Thursday, July 4, 2019

The Flash Season 5, Episode 20: Gone Rogue

This week on The Flash we get another drawn-out filler episode, as the show nears its season finale. 

The entire plot involves obtaining a special gun that can defeat Cicada II (something that should have been taken care of weeks ago), and honestly should have taken ten minutes to tell. Instead we get an "Evil Nora" subplot that's handwaved away by the end, three unremarkable villains, and more pep talks than you can count.

Carlos Valdes finally deigns to return to the show this week. These constant absences make it difficult to discount the rumors that Cisco's being written off the show. I hope not, as I think the series will suffer without him. We'll find out for sure in a few months.

The Plot:
Nora, who's apparently become "evil" after exposure to the Negative Speed Force, is now back in 2019. She runs to G. Simone & Associates (an architectural firm) and has Gideon scan their databanks for info on McCulloch Technologies (got all that?). Once she has it she fries their servers with a speed lightning bolt. Gideon examines the data and says Nora can't break into McCulloch on her own. PLOT POINT!

The next day at STAR Labs, Team Flash sets up a detection grid to find Nora, but come up with nothing. Ralph and Sherloque have been trying to find Cicada II and Grace Gibbons, but haven't had any luck either. Caitlin gets an alert saying someone's broken into her late father Thomas' arctic lab. Ralph volunteers to help her check it out.

Sherloque asks Cisco (who's finally back this week) if he's told his gal pal Kamilla about his powers yet. CIsco says no, but that he can tell her any time he wants and makes a hasty retreat.

Just then Barry's alerted to the break in at Simone (timely!). He, Iris and Cisco head out to investigate.

Team Flash meets Joe at Simone & Associates. Through the magic of technobabble, they detect "negative tachyons" in the building, and determine Nora was responsible for stealing data and frying the servers.

At an abandoned garage, Joss Jackam, aka Weather Witch, meets Brie Larvan, aka Bug-Eyed Bandit, aka Queen Bee. Peter Merkel, aka Rag Doll, emerges from a tiny box and unfolds himself. The three are puzzled, wondering who asked them all to meet at the garage. Just then Nora appears, dressed as XS. She says she's the one who invited them all.

Weather Witch suspects a trap, but XS says she's not working with the Flash anymore. She says she gathered them to pull off one big score to split four ways. There's just one condition— no killing. The others ask her to prove that she's "one of them," so XS shows them the stolen blueprints to McCullogh Technologies. I guess?

She explains that inside McCullogh is a lab called The Forge, which is filled with high tech weapons worth millions on the black market. Unfortunately the lab's outfitted with metahuman power dampeners, which is why she needs Weather Witch and Queen Bee, as 
their powers are derived from dark matter tech, and are unaffected by the dampeners.

In the arctic, Caitlin and Ralph search the lab and determine that Cicada II was there. Caitlin examines a refrigerator, and realizes Cicada stole Cisco's metahuman cure prototypes from it.

Meanwhile, Cecile tells Iris about the missing McCulloch blueprints, and says Nora's obviously planning on stealing something from them. Iris isn't sure, believing Nora is up to something beyond stealing weapons.

Back at STAR Labs, Barry worries about Nora getting into trouble. He decides that when he finds her, he'll tell her she can come back home. Suddenly there's an alarm in the Starchives, and Barry speeds off.

Cisco tells Sherloque an alarm's been tripped in the building's sewer system. They enter and elevator to check it out, and are attacked by Rag Doll. Typical STAR Labs security!

Barry arrives at the Starchives, where he sees Nora stealing Spencer Young's dark matter cell phone. He tells her she can come home if she stops working with Eobard Thawne. She tells Barry it's obvious he still doesn't trust her and has given up on her. As she rants, her body begins vibrating uncontrollably. Barry tries to calm her down, but her eyes glow red and she knocks him across the room with a lightning bolt before speeding off.

Later Barry tells Iris & Cecile that he thinks Nora's still working with Thawne. They then see STAR Labs security footage of Ragdoll and Weather Witch abducting Cisco and Sherloque. They realize Nora's forming her own team of Rogues.

