The Flash – Season 9 Episode 3

Feb 23, 2023 | Posted by in TV
Flash

“Rogues of War”

The Flash unites a band of criminals to steal a piece of tech before Red Death’s underlings get their hands on it.

You’d be forgiven for getting a strong sense of déjà vu watching this episode. Barry teaming up with criminals so that he can use their skillset to accomplish something his team lacks the skills to do is something this show has repeatedly done. It’s a frustratingly regular occurrence for Barry to need something housed in a secure facility protected by meta dampeners. Such a scenario often sees him recruit a team of misfit criminals who have the skills he needs to overcome the barrier of not being able to use his powers.

Flash

It’s transparent board time

This case is slightly different in that he actually needs powers to shut down three different types of generator so that he can gain access to the vault housing the piece of tech. His band of Rogues -even though this show hasn’t ever actually set up the idea that Flash villains are known as Rogues- are Hartley aka Pied Piper, Goldface, Jaco Birch aka the Hotness and Mark aka Chillblaine. The episode quickly sets up where two of the returning members of the team are in their lives. Hartley’s current circumstances were established in the previous episode and Mark is a regular fixture so no time needs to be spent updating the viewer on them. Jaco is working at Jitters and hates serving coffee to rude customers, Goldface is back to running his gang after testifying against Amunet. He’s now completely closed off to the idea of romance and focused on his work. This sets up a potential arc around Goldface and Amunet getting back together that thankfully doesn’t appear in this episode but the threat lingers.

As expected, the episode doesn’t do a great deal with this collection of characters. Hartley comes up with the idea, Jaco doesn’t need convincing because he hates his job, Mark is still angry with Barry and the team for not bringing back Frost but agrees to help because it’s what Frost would have wanted and Goldface comes around to the idea because Central City not being destroyed in his best interests. It’s an efficient way of bringing everyone together in a short time but there isn’t a lot of effort put into building a compelling dynamic between the characters. There’s a scene where they go over the plan and then an argument breaks out over who gets to keep the tech. The money it can fetch appeals to everyone for different reasons and they don’t agree with Barry’s plan to hold onto it before safely returning it when the danger has passed so they cut him out and agree to go after it themselves. This all happens in the space of a single scene and the characters don’t appear again until Barry shows up to apologise to them so it’s another example of The Flash engineering a scenario that would seem to be in service of creating fun character interactions and then not delivering on that potential.

There is some fun to be had despite the shortcomings. The individual fights between the two teams are very low-stakes but entertaining because of the dialogue. Jaco and Fiddler discussing music/flirting as they try to hit each other is a particular highlight that ends on a sad note when their flirtation is brought to an abrupt end. Hartley and Murmur’s brief conversation about Hartley turning over a new leaf works well enough also so the potential that exists does get brief air time but the episode should have been built around the unpredictability of having these disparate personalities brought together.

Flash

Finding more things to worry about

Mark’s betrayal wasn’t altogether unexpected and made sense in context. He’s in pain and has built-in motivation that would allow Red Death to easily manipulate him. It doesn’t land as a shock reveal and Barry is once again written as being bereft of intelligence through being completely blindsided by it. Hartley also not seeing it coming despite him being present for Mark’s extreme reaction to the destruction of the device that could bring Frost back does him no favours. The betrayal does exactly what it needs to and develops the threat that Red Death represents.

Red Death so far fails to be an interesting villain. This show has featured so many Speedster antagonists that it’s difficult to stand out from the pack. The armour is similar to previous costumes, there’s a distorted voice just like every other Speedster to threaten Team Flash and even the mechanics of the plan are so far the same as Zoom. The obvious similarities are made more egregious by Barry worrying that Red Death might be a resurrected Thawne. With the reveal that Red Death is Javicia Lesley’s Ryan Wilder imbued with the Negative Speed Force the lingering questions are how that could have happened and what her plan is. She mentioned in the previous episode that she has a vendetta against the Flash for some reason so there’s definitely more to come.

Team Flash have some idea of what they’re dealing with in the sense that they know they’re dealing with a Negative Speed Force Speedster with a bat symbol on their armour. They also find out -through some heavily clunky means- that Ryan Wilder went missing on a recent patrol. This information is presented as a supplement to the conversation at the time which makes for a really bizarre way of delivering that one of their allies is nowhere to be found.

Flash

Flirt while you fight

How Red Death gets her name is just confusing. Goldface quotes the Edgar Allen Poe short story “The Masque of the Red Death” as if the words he recites have any significance to the current situation. There is no link, thematic or otherwise, between the story and what they have just experienced so it just comes out of nowhere and seems like a transparent attempt to make the arrival of Red Death more profound than it actually is.

