Sunday, March 5, 2023

The Flash Season 9, Episode 3: Rogues Of War

Now that's more like it!

This week on The Flash we get the best episode of the season so far— one that puts last week's dumpster fire to shame. Barry teams up with some old enemies to take down his newest one, there's a shocking betrayal by a member of Team Flash and we find out the identity of Red Death (which everyone's known for months now).

Oh, and the miserable Chester/Allegra romance subplot that no one asked for continues, as the two thirty-somethings continue to act like awkward adolescents. 

Despite that, it really was a fun episode, and a return to form for the series. Was it as good as Seasons 1 through 3? Of course not. But it's probably as good as we're gonna get these days, so enjoy it!

If I had one major complaint, it's that the big reveal of Red Death's identity seemed to come awfully soon. Especially since we just saw her in full costume last week! It feels like the story definitely needs more room to breathe.

I'm guessing this breakneck pace is due to the fact that this final season is only thirteen episodes, split into two story arcs. That means the Red Death plot's only gonna last six or seven episodes, so there's no time to waste. Pity.

Apropos of nothing, the show's cast has slowly been skewing female lately, as Barry and Chester are the only male characters left. Not that there's anything wrong with that per se, but it's definitely noticeable. This episode changed all that, as the appearance of the Good Rogues added an extra three guys— making it the most manly episode in years!

Lastly, it's no secret that I've been tearing this show a new asshole lately. Believe me, I don't enjoy trashing it, as I used to love the show back in its heyday. Sadly, it was mortally wounded back when Tom Cavanagh and Carlos Valdes left, and it hasn't recovered since. 

I didn't realize just how far the quality's dropped lately until I recently rewatched the very first episode. Holy Crap! The Flash has never been high art, but compared to the past couple seasons, the Pilot episode was freakin' Shakespeare! It's not even night & day— it's Mega Night vs. Super Day.

Hopefully this final season can redeem the show and it'll go out on a high note. This week's episode, while not perfect, is a definite step in the right direction.


The Plot:
Boomerang 2.0, The Fiddler and Murmur (of Arrow fame) break into Corbin Taft Industries and steal another technobabble device for their mysterious benefactor, Red Death.

Elsewhere, Barry & Iris are taking a cooking class on Paris, as part of their "babymoon." Yeah, I don't get it either. They get a CCPD alert (all the way in France, yet!), and zoom back to Central City.

At STAR Labs, Khione brings in some plants to spice up the place, since she's connected to nature or something. Chester tries to talk to Allegra about their recent "date" at the Krakatoa Club, but she hurriedly gets the hell out of there. Khione senses tension between the two, and asks why Allegra's afraid of Chester. He says he doesn't know. Someone please end this ridiculous storyline, stat!

Barry & Iris meet Kristen Kramer at Corbin Taft. Why Iris tagged along to the crime scene is anyone's guess. Kristen says CCTV footage identified Boomerang 2.0, The Fiddler and Murmur as the perps. Barry examines the scene and finds filings from Murmur's knife, which contain "cutting edge nanotechnology"— just like the other two's weapons. Barry determines a temporal scanner is missing, and says that's bad, as it seems these new rogues are stealing components necessary to build a Cosmic Treadmill.

When Kristen looks puzzled, he says the Bad Rogues could use it to alter the timeline (and he should know all about that!). He says the only part the rogues still need is a quantum engine, and he knows someone who can pinpoint one for them.

Cut to Jitters, where Barry & Iris (again!) meet with Hartley Rathaway (aka Pied Piper) and ask if he knows where to find a quantum engine. He says there's only one of the million dollar items in existence, and it's locked up inside a secure facility at the DOD outside Central City. Barry asks how they can stop the Bad Rogues from getting their hands on it. Hartley suggests they steal it themselves before the others do. That plan's so crazy, it just might work!

Back at STAR, Hartley gives Team Flash an astonishingly detailed rundown of Fort LUKIA, the DOD facility. Somehow he knows the entire layout of the place, including the vault where the quantum engine's stored, along with all its defenses. How he know all this? Because the script says so, that's how. 