Cut to the garage, where the Rogues have tied up Cisco & Sherloque. Nora enters and asks the others why Sherloque's there. Weather Witch explains it was either bring him along or kill him. Nora hands Spencer's phone to Cisco, and says she needs him to hack into it so she can use it. Cisco refuses, until Nora threatens to vibrate her hand into his chest. Sherloque mentions Barry, and the other Rogues realize Nora's the daughter of the Flash. They're none too happy with this revelation, but Nora convinces them that she's acting on her own.

Meanwhile, Team Flash discovers that McCullogh was collecting dark matter shards from DeVoe's exploded satellite and turning them into weapons. Iris thinks Nora's trying to steal one of these weapons to stop Cicada II. Barry fears she's planning something much worse. He says they need to find her and bring her in now. Iris says maybe it's not so bad if Nora is actually working with Thawne, as she feels he's changed and is trying to redeem himself. Here we go again!

Back at the garage, Nora tells Weather Witch about Barry abandoning her. Weather Witch reveals a similar story about her old man. She says they can't rely on their families, and that the four of them need to stick together. Cisco finishes reprogramming the phone. Queen Bee summons a swarm of her robotic bees to guard Cisco and Sherloque, and the Rogues leave.

At CCPD, Barry tells Joe he feels bad for abandoning Nora, and feels he's not a good parent. Joe gives him a Patented The CW Pep Talk™ and makes everything better.

Inside the garage, Cisco and Sherloque manage to escape their bonds. The robotic bees see them and attack, but Cisco opens a breach and they all fly harmlessly through it. They rush off to find Nora and the Young Rogues.

Nora and her new crew, dressed in military uniforms that they somehow obtained from somewhere, arrive at McCulloch. They bluff their way in and are taken on a tour, along with a couple dozen other dignitaries. Nora notes the door to The Forge, and asks to see inside. Their host says it's off limits, so she and her crew knock him out, while holding the rest of the guests captive.

Ragdoll climbs out of a tiny briefcase and slithers into an access pipe. He exits into The Forge and opens the door for the others. Once inside, Weather Witch and Queen Bee immediately turn on Nora.

The two then send out a message to Central City, announcing they'll kill Nora and their other hostages unless the Flash arrives and reveals his true identity to the world. Like there's no one who doesn't already know it! A few seconds later Flash arrives, and Weather Witch orders him to remove his mask.

The Flash begins stalling, and Weather Witch says she's had enough. She blasts him with her lightning rod, revealing "The Flash" is a hologram controlled by Sherloque back at STAR Labs. Just then several of the hostages shut off their holographic generators, revealing they're really Barry, Joe and Iris. Iris & Joe rush the rest of the hostages out of The Forge, while Barry and Nora face off against Weather Wizard and Queen Bee. Unfortunately The Forge is protected by a meta-dampener, meaning the speedsters have no powers. Barry signals Cisco, asking him to deactivate the dampener.

Meanwhile, Ragdoll knocks out Iris and goes after Joe, wrapping his stretchy limbs around his body. Iris recovers long enough to knock out Ragdoll. Nora gets Weather Wizard to shoot lightning at her, and Barry deflects it so it hits the dampener and destroys it. The two speedsters regain their powers and quickly capture Weather Wizard and Queen Bee.

Back at STAR, Nora explains her nonsensical plan. She says she recruited the Young Rogues in order to infiltrate The Forge and steal a high tech "Mirror Gun"— the only weapon in the world that can destroy Cicada II's dagger. She says she thought she could control the Rogues, but quickly realized she was in over her head. She says she didn't tell Team Flash what she was really doing because it was Thawne's plan. As for her becoming evil from using the Negative Speed Force, that was all a ruse as well, in order to help sell her plan.

Amazingly, Team Flash accepts this preposterous explanation. Barry says they should use the gun against Cicada, even though it was Thawne's idea. He says he believes in Nora and apologizes for abandoning her in the future. Iris promises they'll never leave her again.

In the Cortex, Cisco tests out the Mirror Gun Nora stole, and confirms it can indeed destroy Cicada's dagger. Caitlin and Ralph return, telling the others that Cicada stole Cisco's metahuman cure prototypes. He says that's bad news, as the prototypes will kill metas rather than cure them. Caitlin says Cicada plans to use the Atomizer she stole last week to spread the prototypes throughout Central City.

Cut to Cicada's remote cabin. She comforts her catatonic younger self, then begins working on the Atomizer. Cicada then hallucinates a vision of her uncle Orlin, who looks on approvingly at her work.


