Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Flash 1x04 "Going Rogue" (Don't Go It Alone)

"Going Rogue"
Original Airdate: October 28, 2014

I honestly think that I would make a horrible superhero or sidekick. I've thought about this a lot more than I should, probably, but I've often wondered what would happen if The Doctor showed up outside of my door with an offer, a whirring TARDIS, and an extended hand. Would I accept his offer and travel throughout time and space battling monsters and saving worlds? (Of course I would. There would be no real choice.) The question isn't whether or not I would become a partner or a companion to a hero but whether or not I would be good at it. Good partners are decisive and quick on their feet and I'm neither of those things. But if there is one element about a superhero's partners that I do understand it's this: loyalty. I understand what it means to be loyal to someone and I understand what it looks like to stand by a person even when they push you away simply because you know they cannot be alone; that they do not deserve to be alone. I would make a terrible companion for The Doctor because I wouldn't know how to make the decision of which people deserve saving. I would be an amazing companion, however, because I would not let him make that decision alone.

Superheroes need people, especially because they don't feel like they need people. Being a hero means being put in harm's way constantly, and it's a lonely life as we've seen in... well, every comic or movie ever. Oliver Queen is self-deprecating and often puts so much distance between himself and the people right in front of him that he may as well still be on an island. Barry Allen hasn't ever really had that problem or temptation to "go rogue" before the most recent episode of The Flash. Barry and Oliver are different kinds of heroes -- Barry is joyful and young and full of energy and optimism; Oliver is older and jaded and scarred (both literally and metaphorically) and hesitant to love or trust. But when Felicity Smoak arrives in Central City in "Going Rogue," we see that her presence is desperately needed in order to illuminate the importance of trusting the people in your life, in letting them in even when they hurt and disappoint you, and that being a hero means inevitable loneliness. Loneliness will always be a part of being a hero, but when you allow yourself to trust people rather than build wall upon wall to keep them out, you'll find life easier to endure and happiness a lot less elusive.

The idea of allowing yourself to be open to the idea of trust and partnership -- whether romantic or platonic -- was so important in every story in this week's The Flash, so let's discuss it, shall we?


I love Felicity Meghan Smoak and I'm so glad that she visited Central City. Her presence was so important in The Flash because it allowed her to take the painful experiences she had just endured (losing Sara, watching Oliver tell her he loves her and then push her away, etc.) and warn Barry about what would happen to him if he refused to trust people who made mistakes and open his heart to the possibility of partnership and happiness. They say it to each other in this episode, but Felicity and Barry are a lot alike. They're both intellectual individuals with this bubbly, goofy sense of humor. They're adorable and endearing and they seem to liven up any room they enter. They're not without their faults and their flaws, but Barry and Felicity genuinely believe in good things. They believe in saving people and in opening their hearts to love and in laughing and trivia nights and joking around.

And what is so interesting about both Felicity and Barry is that they've seen a lot of pain in their lives already. They've experienced intense grief and anger and frustration and yet they've somehow managed to never let those experiences color their perception of the world. Perhaps it's because they're optimists and they fight for optimism -- for hopefulness and better tomorrows. But in "Going Rogue," Barry snaps at Cisco and he's right to be angry at the young man who built a cold gun in order to stop The Streak before he knew it was Barry. Fear does that to people, and Cisco was afraid after the collapse of Star Labs -- more afraid than he's probably ever been -- so he did what any sensible person would do and created a means to protect himself. Cisco isn't right but neither is Barry in the way that he pushes his friend away. Felicity sees this -- sees Barry's anger and pain and watches him lash out against Cisco -- and confronts Barry. Because if there is one thing that Felicity knows to be true, it's that people NEED other people.

One of the greatest attributes that Felicity Smoak possesses is her unwavering faith in others and commitment to them. When Felicity believes in you, it isn't a half-hearted sentiment. When Felicity believes in you, she will stop at nothing to remind you that you are important and that people need you in their lives. When Oliver Queen was ready to give up on himself, Felicity yelled at him in the clock tower. When Oliver insisted that there was no other way, Felicity reminded him that there is ALWAYS another way. Partners are the ones you turn to in your time of need and of desperation because they are right there, at your elbow, holding you up and encouraging you to move forward. That is always who Felicity has been. In "Sara," she confronted Oliver and told him that she would not wait around for him in the foundry. That wasn't her denouncing her belief in him. That was her telling him to find another way -- to find another way to live and to live with himself because she knew he deserved that. Felicity knows that Oliver always settles for less than he deserves because he has so much fear and self-loathing. And whether or not he is willing to open up his life and his heart to her is entirely up to him. But make no mistake: Felicity will always believe in Oliver; she just knows that there is only so much she can do until he believes in himself.