Hartley warns that the vault's protected by a meta dampener, so Barry can't just zoom in and nab the thing. The dampener is powered by four separate generators, each with its own unique power source— which will all need to be shut down simultaneously. Barry realizes they'll need to recruit their  team of "Good Rogues" to help.

Cut back to Jitters, where Jaco Birch (aka the Hotness) is working as a barista (was he there earlier in the episode?). Barry & Hartley approach him to help, and he eagerly accepts and instantly quits his crappy job. One down!

Barry & Hartley then visit O'Shaughnessy's Pub, where Chillblaine's still drowning his sorrows. They ask for his assistance and he agrees, saying it's what Frost would have wanted. He makes it clear he won't take orders from Hartley though, since he destroyed any chance of restoring Frost last week.

The then meet with Goldface, who makes them kneel before him. He isn't happy with Barry— who he knows as the Chemist— since he helped put him in prison. Hartley asks Goldface how he got out, and he replies that he turned state's evidence on his old squeeze Amunet Black (!). After some tense back and forth, Goldface eventually agrees to help Barry against their mutual enemies.

Unbeknownst to Goldface and the others, the Bad Rogues are secretly listening in on this exchange. Red Death appears and tells his little team he'll make their opponents scream.

The next day, the  Good Rogues meet at STAR, where Barry's careful not to reveal he's the Flash in front of Jaco and Goldface. Hartley outlines the plan, and each of the Rogues decide they want the highly valuable quantum engine for themselves. They begin bickering, as an all-out brawl threatens to break out. Barry says that's not happening, as once the crisis is over he'll return the device to the DOD.

Chillblaine accuses Barry of thinking they're all just a bunch of criminals (which they are!) and not trusting them. 
They decide to pull off the heist without Barry and leave.

Back at the Loft, Barry tells Iris what happened. She vents as well, saying she's had no luck finding out who the Bad Rogues' evil benefactor is. She also worries that she won't have time to pursue her own dreams once their daughter Nora's born. 
Which is just the kind of thrilling content you want from a superhero show.

Barry zooms off to talk sense into the Good Rogues. Chester enters the Loft and tells Iris that he's been examining particles from all the Bad Rogues' tech, and it came from Wayne Enterprises. Iris says they need to call Gotham. What, like the whole city?

Back at the STAR Lounge, Khione senses Allegra's upset and asks what's wrong. Allegra says Chester keeps pushing their "relationship," but she can't be involved with anyone right now for reasons no one cares about. Khione uses her superpower of handing out Patented The CW Peptalks®, and makes her feel better. Yawn.

Barry meets with the Good Rogues outside the DOD, where he apologizes and makes a deal with them. He says he'll help steal the engine, and Hartley will get to keep it. BUT, he'll then pay them all a quarter million in compensation. They all agree (even Hartley, reluctantly). Just then Goldface wonders how Barry caught up with them so quickly, and Jaco says it's obvious that he's the Flash. Even more people who now know his "secret" identity!

Barry & the Good Rogues then sneak into the DOD, which is strangely devoid of any guards. The Rogues station themselves at each of the four generators, while Barry strolls unimpeded into the vault. The Rogues use their powers to disable the generators, which deactivates the meta dampener. Barry then phases his hand through a small safe and pulls out the quantum engine— which looks like a hi-tech football (?).

Before he can zoom out of the vault though, the dampener reactivates. Barry turns and sees Chillblaine, who tells him to hand over the engine. Elsewhere in the DOD, Murmur attacks Hartley, Boomerang 2.0 battles Goldface and The Fiddler squares off against Jaco.

Barry asks Chillblaine what's going on, and he explains he's working for someone who'll help him bring back Frost. Amazingly Barry tries making a run for it without his superspeed, and Chillblaine easily fires an ice blast at him, knocking him out. He then picks up the engine and tells the other Bad Rogues it's time to go.

Murmur invites Hartley to join their team. He refuses, saying he's not a killer anymore. He knocks him down and leaves. Boomerang 2.0 hurls one of his boomerangs at Goldface, striking him in the head and revealing the gold beneath his skin. He slips out while Goldface is recovering.