The episode doesn’t have much going for it when dealing with other characters. After taking control of her own destiny and expanding her business on her own terms in the first episode of the season, Iris is back to worrying about being consumed by her own future. She seems distant during her and Barry’s trip to Paris to cross an item off their pre-pregnancy couple’s activities list. Her prevailing worry for this episode is not having enough time to accomplish the things she wants in life such as breaking huge stories and winning awards. Barry even reminds her that she’s destined to win two Pulitzer prizes which prompts her to counter with the suggestion that it could be three.

Iris worrying about not being able to continue building her career while raising children is an odd position for her to take. For one thing she has some idea of how her professional future could play out and from and for another she grew up in a household with a single father who managed to advance in his career while raising both her and Barry. She acts as if being a mother means her life completely stops. It’s very much a manufactured conflict with no basis simply to give her a challenge to overcome and facilitate a conversation where Barry promises to do his share of parental duties. It does little more than fill time.

Flash

Let’s fight but keep it organised

The Chester/Allegra romance has become tedious very quickly. It is being dragged out by Allegra avoiding Chester because she’s unsure whether she wants to be in a relationship with him or anyone else. It’s uninteresting and has no need to exist because it’s not supplying anything meaningful for either character. All it amounts to is angst for the sake of angst.

Khione is a baffling addition to the show so late in its run. So far she is characterised by her near-total innocence which is supposed to solve problems by her asking simple questions that encourage the team to stop, think and strip away the complications that they add to a situation but it never comes across. She also talks to plants and can understand them as well as having a shakily defined bond with nature.

As I mentioned in my review of the previous episode, I feel for Danielle Panabaker as she is routinely let down by the production team of this show by having her characters sent down bizarre paths that never come together and make sense. One of her characters was killed off last season and the other was killed off-screen leaving her to play this blank slate that so far contributes nothing to the show. The longest-serving member of the cast besides Barry deserves far better than this. It’s possible that Khione will develop into something more than a living decoration, little different from the plants she has introduced into S.T.A.R. Labs

Flash

Story time


Verdict

A weak episode that retreads well-worn ground, wastes some clear potential and does a massive disservice to one of the show’s longest-serving actors. Barry working with criminals because he needs their skills to perform a particular task is nothing new and this episode doesn’t do anything new with the idea. The different reasons the members of the team come on board are engaging enough and the episode handles this part efficiently but not a lot of effort is put into building an engaging dynamic between the characters. They go over the plan, argue and then cut Barry out in order to go after the tech themselves. It plays out in a single scene and wastes the potential that exists. There is some fun to be had such as the banter during the individual hights with Jaco and Fiddler being a particular highlight. Mark’s betrayal wasn’t unexpected but made sense though not seeing it coming paints Barry as being bereft of intelligence. Hartley also doesn’t come off well considering the intelligence he has and bearing witness to Mark’s reaction to destroying his machine in the previous episode. Red Death so far fails to be an interesting villain. She is made up of slight variations of prior Speedster villains and is unable to stand out from the pack. Team Flash puzzling it out and learning that Ryan Wilder went missing on a recent patrol is a very clunky and confusing scene with the most significant part delivered as a supplement. Red Death getting her name after Goldface quotes an Edgar Allen Poe story is confusing. There is no link, thematic or otherwise, between the story and what they have just experienced so it just comes out of nowhere and seems like a transparent attempt to make the arrival of Red Death more profound than it actually is.

The episode doesn’t have much going for it when dealing with other characters. Iris worrying about her future success being compromised by motherhood comes from nowhere and is at odds with her actions elsewhere in the season, the Chester/Allegra romance has become tedious very quickly due to unnecessary angst and Khione makes for a baffling addition to the show. So far she is characterised by her near-total innocence which is supposed to solve problems by her asking simple questions that encourage the team to stop, think and strip away the complications that they add to a situation but it never comes across. She also talks to plants and can understand them as well as having a shakily defined bond with nature. This is a massive disservice to Danielle Panabaker and the characters she played. It’s possible that Khione will develop into something more than a living decoration, little different from the plants she has introduced into S.T.A.R. Labs

Overall
  • 3/10
    Rogues of War - 3/10
3/10

Summary

Kneel Before…

  • the fun banter in the individual fights
  • Mark’s deception making sense because it flows from what has been established

 

Rise Against…

  • wasting the potential of bringing the team of criminals together
  • Barry once again proving himself to be bereft of intelligence for not seeing Mark’s betrayal coming
  • Red Death failing to be interesting
  • the bizarre Edgar Allen Poe quoting that gives Red Death her name
  • the delivery of the news that Ryan Wilder went missing on a recent patrol
  • Iris’ self-doubt about her success being impacted by motherhood coming from nowhere
  • the Allegra/Chester romance becoming tedious
  • Khione being a bizarre addition to the show
  • doing Danielle Panabaker a massive disservice with this character

 

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User Review
3.75/10 (4 votes)

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