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The Flash #2.3 “Family of Rogues” Recap & Review

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FLA203b_0083bSummary: Family drama and the nature of evil form the center of the best Rogue episode to date, and a likely highlight of the season.

Recap

 Iris calls Barry during a shootout, and Barry tells her to jump out the window so he can save her. She does; Iris was working on a Realtor scam that went bad, and her story makes it to the front page. At Jitters, Lisa Snart “bumps into” Cisco, Caitlin, and Barry, saying she needs their and The Flash’s help. She tells them that her brother has been kidnapped, and wants The Flash to save him. Cisco is able to locate Captain Cold’s gun, but discovers Leonard working freely…with his father. Flash confronts Lisa, who doesn’t believe Leonard would be working with her father unless he was doing so against his will. She tells that that their dad, Lewis Snart, was abusive and terrible to them, and that Leonard hates him. While investigating, Barry and Patty discover one of Lewis’ henchmen with an exploded head, and the team realizes that Lewis must have put explosives in his associates. They determine that Leonard is working for him because there’s a microbomb in Lisa’s head, too, which Cisco promises to remove. Barry goes undercover as a new “tech guy” to replace the dead henchman, infiltrating the operation to try to stop Lewis while Cisco removes the bomb in Lisa. Leonard goes along with the ploy, and while Barry is able to get the two past the defenses to get the diamonds they want to steal, Lewis shoots him anyway. Barry catches the bullet in secret, though, and uses the opportunity to suit up as The Flash and confront them both. Cisco builds a compressed air gun that he uses as a vacuum, safely removing the bomb from Lisa. With the bomb gone, Leonard turns on his father and kills him. Barry gets Leonard put in Iron Heights, but tells him he honestly believes he’s good in him. With Lisa safe, she departs, but not before kissing Cisco.

Meanwhile, Francine West, Joe’s thought-to-be-dead wife, confronts him, asking to see their daughter. Joe refuses, and after some pushing from Barry, he tells Iris the truth — that her mother was an addict that put their daughter in danger, and disappeared after being admitted to rehab. Iris holds no grudge towards Joe, instead understanding why he kept it a secret. Back at STAR Labs, Jay figures out how to create a stable portal in the rip they found in the basement of the lab. However, Caitlin convinces him to stay at least until they’ve beaten Zoom, after also giving him hope that he can be a hero as a scientist even if he doesn’t have super speed. Dr. Stein, who was still recovering from his collapse at the end of last week’s episode, seems to be back in good condition — until he collapses again, this time catching on fire like when Ronnie transformed into Firestorm, except with blue flame. After the team leaves, Earth-2’s Harrison Wells emerges from the portal.

Review

FLA203a_0017bIt’s safe to say that “Family of Rogues” is easily the best episode of the opening trifecta of season 2, and perhaps the best of the Rogue episodes so far. It’s not an action-heavy episode — with the exception of the stellar opening sequence with Iris jumping out of a window — but what it lacks in adrenaline thrills, it makes up for with genuine suspense and character exploration.

It’s a feat that the Rogues characters have managed to become such an integral part of the Flash series in just a scare few scattered episodes. Even when the Rogues episodes faltered a bit on plot terms, Captain Cold and his associates always made an impression one way or another, even if there wasn’t much to the characters. In fact, that’s been to the show’s benefit; all the Rogues are people who just enjoy playing the bad guy game. As this episode and “Rogue Time” both make apparent, it’s not that that the Rogues are hellbent on doing eeeevil, they just want to have fun. Their way of doing it is by stealing, which gives them more money to have more fun and do more stealing. To quote The Middleman, “It’s sheer elegance in its simplicity.”

“Family of Rogues” takes the concept established in “Rogue Time” and runs with it, not only exploring how benign the Snart siblings’ villainy technically is, but by contrasting it with their father’s outright maliciousness. There’s an argument here that Lewis Snart is “true” evil in a sense, a man who hurts specifically to hurt, even when it’s not benefiting him. We see him murder people on a whim, only not murdering people when it’s a matter of self-preservation. And, of course, we see the truth behind the broken childhood Cold mentioned a few times, that Lewis was a horribly violent to his kids — particularly targeting Lisa, it seems — and it goes a long way to make him the most despicable character in the show very quickly. Michael Ironside doesn’t have to do much differently from the bastards he usually plays, but he’s still perfectly cast in the role.

FLA203a_0110bThe real surprise in this hour is Peyton List as Lisa, who improves on her previous appearances and makes a solid argument for why we ought to see more of her, even if her fellow Rogues eventually jet off to Legends of Tomorrow. List excels at that seductive and edgy-but-vulnerable femme fatale style of delivery, and the layered material she gets here gives her more than a few moments to shine. Lisa garners a lot of sympathy in a little bit of time, and it’s thanks to List displaying real earnestness without losing the hardened sensibility that makes the character interesting. The episode also takes Cisco’s infatuation with and seduction by Lisa, mostly played for laughs last season, and organically turns it into a mutual attraction between the two. Lisa has someone treat her with respect and care even at her most vulnerable, while Cisco gets to see her appealing humanity and better understands her motivations. Whether the show pushes these two as an “official” romance or just keeps it as a tantalizing arms’ length remains to be seen, but if it does the former, these two will make a very interesting and entertaining couple.