So when Felicity confronts Barry and tells him that in the beginning of Team Arrow's days, they didn't have an easy time coming together and trusting each other -- that it took time and it took them fighting and walking away and returning before they developed that trust -- Barry listens to her. And Felicity tells Barry these things, tells him to open himself up to others and to not shut the world out because of a mistake someone else made, because she's seen (very recently, in fact) what happens when you stop seeing people as people and start seeing them as collateral damage. When Felicity lingers in the doorway and says: "I've seen firsthand what this life can do to people. It's a lonely path. Don't make it lonelier than it has to be," I completely and utterly felt her pain. Because she looked at Barry Allen and she saw the face of someone just like her: exuberant, bright-eyed, trusting, open and vulnerable. And I think that Felicity saw everything that had happened recently to her as she looked at Barry. She saw Oliver pushing her away and she saw Sara on that table and she saw the anger that Roy and Diggle and Laurel carried with them and she realized that at one point, all those people were bright-eyed and trusting and open and vulnerable, but that all stopped when they began to shut people out who hurt them. She's watched it happen to people she cares about and she refuses to watch it happen to Barry, too.

And bless Felicity Smoak, for being the person who takes painful experiences in her life and uses them to prevent the same thing from happening to other people. Like I said earlier, Barry and Felicity have always clicked. They're so very similar in the way that they view the world and circumstances. Felicity knows what happens when people go rogue and she loves Barry too much to watch him become jaded and angry and cynical. "Going Rogue" features some amazing moments between Barry and Felicity, these two people who understand each other more than they understand the world around them. What I truly loved was how this relationship was approached in the episode. Barry and Felicity have always had chemistry together, but it's made abundantly clear at the end of this episode that while they are -- on paper -- perfect for each other, they're both in love with other people (Iris and Oliver, obviously). And even though Barry and Felicity share a kiss (GOOD FOR THEM), I really did enjoy the fact that they know each other well enough to know what the other needs. In another universe, Barry and Felicity would be happily married, raising the most awkwardly adorable and intelligent children.

But people don't fall in love with those who are perfect for them -- not all the time. Life is weird and messy, and we don't fall in love with the people we're "supposed to." Oliver/Felicity and Barry/Iris are complex and complicated and that's what makes them so intriguing, really. Barry and Felicity know this about the other and what's so wonderful is that they are still EXACTLY what the other needs. Felicity needed her trip to Central City in order to encourage Barry and to also remind herself that whether or not Oliver pushes her away, he NEEDS her because she is his partner. And Barry needed Felicity in Central City because she was the only person who would be able to understand what it's like to be burdened with not one secret, but two. She knows what it feels like to be so close and yet so far away from the love of her life.

"Going Rogue" reminded us that at the end of the day, people need other people beside them. It doesn't matter if you're The Arrow or The Flash or a worker at Queen Consolidated. People need other people in order to survive in this world. We can't go it alone. And we shouldn't.

Team Flash (Harrison, Cisco, Caitlin)

There wasn't a great focus on Team Flash this week, with Felicity's visit occupying a lot of the time. But there were a few key moments in "Going Rogue," the foremost of which is Cisco's guilt over creating a weapon that could kill Barry/The Flash. Cisco developed the weapon out of fear and it's completely understandable, as Caitlin explains, because he created it before they all knew who The Flash really was. And you can see the guilt in Cisco's eyes as he realizes that he will have to live with the fact that his weapon ended up killing an innocent person because it fell into the hands of a villain. What's so great though about Cisco and Caitlin is that they learn (thanks to Felicity) the importance of not giving up on people. Felicity urges them to go after Barry, even though he pushes them away and turns off  his earpiece before entering the field. Felicity KNOWS the importance of chasing after people who push you aside. She knows that you don't do it for your own sake; you do it for theirs. You do it so they won't have to ever feel alone in the world, even if they feel lonely.

What was interesting in this episode, though, was that Cisco evidently became a bit afraid with Harrison's reaction to the stolen gun and the fact that Barry got hurt and could have been killed as a result of Cisco's carelessness. We don't know quite yet what Harrison's motives and secrets really are, but we do know that he will stop at nothing in order to keep both Barry and his secret identity safe from the clutches of villains. And now, Cisco has toed the line between friend and foe for Harrison and the young man has seen, I think, a glimpse of the anger that Harrison harbors as a result. I'll be interested to see how Team Flash develops as this series wears on because it looks like everyone on the team has their share of secrets. And secrets, as we know, don't unite us; they divide us.

Joe/Eddie (+ Iris)

The theme of partnership is really important in another storyline in "Going Rogue," which involves Joe, Eddie, and Iris. Ever since she revealed her relationship with Eddie, Iris has been getting a bit of the cold shoulder from her father. In any other series, this would typically be due to the fact that the father doesn't approve of his daughter dating someone he knows and works with. And in The Flash, that's partially true. But what I really loved about this story was that it wasn't just based on Joe disliking or disapproving of Eddie. It was about partnership. You see, as Joe explained to Iris, Eddie is his work partner and he's always been used to seeing him as his work partner -- someone he protects in the field and someone who protects him.