The Flddler and Jaco are involved in a shootout, and for some reason start mentioning their favorite bands. They realize they have similar tastes in music, and for a moment it looks like The Flash is gonna go hard R on us. At the last second she blasts him and escapes.

Barry comes to, dons his Flash costume, and he and the Good Rogues exit the DOD and confront the Bad ones. Just as the two sides are about to rumble, Red Death zooms in and knocks out Barry and his team. Barry tries to fight back, but realizes that Red Death is powered by the Negative Speed Force, which temporarily neutralizes his abilities. Red Death then zips the Bad Rogues away.

Back at STAR, Barry tells Team Flash what happened. He says they can't beat Red Death alone, and asks the Good Rogues for their help again. Jaco agrees, saying he's got a son to protect. Goldface reluctantly decides to help as well. Hartley tells Barry to call him when he finds out Red Death's weakness. The three of them then leave.

Barry tells Team Flash that Red Death had a split bat symbol on his chest. Chester tells him about the Wayne tech connection, and then drops another bombshell— according to Luke Fox, Ryan Wilder— aka Batwoman— has been missing for several weeks. Barry wonders if there's a connection (gee, you think?).

Back at the warehouse, Chillblaine hands over the engine to the Bad Rogues, and says it's time for them to pay up. When they refuse, he says he'll just take the engine back and give it to the Flash. Just then Red Death zooms in, and warns him that'd be a mistake. He says he'll pay up after the mission's complete. 

Chillblaine protests and says he doesn't even know who he's dealing with. Red Death menacingly moves closer to Chillblaine, removes "his" helmet and reveals "he's" really Ryan Wilder. GASP!

• The strange flashbacks continue this week, showing us things we just saw seven short days ago. Flashbacks are nothing new on the show of course, but in the past they reminded us of events that happened years ago, not ones still fresh in our minds.

• The episode begins with an establishing shot of Corbin Taft Industries. It was mentioned before back in The Curious Case Of Bartholomew Allen, and is where Pytor Orloff worked before being fired for using company resources to fund his illegal experiments.

The part of Corbin Taft is played by a piece of video clipart from It looks like the FX team added a CGI sign and logo to the front of the building.

A bit later we get another shot of the place, this time during daylight. This shot appeared back in the aforementioned The Curious Case Of Bartholomew Allen.

This one's also another piece of video clipart. Even though this is clearly the same office, the clip comes from a completely different website. Odd! That must be one in-demand building!

There's nothing wrong with any this of course, as it's exactly why clipart was invented. I'm just surprised they didn't use a Vancouver location as usual. Maybe after nine seasons they've exhausted the city's supply of office buildings and shot 'em all!

• Inside Corbin Taft, Boomerang 2.0 and The Fiddler attempt another hi-tech heist. The Fiddler uses her, er, fiddle to fire a sonic blast and break into a safe. 

Wait... didn't the Flash destroy her old one last week?

This isn't necessarily a mistake, as Red Death had plenty of time to gift her with a new instrument while we weren't looking. I thought it was worth pointing out though.

• A security guard appears and orders the two Bad Rogues to stop, but is killed from behind by a third, named Murmur. A few things here:

First of all, Murmur was a truly disturbing-looking villain, what with her horrific blank doll-like face and creepy lack of speech. So kudos to whoever designed her.

Based on her mask, costume and creepy body language, she looks a LOT like our old pal Rag Doll, who first appeared back in Season 5's All Doll'd Up. I'm wondering if they originally planned on bringing back Rag Doll, but actor contortionist Troy James wasn't available and they had to improvise?

Unfortunately, great confusion seems to surround Murmur. The episode acts like we should all be well acquainted with her, despite the fact that this is the first time she's ever appeared on the show.

I did some digging and apparently there was a Murmur over on Arrow (which I never watched). There he was a man named Michael Amar, who was arrested and forced to confess to a crime he didn't commit. Once he was released from Iron Heights, he sewed his lips together (to make some sort of statement, I guess) and turned to a life of crime. 

