. Dynamic design on the box art and on the discs. I like it.

Is It Worth It? As I said, nothing will be Season 1 again, but if you’re a fan of The Flash there are a lot of extras to make this worth it. Order yours from Amazon.com at a discounted rate and support this website!

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