If there’s one thing we’ve learned in every time travel escapade in fiction is that, no matter how tempting a prospect, never try to manipulate past events to change the outcome. Unfortunately for Barry Allen, despite multiple warnings from Professor Wells, didn’t follow this golden rule of time travel. (Though to be fair, Cisco, had he known about his “Out of Time” fate, he’d be all for Barry’s ignoring the rules.)
If you’ll recall, last week Barry faced off against Mark Mardon—the Weather Wizard—and ran faster than he ever had before when trying to stop Mardon’s killer tsunami from wiping out Central City. Before the climatic time fracture caused by Barry’s speed, Cisco was killed by Eobard Thawne, aka Harrison Wells, Captain Singh was severely injured and Iris finally realized her true feelings for Barry (as well as discovering his identity as the Flash). It was one of the best genre episodes for us nerds and geeks in the last several years.
Take stock of everything you remembered from last week and wipe the slate clean.
The first moments of “Rogue Time” find Barry trying to reintegrate himself into this new time and come to grips of knowing everything that’s happened. Wells figures things out and warns Barry NOT to change anything. “Time is an extremely fragile construct,” he says, “any deviation, no matter how small, could result in a cataclysm.” Advice given, Wells verifies with Gideon that the future remains on its original course. It doesn’t last long.
Barry tries his best to heed the professor’s advice but, knowing what happened to Singh, he veers off course, nabbing Mardon and throwing him in the Pipeline. Wells cautions that the future will find a way to replace the changes and, when it does, very bad things will happen. So what future substitutions do we find? How about Leonard Snart and Mick Rory killing one of the heads of the Santini family and finding their way back to Central City? It’s a start, at least.
Remember Cisco’s unfortunate fate at the hands of his father figure Wells? That future is gone, replaced by our glimpse into the family he keeps hidden from everyone. True to her earlier words, Caitlin accompanies Cisco to his brother Dante’s birthday party. It’s evident early on that Cisco’s viewed as the proverbial black sheep, underappreciated while his relatives dote upon their favorite son. It’s not until they are held by Snart—more on that soon enough—that Dante admits to harboring a bout of jealousy towards his younger brother.
Rewinding things for a bit, Barry’s in the Lab trying to recreate the wormhole effect when West arrives, questioning him on Mardon’s capture. Barry’s saved too much explanation (or lying) by his lunch date with Linda, a lunch date that ends up being their last date when she realizes she will never truly be what Barry wants. That honor still belongs to Iris, so after getting a gentle nudge from Linda, Barry asks Iris to coffee, effectively interrupting Mason’s spiel to her on Simon Stagg’s disappearance and Professor Wells’ potential involvement. After tapping Iris for a coffee talk/date and defending Wells to Mason, Barry joins a morose Cisco at a bar. When a blonde in a bad wig named Lisa chats Cisco up, Barry thinks his friend will be pulled from the doldrums. Unfortunately, it ends up being the first step to his abduction by Leonard Snart, who just so happens to be Lisa’s brother. Captain Cold’s demands are simple enough; remake the weapons he and Mick once cherished and they won’t kill his brother, Dante. He even gets the honor to make a third weapon for Lisa, “something pretty and toxic…something with gold.”
More than a little excited from his knowledge of Iris’s true feelings for him, Barry decides the direct approach is the best approach with her but his anticipated reunion fails miserably. He returns to the lab and, after realizing Snart’s back in town, stops the sibling Snart duo as they attack the Santini casino. He has to let them go when Snart threatens the still captive Cisco. To make things even worse, Eddie’s not too happy about Barry’s declaration to Iris, introducing his fist to Barry’s unsuspecting face.
Things have fallen apart and Barry turns to Wells, who finally lets Barry open up about the changed future. The topic of Nora Allen returns as Barry knows he will come back to the past with the intent on saving his mother but Wells makes the point of “how many more people die if your mother lives?”
Speaking of family, Cisco and Dante have a heart-to-heart only those facing death seem to have. They try to escape but are put down by Mick. Snart makes his way in and, after dousing Dante’s hands with first degree frostbite, puts Cisco in a very pertinent question, “Who is the Flash?” With Dante’s health on the line, Cisco breaks, admitting his failure to Barry when Snart lets them go. “I don’t deserve to be here,” he tells the group as the guilt of his actions weigh upon him. “I won’t be the one to put you in jeopardy again. Never again.”
Wells goes to see his devastated protégé and eventually brings him down to the room used to trap the Reverse Flash. The conversation is similar but very different than last week’s, especially in outcome. Wells mimics his thoughts about viewing Cisco like a son. Thankfully, Cisco never delved into Wells’ involvement so doesn’t receive the death at the hands of his idol. Instead, they are interrupted when Caitlin and Barry discover Snart’s plan—the attack on the casino was a ruse to force the bosses to move the money. Barry shuts Snart down again but it’s not about putting them behind bars, rather finding common ground. Despite knowing what Snart is, Barry appeals to the criminal genius . “You’ve seen what I can do. You know that I can stop you. You wanna keep pushing your luck? Then go for it. But from here on out, no one else dies. If you’re good as you say you are, you don’t have to kill anyone to get what you want. And if you—or anyone in your Rogue’s gallery goes near any of my friends and family again, I don’t care who you tell my identity to, I’m putting you away.” And just like that, the two, hero and criminal, have come to an understanding.
With things finally in the bag, Barry arrives at the coffee shop to try to smooth things over with Iris and Eddie only to find that Caitlin’s explanation of his “lightning psychosis” has taken care of that for him. On the other side of things, Mason gets a visit from Reverse Flash and it doesn’t end well for the reporter. When Barry sees the news flash of Bridge’s disappearance, he calls West over to his lab. “I think that maybe you were right,” he tells West, “about Dr. Wells.”
“All of it.”
A Changing Timeline
- Last week’s ‘The Flash,’ I was an amazing piece of storytelling and, on first viewing, this week’s “Rogue Time” was an obvious step down. But in writing this review, I treated myself to a second viewing and, though the initial impact wasn’t nearly as jarring and emotional, it was a perfect complement to “Out of Time”.
- Though I’m still not sure why the changes with the Mardon situation spurred Snart and Rory’s arrival (those two events had no bearing on one another) it did give us a preview of sorts to the much talked about spin-off involving Captain Cold and his fiery partner, Mick Rory. Barry’s conversation with the genius Snart sets up the villain’s semi-turn towards bigger and better things. Oh, and I have a decent guess at the new spin-off’s name: The Rogues. Why not? After all, Snart thought it was “cute”.
- On the topic of bigger and better, Barry has taken Cisco’s place as number one skeptic of Professor Harrison Wells. Not only is this better for Cisco’s health, it parallels Barry’s future self battling it out with this Reverse Flash. This apparent flip pushes “Rogue Time” from a decent yet lacking follow-up from “Out of Time” to a true game-changer. There’s no telling what’s on tap now that Barry’s investigating his mentor. Now all we need to know is how long before Wells gets wind of it and comes face-to-face with Barry as the Reverse alter ego?