So I suppose the takeaway from “Going Rogue” is that Felicity Smoak is awesome and makes everything better, right?
After last week’s somewhat stale, formulaic entry, “Going Rogue” is The Flash’s reaffirmation that its initial promise was no novelty. It’s one of those episodes where most everything comes together perfectly, resulting in a solid hour of entertainment that’s an equal joy for comic book fans and neophytes alike. And that’s not even counting the added bonus of Felicity. Certainly, Emily Bett Rickards loses none of her charm in the 100 or so mile journey from Starling City to Central City, and the Flash creative team take full advantage of her presence.
As indicated at the end of last week’s Arrow, Felicity arrives in Central City to meet up with Barry. The two barely have time to reconnect, however, before the city comes under siege from a thief named Leonard Snart, who is able to get his hands on an experimental freeze gun and goes on a robbing spree. Four episodes in and, at last, the show introduces us to a Flash supervillain that might actually be familiar to general audiences (or anyone who watched Super Friends)—Captain Cold, played to steely perfection by actor/screenwriter Wentworth Miller.
Captain Cold’s freeze gun, as it turns out, was an invention stolen from STAR Labs, much to the fury of Harrison Wells (this time showing a dark side that’s not exclusive to the episode tag). Incidentally, the inventor of the gun was Cisco, who had designed it as a means of stopping Barry, should he turn out to be as villainous as the other meta-humans they’ve encountered. When this information is revealed, Cisco tries to explain that he did this before he got the chance to know Barry, but our hero is miffed that his colleague didn’t even bother to tell him. This encounter is made all the more heated by the fact that Barry was unable to save one innocent civilian from being killed by Cold’s gun.
If I had to ding the episode for one minor issue, it would be this aforementioned argument. Like the interactions with Caitlin last week, Barry’s feelings of betrayal given “all [they’ve] been through” is understandable, but can’t help but feel like the kind of plot beat that should come later in the series when the relationships are more solidified. Granted, Team Flash has quickly established a great rapport and even Felicity—in a quasi-meta nod to how Arrow’s first season came together—compliments their dynamic, and points out how Team Arrow had to come together “one by one.” Perhaps it’s because of this instant chemistry that the show’s writers assume they can move quickly to these inevitable beats, but it still comes across as a bit rushed when we’ve barely gotten through a fifth of the season. Then again, there was no way of knowing how massive a hit this show would be, so I suppose they were prepping, in case their season would be cut short.
What undisputedly works in this hour, however, is all of the Barry/Felicity interactions. Considering the Arrow writers spent a good majority of last year laying the foundation for an Oliver Queen/Felicity pairing, it speaks well of Grant Gustin and Rickard’s chemistry that you sometimes forget about that “Olicity.” Plus, we are treated to some classic Felicity moments, including a scene where Barry speeds off mid-conversation, leaving her to stutter, “…and now I’m talking to air…still doing it…” There’s also my personal favorite—a moment where Felicity preps herself for hacking by cracking her knuckles only to wince in pain and claim that wasn’t as “badass” a move as she thought it would be.
Off to the side, we have Joe West still processing the implications that his daughter is dating Eddie. Last week, this particular plotline weighed the episode down, big time. And while it’s still my least favorite part of the show, it does benefit from Jesse L. Martin being joyfully game for whatever. One of the highlights of the episode, in fact, is when Eddie tries to provide reassurance that he’ll be a good boyfriend to Iris, only to have Joe shoot him down, saying that they’re not buddies and, as such, he doesn’t want to know about his “relationship” issues. Ultimately, the story leads to Joe revealing to Iris that it’s now harder to do his job, knowing that he’ll be getting into danger with his someone his daughter loves. It’s a predictable arc, for sure, but the creative team and actors deserve kudos for not making it feel like the time-waster it was last week.
Topping off this already exciting installment is perhaps the best climatic scene in the series so far. The Flash and Captain Cold do battle on a speeding train. Realizing The Flash’s weakness is his concern for civilians, Captain Cold derails the train, leading to a cool sequence where Barry darts in and out of the crashing train to pull out all its passengers. Just when Captain Cold has a weakened Barry in his sights, however, Team Flash appears, branding an intimidating-looking gun. Cisco aims the device—a beefed up version of the freeze gun— at Captain Cold and orders him to stand down. He does so, but takes the gun with him. It’s then that Cisco reveals that the “gun” is nothing more than a vacuum cleaner with a ton of LED lights attached to it.
Afterwards, Barry says goodbye to Felicity, but not before bemoaning the fact that both are in love with people that can’t love them back in the same way (Oliver for Felicity, and Iris for Barry). Granted, it seems odd that Felicity would ultimately encourage Barry to not lose hope over Iris, considering how disastrously her one date with Oliver turned out, but it’s a cute moment that I won’t dig too far into.
Finally, in a nice move away from Harrison-as-villain teasers, the episode concludes with Captain Cold providing a heat ray gun to an off-screen character named “Mick.” That, for those in the know, is Heat Wave, played by Miller’s fellow Prison Break co-star Dominic Purcell. And the geeks, they did rejoice.
“Going Rogue” both encapsulates and escalates everything that’s fun about The Flash. It’s the best episode of the series so far and proves that, as cool as the villains can be, the cast works well enough together that—should the creators ever choose to go with an episode that’s light on action—you could get a fair amount of mileage on character interaction alone. That’s a good sign in terms of series longevity. And though it’s sad to see Felicity depart, she leaves on the loveliest note imaginable.
Congrats to The Flash on being the highest rated show in CW history. If episodes like this are any indication, you’ve earned it.
Mark Rozeman is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.