The Murmur seen in this episode is obviously a completely new version— a woman named Michelle Amar, who's described by Iris as " an angry med student turned serial killer." 

So what the hell's going on here? Why the difference? Welp, apparently this is yet another change caused our old friend Crisis On Infinite Earths. When the universe was rebooted at the end of that storyline, Murmur was apparently transformed into a woman with a creepy mask, and we're all supposed to go along with it and pretend this is how it's always been.

By the way, Murmur communicates through sign language, since her presumably sutured mouth prevents her from talking. I thought it'd be funny if she actually did murmur unintelligibly though, and Boomerang 2.0 had to constantly translate her speech for everyone.

Lastly, about Murmur's lips being sewn together... I'm guessing she must have left a little bit of space to stick a straw or some Red Vines through, else she'd starve in a few days.

• In Paris, Barry & Iris take a cooking class as part of their "babymoon,." Surprisingly, the chef praises the crème brûlée they whipped up. Barry doesn't mention to the chef that he took himself and Iris into Flashtime so they could practice making the dish forty times before presenting it.

OK, I know I'm putting wayyyyy too much thought into this, but would this work? Yes, I get that Barry stopped time for everyone else so they could perfect the dish, but they'd need forty sets of ingredients from... somewhere. Did he keep running back & forth to the grocery? And how'd they cook it? Barry would have to bring the stove into Flashtime as well, or else it'd be frozen in time too.

Also, Iris suddenly speaks fluent French in this episode. Not impossible by any means, but as far as I know it's never been a thing till now. Maybe they learned French too as part of their "babymoon."

• When then get a look at Barry & Iris' "babymoon" bucket list. For the record, the items are:

Pizza from 3 countries in Europe
Camping under the Northern Lights
Sunset cruise off Kuai
Visiting Big Ben at midnight (which they've apparently already done)
On the water picnic - Venice canals (also crossed off)
French cooking class - in France (which they're currently doing)
Mescal nightcap in Cabo
Something to do with the Flatiron Building?

I'm still struggling to understand the point of all these activities. Yeah, I get it... they're attempting to finally have a kid (Nora, specifically), and this laundry list in exotic locales is supposed to get them in the mood or something. I guess I'm just not a romantic like them. Quit stalling and start screwing already!

Now that I think about it, maybe they're doing all this stuff now because they know once they have a baby they'll be wayyyyy too busy to have any fun.

• Joe's AWOL this week, which isn't surprising since actor Jesse L. Martin is only appearing in five episodes this season. This lends credence to my theory that they're gonna stretch out his "Let's Move Out Of Central City" storyline across the entire truncated season, and he and Cecile (and Baby Jenna, if the writers ever remember she exists) will ride off into the sunset in the series finale.

• Last week I mentioned that when the newly created Khione started talking about being one with nature, it was impossible not to think of Layla Williams— the plant-controlling superhero played by Danielle Panabaker in Sky High.

Welp, this week they go all in on the that similarity, as Khione brings in plants to spruce up STAR Labs.

At one point Khione mentions there are no windows in STAR Labs. She then gasps as a thought occurs to her and asks, "Are we underground?"

Hmm... considering the sign behind your reads "Level 600," I'd say that's a distinct possibility!

• The god rays return this week as Barry (and Iris, for no good reason) investigate Corbin Taft. Jaysis, they've been pumping so much atmospheric smoke into the sets this season that the cast is all gonna end up with lung cancer.

• Barry examines the Corbin Taft crime scene and finds evidence left behind by Murmur. He tells Iris & Kristen, "These filings left behind from her weapon, they're almost impossible to see without a microscope, but I think they're cutting-edge nanocircuitry, just like the new boomerangs Mercer is using."

Um... yeah. I don't have a microscope and I can clearly see the filings in Barry's little evidence baggie there. Methinks the prop man didn't read the script very closely. Also, Murmur's weapon of choice is a goddamned knife. What cutting-edge nanocircuitry could there possibly be inside it?

• Barry contacts Hartley about the location of a quantum engine, and he reports there's one in the DOD outside the city. For some unexplained reason he just happens to have a top secret document about the DOD and its boss, General Eiling (last seen in Season 1's Grodd Lives). 

