REVIEW: The Flash – Season 9, Episode 3 “Rogues of War”

“Rogues of War” should be a lot better than it is. The Rogues used to be cool; they were an outlaw band of thieves led by Captain Cold, and their episodes were fun. Now, they’re a bunch of losers who should’ve been one-off villains (and not even that, in some cases), spouting corny lines and goofing off instead of being menacing. This is a bad omen for season 9, which is starting to feel like a whimper of an ending for The Flash.

After the new Rogues steal another piece of tech, Barry deduces their next target – a Department of Defense installation, forcing Barry to look to some of his old foes for help. Chester and Allegra continue to earn their unhappiness. Khione does not endear herself to anyone.

“Rogues of War” starts with what may be its best scene. Barry and Iris are in Paris taking a cooking class from a world-renowned chef, which is one of the things they want to do before Iris gets pregnant. The chef is a stereotypical French snoot who dismisses each of her students with a sweetly-delivered insult before getting to Barry and Iris. She initially dismisses them as “the Americans” but compliments their crème brûlée after tasting it. It’s a cute scene made better when Barry talks about trying the recipe over fifty times using his super speed. It also establishes that the power couple has devolved a bit since the season premiere; Barry is still rigidly sticking to a checklist, and Iris is still uneasy about it. But a metahuman attack brings them back to Central City and brings the fun to a halt.


Captain Boomerang and the Fiddler (somebody had better call her Tevye while she’s standing on a roof before the season ends) have stolen another piece of scientific equipment with help from their new teammate, Murmur. They’ve taken enough that Barry figures out what they’re building: a cosmic treadmill, with which they can turn back time and wreak havoc on the multiverse. They need one more component, which a visit to Hartley Rathaway informs Barry is being kept in a DOD stronghold run by General Eiling (played by Clancy Brown, who is only seen in a picture because The Flash only brings back the people you don’t want to see again), who is not a fan of the Flash. It’s also got one of those devices that suppress a metahuman’s powers, meaning Barry can’t just run in there and take it. So Barry decides to put his own team of Rogues together to take out the power-nullifier long enough for Barry to swipe the final component.

That’s a pretty good setup for an episode; it’s a fun concept, and it even makes sense because there are four stations powering the nullifier, and each has to be deactivated using a particular metahuman ability. In practice, however, it’s a ball dropped down a canyon, starting with the collection of Rogues. Rathaway is one, and I’m already sick of him this season; he’s supposed to be good now, but he’s so smug and condescending that you want someone to break his jaw after one of his snide comments. Next is Chillblaine because, for some reason, they made Jon Cor a regular, perhaps under the mistaken impression that he can act or that Chillblaine is anything approaching an interesting character. Then, there’s Jaco Birch, alias the Hotness. Remember that fat guy whose name Barry cleared last season? It’s him, and he’s as lightweight and toothless as he was then. (Chillblaine and the Hotness make you long for Captain Cold and Heat Wave.) The final Rogue is Goldface, and he’s easily the best of the bunch because Damion Poitier knows exactly how to play him – just theatrical enough to be fun without slipping into parody.

The Flash Rogues of War

The theme is trust, with Barry having to force himself to trust a group of criminals as well as get them to trust him. That’s fine, but “Rogues of War” makes some dumb plot decisions to facilitate that theme. The most egregious is that Barry visits and recruits each of the Rogues as Barry Allen instead of the Flash. Why would he do that? Rathaway and Chillblaine already know who he is, but Goldface and the Hotness don’t. He puts himself at an immediate disadvantage because he can’t use his powers without giving up his identity, meaning he has to put himself at Goldface’s mercy. He’s also got to lie about the plan to steal the device because he can’t talk about using his powers. And that’s the point; the writers had Barry do this so that he would have to lie to the Rogues, so that he would have to earn their trust, so that trust could be the theme of the episode. In other words, it’s the idiot plot. He even reveals his secret identity – or tries to, before the Hotness figures it out on his own, making all of this even more pointless. It also pads the run time, turning what should have been two acts at best into an entire episode.

Things go as expected from there, with one exception: Blaine turns on Barry, having secretly joined the bad guys in return for being allowed to use the cosmic treadmill to bring back Frost. This is a good twist; it’s completely in character for Blaine, and it’s a logical complication for Barry instead of the stupidity of being Barry Allen instead of the Flash. It’s such a complication, in fact, that Barry can’t overcome it, and the villains get away with the last piece of the treadmill, although this is mostly because the evil speedster intervenes. So, Barry loses this one, but he’s got a backup team now in case he needs some metahuman muscle in later episodes. But the evil speedster – whom we’re to call Red Death because of an Edgar Allen Poe story – finally reveals himself, and in current era tradition, he’s a she: Ryan Wilder, the Arrowverse’s current version of Batwoman. So the Flash’s final nemesis is a future version of Batwoman, who will undoubtedly be redeemed in the end. Calling this underwhelming would be generous; they got rid of Reverse-Flash for this?

The Flash Rogues of War

The subplots are dull and, thankfully, brief. Allegra is refusing to talk to Chester because she’s an overgrown infant, and, for some reason, The Flash thinks these two are the new Sam and Diane. At this point, I’m actively rooting against them because they don’t deserve happiness. And Khione is still finding her way, naming and talking to plants while delivering what we’re supposed to think are insightful observations about the people around her. She’s like a hippie version of Buddy the Elf, naïve and innocent about the world she’s forced to inhabit. Danielle Panabaker deserves better than this, as does The Flash.

The Flash – "Rogues of War"

Plot - 5
Acting - 6
Progression - 7
Production Design - 6
Themes - 5



“Rogues of War” is a good concept that’s ruined by a lame group of Rogues, Barry acting like an idiot, a disappointing revelation about the main villain, and a pair of annoying subplots. A sweet opening scene and a good twist in the final act help, but this is another dud.

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