Of all of its TV superhero brethren, The Flash may be the one most overtly about family and the many forms it comes in. Sometimes family is the group you were born into, and at other times, it’s a group you find along the way. Either way, that family can grow and evolve, shift in ways you never expected, and force you into difficult situations.
And for the Snarts, those situations can involve the decision to kill your own father.
Yes, that dark turn of events comes into play during the “Family of Rogues” climax, but there are familial issues for both heroes and villains throughout the hour. Surprisingly, very little of it directly affects Barry — he’s more present throughout “Rogues” to facilitate those moments than to actually experience them himself.
The most pressing of those problems is the one facing the Snarts, and if there was any wonder where Leonard and Lisa learned their criminal ways, look no further than Papa Snart himself, Lewis (Michael Ironside). Lisa first comes to Team Flash because she believes her brother has been kidnapped, but as Barry soon learns, it’s Lisa’s father who’s taken Leonard hostage.
Lisa can’t quite understand why. She and her brother hate Lewis, so Leonard must have a good reason for leaving the dark side for the darker side. What makes Lewis an even more vile character than the usual Central City fare? Well, in addition to his robbing ways, he was an abusive alcoholic, as Lisa reveals during her on-and-off flirtmance with Cisco. Leonard essentially raised Lisa and, understandably, hates their father. So she wants to save him, and Team Flash is willing to do what they can.
Unfortunately, the reason for his actions becomes a life-and-death matter faster than Barry can run from Central City to Star City. (Okay, nothing’s that fast.) When the body of a known associate to the Snarts shows up with his head blown off, and after a conversation with Leonard reveals that, though he won’t cross the “no kill” line, his father is willing to, Barry suspects what’s at hand.
And a quick scan of Lisa’s head confirms it. Lewis has implanted an explosive inside his own daughter’s head — which makes Joe, even in the light of his lies, the damn father of the century in comparison — and is threatening Leonard into helping him so that his cold-hearted father won’t kill Lisa. If there’s any parental figure in Central willing to do it, it’s definitely Lewis, and so Team Flash has a two-part plan on their hands: Keep track of Lewis to make sure he doesn’t detonate the head bomb, and do everything in their power to remove the bomb from Lisa’s head.
Oh and did they mention the bomb will explode if it’s exposed to air? Yeah… This is going to be a tough one.
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To keep tabs on Snart, Barry goes undercover as an old associate of Leonard’s named Sam. (Their former tech guy sadly lost his cool. And his head.) Sam is a tech genius, willing to lend his particular set of skills to the Snart father-and-son duo on a heist…which happens to take place moments after he’s hired. Lewis seems suspicious of him from the start, but the conniving criminal who has reduced his son to such a sorry state that he barely makes a cold pun the entire episode is too self-assured to be worried.
Together, the trio sneaks into their target disguised as janitors, where Barry has to pull a split-second Flash maneuver to save two guards from meeting Lewis’ gun. He also uses his super speed to try every button combination on a security keypad until he eventually finds the right one. For all of Barry’s hard work, Lewis shoots him.
Cisco has been hard at work while the heist is afoot and is preparing a way to extract the bomb. He thinks he has it, but it involves a highly pressurized gun being pointed at the current object of his affection’s neck. He’s nervous about whether it will actually work, but he has little time to overthink his decisions when Barry radios in from the crime scene.
NEXT: One father does wrong by his daughter while another tries to do right by his. [pagebreak]
It turns out the fastest man alive caught the bullet and faked his death, but that meant allowing the Snarts into the vault they’re infiltrating. (Lewis may hate his son’s cold gun, but it comes in handy against a laser-defense system.) Barry, suited up as The Flash, steps into the vault and threatens them to stop, for some reason thinking it’s a good idea to mention what Lewis has done to Lisa.
Naturally, that revelation incites Lewis to prep his detonator, and he orders his son to ice Barry to death. But Barry soon gets the word that Cisco’s plan worked and the bomb has been removed. He passes along the good news to Leonard, who kills his father on the spot. (“He broke my sister’s heart. Only fair I break his,” Leonard gives as his reasoning.)
This little act lands him, sans cold gun, in Iron Heights, but Barry’s not too worried about him. He believes there’s good in Snart that has yet to reveal itself, and his love for his sister is proof of that. Barry expects him to be a hero one of these days, and maybe that’s in the cards for tomorrow? (Tomorrow, of course, being slang for the vague, midseason premiere date for Legends of Tomorrow.)
The gang allows Lisa to ride off free for the time being, that bomb in her head being bad enough punishment. She doesn’t leave without another goodbye kiss for Cisco, though, and after the last few episodes, he could use the pick-me-up.
Cisco isn’t the only one facing a potential romance, though. The central trio all have their respective new romantic prospects, though Barry and Caitlin’s are not so forward as Lisa’s is with Cisco. After the two keep running into each other, Patty gives Barry his number at CC Jitters, though Barry doesn’t mean to give her any signals that he’s romantically interested. And Caitlin’s chaste love for the brainy side of Jay Garrick rears its head again in the episode, as the two work together to stabilize the breach between this Earth and Jay’s home world.
They succeed, which should mean it’s time for Jay to go home, but the celebration of their work comes to a crashing halt when Stein, no Ronnie in sight, bursts into flames. First red, then blue, his fiery body collapses once again, and that can only mean trouble.
And while Barry tends to one of the members of his Team Flash family, Joe is having to grapple with the newest development to his own flesh and blood. Iris’ mother, and his former wife, Francine, has reappeared and desperately wants to see Iris. Francine claims she wants to help her grieve losing a man she loved, but Joe still has trouble agreeing to let her back into their lives.
See, Joe had lied about Francine’s death long ago. She was a drug addict who, after checking into rehab, ran away. She was good at it, too, being the wife of a cop, but Joe kept up the lie for years. After a pep talk about trusting Iris from Barry, though, he decides to tell his daughter the truth, and much to his relief, she’s accepting of it. It’s another beautiful turn from Jesse L. Martin, who not only elevates every scene he’s in, but also pushes the actors around him to rise to the occasion. Whether it’s his tender talk with Barry or his emotional reveal to Iris, Joe continues to shine as an endearing rock to the other characters.
Francine isn’t the only returning face looming over our beloved heroes, though. Harrison Wells — the one from Jay Garrick’s world, that is — appears on Barry’s universe, having traveled through the breach. And if seeing Francine is going to be a shock for Iris, we can only imagine what a storm of emotions will hit Barry when he sees the face of the man he associates with so much death and destruction.