I wonder if actor Clancy Brown got paid for his "appearance" here?

• Back at STAR, Hartley displays a detailed layout of the DOD facility and outlines the highly elaborate hi-tech security system guarding the quantum engine— in astonishing detail.

Why does he have this info and where'd he get it? Because the script needed him to.

• I've long pointed out the fact that murder doesn't seem to be a crime in the Arrowverse. All you have to do is feel really bad about killing someone, and you're instantly off the hook. You can even become a full-fledged member of Team Flash!

Apparently larceny isn't a crime there either. Barry discovers the Bad Rogues are looking to steal the quantum engine to complete the Cosmic Treadmill they're building. In order to prevent that, Team Flash decides to steal the engine first, to keep it out of the baddies' hands!

To be fair, Barry does say that once some vague and arbitrary period of time goes by, he'll return the engine to the DOD.

I should add that Chester's the sole voice of reason here, pointing out the illegality of this idea. The others completely blow off his concerns though, as it's seemingly Ok to steal as long as you have a good reason to do so.

Ah, but it gets worse! In the third act, Barry actually revises the plan. He says after they steal the engine, Hartley will get sole possession of it, but he'll pay each of the other Good Rogues a quarter million for their trouble. 

So Barry & his merry band went from temporarily stealing the device for the common good (which is still a crime) to permanently swiping it (which most definitely is illegal). Our hero, ladies and gentlemen!

• Hartley tells Team Flash they need to act fast and steal the quantum engine as soon as possible, because according to him, "Tomorrow, the DOD's running war games exercises out by Masonville. It's the one night all year the fort will be understaffed and our best chance to make it inside." A couple things here:

First of all, Masonville is a deep dive from the Season 3 episode Finish Line. In it, Barry reminisced about the time his family had a flat tire on a trip and were towed to Masonville, where they got ice cream and ended up staying to watch fireworks.

Second, I'm puzzled as to why Hartley thinks the DOD will be understaffed the night before a major war games operation. Wouldn't that be their BUSIEST night of the year, as they prepped everything?

• Barry and Hartley go back to Jitters to recruit Jaco Birch, who's working as a barista there. Wait, did he sell 'em their coffee when they met and discussed their plans there a few scenes ago?

Jaco first appeared in Season 4's Run, Iris, Run as inept supervillain The Hotness. He looked a bit different back then, sporting a full head of hair!

He also appeared in Season 8's The Fire Next Time, where he was attempting to get his life back on track and take care of his teenaged son.

• Barry & Hartley then pay a visit to Chillblaine, who's drowning his sorrows at O'Shaughnessy's Pub.

Last week I pointed out that the Back Forty Bar— the real world Vancouver location used for O'Shaughnessy's— was razed back in December 2022. There was no establishing shot last week though, which I thought was odd. Even though the building's no longer standing, surely the producers had plenty of old stock footage of the place they could have used.

Looks like they must have read my post, because this week we get a proper establishing shot of the pub!

Barry asks Chillblaine to help him steal the quantum engine from the DOD. Chillblaine hisses, "You want me to help you break into a hi-tech facility, a fortress no less, to steal highly classified technology? And yet you won't help me bring Frost back?"

Yeah, let's take a step back, dude! Those are two WILDLY different scenarios there— Petty Larceny vs Bringing Back Someone From The Dead!

• Barry & Hartley then recruit Goldface, who's gone through a major change since we last saw him in Season 8's Lockdown. Seems he got out of Iron Heights by turning state's evidence and ratting out his partner in crime Amunet Black. That's an interesting turn of events, since back in Season 6's Love Is A Battlefield the two were hopelessly, helplessly, eternally in love. I guess relationships change.

Goldface then notices Hartley's with Barry: 

Goldface: (in a derogatory tone): "Who's the new sidekick?"
Hartley: "I'm nobody's sidekick. I'm the Pied Piper."

That's not any better, my guy! You're just making it worse!

• Unbeknownst to Goldface and the others, Red Death has the alley bugged (?) and is listening in on their conversation. We then get a shot of him as he ominously says he'll make Barry's little team of Good Rogues scream.

