The Flash delivers another impressive episode with ‘Family of Rogues’, an expertly crafted silver age joyride that reinforces the shows theme of family while exploring heroism. After two consecutive episodes focused on threats from the Multiverse, Barry once again has to contend with homegrown threats, in the form of Captain Cold and his extended family. This episode perfectly builds off the strengths of season one, while integrating the new status quo to create the most confident episode to date.
The episode starts with a cold open action sequence, which allows the writers to show that Barry took last week’s conversation with Iris about trust to heart, with an epic trust fall. Barry receives a call from Iris, who is cornered by some armed goons in a high rise building. In a nice reversal of the Team Flash dynamic, Barry finds himself as the guiding voice assisting a friend in danger. He tells Iris to trust him and jump out the window, which she does. And good to his word, Barry is there to catch her as he races up the side of the building. After she is safe, the two of them share a lovely moment, as friends growing into their identities that can appreciate just how far they’ve come.
Meanwhile, back at S.T.A.R. Labs the team has erected a containment unit around the primary breach. Team Flash posits theories as to how they can use the portals to try and combat Zoom, who is effortlessly traversing the Multiverse. In a lovely super pratfall Barry realizes that it will take more than his speed to traverse the breach. Jay suggests the construction of a speed canon (Cisco approved name) to help propel Barry into the breach. Stein, looking weak following his strange seizure last week, supports the theory.
In the emotionally charged B plot of this week’s episode, we find Joe and his ex wife at a bar discussing the reason for her sudden reappearance. She seems sincere and remorseful and committed to reconnecting with her child. She notes that Joe still wears his ring, to which he replies, “Widowers still wear their rings.” Cold blooded. Ouch. Then he tries to pay her off, but she refuses to leave Central City. She thinks Iris needs her now, and she knows how to help her recover from the loss of the love of her life. Joe asks, “Do you?” Damn Joe.
Patty and Barry share a brief moment at the coffee shop, where he thinks she called him the Flash, because the shop has named a coffee beverage for the scarlet speedster. This is really cementing the oddness of her character, and I think odds are she knows his secret or maybe she’s from an alternate Earth, there’s just something off about her. Barry rejoins Cisco, Iris, and Caitlin for some Buffy style (Yay The Bronze) banter. Lisa Snart appears and forces an interesting classic Superman conflict, Cisco can’t call for The Flash because Barry can’t excuse himself to protect his secret identity. Then Lisa drops the first act bombshell, she needs their help, she needs The Flash.
Captain Cold has been kidnapped, in a daring assault on Team Rogue, now Lisa needs The Flash to make good on the debt he owes Cold. Fortunately, Cisco has devised a means of tracking the ultra violet cold readings produced by Cold’s gun, and he knows where to find him. Barry rushes to the scene and finds Cold stealing blueprints. Cold denies that he needs assistance and promptly freezes our hero where he stands. That’s when his collaborator is revealed to be Daddy Snart played by Michael Ironside. This is an awesome bit of casting, Ironside is one of the greatest heavies of all time. But since when does Cold stomach his father much less team up with him? Cisco activates the suit’s therma threading to melt the ice and save Barry’s life. It’s nice to see the show working with its established mythology and showing us that Team Flash has been developing defenses to deal with recurring threats.
When confronted by the Flash, Lisa reiterates her plea, and lets them know that there are things worse than criminals. To reinforce her point she shows them one of the scars her father gave her. Cisco takes her aside and they bond over having jerk brothers they love. Cut to Joe making a visit to the paper Iris works for to discuss her mother. Only to be distracted by the good news that the corruption she exposed, involving the gunmen, has made the cover of the paper. Joe leaves her to bask in her success, once again choosing to protect her from the reality he wishes she didn’t have to face.
Barry meets up with Cold at the bar,he regularly frequents, and asks him again why he is working with his father. Cold rebuffs his question, and reminds Barry that no one will die per their agreement. Unfortunately, Barry doesn’t believe that Cold’s father will honor their deal. Barry and Cold are at an impasse and neither is willing to budge, but Cold is willing to leave Barry with the bill.
Joe calls Barry and asks him to come home to discuss family matters. Joe tells Barry the truth about Iris’ mother. Barry is shocked but he supports Joe and advises him to tell Iris the truth. “She will forgive you, if you give her a chance,” Barry says reinforcing the lesson in trust Iris taught him last week. Cut to Cold’s hideout, where he is discussing the heist plans with his father and their tech guy. Papa Cold mentions the inevitability of casualties, and Cold realizes Barry was right. And after the tech guy insults Cold, Papa Cold uses a trigger to blow the guy’s head off! “No one talks to my son like that,” says Papa Cold, which is a great line that speaks to how abusers see their children as property that only they are allowed to hurt. Miller really sells these quiet moments allowing for subtext to peek out of his ice cold facade.
