One of the more compelling things about The Flash and Arrow has been its use of casting guest stars. Across two shows they’ve slowly to reunited most of the cast of Spartacus (wherein LOST-esque memory unlocking should happen) to the Scofield brothers as the roguish duo Captain Cold and Heatwave. This kind of casting goes a long way in making the various villains of the week pop in ways they simply don’t have time to developed within the episode. “Family of Rogues” guest star Michael Ironside as patriarch of the Snart family, Lewis, is used to similar effect acting as counterbalance and mirror to son Lewis as Papa Cold ropes his family into pulling off a cold hearted job.
The Rogues aren’t one off villains; they are a constant threat to Central City. Appearing three times over the course of season 1 allowed the series to setup what makes them ‘Rogues’ as opposed to ‘Villain’ but more importantly make them compelling characters in their own right. That distinction would be without difference if there wasn’t some kind of pleasure seeing Wentworth Miller and the Gang on screen doing bad things. Part of that pleasure is easily the performance from Miller, lacing every line uttered with a cold, sardonic, snark. The other being how the writing staff has couched these Rogues firmly in the ‘anti-hero’ vein allowing audience to enjoy their societal transgressions because we are given understanding on why they do the things they do. For someone like Heatwave it’s simply for wanton destruction and kicks. But for Snart it’s the pride in doing a job good to its maximum efficiency. He’s Mcully but also a family man. Every character is the hero of their own story and Captain Cold is actually heroic, if darkly, in “Family of Rogues”.
“A man must have a code” and “Everybody has their reasons” are two of the most easily quotable lines from The Wire and Rules of the Game, but also the truest in terms of storytelling. Omar had a code, only attack those who have been in the game, and everyone should have a reason for doing. They may not be the best from audience vantage point but they are their own. Michael Mann’s entire filmography is about men and their codes and reasons, sometimes reaffirming them others showing them to be arbitrary and hollow vestiges.
These codes form the basis that allows the audience to give a moral pass to characters doing bad things. Leonard Snart commits not only murder but patricide at the end of “Family of Rogues” and I still gave a lil fist bump as he froze his father’s heart. This murder could be seen as a breaking of not only his own code but the truce with Barry, but Lewis deserved such Old Testament retribution for his own transgressions.
The above image was chosen with purpose, first it was the only good shot of Ironside and Miller I could easily find. But it also visually represents how much Michael Ironside is the mirror opposite of Wentworth Miller. Where Miller is youthful, fit, and tall; Ironside is old, fat, and squat. He lacks the charming delivery of Miller, barking orders in a gruff bassy militaristic tone with no compassion. As father to Leonard, he does not take the same pride in efficiency as his son. Willing to drop bodies because might make right. His murder of the first tech guy may be wrapped in familial solidarity but that belies the excuse for him to flex his power and prove his dominance like he did with his daughter. Lewis Snart is not a Rogue he is Villain.
Leonard Snart’s whole reason detrete is in reaction to his father. “Family of Rogues” has the show taking a nurture approach to things as it wades into family conflict. Iris and Barry are the kind of people they are in no small part due to being raised by Det. Joe West. The West family has their own drama brewing as Francine, the long thought dead wife of Joe is back in town and wants to be with her daughter for the first time in 20 years. Jesse L. Martin is the not so secret weapon of this show, and it is through his screen presence that the episode manages to make the return of a believed to be dead wife not utterly horrible. As it turns out, Francine was a drug addict who skipped out on rehab one final time before disappearing for good. Unsure how to break that with his daughter, Joe instead perpetuated the lie for TWENTY YEARS that his wife had died. The DCWverse shows have a bad track record of lying to female characters about male secret identities. The Flash even recognizing the stupidity of such a thing and still going along with it was one of the more head scratching moments throughout season 1. But that pales in comparison to a father lying to his daughter for twenty years about her mother being dead.
Iris handled the three most important men hiding the Flash from her, with a well earned righteous fury. So How is she going to handle this? Surprisingly with little fury, she basically rolls over and cedes to parental authority. This is perhaps odd. Martin’s performance at dinner table is fantastic and the scene is composed in such a manner that it is all about him bearing his soul. But Iris has or at least should have a part to play in that scene to and it wasn’t the loving daughter who goes along with whatever Dad says. It’s the lack of follow up that makes it badly one sided. At the end of the episode, Joe thanks Barry for talking him into telling Iris about her Mother and that they’re going to meet. But we don’t see that. Now maybe this is just the episode nature and time constraints of The Flash coming into play, Candice Patton did tweet a picture of a cut scene between her and Gustin. So perhaps this reunion will be shown next week but as such I’m left hanging a little bit.
What if how The Flash continues to use Tom Cavanaugh is simply in their post logo stingers? This time Cavanaugh appears coming from Earth 2through the portal in STAR Labs on Earth 1 making for an excellent stinger that is in no way alluded to in the spot or next week’s episode “The Fury of Firestorm”. Also is it a rule that whenever one travels time/dimension they come through in the Terminator three point stance? If not it should be.