• This is the eighth episode of The Flash with "Rogue" in the title. It's also the first "Rogue" episode that doesn't feature Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold.

• Last week Nora learned to use Eobard Thawne's Negative Speed Force in order to return to the present day without Barry detecting her. Being exposed to the Negative Speed Force is dangerous though, as it may or may not cause Nora to turn evil. Sure enough, when she arrives in 2019 her eyes glow an ominous red, and she begins dressing in black leather— a sure sign someone's gone over to the dark side.

Turns out Nora wasn't evil after all, as she was just pretending in order to recruit the Young Rogues. The problem with this is she was acting evil even when no one else was around to see her. The whole "Evil Nora" shtick was as much a trick on the audience as it was on her new team.

• Let's get this out of the way now and talk about Nora's harebrained plan, which is the focus of this week's episode. Nora needs an advanced Mirror Gun from McCulluch Technologies in order to finally defeat Cicada II once and for all. Unfortunately she can't penetrate their high tech security system by herself.

Instead of simply going to Team Flash and asking for their help, she comes up with a much better plan. After seemingly turning evil, Nora breaks into G. Simone & Associates and steals blueprints for McCulloch before frying all their servers. All three of these actions are felonies, by the way.

After that Nora pretends to be evil and recruits several villains to form a new team of Rogues. They infiltrate McCulloch and steal the Mirror Gun. Predictably the Young Rogues then turn on Nora, but she and Barry manage to capture them.

Back at STAR Labs, Nora explains to Team Flash that she was never evil after all, but was just pretending to be because she needed the Rogues' help to steal the Mirror Gun.

Jesus wept, what a ridiculous and stupid-ass plan!

First of all, there were about a thousand variables in her little scheme, and if any one of them had gone wrong the whole thing would have collapsed. What if Weather Witch or Queen Bee had told her to get lost and left? She'd have been screwed, and would never have got the Mirror Gun.

Secondly, there's the fact that Nora's plan involved committing several major crimes in order to work. Yes, she was doing it all for a good reason, but it doesn't change the fact that she's now a criminal. If your plan involves breaking numerous laws, it might be time to rethink it.

• Nora sneaks into the offices of "G. Simone & Associates." That's a reference to writer Gail Simone, who worked on DC comics such as Birds Of Prey, Batgirl and Sinister Six. She also created the Peter Merkel version of Ragdoll (the one seen in this episode).

At Simone, Barry notes that the company's hard drives have been fried by an electrical pulse that overwhelmed the surge protectors, which can handle a thousand joules. Suspecting Nora's involvement, Iris asks how many joules are in a lightning bolt. Barry says, "A billion."

Jesus Christ, writers! A lightning bolt contains FIVE BILLION joules of power! You guys covered this very topic just two episodes ago in Godspeed!

• I love how Nora's idea of becoming "evil" is to darken her lipstick and put on a leather jacket. Look out, y'all! We got us a badass over here!

• Over at DC, the Flash has always had one of the most memorable rogues' galleries in all of comicdom (second only to maybe Batman's). Sadly, that hasn't translated to the TV show.

They made a few half-hearted attempts early on in the series— they added Captain Cold and Heat Wave, but they were quickly spun off onto Legends Of Tomorrow. Weather Wizard, Pied Piper, Mirror Master and the Trickster have all appeared, but most of them were one-off villains who appeared once or twice before disappearing completely. And they certainly never all teamed up to fight the Flash. Pity.

Unfortunately, Nora's team of "Young Rogues" carries on this tradition. Her sorry little team consists of herself and three previously seen second-string villains, including Weather Witch, Queen Bee and Rag Doll. Wow, what a disappointing lineup.

Weather Witch first appeared back in O Come, All Ye Thankful. In that episode she was unquestionably a psychotic villain, as she attempted to murder her own father! She made another appearance a few episodes later in The Flash & The Furious. Oddly enough, there she seemed to be having trouble deciding which side of the law she was on, as she appeared uncharacteristically contrite and remorseful at her trial. She even saved Nora's life at the end!

Annnnnd then she's back to being evil in this episode. 

Queen Bee, aka the Bug-Eyed Bandit, hasn't been seen in quite a while. She first appeared way back in the Season 1 episode All Star Team Up. She also made an appearance in Season 4 of Arrow.

