Friday, April 27, 2018

The Flash 4x19 Review: "Fury Rogue" (Neither Furious Nor Roguish) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Fury Rogue"
Original Airdate: April 24, 2018 

The Flash’s fourth season is getting to me, folks. I hate to keep harping on the same thing, but I can’t help blaming the 23-episode run for my fatigue. In a world of 10- and 13-episode seasons of quality television, I no longer have the stamina for shows that refuse to tighten their story arcs and cut out all the filler. Main narratives last too freaking long now, and for every episode that keeps the plot ball rolling, there are a handful more that do nothing and mean nothing in the grand scheme of things — only existing to get the show closer and closer to milestone episode numbers — all the while giving the impression that things are happening while they’re really just treading water. Stalling until the end. Implying character development that never comes, masterful plans that never work out, foreshadowing that comes to naught...

Aaaaanyway. “Fury Rogue.”


Ralph Dibny is gone, but his presence lingers throughout this episode like a bad smell. I know I’ve likened him to garbage three reviews in a row, but it’s so appropriate, so often. Anyway, Barry isn’t dealing with his grief and guilt over the loss of Ralph very well at all, saying he’s just fine and that all his experience in losing people means he copes with grief like a pro. Hey, Barry — buddy, pal, labradoodle of my heart: You suck at grief. Your suckage at grief caused you to break a timeline and delete a baby. Who are you trying to kid, kid?

But that’s going to be the character thread of the episode, so I guess we have to put up with Barry’s obvious absence of coping strategies until he inevitably breaks down in tears. Over Ralph Dibny. Jeez, that’s ridiculous. You know, if The Flash wanted us to feel anything over the loss of Ralph, maybe they should have tried making him a better character. Not a perfect character, not a morally good character — I understand that the point of Ralph was to take someone who was not a hero and, through work with Team Flash, turn him into a hero — but just a better character. They should have streamlined his arc, made him a jokester with a hidden heart of gold instead of an inappropriate and all-around gross dude, given him an air of ne'er-do-well flippancy and apathy that could slowly be chipped away by the ethics and compassion of our superhero team. Then, maybe, I would feel like we had actually lost something when DeVoe sucked up his brain and stole his body.

Instead, the only thing even remotely tugging at my heartstrings throughout this episode is the acting ability of Grant Gustin, who manages to sell the shell-shocked state of grief Barry is dealing with during most of the episode, then the overwhelming guilt that finally breaks him down at the end. But I’m not sad about Dibny, as I should be — I’m sad about Grant Gustin making Barry sad about Dibny, and that’s the exact wrong way to pull empathy out of your audience. A character should stand on its own, and the loss of a character should be sad in its own right.

As for the plot of the episode: Team Flash needs to get Fallout, the nuclear meta, from ARGUS before The Thinker gets his hands on him. To keep Fallout from going nuclear — and since they no longer have Killer Frost on the team — they skip over to Earth-X to retrieve Leonard “Citizen Cold” Snart so they can use his cold gun. Apparently breaking into another universe is faster than making a new gun. Unfortunately for everyone, the Earth-X version of Laurel Lance/Siren follows after them in order to get revenge for them killing her version of Oliver Queen. The only good she brings is causing Cisco to try and explain the complicated Canary continuity.

Of course, DeVoe has predicted all these things — including Snart, Siren-X, and the transportation of Fallout — and interrupts their travel plans to gloat a little. He even uses Dibny’s voice to freak Barry out. It works too well, actually, as the only thing that throws DeVoe off is Barry freezing instead of attacking, which allows Siren-X to get the jump on them. We later learn that DeVoe has completely lost any ability to understand human emotions, much to Marlize’s dismay, which is how he failed to factor in the results of Barry’s grief. Siren-X gets ahold of Fallout. She also takes Joe and Caitlin hostage.

So... Why is a team with Cisco “Vibe” Ramon on it using a van to transport Fallout? I don’t believe it was ever established that traveling by breach would affect the integrity of Fallout’s containment suit — oh, what’s that? They needed to use the van so that the rest of the plot could happen, regardless of whether or not it makes any sense within the universe or causes our heroes to look like clueless idiots? Okay, yeah, I guess that also works. I would have gone with a plot that DIDN’T include logic holes that make the heroes look like clueless idiots but hey, to each their own.

All right, maybe I missed something and my snark is off its mark. I’ll try and give the show some leeway in that regard, since there are bigger fish to fry and I’ve already complained about everything from pacing to the emotional thrust of this episode being utterly devoid of any emotion.

Hey, how about some positives? I’ve already mentioned the great acting from Grant Gustin, but there’s also the charming addition of Earth-X Leonard Snart hamming it up as Team Flash’s temporary therapist. He gives great advice. He lends an ear. He accidentally makes puns. It’s wonderful! And, unfortunately, it’s probably the last time we’ll ever see Wentworth Miller playing this character on a DCTV show ever again, which is sad because the bizarre, over-the-top way he portrays Snart has honestly grown on me over the years. Still, sending the character off after helping Team Flash work through their problems, to go get married and live happily ever after, is a fairer fate than characters usually get on these kinds of shows.

Another positive: scenes between Harry and Cisco. After Harry accidentally overloaded his brain with dark matter, he discovers that he’ll slowly lose all his intelligence, and he’s been keeping this info from Cisco while trying to look like he’s building a new Thinking Cap. It backfires and, in a desperate attempt to keep Ciscio from a similar fate, he destroys the Thinking Cap and tells his friend the truth. The true highlight, however, is when Harry confesses that he broke his promise to Cisco not to use dark matter by admitting all the self-worth issues he has while facing The Thinker. Harry believes his only purpose, as a non-meta, non-weapons-savvy member of Team Flash, is being smarter than all the villains they face. In that regard, he can’t be useful against DeVoe — and now that he’s fried his brain, he thinks he can’t be useful to the team at all.

Cisco talks him out of leaving for his own Earth, with the promise that they’ll work on getting his intelligence back. I can’t help suspecting that the intelligence-reversing dark matter Thinking Cap — and Marlize’s inevitable turn against her loveless, awful husband — will play a part in defeating DeVoe.

Back to “Fury Rogue”: Siren-X is at CCPD, threatening the city with a nuclear blast from Fallout. Snart saves the day by giving Barry a pep talk so he can get out of his psychologically frozen state of grief and knock Siren-X out. Snart and Caitlin cool off Fallout with cold guns until they can contain him and transport him to an ARGUS safehouse, where his keepers have provided a virtual reality system. DeVoe has hacked into ARGUS’s security, proving that he knows where Fallout is being kept.

I can’t believe we still have four episodes to go.

Other Things:
  • What actually happened to Siren-X?
  • Caitlin might still have some Killer Frost in her. I’m glad, since I really like anti-hero Killer Frost and learning of Caitlin’s growing friendship with her alter-ego was fun.


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