At this point in the episode the audience isn't supposed to know that Red Death is really Ryan Wilder— or at least some version of her. But it's patently obvious from this scene that Red Death is being played by a woman. You can tell just by her body language and stance. Don't look at me like that, feminists, it's a fact of physiology! Women stand differently than men!

• Barry invites the Good Rogues to STAR Labs to fill them in on the mission. Once there, Goldface looks around and says, "I'm supposed to believe that you can afford all this on a public servant's salary?"

Preach it, dude! He's just articulating what the audience has been asking for the past nine seasons.

This is called "lampshading," by the way. It's when the writers deliberately call attention to something stupid in their own script before the audience does, making it a moot point.

• There's a nice little moment when Barry's outlining the plan to the Good Rogues:

Barry: "So then the four of you will disable the generators while I use my s... CSI know-how to open the vault and grab the engine."

Heh... he almost said "use his speed," but managed to cover nicely and protect his secret identity from the two Rogues who don't know it (yet). Well done, writers!

• I was also impressed with the tense scene in which each of the Good Rogues decides to keep the quantum engine for themselves after they steal it— and then all turn on Barry when they realize he still thinks of them all as lowly criminals (which, admittedly, they are).

It was very well acted and filmed, with lots of super tight closeups that helped ratchet up the tension. Well done, director!

• Heavy Duty Nitpicking Time: Back in the first act, Khione complained that there were no windows in STAR Labs.

In this shot, we see bright bluish light filtering in through what appears to be a couple of large oval portals.

A bit later we see what looks like evening sunlight emanating from them.

If I didn't know better, I'd think these were windows‚ and we're seeing the sun shining through them!

• Last week I was angered by the fact that Caitlin died offscreen, and Team Flash didn't seem to give two sh*ts about it. They even went out clubbing after finding out their friend and colleague was dead.

This week the writers kind of slightly attempt to halfheartedly address that situation. Well, sort of. Khione and Allegra have a time-filling chat in the Lounge. Allegra admits that she's a little uncomfortable around Khione, because she looks exactly like Frost— who she considered a big sister figure.

OK, so she's talking about Frost instead of Caitlin here, but it's the closest we're gonna get to anyone grieving for her.

• Earlier in the episode, Hartley claimed the quantum engine's worth a cool million. In the third act Barry makes a deal with the Good Rogues, saying if they help steal the engine Hartley will get possession of it— but, he'll then have to pay the others a quarter million as compensation.

Seems like a fair enough deal, except for one thing— how the hell's Hartley gonna come up with all that dough? 
Is he gonna fence the quantum engine to someone? Sell it back to the DOD? Put it up on ebay?

Or has owning a techno bar made Hartley a multimillionaire, and he can easily afford to write out such massive checks to the others?

• I loved the moment when Goldface finally discovers "The Chemist' is really the Flash:

Goldface: "Hang on. Something's rotten in Denmark. We left the city hours ago. How were you able to catch up with us? And why do we need to disable meta dampeners so you can do forensics?"
Jaco: "Dude, come on. Even I figured it out. Barry Allen's the Flash. They have the same Jitters order."
Goldface: "Officer Chemist is the... Yeah, no, I see it now."

Done in by his own coffee order!

• Barry and the Good Rogues then somehow stroll right into the DOD, dressed as custodians or maintenance men or something.

Amazingly they encounter absolutely zero resistance in this highly secure military installation. In fact two armed guards walk right between their lineup without asking for ID or even acknowledging their presence! Luck-ee!

You know, I could point out that the DOD base is supposedly sparsely manned at this point, so the sight of a big group of unfamiliar personnel boldly sashaying down a corridor might seem a little suspicious to security. But I won't.

• Barry enters the vault room, where he sees the meta dampener's fully functional. As per the plan, he needs the Good Rogues to knock out the dampener's generators so he can use his speed.

Why not just stand just outside the room and use his speed to throw a wrench or something at the dampener? Heck, it's so flimsy looking he could probably throw a rock at normal speed and knock it down!

