When we last left our heroes, Nora had been channeling her… negative emotions involving her father dumping her back in the future and his seeming unwillingness to forgive her deception in working with Eobard Thawne. Now that Nora is running using Thawne’s Negative Speed Force, she’s untraceable through Team Flash’s typical means of speedster (or metahuman in general, really) tracking. This is most unfortunate, as Nora’s incognito status allows her to race around Central City and put together a little quartet of young deviant metas. Nora’s goal in “Gone Rogue” is to use the skills of Weather Witch, Queen Bee, and Rag Doll to infiltrate McCulloch Technologies and steal an unknown piece of tech. What this prize is, we’ll learn later; however, for now, the takeaway is that Nora is pissed off that Barry marooned her in 2049 and she thinks he no longer loves her – not a good combo for a young adult with super speed and the ability to throw lightning bolts. Their first stop is what gets the aforementioned young rogues on board: stealing the meta-tech phone that belonged to Spencer Young early this season, and abducting both Cisco and Sherloque so that Mr. Ramone can reprogram the tech for the angsty group’s purposes. The idea of breaking into the S.T.A.R.chives secure (Is it though? Is it really? Is anything ever…?) facility and stealing from the Flash is motivation enough for the three other young metas to at least partially trust Nora and go along with her plan.
There’s an emotional back-and-forth in “Gone Rogue” with Barry’s thoughts on whether or not Nora is redeemable once he finds out she’s working with the young rogues. After she knocks him down with her newly-tapped-into Negative Speed Force powers, Barry begins to feel that his future daughter may have become corrupted by Thawne beyond the point of redemption. It takes some detective work by Iris and Cecile to uncover what Nora’s plan was: steal a meta-tech weapon from McCulloch Technologies that can be used to stop Cicada/Psycho Future Grace. After some convincing and a little bit of chiding, Barry comes to the understanding that family shouldn’t turn their back on family, and Team Flash gets to the weapons manufacture before the Young Rogues, disguising themselves as the would-be hostages to get the jump on Nora’s crew. After a Flash Time heart-to-heart, Barry apologizes to his daughter for doubting her and pushing her away, and he and Nora get back on the same page just in time to knock out Queen Bee and Weather Witch. Meanwhile, Caitlin and Ralph are hunting down a lead on Cicada 2.0 and discover that she has stolen Cisco’s metahuman cure and plans to use the cryo-atomizer she swiped in the last episode to kill every meta in Central City at once. As much as Barry’s blood boils at the notion of following anything Thawne has to say, he trusts Nora and agrees to use the weapon from McCulloch, which was made from the destroyed satellite shards and is the only thing that can finally destroy Cicada’s dagger.
“Gone Rogue” is actually quite uneventful where actual progression is concerned. We learn how crazy future Grace plans to wipe out Central City’s metahumans, which explains why she popped in out of nowhere last episode, but the arc of Nora using the Negative Speed Force was seemingly clipped at the knees, and it feels as though the writers are trying to rush through to the conclusion of this season (not an altogether bad thing at this point, as I feel it has dragged on long enough). The mistrust between Barry and Nora is also rushed before it can be fully utilized and, if I’m being honest, I feel that her secret should have been revealed much sooner so that the payoff of her redemption could have both been built up more and carry more weight (or any at all, really). Bringing in a throwback like Queen Bee, a villain we haven’t seen since season 1, is a nice dose of nostalgia, and it gives us a glimpse at the Cisco we used to know, as he quipped with her during his hostage experience. I find it funny that all of the talk of a cure from Cisco pretty much went out the window and now he’s vibing again. One of the funniest moments in “Gone Rogue” is the one that took me by surprise, and that’s when Caitlin and Ralph are sleuthing together, and Caitlin notes that the Book of Ralph was completed and he should find someone who loves him. The surprise comes when Ralph sincerely tells Ms. Snow that he doesn’t feel that way about her and Caitlin looks as though she’s ready to hurl over how appalling the idea of them together is. I don’t think that I’ve had a good laugh like that this season.
We’re clearly on the final lap of the track meet, or the last quarter-mile of the long-distance race of this season. There are still unknowns that I’d very much like to see resolved, but I’m not certain the writers can do so in a satisfying fashion given what little airtime remains. There is almost certainly some sort of redemptive plot point planned for young Grace despite the hatred she holds within her for metahumans. How will Nora reconcile with leaving her father in the past, knowing that she may never see him again? And, to that point, what of this nonsense that Eobard Thawne has been feeding Nora about saving her father; is he referring to circumventing his disappearance in the coming Crisis on Infinite Earths event? What is Thawne’s endgame here, really? That countdown clock by his Iron Heights cell signifies something, but we haven’t been given a clear indication as to what exactly that may be. It could be anything from lethal injection (which would have to be administered with his speedster powers dampened, otherwise his metabolism would burn it away) to some temporal shenanigans that remove him from the timeline. All I know is that I genuinely hope they aren’t going to try some sort of a redemptive arc with the character by the season finale; Reverse Flash is Barry Allen’s number one enemy and should be treated as such.