Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Flash Season 3, Episode 4: The New Rogues

For the second week in a row, The Flash feels like a throwback to Season 1. That's not a complaint, mind you; in fact it's just the opposite. Season 2 was sidetracked with trying to set up Legends Of Tomorrow, and the beginning of Season 3 didn't look all that promising either, what with all the "changing the timeline" shenanigans. It's nice to see the show get back to the fun and relative simplicity of the early episodes.

There was a lot of welcome humor in this episode as well, mostly from Joe as he struggled to come to terms with the fact that his daughter and foster son are now a couple. The multiversal variations of Harrison Wells parading through STAR Labs was a hoot as well, and a wonderful reminder that the DC TV shows are infinitely more fun than their grim, gritty and joyless theatrical counterparts.

Last week I said I thought the series was loading up too much on speedsters, but I guess I was worried for nothing. Jesse Quick is a welcome addition to the show, and it was fun seeing Barry play mentor to her. Even though she returns to Earth-2 at the end of the episode, I have a feeling she'll be back soon.

It was great seeing Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold again, even if he didn't get all that much screen time. In the comics, Cold and his partner Mirror Master were members of the Flash's Rogue's Gallery, and it looks like the writers may be introducing the group to the series as well. That would be awesome if it happens.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
As the episode opens, we get yet another flashback to three years ago, on the night of the STAR Labs particle accelerator explosion. Sam Scudder and his girlfriend Roslyn Dillon are discussing their latest bank robbery inside a you guessed it abandoned warehouse. A pre-Captain Cold Leonard Snart enters, furious with the two about a deal gone bad. A fight breaks out between the criminals, and Snart throws Scudder against an old mirror. Just then the particle accelerator explodes, bathing everyone in dark matter energy. Scudder is somehow absorbed into the mirror. That was weird!

In the present, a work crew is cleaning up the warehouse. Amazingly, the mirror is still there. Suddenly Scudder pops out of it, grabs one of the workers and says, "Where's Snart?" Even weirder!

There's lots of relationship drama this week. At STAR Labs, Jesse flirts with Wally, much to Harry's chagrin. At the Central City Police Department, Cecille (whoever that is) flirts with Joe, who's not sure how to react. Back at the West house, Barry and Iris are getting busy on the couch, when Joe walks in. Both he and Barry feel awkward and embarrassed by the situation. Iris tells Barry they're all adults here, and he needs to talk to Joe.

At a club, one of Scudder's former associates is cleaning up. Suddenly Scudder pops out of a mirror and asks, "Where's Snart?" The associate doesn't know, and Scudder tosses him into the mirror, somehow causing him to fall to the street two stories below. 

Joe questions the man in the hospital, who mentions that Scudder was looking for Snart. At the CCPD, Joe asks Barry if he knows Snart's whereabouts. Barry can only tell him that Snart "ran off with some friends of his." Does Barry know about the Legends Of Tomorrow? Barry tries to talk with Joe about him kissing Iris, which is incredibly uncomfortable for both of them.

Back at STAR Labs, Harry says it's time he and Jesse returned to Earth-2. Cisco says the Gang won't be the same without some version of Harrison Wells. Harry says there's a whole universe of doppelgangers out there, so why not invite one of them to Earth-1? The Gang cobbles together some sort of technobabble beacon and send a "help wanted" signal into the multiverse.

Joe figures out that Scudder will probably try to contact his gal pal Roslyn next. He visits her in Iron Heights Prison, and asks her for any info on Scudder. Suddenly Scudder pops out of a pane of reflective glass, grabs Roslyn and they disappear in the mirror-like surface. Scudder and Roslyn return to their old warehouse. He's puzzled as to why Roslyn seems to be over him. She says it's because it's been three years since she's seen him. This confuses Scudder, since from his point of view he was only inside the mirror for a few seconds. Roslyn tells him she also gained superpowers in the explosion. She demonstrates, causing reality to seemingly warp around Scudder, with nauseating and disorienting results. He dubs her "The Top."