• The Good Rogues then take their places around the four generators and prepare to disable 'em. Hilariously, each generator room is color-coded for the audience's convenience.

The Hydro Generator room is lit with green light, and Hartley disables it with sound waves (?).

The Electrical Generator room is yellow, and Goldface shorts out the gold circuitry in it.

The Thermal Fusion Generator room is red (of course), and Chillblaine incapacitates it with cold.

Lastly, the Cold Fusion Generator room is blue (natch!), and Jaco knocks it out with heat.

OK, I kid here, but this was actually a pretty clever way for the show to build a single set and make it look like four completely different locations. Good job, production designer!

• Lucky for Barry and his merry band that the DOD didn't put a meta dampener in each of the generator rooms! They'd have been royally screwed then!

• I gotta say, I was NOT expecting the third act heel turn by Chillblaine, as he betrays Barry and steals the quantum engine for himself. Especially after he's been promoted to main character status this season. So well done there, writers.

Less well done though is his motivation here, as he steals the thing to— everyone say it with me— resurrect Frost. He's been singing that same song now for the past three weeks, and it's gettin' a little stale. The writers need to come up with something else for him to do, stat.

I could also do without the return of his preposterous costume too. I thought we'd seen the last of that thing in Season 7.

• Amazingly, we get a "Run, Barry, Run" this week, which is something we haven't heard in a while. Chillblaine mockingly says it to the Flash, which puts the Official Run, Barry, Run Counter at twelve. Seems like it should be wayyyy higher than that! 

Actually it is, if you include all the variations people have uttered over the past nine years, but I'm only counting instances of the original line.

• I loved the Goldface vs. Boomerang 2.0 battle, as the FX team managed to coordinate the two Rogues' weapons perfectly. My only complaint is it was wayyyy too brief. I guess with all the guest stars this week, they couldn't afford a longer fight scene.

• Goldface apparently forgot the cardinal rule about boomerangs— they always come back! Boomerang 2.0 throws one final, er, boomerang at Goldface and then scampers off. As Goldface watches him escape, the boomerang returns and slices the side of his head, exposing the gold underneath!

I'd completely forgotten that Goldface can turn his body into gold.

• Earlier in the episode, Barry mentioned Murmur's knife featured cutting edge nanotechnology or some such technobabble hooey. 

During Murmur's fight with Hartley, the producers dub in this whirring, mechanical sound effect every time she swings her knife. Once more with feeling— it's just a plain old goddamn knife! There's nothing hi-tech about it! 

Are we supposed to believe the thing vibrates or has a forcefield around it or something?

• Jaco and The Fiddler then blast away at one another.

The two of them call a truce though when they discover their mutual love for industrial rock bands like Joy Division and Nine Inch Nails. Jaysis, what decade is this? Joy Division broke up in 1980 (!) and Nine Inch Nails in 2005. I guarantee the typical Flash viewer has never heard of either of these bands, and probably weren't even born when they were relevant.

Second, the two of them trade quips during their battle:

The Fiddler: "LIPS suck, by the way. You should try listening to a real band like Joy Division."
Jaco: "They're very influential to the industrial metal scene."
The Fiddler: "Oh, don't bands-plain to me, Hesher."

OK, that was a funny line by The Fiddler. But why'd she call him "Hesher?" Jaco's last name is Birch.

I think it's a reference to the 2010 movie Hesher, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It's a dark comedy about a heavy metal fan who moves in with a grieving family. The film's logo even looks a little like Jaco's LIPS t-shirt.

If that's really where The Fiddler was going, then what an incredibly obscure reference!

• Writing for a ridiculously overpowered character like the Flash is tough, as it's nearly impossible to come up with a scenario that can't be resolved by him using his speed. 

Case in point: After their individual battles, the Good Rogues (plus Barry) take a moment to pose dramatically as they face off against the Bad Rogues. Jaco asks if they can really defeat them all, and Barry says they can if they do it together.

Seriously? Once again Barry apparently forgot all about the fact that he's a speedster, and could have easily whisked all four of the Bad Rogues to Iron Heights while everyone was blinking.

