Leonard Snart and Mick Rory – aka Captain Cold and Heat Wave – team up and return to Central City in an attempt to lure the Flash into a conflict so they can take him out. As much as Barry wants to take them up on their offer, after the events involving the Reverse-Flash, Dr. Wells convinces Barry that a conflict could endanger more lives than saved and that he should work on his training in preparation for the next inevitable Reverse-Flash attack. With Barry out of the picture, Cisco develops heat and cold resistant shields for the police to use against the duo as the rogues are continuously disappointed by the Flash’s refusal to fight. After a string of high profile robberies that fail to provoke an appearance, Snart and Rory kidnap Caitlin and threaten to kill her unless the Flash meets them for a show down. The police assemble at the appointed time and place as the Flash takes on the rogues, trying to get them to cross the beams of their weapons, which would cancel each other out and disable them. Barry realizes the only way to do that is to go slow, allowing the rogues to focus fire on him as he walks between them to combine the beams. The strategy works – after Barry is saved by Eddie from a close call – the rogues are arrested, and their weapons confiscated. As a result, of course, everyone now knows that the rumored Flash is actually real. Even as the crisis is averted, Snart and Rory are rescued from their prison transport by Snart’s sister and are on the loose again.
Despite Ronnie’s warnings, Caitlin continues to look into Firestorm and refuses to give up on helping Ronnie. After Caitlin comes up empty on her search, Barry suggests that Firestorm might be an acronym. It is, in fact, a convoluted acronym for a scientific paper (which in turn contains the acronym RNA – very sloppy titling indeed) published by a Mercury Labs scientist about transmutation. When Caitlin meets up with this scientist, he is pleased to meet her until she tells him she wants to talk about FIRESTORM, at which point he becomes agitated and attempts to leave. Caitlin convinces him to stay and talk to her. He tells her that after some suspect and accelerated research methods, their research into transmutation was suddenly confiscated by the army and their lead scientist had gone missing. This is as far as Caitlin gets in her investigation before she is snatched by the rogues. My first impression is that this convoluted acronym has an equally convoluted plot behind it, but what the implications are so far is hard to say on so little evidence. Ronnie apparently knows something about the night of the STAR Labs accident that he might not be saying, something anticipated or perhaps caused by the research done at Mercury Labs. Might someone have sabotaged the particle accelerator for nefarious purposes? Might Ronnie have been a part of that?
We know that Dr. Wells is a mysterious character who clearly has what he feels are Barry’s best interests at heart. He is clearly very excited by Barry’s advancement in his training and abilities – to the point where he nearly comes out of his wheelchair in front of his team – and tries to protect Barry by temporarily convincing him not to engage the rogues. Dr. Wells’ Reverse-Flash alter-ego may just be a severely misguided and extreme method of challenging and bettering Barry as the Flash – but for what purpose? Might he be a maniac who can only define himself as the antithesis of the Flash and so must make Barry the perfect adversary? Or maybe he’s just a deranged Barry from the future? Or maybe he’s not deranged at all – maybe, although his methods may seem extreme, he has a perfectly good reason for his deception and manipulation.
Barry and Iris
This is the first episode after Barry confesses his true feelings to Iris, and also the episode in which Iris finally moves in with Eddie. Relations between Iris and Barry are strained and awkward, each unsure of how to interact with the other now that the foundation of their relationship has shifted. They both pretend that nothing happened, but their interactions are short and uncertain. In the end, Barry makes a start at repairing their relationship back to normal – telling Iris that the future will bring she and Eddie happiness, and that even though it will take a while, she and Barry will be better friends than ever. With Iris out of the house, Barry moves back in to Joe’s newly empty nest and the two do some bonding over beer and pizza.
I am still impressed by how smoothly and entertainingly this show runs, especially in comparison to something like Gotham. While I thoroughly enjoy the concept and tone of Gotham, it tends to take itself too seriously and becomes stuck in its own world and mired in its own gallery of characters, each clawing for screen time. If there’s one this this episode clearly exemplifies is The Flash’s willingness to poke fun at itself. Cisco’s obsession with naming the villains is one such repeated theme, with his friends politely humoring him at first, but then being involuntarily drawn into using these nicknames. Dr. Wells catches himself using the name Captain Cold when talking about Snart, and then later cuts off Cisco just as he comes up with the name Heat Wave for Mick Rory.
Also, are those Batman comics in Barry’s Flash colored backpack? Batman is a real person in this universe, and it’s not beyond possibility that these comics exist as media inspired by true events. If so, Batman must have been in business for quite a few years before these events – partly because Barry was still a boy when reading these comics, but also because Batman had to garner enough notoriety for comics to be written about him in the first place. Just some idle speculation about the timeline on my part and some wishful thinking that Batman might someday make an appearance on either The Flash or Arrow.