That’s not to say Wentworth Miller’s continually spot-on portrayal of Captain Cold wasn’t on par with the rest of his appearances. The Flash has put together a nice redemption story for Cold — well, maybe not redemption per se, but a recognition that he could do the right thing given the right circumstances. It cycles back to the episode’s thesis on the nature of villainy: Is Leonard Snart a bad guy, or just a guy who does bad? The episode firmly plants its foot on the latter, as all of his actions are rooted in protecting and avenging his sister. Yes, he puts an icicle through his father’s heart in a remarkably violent, but earned moment. But he also has a genuine camaraderie with his nemesis Barry Allen, and actually seems to enjoy having Barry around so long as it’s to his benefit. There’s a very fun Batman/Catwoman relationship at play here, as Barry and Leonard know they’re each other’s enemies, but they can’t help but respect one another and see the benefit in keeping the other around. Captain Cold is in prison by episode’s end, but even Barry knows he’ll eventually escape, and he’s not really all that bothered by it (though he and Joe are okay with sticking him in the metahuman section, in a chuckle-worthy moment.) Miller is a trooper when it comes to getting cheesy lines and delivering them with aplomb, with stuff like, “He broke my sister’s heart. Only fair I break his.”

All this family drama is some of the darkest material The Flash has presented — an abusive father literally puts a bomb in his daughter’s head before getting impaled with ice through the chest — so it’s a testament to the continually bright cinematography and generally optimistic tone that this all feels like fun. And though the plot is fairly straightforward, ample effort is put into cranking up the suspense. A perfect example is the climactic cross-cutting sequence, which has Cisco pointing an air compression gun at Lisa to suck out the bomb while Captain Cold points a gun at Barry. We also have Barry fake his own death after catching a bullet, in a terrific act break.

FLA203a_0544bAnd that’s coupled with a dark B-story, too, which has Joe reveal the truth about Iris’ drug-addled mom. We spent all last season with Joe keeping secrets from his daughter, so at first this appears to be a retread. But then Joe tells a positively heartbreaking story about young Iris calling the cops on her overdosing mother and very nearly burning the house down, and it comes together. Jesse L. Martin is always dependable when it comes to bringing the waterworks, and he’s no disappointment here. But Candice Patton really kicks it up a notch — even though most of her role in the scene is to be reactionary, she displays a very heavy understanding and clear portrayal of what’s in Iris’ head, and it’s marked improvement over her first season work. Iris also comes off as a much more grown up character here, taking life-changing and potentially soul-crushing news with stride. It’s a truly wonderful scene between the two, and Iris touching her father on his arm to show her support after he breaks down is a small, but immensely touching moment.

Meanwhile, Patty and Barry have a couple of meet-cutes at Jitters, and it’s delightfully awkward in a way meet-cutes should be. It does sort of seems like their flirtation is being pushed a bit harder than it should be — the chemistry is certainly present, but both their scenes are barely tangentially related to the rest of a tight episode, so that makes it stick out. That said, Shantel VanSanten continues to be very charming, and you can’t help but feel sympathy when Barry shoots her down…well, mostly anyway. It’s hard to tell where Barry’s at in terms of a romantic life — we haven’t seen Barry and Iris actually talk about that stuff even three episodes into the season, a far cry from the romantic throughline last year.

But, that’s surely because they’re both plenty wrapped up in their own lives, including the Earth-2 crisis. That’s relegated to just a few minutes of screentime, mostly spent on igniting the spark between Caitlin and Jay and getting Jay to come to terms with life without speed. It seems oddly soon for the team to have built the “Speed Cannon” and opened the doorway for Jay to return home, and his decision to leave and then stay again is markedly rushed. It’s weird that Jay has no people worried about him or rent to pay or something, especially since he could, in theory, go back to Earth-2 and then come back to Earth-1 later. It’s great that Jay is sticking around, and Caitlin certainly makes a decent — even if kind of desperate — case, it all just seems underdeveloped. Especially given that it’s clearly a two-way path, seeing as the alternate Harrison Wells shows up. That’s an expected wrinkle, but one that’s exciting to finally see be expounded on.

“Family of Rogues” is a stellar hour, filled with titillating teases at what’s to come, along with insightful, meaningful expansion of the recurring villains. Much less plot is crammed in than a usual Flash episode, letting the characters have extra room to breathe and a more time to amp up the suspense. It results in a near-perfect installment, and raises the bar for the inevitable Rogues follow-ups, not to mention aptly sets up an arc for Captain Cold in Legends of Tomorrow.

Odds & Ends

  • Stein recovers from last week’s cliffhanger collapse…only to collapse again in another cliffhanger, this time on fire. At least this time we know it’s going somewhere.
  • That said, I love that Stein called it a “Wellness hiatus.”
  • I also love that everyone seems to be on board with calling Captain Cold “Lenny.”
  • Cisco’s reaction to Jay naming the Speed Cannon: “We should hang out more.”
  • Hey, it’s Linda Park! And she’s got a cool new haircut! Really glad she didn’t just disappear after Barry broke up with her, as brief diversion-type love interests often do. (Remember McKenna on Arrow?)
  • We’re just going to ignore the fact that Captain Cold “froze” a few laser beams and then shattered them, okay?
  • During an extremely tense moment, Danielle Panabaker gets the biggest laugh of the episode by seemingly flubbing her line, jumping and interrupting with “It’s…d—Flash!” Also, Panabaker’s hair is ON POINT this season.
  • Barry has “therma threading” in his suit to heat up on Cisco’s command. In addition to a defibrillator. I never would have expected the show’s deus ex machina to be the suit, of all things.
  • “Does it physically pain your family not to rob people?”
  • “Whatever Earth you go to, there’s always a Big Belly Burger.”

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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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