Season 2, Episode 3 - "Family of Rogues"
Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Teddy Sears, Danielle Panabaker,Wentworth Miller, Peyton List, Carlos Valdes, Jesse L. Martin, Michael Ironside
Regular airtime: Tuesdays, 8 pm
US: 20 Oct 2015
This week’s episode of The Flash starts off at full throttle. Iris (Candice Patton) is pinned down by gunfire in a Central City skyscraper. She calls Barry (Grant Gustin) for help. The bullets fly around her head and shatter the glass in the windows. She is afraid, trembling with fear; he is calm and sure. “Do you trust me?” he asks her over the telephone from far away. “Ok,” he says, “then jump.”
So she does. She jumps right out of the high-rise window, trusting that the friend that she is talking to from miles away will save her.
Of course, he does. He is the Flash, the fastest man alive. She summons that trust, and that faith, and jumps from the window; she leaps into the void. Before she hits the ground the Flash has raced across town and up the side of the building to catch her in his arms.
I don’t know about the physics of this stuff. It all seems highly improbable to me, this racing across town and up the side of buildings, this catching a falling body and taking it safely to the ground, this streak of lightning that follows the Flash wherever he goes. It is all completely unbelievable, completely absurd.
But week after week I find that I do believe, and not just because the special effects make it seem so real.
I remember the ads for 1978’s Superman movie. I remember the tagline: “You will believe a man can fly.” And I did. I was 11 years old and I believed. The special effects, even in 1978, were better than anything that I’d ever seen before. Then, in the blink of an eye, it is 30 years later and I watch the film again. The special effects are now unbelievably laughable, but it doesn’t matter. I still believe. As it turns out, it wasn’t about the special effects at all.
It is the same with CW’s The Flash. It isn’t the special effects that make the absurd seem real. It isn’t the special effects at all. It is that moment when Barry says to Iris, “Do you trust me? Okay, then jump.”
As with every episode of this series, “Family of Rogues” is chock full of twists and turns taken at the speed of the Flash himself. References to comic book characters and storylines are thrown out with near-reckless abandon. Bits and pieces of future plotlines are dropped along the way. Even after the story is neatly wrapped up, the scenes keep coming, building toward the future, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. And much of it is completely and totally absurd.
This week, the breach in the basement that leads to Earth-2 is discovered. Teddy Sears as Jay Garrick, the Flash of the alternate Earth, works with Danielle Panabaker’s Caitlin Snow to build a “speed cannon” that uses “quark matter” and “dark energy” to prepare the breach to send him back home. A bomb is placed inside someone’s neck and sucked out with an air gun. The Flash’s suit is equipped with “therma threading” to keep him warm in the event of an attack by Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller). Cold uses his “Cold Gun” to freeze a laser security system. The Flash runs and runs, catches bullets in his bare hands, and cracks security codes at the speed of light.
It is all fabulous fun from start to finish. Even when I scratch my head at how or why something worked the way it did—specifically how and why Cold’s gun was able to freeze those laser beams in mid-air. Even then I don’t mind, even then it all makes perfect sense, and not just because of the special effects.
In the opening scene, Barry asks Iris if she trusts him. She does. She trusts him enough to leap from a tall building in a single bound, to leap from a dangerous situation to an even more dangerous one, just because he asks her to.
Then Captain Cold’s sister Lisa (Peyton List) reaches out to Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and asks him for help, asks him and Barry and all of the others to trust her. He does; they do.
Then Joe (Jesse L. Martin) has a terrible secret, a secret that may drive his daughter Iris away from him. When he hears the truth, Barry trusts Joe without question and tells him that he should trust Iris as well, trust that “she can handle anything that comes her way.” He is right; she can and she does.
Then Barry risks his life to pose as a crook and infiltrate the heist being pulled by Captain Cold (against his will) and his father (Michael Ironside). Barry trusts that Cold will do the right thing, he trusts Cold to trust him in return.
Then Cisco has to rescue Lisa (also known by her meta-human name, The Golden Glider). He has to remove that bomb from her neck while the Flash is in a stand-off with her father, who holds the detonator. “I trust you, Cisco,” she says.
Then, when it is all over, Lisa tells Cisco: “You taught me to trust people. I trusted you. You might actually be my first real friend.” Cisco, trusting but skeptical, replies, “Is any of that true?”
I suspect that Cisco is right to have his doubts. I also suspect that some of the other character’s trust will turn out to be misplaced. I suspect this because I know that some things are harder to do than catching someone who is jumping from a high-rise building, and that some things are harder than using an air gun to remove a bomb from someone’s head. But that’s okay. Trust, after all, like faith, is not incompatible with doubt.
When a television program starts with a man running across town and then up the side of a building in order to catch a friend in mid-air, no matter how good the special effects are, it is hard to believe that there is going to be anything believable to follow, hard to trust that it will offer anything human and real.
With this episode The Flash, once again, has earned that trust.