Weather Wizard, Multiplex and the Mist served their dramatic purpose, testing Barry Allen’s new abilities while looking cool in the process. Yet there wasn’t much depth to any of those villains, as their episodes were about establishing The Flash and his world.
However, Leonard Snart proved far more than a foil, and so it’s appropriate that the first time “Rogue” is used in this series is in the title of the episode introducing Captain Cold. If The Flash is to grow beyond the freak-of-the-week concept, it would have to get Leonard Snart absolutely right.
And rest easy, DC fans, it did.
This version of Captain Cold, played coolly by Wentworth Miller (Prison Break), is sure to please comic devotees. He is a brilliant schemer, a leader, a man of strange morals, an old-school bandit who’s out for profit, not for blood. When Snart’s latest heist is interrupted by Central City’s mysterious Streak, the cerebral criminal immediately sets his mind to defeating his new adversary.
The episode nails the Flash/Cold dynamic, and the respect he has for his enemy. Yes, Cold is murderous, as he kills a security guard simply to test how fast his new enemy is, but there’s a level of calculation not present in The Flash’s previous adversary. Cold is Barry’s greatest test so far -- as well he should be, as the episode establishes that Cold’s gun was designed to take down Barry Allen.
The Cold Gun marks a weakness in another Flash character: In a Batman-like move, Cisco Ramon invented the weapon in case Barry turned bad, making the young scientist to blame for all the harm Snart causes. That’s a bit of story brilliance, as the episode makes this personal for Cisco, and he grows as a result. He’s not just the Twizzler-chomping wunderkind; no, there’s a sin he must atone for. It also creates a wedge between Team Flash for the first time.
The battles between Cold and The Flash seem as if they were plucked from a Carmine Infantino comic-book cover. However, this Captain Cold borrows heavily from the Geoff Johns version of the character (in fact, he co-wrote the episode), and the results are magnificent.
Yet, as well-executed as the debut of Captain Cold is, it nearly takes a backseat to the arrival of Felicity Smoak, who very well may be the heart and soul of The CW’s nascent DC Universe. She expresses lofty ideals simply and concisely, inspiring heroes to greatness while still keeping them grounded in their humanity. I can see the Internet debates now: Does Felicity belong with Oliver Queen or Barry Allen? Ollicity or Barricity?
Barry and Felicity are kindred spirits, and they undoubtedly belong together – except they both pine for someone they can’t have, at least at the moment. Their dynamic is sweet, realistic and romantic, and even a little sad, as the audience knows where each character’s heart truly lies. The kiss they share to close the episode is melancholy but sexy, and hopefully won’t be the last. (Of course, their closeness may pose a bit of a problem for Arrow and The Flash, as producers will have to explain why Felicity doesn’t simply pick up the phone to call Barry whenever Ollie and Starling City are in trouble. But that’s the danger of a shared universe, and I’m sure both shows are up to the challenge.) Felicity helps track the Cold Gun for Barry and, more importantly shares the lessons she learned working with Ollie and John Diggle -- lessons of love and teamwork that patch the fracture to Team Flash.
The final relationship examined this episode is the complex one involving Detective West, Iris West and Eddie Thawne. Detective West lays out why he disapproves of iris and Eddie’s romance, and it’s not because he dislikes Eddie, but rather that he doesn’t want his judgment altered when he goes into a dangerous situation with his daughter’s boyfriend. It’s a deep and pragmatic perspective that demonstrates Detective West isn’t just a stereotypical angry father, but instead a careful man and a great cop. Thawne is cast in a different light, however, when saves his partner from a blast from Snart’s Cold Gun.
So the arrival of Captain Cold creates distrust between Harrison Wells and Cisco, and Barry and Cisco, but has the opposite effect on Detective West and Thawne. But more importantly, Leonard Snart introduces viewers to the complex nature of The Flash’s greatest foe. And Snart wastes no time in laying the foundation for what should be his greatest accomplishment, the Rogues Gallery, as he gets his hands on a Heat Gun, which he hands over to a mysterious friend who likes to play with matches. Cool stuff.