At STAR Labs, the Gang deduces that Mirror Master, aka Scudder, can generate some sort of wormholes to travel from mirror to mirror. Comic book science! Cicso, Caitlin and Harry receives several responses from the multiverse, and decide to interview them. They meet a Wild West Wells from Earth-17, a stuffy British Wells from Terra Prime, and a fedora-wearing Hipster Wells from Earth-19. Harry hates them all, but Cisco and Caitlin choose Hipster Wells.

Meanwhile at the West house, Iris tries to sit Barry and Joe down and get them to talk about their awkward feelings. Luckily for the men, a robbery interrupts the talk. Barry and Jesse speed to the scene. They find Mirror Master and Top casually walking down the street with a crapload of money. When Mirror Master sees the speedsters, he grabs Top and they escape in the reflective windows of a nearby skyscraper. Barry and Jesse run up the side of the building after them.

The Top pops out of a window just long enough to use her power to disorient Jesse, who falls off the building and plunges to the street below. Barry manages to catch her before she splatters on the pavement. Mirror Master appears and shoves Barry into a nearby mirror, trapping him inside. The two Rogues then escape.

Jesse takes the mirror back to STAR Labs, where the Gang try to figure out how to free Barry from it. There's a lot of technobabble, but basically Harry says if they can cool the mirror and slow down its molecules, Barry should be able to use his speed to vibrate out of it. More comic book science! They hook up a "molecular decelerator" to the mirror and freeze it. Unfortunately it's not cold enough. 

While everyone's distracted, Caitlin sneaks over to the mirror and uses her secret "Killer Frost" cold powers to lower its temperature further. Barry's able to vibrate out of the mirror, much to the confusion of Cisco and Harry. Barry tells them it doesn't matter how he got out, as he's figured out a way to defeat Mirror Master.

At the warehouse, Mirror Master gets a call from someone claiming to be Snart. He says to meet him at the Hall Of Mirrors in the old abandoned circus. Is every building in Central City abandoned? Mirror Master falls for it, and goes to the circus. He sees Snart and attacks, but realizes his enemy is just a hologram. The Flash and Jesse appear, and begin smashing all the mirrors so Scudder can't escape. He jumps into one last one, and they wheel it into a circle of mirrors. Scudder's now trapped, because every mirror in the circle is reflecting every other one (trust me, it makes sense if you watch the episode).

The Flash locks Mirror Master in a special non-reflective cell in Iron Heights. Cisco uses his Vibe power to open a breach, and the Earth-19 Harrison Wells steps through, and joins the team. Harry and Jesse say their tearful goodbyes, and head back to Earth-2. Before he leaves, Harry tells Barry that he and Cisco weren't responsible for getting him out of the mirror, leaving Caitlin as the only suspect.

Barry tells Joe and Iris that it's time he got his own place, which will solve the awkwardness problem. Caitlin takes a shower in her apartment, and accidentally freezes the water pouring from the shower head. When she looks in the mirror, her lips are blue, and she sees a streak of white in her hair.

Thoughts:
• Sam Scudder, aka Mirror Master, first appeared in The Flash comic way back in 1959. He's been one of the Flash's most famous rogues ever since.

Harry mentions that Earth-2 has its own Mirror Master, whose name is Evan McCulloch. In the comics, McCulloch was actually the second Mirror Master on Earth-1. He took up the name after Sam Scudder was killed in Crisis On Infinite Earths. McCulloch didn't have the ability to travel through mirrors, but used a "mirror gun" that shot laser beams.

• Even though it was awesome to finally see Mirror Master, once again the series vexes me with its insistence on giving the villains drab non-costumes. In the comics, Mirror Master wore a garish orange and green little number. Here he wears an impeccably tailored vested suit. Really, that's it? A suit? No attempt at a comic book costume whatsoever?

The speedsters on the show good and bad all get comic book costumes. But for some reason the regular villains end up wearing normal, uninspired everyday clothing. C'mon, guys! Give your villains (besides Zoom and Reverse Flash) a little bit of flair! The world won't end if you put Mirror Master in an orange suit!