Rag Doll appeared earlier this season in All Doll'd Up. Pretty sure he was captured at the end of that episode (after Ralph literally shoved him up his ass— no, I'm not kidding), so I'm assuming he must have escaped from prison somehow.

 At one point Barry gets an alert and says, "Hey, it's CCPD There was a break-in at an architecture firm on 34th and Williamson."

As we all know, The Flash just lovvvvvves naming buildings and streets after prominent comic book artists and writers. "34th and Williamson" is likely a reference to Joshua Williamson, the current writer of The Flash comic.

• Here's a shot of Caitlin from last week's episode— the one in which her father was brutally murdered by Cicada II. Note her typical reddish-brown tresses.

Here she is this week. Spot anything different about her? She's now perilously close to being a blonde! Apparently she chose to grieve the death of her father by high-tailing it to the nearest salon and getting her hair lightened! 

• Caitlin and Ralph breach to the Arctic, where they check out her father's old lab. While there, Caitlin comforts Ralph, who thinks she's coming on to him. She reacts with disgust at the very idea of them hooking up (harsh!). 

I'm assuming this is a nod to the fact that in Season 4, Ralph was initially introduced as a love interest for Caitlin. In an interview at the San Diego Comic-Con, Hartley Sawyer (who plays Ralph) claims the writers seriously considered pairing up the two. For some reason Danielle Panabaker (who plays Caitlin) quickly put the kibosh on that idea though, stating, "No, I'm not doing that."

So that's really a thing? Actors can actively refuse to participate in scenes they don't like and demand changes? I thought they were under contract and had to do whatever the script says. 

And why was Panabaker so adamantly against Caitlin hooking up with Ralph? Is it a case of her not wanting her character defined by a man, or some such hooey? Or do the two actors not get along?

• Once again, every time I see "Starchives" written out I read it as "star chives."

• Cisco references STAR Labs' satellites, which he's dubbed Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte.

Hmm. Back in All Doll'd Up , Cisco commandeered DeVoe's satellites and reprogrammed them for STAR Labs' use. He called these satellites Hal, Data, Robbie and Colossus, after four famous pop culture robot/A.I. characters.

I guess at some point in the past few months he's decided he likes Sex And The City more than robots.

• At one point Barry fears he's failed Nora as a father, forcing her into a life of crime. Joe tries to comfort him by saying, "Nora broke the law. And there should be repercussions for that. But whenever you guys step out of bounds, I always have to remind myself, the detective side says there's the law. But the father side says there's also what's right. And I'm always gonna choose to be your father first."

Wow, there's a lot to unpack there. First of all, Joe just admitted that Nora's broken several major laws in this episode, and that she'll have to pay for what she's done.

HAW HAW HAW! Psheeeew! That's a good one, Joe! We all know there's no goddamned way in hell Nora's ever going to be prosecuted or serve time for breaking and entering and the willful destruction of property. 

And why should she? After all, as we've seen in past episodes, murder's not even a crime in the Arrowverse! Remember when Team Flash met Savitar back in Season 3? He told Iris that he'd murdered people before, and she calmly stated, "And you are going to have to live with that. But we won't give up on you, okay? That is not what we do." 

Note that she treats his confession with the same level of concern one would have when one burns the toast, and doesn't think to turn his ass in to her policeman father. Because apparently murder's not a big deal in this world.

So there's no doubt in my mind that Nora will face ZERO consequences for the many crimes she commits in this episode.

Secondly, did Joe just say that being a father to Nora and supporting her takes precedence over upholding the law? Yes. Yes he did.

• My absolute favorite part of the episode: Weather Witch tells XS she knows her secret identiy. Note Nora's "bad girl" look here, completely with mask and nearly-black lipstick.

Two seconds later, Nora realizes there's no point in hiding behind who she is anymore and removes her mask. Somehow, taking off her tiny domino mask magically causes her lipstick to lighten about twenty or thirty shades! HAW! It's pretty funny once you know to look for it.

• When the Young Rogues infiltrate McCulloch, they leave Cisco & Sherloque in their hideout. Sherloque easily breaks out of his bonds, causing an astonished Cisco to ask how he did so. Sherloque says, "I was trained in the art of escape by Thaddeus Brown from Earth-51."