Patty, Joe, and Barry discuss the crime scene where our unfortunate and headless tech guy has been discovered. Barry analyzes the body and realizes that a metahuman wasn’t involved, a thermite bomb was utilized instead, and he realizes that Papa Cold has placed a bomb in his own daughter’s head.
We find Caitlin and Jay bonding over Big Belly Burger and discussing the merits of scientific heroism and superheroism. Jay misses the instant gratification of saving lives with his powers, but he’s inspired by Caitlin’s words and recruits her to assist with the speed canon. But before she can start Cisco calls her up to the lab, where the rest of the team has realized that Lisa has a bomb in her head.
Meanwhile, Joe has called Iris home to discuss her mother, and he proceeds to tell a heartbreaking story about toddler Iris left in harm’s way by her mother overdosing at the house. Although, Joe has realized that his lie might be worse than what his ex wife did, but at least the writer’s offered this tale to give us a deeper understanding of where Joe was coming from when he chose to lie. Joe didn’t want his daughter to think she was unloved, he wanted her to remember the perfect mom in the stories he made up when she was young. These stories that we tell ourselves to give ourselves the love we deserve, not the love we receive, are as important as family. Iris forgives Joe just as Barry had predicted.
Cisco warns Barry and Caitlin that exposure to air will detonate the thermite charge, and that they will need to figure out a unique way to remove the device. Barry decides that he will infiltrate Papa Cold’s heist team, since he knows they are down a tech guy, and adopts the adorable persona of “Sam the hood,” a character I’m hoping we will see more of in the future. Although not a believable thug, he is a believable tech guy, and his catchphrase, “Drakon is my jam!” is my new favorite line. They infiltrate the location of the heist, and Barry makes short work of the Drakon lock. Papa Cold rewards Sam/Barry with a bullet to the shoulder.
We are treated to a brief flashback, which shows how Barry was able to catch the bullet and take a fall. Meanwhile, back at the Lab Cisco has devised a high powered air gun to extract the thermite charge from Lisa’s neck. We are treated to escalating tension at the Lab and at the heist. Cold freezes lasers? I’m not exactly sure WTF that was about besides a shot of him walking through icicles. But I’ll accept it on a show with metahumans. Lisa makes a joke because she likes to see Cisco smile and he prepares to take the shot. The Flash confronts Cold and Papa Cold in the vault, and tells Cisco he needs the bomb out now. A standoff ensues until Cisco removes the bomb. Cold then takes the opportunity to kill his murderous and cruel father.
Cut to Barry and Cold talking through the phones at Iron Heights Prison, in an interesting juxtaposition of the show’s established use of the setting for Barry and his Bio-Dad. Barry tells Cold know that he knows his secret now: there is good in him. Barry and Joe exit the prison while Joe brings him up to speed on the Iris situation. Joe is grateful for the advice he received from Barry, and lets him know he’s a good son.
Patty and Barry run into each other in the coffee shop again, and after some flirting she gives him her number. But then things turn awkward, because she realizes she’s being too forward. I’m a little confused as to why Barry would let her feel bad for giving him her number, considering the amount of mutual flirting they’ve shared. Lisa says goodbye to Cisco outside the coffee shop with a kiss. Barry should really be taking tips from Cisco, who’s proven himself to be both the brains and heart of this operation.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs the speed canon is complete and everyone but Joe is gathered around admiring Jay and Caitlin’s work. It’s time for Jay to head home, but Caitlin begins to embarrassingly vomit up reasons for him to stay and help Team Flash. How long has Ronnie been dead? The writers are trying to move on from Ronnie as fast as possible, which is disconcerting but also refreshing, since most shows would keep Caitlin a sad sack for years. I’m glad to see the show not breaking its characters. Barry asks Jay to stay and help them defeat Zoom, and he agrees. Stein has another seizure but this time he bursts into white flame, looks like he’s not doing very well since losing Ronnie. At least someone still cares. I kid.
This week’s stinger is a brief shot of Harrison Wells of Earth-2 entering our S.T.A.R. Labs via the primary breach. The shoot him to look sinister, but I think it’s a big bait and switch. The world of The Flash needs more Harrison Wells, the only question is what role will he play in relation to Team Flash?
Drakon is my JAM!