But now that Iris is dating Eddie, he can't just see him as his work partner. All he sees when he looks at Eddie is the man his daughter is dating. And that terrifies Joe, to be honest, because it means that he's not just responsible for protecting his co-worker, but the man his daughter really cares about romantically. That degree of complication makes his day-to-day interactions with Eddie difficult because, for Joe, it has become impossible to separate Eddie the Partner from Eddie the Man Dating His Daughter. What I love so much about this story is how it parallels the A-story with Barry learning to trust and rely on his partners. Even though Joe tries to put distance between himself and Eddie in the field, Eddie will have none of it and continues to protect Joe, despite their complex new dynamic. And that, as a result, reminds Joe that no matter how complex and how weird the relationship may be -- no matter how hard it will become when stakes get higher to separate his fatherly instincts and desire to protect Iris from the desire to do what is necessary at his job -- his partner will never give up on him and he can never give up on Eddie.

That's why heroes (and regular people, for that matter) have partners in life. We don't surround ourselves with people because it is easy and pain-free. People hurt us. People lie to us. People let us down. But when we refuse to give up on those in our lives who need us, we will find that we are better off. And we will find that they are better off, too.

Observations and favorite moments:
  • This didn't really fit into the discussion anywhere above, but I love that everyone who meets Felicity is automatically enamored by her (Harrison, Caitlin, Cisco -- both of whom had already met her, actually -- Iris, and Eddie). What I really loved, though, was that The Flash didn't make Iris and Felicity rivals for Barry's affection. Each woman complimented the other, genuinely, and each was supportive and kind and uplifting. Iris pointed out how amazing Felicity was and Felicity, in turn, told Barry how great Iris was. Take note, all other shows on television: this is how you write female relationships.
  • "For the record, I crushed it at Operation and ping-pong."
  • I was so excited to see Wentworth Miller in "Going Rogue" and hear the voice of Dominic Purcell at the end of the episode. This show is REALLY intent on fulfilling a Prison Break reunion for me, as Robert Knepper is also set to re-appear on this series.
  • "Snart ain't sexy, either." Apparently this was an ad-lib by Jesse L. Martin and it was amazing.
  • "I wanna see it. ... And by 'it,' I mean your speed! ... In case you thought I meant something else."
  • "Wait, do YOU know who The Arrow is?" "... Umm..."
  • "Oh, no, I get plenty of... night life in Starling City."
  • "... And I am talking to air now. Which is odd. ... I'm still doing it." Can we have Felicity Smoak on every single show please?
  • The special effects were stellar this episode, especially that train sequence.
  • "Believe me, it took much more than watching Oliver do the salmon ladder to make me trust him."
  • "When it comes to hacking, I'm the fastest woman alive."
  • "... Who I mention because he's the richest person I know. Or, well, he used to be." FELICITY.
  • "This is actually the Star Labs vacuum cleaner. With a lot of LEDs."
  • Look, I admit it: even though I really ship Oliver/Felicity, that Barry/Felicity kiss and train scene was exquisite. Emily Bett Rickards and Grant Gustin could have chemistry with rocks, let's be honest.
  • "Did I just yelp?"
Well, thank you all for reading my first review of The Flash! I doubt that I will ever have time to review the show on a weekly basis, but you can bet that I'll be around for the big crossover event. And, of course, be sure to check out my Arrow reviews. Until then, folks. :)


  1. "In "Sara," she confronted Oliver and told him that she would not wait around for him in the foundry. That wasn't her denouncing her belief in him. That was her telling him to find another way -- to find another way to live and to live with himself because she knew he deserved that." I love this call back to finding another way, such a great way to think about it.

    Felicity needs to Joe Biden commute her way between Central and Starling City and be on both shows.

    Yes, everyone, EVERYONE, who meets Felicity loves her. It's pretty great.

    Let's talk about how Felicity thought Central City nightlife needed THAT DRESS, but also how it was kinda still light out and she wore it anyway. I'm surprised any of the other trivia night (trivia mid-afternoon according to the lighting of those scenes) could pay attention with her crisscrosses flowing in the Jitters air...! Even Oliver didn't get that dress. Palmer better NOT ever get that dress. LOL.

    Barry and Felicity are both so genre savvy. But they each deserved that kiss, bc they have such great chemistry but they're not gonna get the kisses they really want for a while, so they enjoyed that moment between friends, almost OTPs... Good for them.


    1. *curtsies* I'm proud of that Oliver/Felicity meta once I realized that she was essentially saying those words without saying them.

      If I could have Felicity on every single episode of television that I watch, I feel like TV would be a much better place. ;) I do love that there has yet to be a person who doesn't like Felicity (except maybe Isabel but she was evil anyway so whatevs) or at least appreciate her awesomeness.

      DUDE. Let's never stop talking about that dress and how I want it (if it wasn't $500, I probably would own it, let's be real). I seriously love the Barry/Felicity relationship. Obviously I'm all for Oliver/Felicity (seriously ALL FOR IT) but I really think that kiss and conversation is exactly what they needed. I think they'll always be drawn to and attracted to each other in a way that they aren't with anyone else because no one else really UNDERSTANDS them. And I love that. I love that they're both helplessly in love with other people and acknowledge that life would be easier if they could just be in love with each other that way, but they can't. I think your definition of "almost OTP" is absolutely perfect.