• There was a Top in the comics, but there the character was male, and had the power to spin his body at high speeds. The Top gets a gender and power change here, now able to alter a foe's perception of reality. Kind of like Count Vertigo over on Arrow.

• Mirror Master and the Top's hideout is in the abandoned Broome Industries warehouse. Man, Central City seems to be lousy with these abandoned warehouses. Are there any in town that are actually in use?

As we all know by now, the writers just lovvvve to name streets and buildings after comic book creators, and this week is no exception. John Broome co-created Mirror Master, the Top and even Captain Cold in The Flash comics.

• So who's this Cecil character who's suddenly lusting after Joe? I figured she was a brand new character, but it turns out she first appeared way back in Season 1 in Who Is Harrison Wells? 

• Speaking of Wells, last week I mentioned seeing a promo featuring yet another seemingly new version of him one that hadn't yet appeared in any episodes. I assumed that meant a new version was coming soon.

And that's just what happened. Cisco, Caitlin and Harry use a high tech device to find a new Wells, rejecting dozens of versions of him like some kind of multiversal Tinder. They finally decide on Hipster Doofus Wells of Earth-19.

Based on next week's preview, it looks like this is yet another version of Wells who's harboring a dark secret. Jesus, are there any normal iterations of this guy anywhere?

• At one point Jesse takes Wally "for a run" around the city. Just how the hell is she doing that? She can't just be holding onto his arm and dragging him along beside her, because he'd never be able to move his feet fast enough to keep up with her. Are his legs flying horizontally behind him as she pulls him along? Is she carrying him like a baby? Or does she envelop him in the Speed Force?

Apparently the producers aren't sure how this works either. The way their "run" is filmed, we see the characteristic speed lighting zip into frame and then Jesse and Wally suddenly appear, both standing upright and leaning forward a bit, as if they've just suddenly decelerated. There's nothing whatsoever in the shot to indicate just how Wally's able to accompany Jesse on her run.

• When Scudder's first released from his mirror, he finds that three years have passed in the real world, even though it felt like just a few seconds to him.

Later when Barry's trapped in a mirror, he's able to communicate with the STAR Labs Gang in real time. Why the difference?

• Kudos to Grant Gustin and Jesse L. Martin this week, for their wonderfully awkward performances as Joe struggles to accept Barry's relationship with Iris.

I guess there's technically nothing illegal about foster siblings hooking up, but I can see how it would make Joe feel a bit… uncomfortable.

• I liked the solution Barry came up with to defeat Mirror Master surrounding him with a circle of mirrors to create the Droste Effect, and trap him in the center. Although you'd think maybe Mirror Master could have maybe knocked one of the mirrors over and escaped. I guess Barry could have easily caught him if he'd tried to run away though.

• So obviously Caitlin is starting to develop cold powers, just like her Earth-2 counterpart Killer Frost. But does that mean our Caitlin's going to turn evil as well? I hope not! At least not permanently. I have a feeling she'll probably turn to the dark side for a few episodes before Barry gives her a patented The CW "Believe In Yourself" Pep Talk, and she comes back to the light.

There's a rumor going around fandom that the Caitlin we're seeing here is actually Killer Frost posing as her. I guess that would be an interesting development, although I have no idea how or why she'd be doing it.

3 comments:

  1. I don't know how Evan McCullough was at the start of his career as Mirror Master, but he later totally developed the ability to move into and out of and through mirrors. He certainly was doing it by the late 90s, with Wally West, and well into the 2000s. (I'm not following the Gnu52 so I have no idea if he's still the Mirror Master.)

    The Top in the comics was Roscoe Dillon. So, Roslyn Dillon is pretty close, I'll give them that.

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  2. McCulloch started out in the pages of Animal Man in the 90s. I think back then he just had the mirror gun. It's entirely possible that now he's got the original Mirror Master's powers. My knowledge of the DC Universe ends around 2000. I don't know anything about all the New 52 stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm pretty sure at some point he acquired all of Scudder's original gear (and associated abilities). Eventually he was able to do stuff like transport all of Central City to a mirror dimension. In many ways, he's the most powerful of the Rogues.

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