In the comics, Thaddeus Brown was an escape artist and the original Mister Miracle, before Scott Free took on the name.

• Kudos to Weather Witch for calling out Nora when she picks an obviously phony name when they're trying to avoid calling attention to themselves during their heist.

And yes, in the comics, "Jenni Ognats" was actually XS, and was the granddaughter of Barry and Iris.

• Nora's plan involves breaking into McCulloch Technologies and stealing a hi-tech Mirror Gun. I assume these are both references to Evan McCulloch, who became the Mirror Master in the comics.

• I'm starting to wonder if this episode was running long, and they had to cut out some scenes? There's a lot here that just plain doesn't make any sense, as if huge swathes of plot are missing.

Case in point: Nora and her posse show up to infiltrate McCulluch Technologies dressed in military uniforms. Where in the name of Stan Lee's Toupee did they get those? There's never any mention of robbing an army surplus store or anything— they just show up in perfectly tailored and accurate uniforms.

Then a bit later, the Young Rogues turn on Nora, take a room full of generals hostage and demand to see the Flash. The "generals" then drop their holographic disguises, revealing themselves to be Team Flash.

How the hell did all THAT happen? Last time we saw Barry & Joe, they were at CCPD talking about fatherhood. Nora was at the West house, chatting about Nora with Cecile. At some point while we weren't looking, they all got together, figured out Nora's plan, went to STAR Labs, dug out HR's old holographic transmorgrifier, replicated several of them, disguised themselves as military brass and infiltrated McCulluch. Whew!

I don't need every minor little detail spoon-fed to me, but these seem like things that should have been addressed.

• Once they're inside McCulloch, Nora sets a small metal case on a table. The lid pops open, and Rag Doll climbs out of it. A couple things here:

First of all, I get that his body's superhumanly flexible, but there's no way in hell an adult male could fit inside that case, no matter how much he could flatten himself. The only way he could fit in there is if he can shrink as well.

Secondly, it's patently obvious that Rag Doll's climbing up through a hole in the bottom of the case. The Flash usually features pretty top notch FX (especially for TV) but they really dropped the ball here.

• After the Young Rogues turn on Nora, their hostages drop their holographic disguises and reveal they're really Team Flash.

This "transmorgrifier" technology has a long history on the show, as it was first seen back in Season 3. HR used it to disguise himself, so he wouldn't be arrested for having the exact same face as serial killer Eobard Thawne.

Speaking of that, the writers have apparently either forgotten all about that or decided to drop it entirely. Despite the fact that Sherloque also looks like Thawne, he comes and goes freely about Central City and no one ever says a word.

• After a short battle, Iris knocks out Rag Doll and says he's lucky she didn't throw him off a building. That's definitely a reference to All Doll'd Up, in which Rag Doll threw Barry off a building and Iris jumped off it to save him.

• At the end of the episode, Future Grace tinkers with the Atomizer she stole. As she does so, she recites the "Pelican" poem her Uncle Orlin taught her. Orlin then seemingly appears and the two say the poem together.

Many fans are confused by this scene, wondering if Orlin's somehow figured out a way to come back from the dead. I thought it was pretty obvious that Future Grace's slow descent into madness is accelerating, and she's simply hallucinating him. 

This Week's Best Lines:
Meh. Not very many this week.

(Sherloque's cell phone buzzes)

Ralph: "You gonna get that or..."
Sherloque: "Yeah, I'm going to get it, but I know already it's Renee Aldler..."
Caitlin: "Adler."
Sherloque: "Adler. With these emoticon pictogram things that she send me."
Caitlin: "Oh, master detective like you can't decode a few emojis?"
Sherloque: "I can decode these emojis no problem, huh? Heart, she like me. Kissy face, want to kiss me. Peach, eggplant, she like fruit and vegetable."
(Caitlin and Ralph exchange knowing glances at the true meanings of the "peach" and "eggplant" emojis.)

Ralph: "Caitlin,look. Book of Ralph works great for other people, but never actually worked for me. I know I'm not built for love. And that's okay."
Caitlin: "Ralph Dibny, you are kind, intelligent, and compassionate. And most of all, you put the needs of others before yourself. So that means you are built for love, and you deserve someone who loves you back."
Ralph: "Caitlin I'm sorry, I just don't feel that way about you."
Caitlin: "Ugh. Gross!"

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