Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Flash 5x20 Review: "Gone Rogue" (Just Gone) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

“Gone Rogue”
Original Airdate: April 30, 2019

In the latest episode of The Flash, Nora throws yet another tantrum. This time it’s because everyone she’s been lying to for months is understandably wary about her partnership with a time-traveling murderer. She teams up with third-tier villains for a heist, because sure, that sounds like a great way to get back into the good graces of your heroic friends and relatives.

Additionally, Iris and Barry fight some more before agreeing that what they really want is Nora “home” with them, even though her “home” is actually about thirty years into the future. Where are those Time Wraiths, anyway? Extended coffee break over in the Speed Force? Maybe all the universe’s time travel fail safes are so sick of dealing with Barry Allen and his timeline-annihilating kin they’ve all formed a union and have gone on strike. Their demands are as follows: stricter narrative rules regarding time travel in the Arrowverse, more erased babies, and better dental.


When did Nora find time for a costume change? She’s sporting a purple-and-black getup for her stroll on the Dark Side, although I guess it’s more like... the Charcoal Gray Side than the Dark Side, since she’s not actually evil. But I have no idea why she bothered with a costume at all, since all the “Rogues” (Weather Witch, Bug-Eyed Bandit, and, to my horror, Rag Doll) she gathers for her plan already know who she is. Like, literally — they even know her name is Nora and it takes them five minutes to figure out the Flash is her dad. It’s unclear why no one asks how the Flash can be her dad when they’re roughly the same age.

Anyway, Nora kidnaps Cisco and Sherloque because Cisco needs to use his technical know-how to help her with that meta-powered phone from the beginning of the season and Sherloque was just there, I guess. When Cisco agrees to reprogram the phone for her (after Nora threatens him with a Thawne-esque hand phasing through the chest — not cool, Nora!) and successfully does so, Nora and the Not Rogues use it to break into a vault holding power-dampening tech. Rag Doll is really gross in the scene where he breaks into the vault, by the way. Man, that is a creepy character.

Of course, Nora’s new pals turn on her as soon as she’s fulfilled her job of strategizing. We even get a little indication that Weather Witch — the character the show dedicated a whole episode to portraying as repentant — maybe killed Silver Ghost, the meta she’d tentatively partnered with during her most recent appearance, and stole her idea of forming a metahuman villain crew. Cool. So that whole episode is retroactively pointless. Good to know this show is capable of wasting my past self’s time as well as my present self’s time.

Weather Witch et al. demand the Flash save his daughter by turning himself in to them and unmasking in front of the whole world. Uh, question: why? The Flash isn’t Batman (or Green Arrow — a.k.a., Budget Batman). His secret identity — at least as far as the show is concerned — holds no significant place in his mythos. If there have been lines about people in Central City speculating on the identity of the Flash, they were long enough ago that I don’t remember them. It’s basically a running joke that Barry takes so little care guarding his identity the citizens of Central City are probably just humoring him about the whole thing being “secret” at all. Like, aw, the dumb human Labradoodle thinks the mask that leaves a third of his face uncovered actually makes him unrecognizable? No, don’t tell him the truth, it’ll make him sad.

Barry does show up, but he’s a hologram played by Sherloque. Then the real Barry shows up along with Iris and Joe, all three having disguised themselves as armed guards. Everyone stops the bad guys. Nora and Barry have a heart-to-heart. Turns out, Nora’s whole ploy was an effort to get a device capable of destroying Cicada’s dagger, rather than Cicada herself. Good thing Team Flash has stumbled into a way to stop Cicada II, since the B-story of the episode involved figuring out Cicada’s master plan is to atomize the deadly failed metahuman cures and kill all the metas in the world.


The Flash has, I think, a tendency to get sloppy as it closes in on its season finale. I’ve banged the drum of “just make shorter seasons!” for years now, but these later episodes — where the writing should be calculated, details should be critical, and absolutely everything should be leading up to the climax of the season — truly emphasize how necessary tighter writing is for this show. I managed to summarize all the critical points of this episode in the previous five paragraphs and tucked those critical points within hundreds of words of time-wasting asides and inconsequential details. This, the third-to-last episode of the season, had only two truly important revelations: Nora’s retrieval of the meta-tech-destroying gun and Cicada II’s plan for mass murder.

That isn’t good, people. This late in the season, we should not be getting episodes in full of stuff that doesn’t matter. Also not good: the portrayal of one of the season protagonists as someone capable of flying into a red-eyed rage when faced with ideas she doesn’t like. Why did Nora “go rogue” for an episode? Because she was afraid Barry and Iris wouldn’t trust her plan if she told them outright. So instead, she broke the law, threatened her friends with bodily harm, and continued to profess the “good” qualities of a confirmed murderer who traumatized her father for life.

And what’s worse? The show agrees with her! We can tell the show agrees with her because Iris thinks Thawne cares about Nora, and Barry is the one — not Nora — who really apologizes in the end, telling Nora he’ll never abandon her again and she’ll stay with them forever, and blah, blah, blah, Time Wraiths! For the love of all that is good, where are the Time Wraiths! Why have all the consequences of time travel been abandoned? We explored the consequences of time travel in this very season as a reminder! Remember the metaphor of a broken coffee cup never being the same even if it’s put back together? Nora is pulverizing that metaphorical coffee cup every second of every day! Nora cannot stay with Iris and Barry, and it’s ridiculous that the two of them think she can, and it’s ridiculous that the show is keeping up this charade! Aaaaaaaaargh!

Other Things:

  • "You're not fireproof are you, Monsieur Ramon?" "Am I fire— oh, god!" Carlos Valdes is just, so great with his line deliveries.
  • Barry, you don’t think maybe the reason why you feel weird when Nora calls you “dad” is because you’re not actually a dad yet and she’s in her mid-twenties? It really ain’t that deep, buddy.
  • I guess Grace has a murder-suicide plan in mind, considering that she’s a meta and would definitely die if set off her meta destruction bomb.
  • If the show is hinting at Thawne being kind of good (which he is not, by the way), I kind of wonder if they’re setting things up for him to be next season’s Harrison Wells/Tom Cavanagh character. It’d certainly explain why he still has Wells Face.


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