No one can say The CW’s “Flash” doesn’t fit a boatload of story into 40-plus minutes. Last week, viewers saw Cisco’s heartbreaking death, Barry’s first time leap, the true evil of Harrison Wells, Iris’ discovery of Barry’s secret and a freakin’ tidal wave, all of which the show was able pull off because The Flash was about to change it all.
When I saw Barry time jump and arrive in the past, I knew Cisco’s death would be undone, but it was good to see Cisco alive again -- a testament to the likability of the character. This week, we discover a bit about his life outside STAR Labs, and particularly about his brother Dante, the smarmy concert pianist and golden child of the Ramon family. DC Comics fans know that Cisco’s brother played a major role in his story, and it seemed as if this episode was planting those seeds for later use. But in “Rogue Time,” Dante is used in a dangerous game by the returning Captain Cold.
Before we get to Cold and his immediate family, however, let’s finish discussing Cisco, whose betrayal and murder by father figure Harrison Wells is one of the most harrowing and affecting moments of the series. This week, with Barry changing time by easily capturing Weather Wizard (now the newest resident of the Pipeline prison beneath STAR Labs), Cisco was never in a position to discover Wells’ secrets and killed by the suddenly revealed Eobard Thawne. In fact, in that same room, Wells now confides to his protégé that he views him like a son -- poignant scene that stands in stark contrast to the heartbreak of Cisco’s betrayal and death.
Cisco is alive in this newly created time line, thank goodness, but that doesn’t mean things are easy for STAR Labs’ wunderkind. “Rogue Time” is all about family, as Len Snart returns with a little help. When last we saw Captain Cold, he and Heat Wave were rescued during a prison transfer by Snart’s “sis.” This week, we meet “sis” in all her glory. Played by Peyton List (“Mad Men,” “Tomorrow People”), Lisa Snart is a perfect complement to brother Len, a thrill-seeker just like big bro. It isn’t long before Lisa is in action, quickly and efficiently seducing Cisco and luring him back to her place, where Len and Heat Wave are waiting.
The Rogues need Cisco to rebuild their signature weapons, but Lisa doesn’t want to be left out of the fun, and has Cisco construct one for her as well. This Golden Glider diverges her comic counterpart in that she wields a gun that turns objects into gold. In the comics, Lisa uses souped-up ice skates to commit crimes with her brother, something I was looking forward to seeing on television. Alas, that wasn’t to be.
With new weapons in hand, the Snart siblings and Heat Wave set out to rob from the Central City mob. The Flash is happy to stop the trio, which leads Cold to ask one more “favor” from Cisco: The villain tortures Dante until Cisco reveals The Flash’s identity (that’s why the disheartened Cisco requires that murder-room pep talk from Wells).
With Captain Cold’s knowledge of The Flash’s identity, the series establishes the comic book status quo of the two foes. In the past decade or so, and even further really, Cold has been a villain with a strange code of honor, a thrill-seeker who didn’t kill, and lived to outwit The Flash. This week’s episode allows Cold to become that honorable villain. The two make a deal: Cold won’t reveal Barry’s identity if The Flash will allow him to operate in Central City as long as he doesn’t kill while committing crimes. With this agreement, the traditional Rogues Gallery is born. In fact, Barry utters those two words for the first time as he and Cold part ways, destined to play their game for a long time.
So Barry altering time saved Cisco’s life but gave birth to the Rogues. Barry’s temporal tampering also has an effect on his love life: Last week, when Weather Wizard struck, Iris confessed her love for Barry. In this new time line, armed with the knowledge of Iris’ deep feelings, Barry confronts her. He even breaks off his relationship with Linda Park to clear the way. But in this timeline, without a tidal wave bearing down on her, Iris rejects Barry and tells Eddie, who in turn pops him a good one. The relationship between Barry and Iris seemed irreconcilable, until Caitlin Snow makes up a story about how Barry was driven a little bit crazy by being struck by lightening.
All of that may be moot, because Iris’ coworker, intrepid reporter Mason Bridge, is getting closer to the truth regarding Harrison Wells’ involvement in the murder of Simon Stagg. By episode’s end, Bridge is killed by the Reverse-Flash, which causes Barry to grow suspicious of Wells. Barry may have convinced one of his foes not to kill, but the Reverse-Flash doesn’t have that roguish code of honor. And judging from the horrific demise of Mason Bridge and the time-erased murder of Cisco Ramon, there’s a great deal more blood to be shed.