This week’s episode of The Flash was a big one. Emily Bett Rickards (who plays Felicity Smoak on Arrow) guest starred, providing further foundation for the shared DC Universe on the CW, and Prison Break’s Wentworth Miller was introduced as the iconic villain Captain Cold. I’m happy to say this is the best episode of the series yet.
Continuing with the light tone, the episode opens with Barry Allen testing the speed of his mind. How does the fastest man alive test his brain power? By playing Operation, chess and ping pong. Simultaneously. It’s a little goofy, but it works great. Gustin is charming as ever and seeing him interact with the team at S.T.A.R. Labs is always a treat. Of course, being a superhero show, something comes up and Barry races off to stop a robbery. It’s here that we’re introduced to Wentworth Miller’s character Leonard Snart, AKA Captain Cold. He doesn’t have his freeze gun yet, but he uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and break the door of an armored truck.
What’s interesting here is that Snart isn’t phased by a streak of red beating up his team. Instead he’s watching and calculating, trying to figure out how to beat him. When he forces Barry to choose between stopping him and saving a man’s life, Barry chooses the latter. It’s an interesting exploration of not only Barry’s character, but of Snart as well. Finally, Flash has a villain capable of outmaneuvering him. While the final showdown is a little anticlimactic, the two facing off was a joy to watch and I’m excited to see where it’ll go from here.
There’s a lot about this episode that works really well. Felicity steals the show anytime she’s on screen. I’m glad that she won’t be a recurring character, as she is essentially the catalyst for solving all of the episodes problems, but for one episode it was quite enjoyable. Barry and Felicity are great together, even though their potential romance will never blossom. They understand each other, both pining for somebody they may never have. The episode is sprinkled with these moments of characters finally understanding each other, and it’s these moments that I found the most endearing.
The scenes with Flash and Captain Cold are very well done. There’s a scene where Barry has to save an entire train of people as the train crashes. It’s a heavy scene and the great effects work to ensure that the viewers appreciate that. The show seems to be hitting its stride with the fight scenes as well. It’s difficult to keep a fight interesting if one of the fighters moves faster than the speed of sound, but the show manages to pull it off time and again.
A problem that has been plaguing the show since the pilot episode is that the villains always feel underdeveloped. The show aimed to change that by introducing Captain Cold. While more time was spent developing the character, he still falls a little bit flat. Wentworth Miller portrays him pretty well as a cold and calculating criminal, but there wasn’t much insight into his motivations. He’s a ruthless killer, but for some reason he lets one security guard live. I need to know more about why before I can fully appreciate him as a villain. The good news is that he survived the episode and will be playing a greater role in the rest of the season.
The Flash continues to impress. The pieces laid out in the first few episodes are coming together in a satisfying way and the show is really coming into its own. While they’re still struggling with the villains, they’re taking the right steps toward fixing the issue. I can’t wait to see what happens next week.