Instead he just stands helplessly before his enemies, as he seemingly waits for Red Death to zoom in, knock him down and neutralize his speed. The level of bad writing here is nothing short of ridiculous, as well as downright frustrating.

• Back at STAR, Barry and the others discuss the terrifying new speedster they just encountered: 

Goldface: "And darkness and decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."
Barry: "Edgar Allan Poe."
Goldface: "Then you know the story. Seven revelers at a masquerade, killed by the stranger in their midst."

Somehow, without ever hearing the evil speedster say it, Goldface just correctly guessed Red Death's name!

• The Good Rogues leave, but promise to return and help fight Red Death if Barry needs them. To be honest, Hartley, Goldface and Jaco make a MUCH more interesting Team Flash than the one we're currently stuck with! Too bad they're not regulars.

• In the wrapup, Chester says, "So I just got off the phone with Luke Fox. Mercer's boomerang, Amar's knives, even Wozzeck's funky violin— Luke thinks they all resemble advanced WayneTech designs. But their nano-tech foundations are beyond bleeding-edge."

One more time, there's nothing hi-tech about a goddamned knife. Or mini boomerangs. MAYBE The Fiddler's fiddle might have some kind of advanced circuitry in it, but even that's a stretch.

• Team Flash then displays their amazing deductive skills"

Chester: "A few weeks ago, Ryan Wilder went out on patrol. She never came back."
Cecile: (who's there for some reason) "We got a new speedster in a bat suit, and Batwoman is missing?"
Khione: "Could that be a coincidence?"

Gosh, surely there's no possible connection between a woman who fights crime in a bat-suit, and the sudden appearance of a bat-themed speedster.

Also, for some reason Chester pronounces "Wilder" as "Woll-der." Eh, it's just a flubbed line. No need for a second take!

• Speaking of Cecile, why the hell is she even in this episode to begin with? She only has two brief lines and doesn't contribute to this week's plot in any way. She's basically set dressing, and about as useful in this episode as tastebuds on an asshole.

• The scintillating dialogue then continues in this conversation between Barry & Iris:

Iris: "So what do we do now?"
Barry: "We find this new speedster. And we stop him."

Wow! What brilliant leadership! A superhero declares he's gonna track down and stop a villain! Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's kind of the point of being the Flash, right?

• Back at the warehouse, Murmur "comments" on Chillblaine's costume. 

See? Even the other Bad Rogues think it's ridiculous!

• Chillblaine angrily demands the Bad Rogues tell him who he's working for. Right on cue, Red Death enters and reveals she's really Ryan Wilder, in what has to be the show's worst-kept secret ever!

As I've mentioned before, in the comics Red Death was really the Earth-52 Batman. He went nutty for reasons, stole the Flash's powers and became an unhinged, evil speedster vigilante.

Since there's no real Batman in the Arrowverse, the writers were forced to improvise, and turned Batwoman into their version of Red Death.

So why not just pick a different character who didn't require so much alteration? Good question. You'll have to check with The Flash's crack writing team about that.

Also, I'm betting that the snarling character on display here is NOT the Ryan Wilder we all know and love (cough cough), and is most likely an evil version from another Earth or timeline. I seriously doubt the writers have the balls to take an established character who starred in her own series and turn her into a villain. It'd be fun if they took such a chance, but I guarantee that's not what's happening here.

I've seen a lot of fans online complaining about Ryan Wilder in this scene— particularly with the way she delivers her "I Am Vengeance" line. Eh... I gotta say I think I agree here. This dialogue called for a tiger, and she delivers it with all the gravitas of a newborn kitten.

I think the problem is that Javicia Leslie just isn't a very good actress. Or in the interest of fairness, is the wrong person for this particular role. She doesn't have the charisma or screen presence to pull off a part like this. 

Red Death should be a snarling, terrifying villain who strikes fear into her enemies without saying a single word. Think Darth Vader, for an example. Leslie's far more like Kylo Ren— she looks good in the suit, but once she takes off her helmet she's an unintimidating, squeaky-voiced nebbish. Maybe she oughta be called "Kylo Red!"

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