Saturday, February 25, 2023

The Flash 9x03 Review: "Rogues of War" (Heist Hopes) [Contributor: Deborah M]

“Rogues of War”
Original Airdate: February 22, 2023

We’re diving deeper into the main storyline this week on The Flash, which puts us on a pretty fast pace toward the finish line. That makes sense considering the shortened final season, but this show has always had a problem with pacing so I can’t even be sure if things are going well or not. For what it’s worth, “Rogues of War” is a pretty good episode that sets up some potentially interesting stuff in the future — it’s just a matter of time to see if The Flash follows through.


Fiddler and Boomerang are thieving things again, this time aided by Murmur, the creepiest villain since that Ragdoll guy. Fewer crunchy sound effects, though, so Ragdoll’s still in the lead. This theft and the subsequent alarm interrupts Barry and Iris’s continuing pre-baby bucket list, sending them home from a cooking class in Paris to investigate the crime scene. There, Barry determines that the villains — and their mysterious benefactor — are stealing the components to a cosmic treadmill, which would allow them to unravel the timeline. Does anyone else remember when there were wraith things that went around stopping people from messing up timelines? And just, generally speaking, a lot of fate-based countermeasures in place to prevent people from unraveling the timeline? Did Barry just exhaust all that into non-existence with his (and his family’s) time travel shenanigans?

Based on what’s already been stolen, there’s one component missing for a cosmic treadmill: a vibration engine, currently under the protection of the DOD, whose leader won’t agree to hand it over for Team Flash to protect it. For good reason, too, since STAR Labs security is bypassed so frequently it’s comical. Still, Barry thinks the engine would be better in the hands of Team Flash and a surprising solution to the problem comes from Hartley Rathaway: just steal the engine before the others.

Thievery is a matter for non-heroes, so Barry and Hartley head off to recruit some non-heroes to help out. Jaco, the fire-based meta from last season whom Barry reunited with his estranged son, is working at Jitters and doesn’t hesitate to agree when Hartley asks him to lend a fiery hand. Mark is less enthusiastic, but he also joins the team. The final recruit is Goldface, my favorite well-read crime lord who — spoiler! — continues to be fantastic throughout this episode.

Unfortunately, getting a bunch of lone wolf criminal types to work together is a task easier said than done and everyone devolves into fighting over payment as soon as the plan is laid out. Barry decides they all need constant supervision if the plan is to succeed (which makes no sense because the plan requires each of them to be separated) and everyone turns against Barry for not “trusting” them and only seeing them as a bunch of criminals. You guys tried killing each other five minutes in! Duh-doy, Barry doesn’t think you’re trustworthy!

Because the plot needs it to happen, the four rogues go rogue and leave Barry behind to get the engine themselves. Add “writing ‘because the plot needs it to happen’” to the list of stuff I’m not going to miss about The Flash reviews. Barry’s issues are quickly solved by a heart-to-heart with Iris, he decides he needs to trust his ragtag crew, and he goes off to meet them for the heist. There, it’s revealed he’s the Flash — or, well, Goldface learns he’s the Flash when Jaco says he figured it out based on a shared Jitters order. As with basically every Barry-is-the-Flash reveal, it’s a complete non-event.

The heist goes smoothly and Barry manages to phase through the vault to grab the engine once everyone takes down the meta-dampener protecting the place. But then Mark double-crosses the crew and joins Team Red Death on the promise that they’ll help get Frost back. A villain-on-villain fight commences while Barry, having been knocked out by a blast from Mark, is unconscious. Jaco flirts a little with Fiddler, Murmur tries to entice Hartley over to their side, and Boomerang is vaguely impressed by Goldface’s skills.

Barry wakes up and pulls everyone together for another confrontation, but it’s interrupted by the arrival of Red Death, who zaps Barry’s speed with negative speed and intimidates everyone but doesn’t kill them. Why not? Because plot. Later, Barry, Iris, and the Team Flash Rogues recap the night’s events and how scary this new masked speedster is. Goldface, literature nerd that he is, quotes the final line of Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death” while also giving us the first on-screen naming of our season villain: “And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.” Despite how terrifying this new villain is, the three recruited criminals agree to help Barry when he calls on them in the future.

When Barry says he recognized a bat symbol on Red Death’s costume, Iris tells him they need to talk to Chester, who reveals that Ryan Wilder — a.k.a., Batwoman — went missing on patrol a few weeks back. On top of that, the weapons used by the Red Death crew all appear to be bleeding-edge Wayne Industries technology. When asked what their next move should be, Barry says, “We find this new speedster, and we stop him.” Great plan, Barry! Absolutely thorough and entirely foolproof! There’s a reason why you’re the leader, pal! Also, many things are indicating that the pronoun you ended with is incorrect.

And right I am, as Mark confronts Red Death into an unmasking, revealing that it’s Ryan Wilder with a gray streak in her hair under all that armor. She gets real close and real scary, quoting the old Batman line, “I am vengeance.” As interesting as this is, I can’t help feeling like it would’ve had a lot more impact if Ryan Wilder had ever had an on-screen interaction with the Flash that wasn’t from an alternate timeline. But it’s definitely a change from the comic book version of the Red Death story and I’m curious to see where this goes.

Other Things:

  • Allegra and Chester are still awkward around each other and this has officially moved from cute to annoying. They like each other. There’s zero reason why they don’t just get together. It’s all just manufactured for drama, and as much as I like both these characters they’re simply not big enough for this drama to be worth it.
  • “Book Club will remain a safe space.” Seriously, Goldface is the best. I hope he shows up a lot more this season, but it’ll probably only be the finale or something.
  • Jaco to Hartley, out of nowhere: “Your bar plays terrible music! Disco is dead, dude.” Jaco is fun too. Actually, this whole villain team Barry set up is great.
  • “So the four of you will disable the generators while I use my CSI know-how to open the vault and grab the engine.” Good save, Barry.
  • Jaco: “Dude, even I figured it out. Barry Allen’s the Flash! They have the same Jitters order.” Goldface: “Oh, so the Chemist is — yeah, no. I see it now.” The joke that is Barry’s secret identity continues!
  • “Run, Barry. Run.” Hey, Mark: encouragingly or mockingly, you have not earned the right to say that line.
  • Shout-out to Murmur for mocking Mark’s stupid, stupid costume, signing, “Do you have a thing against t-shirts?” He has a thing against good taste, Murmur.


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