NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Flash” are present in this review
It’s once again time to revisit everyone’s favourite Flash Family villain group, in its latest altered revision for The CW’s Arrowverse. “Gone Rogue” builds off of Nora returning to the present, now red-eyed and seemingly crazed in the wake of using Eobard Thawne’s ‘Negative Speed Force’ to avoid the watchful eye of her parents. Predictably, Thawne has a plan in mind for Nora, and it apparently involves a heist from weapons manufacturer, McCullouch Technologies, a reference to DC Comics’ Mirror Master successor, Evan McCulloch. That comes into play later in the episode.
Getting yet another band of minor Rogues together to execute Nora’s (read: Thawne’s) plan frustratingly continues to highlight just how much sheen the Rogues have lost in recent seasons of The Flash. As you can imagine, the latest C-team is sorely wanting for the likes of major, more appealing Flash antagonists like Captain Cold, Heat Wave and Trickster. The idea of Nora working with a band of previous Flash villains is kind of interesting, but the show doesn’t really do that much with this. In fact, this episode of The Flash once again seems to be pushed forward on more half-baked story turns and half-realized character resolutions, with the Barry/Nora conflict ultimately taking center stage, yet seeing through its own conclusion to mixed effect.
The latest appearance of the Rogues, now dubbing themselves the, “Young Rogues”, ultimately doesn’t manage to do very much that’s truly worthwhile with these legacy enemies. Joss Jackam most of all has inexplicably gone back to being a two-bit crook, despite one sweet scene with Nora that allows the two to commiserate about their shared daddy issues. This is a huge missed opportunity, considering that Joss previously saved Nora from a messy end at the hands of Silver Ghost, whom she apparently betrayed and abandoned off-screen in Bolivia. This completely undoes all of Joss’ forward momentum as a character from one of this season’s better previous episodes, where she was on trial, and almost had a chance at redemption. Bug-Eyed Bandit and Rag Doll aren’t even worth going into here either, since they’re pure plot devices that are once again not contributing any worthwhile character arcs to this episode, leaving their re-appearance to simply feel like a tired gimmick.
The actual progression of Nora’s heist is not bad though, or at the very least, what it ultimately amounts to. Nora initially ends up getting the Young Rogues to kidnap both Cisco and Sherloque, in order to force Cisco to build a weapon, in what’s admittedly an amusing callback to Captain Cold’s original run of Rogues from earlier in the series. Sherloque’s appearance is ultimately pointless though, with Cisco instead having to re-purpose Spyn’s old phone so that the Young Rogues can keep Cisco and Sherloque temporarily hypnotized, something that they just immediately break right out of, since Cisco inevitably installs a workaround. Yeah, that’s kind of a stupid plan there, Young Rogues. What was the point of Cisco tampering with Spyn’s phone at all then? I really don’t understand the sheer nose dive that The Flash’s villain writing has just kept taking throughout this season. Worse still is that an interesting idea about Cisco debating giving up his identity as Vibe ends up being completely overshadowed by Cisco and Sherloque not finding anything meaningful to say to each other during their capture, which fails to move either character’s storyline forward in an interesting way.
At least Iris once again challenging Barry on his decision to leave Nora in the future pays more dramatic dividends. Barry having to face the consequences of his impulsive actions makes for some better storytelling, as he comes around to the idea of Nora having her reasons to work with Thawne. Eventually, after the Young Rogues inevitably betray Nora as well, and try to taunt The Flash into revealing his identity to the world, Barry re-appears before Nora in the climax, and the resulting chaos eventually sees the Young Rogues all apprehended, and Barry finally admitting that he was wrong to abandon his daughter. Barry being wrong was pretty obvious from the get-go, but it’s good to see Barry finally swallowing his pride and admitting that he was wrong, considering how much his hatred for Thawne has been seriously clouding his judgment over the past several episodes. I get that Barry will always be extra emotional over Thawne, but it’s hard to root for a guy who so quickly disowns his own daughter, while more or less refusing to hear her out!
Another plus in this episode is that it finally brings an ultimate plan for Cicada II into focus. This is done thanks to a subplot with Ralph and Caitlin, wherein Caitlin asks Ralph if he is lonely. Once again though, this doesn’t end up going anywhere interesting, in yet another frustrating wasted opportunity to keep developing Team Flash’s personalities and their current run of conflicts. Instead, Caitlin and Ralph poking around Caitlin’s father’s old lab, which has recently been trashed by Cicada II, and discovering that Cisco’s old prototype cures have been stolen, is what moves the story forward. This, along with the Cryo-Atomizer, will essentially allow Cicada II to re-purpose the cure into a deadly virus that will kill every metahuman in Central City. Admittedly, this isn’t a bad idea for a Season Five climax for The Flash, even though the shocking reveal at the end of the episode, where we see Orlin Dwyer talking to Cicada II during her tinkering, doesn’t really feel that exciting. At this point, Cicada as an overall character feels so underwhelming that it’s really difficult to care about the original Cicada somehow finding his way back to the land of the living again, assuming that’s even what’s happening. It’s equally possible that he’s just a figment of Grace’s imagination, and that this is a lame fake-out.
“Gone Rogue” continues to suffer from The Flash having already burned through too many of its best recurring villains, with the new incarnation of the Young Rogues ultimately disappointing, especially when Nora’s turn to the dark side ends up being frustratingly short-lived. The idea that Nora somehow ‘faked’ her way through the Negative Speed Force’s hate-fueling power is a massive let-down, though maybe this is to be expected to a point, since Season Five of The Flash is almost done anyway. At the very least, the endgame of the Cicada family is finally established, as is the means of how the Flash Family can try to stop it; A Mirror Gun that Nora was seeking from McCulloch Technologies, which can apparently reduce Cicada’s dark matter-fueled dagger to atoms. How that works, I don’t know, but whatever. It’s just high time that the show wraps up the Cicada conflict for good, and I’ll take whatever ridiculous solution that Team Flash can put together, frankly.
- Barry finally admitting that he was wrong to abandon his daughter
- Some fun heist elements with the Young Rogues
- Cicada family endgame is finally established
- Nora's turn to crime is way too easily reversed
- The Young Rogues are boring, unimpressive villains
- No payoffs to any of the character subplots