Previously on The Flash, “The New Rogues”
I was completely underwhelmed by this week’s episode, and it makes me sad. Each of the main story points had chunks that felt clunky; however, I’ll completely take this back if they have payoff in the future.
I’ll start with the storyline that worked the best: Caitlin visiting her scientist mother, Dr. Carla Tannhauser (Susan Walters), to get help understanding her new powers. Considering Caitlin is uniquely aware of how meta-humans were made, and she knows that all aren’t just evil because they got powers, it didn’t make sense to me that she would seek out her mother for things she could figure out on her own - especially if she confided in her teammates. However, Caitlin makes it clear she’s reaching out to her mother because of a recent paper she published on something that gives Caitlin the hope she can stop it, and deep down, she just needed her mother to help her through this difficult time.
On Earth-2, Killer Frost and Caitlin commiserated over the fact that both versions of their mother is cold and distant; KF’s because of the death of her brother, and we learn that the death of Caitlin’s father is what fractured her relationship with Carla. Her mother admits that closing herself off was a grief coping mechanism. After the tests are ran, Caitlin prepares to leave.
And here’s where things get… weird. Nigel (Thomas Cadrot), Carla’s assistant and the only person besides Carla to know about Caitlin’s abilities, tries to keep Caitlin from leaving so he can continue to experiment on her and use what he finds to advance his career. Caitlin frosts out and damages his arm before Carla interrupts. She urges Caitlin to leave and promises to take care of Nigel. Nigel’s aggression (which looked downright evil for a moment) felt sudden, even staged. I half expected a reveal that Carla put him up to it to either a) use him to force Caitlin to stay for their cause or b) manipulate a situation in which Caitlin would feel indebted to her mother. This is one of those things that I hope means something later, or else it will continue to feel like a silly scene in an otherwise good storyline.
Nigel wasn’t the only one to undergo a quick attitude adjustment. After Julian snitches to Captain Singh about Barry’s tardiness, attitude, and overall existence, Barry decides to try flattery to improve their working relationship. He asks to be Julian’s assistant so he could shadow him and learn. Barry also has an ulterior motive, of course: Julian is working on the case of a giant lizard-like monster that’s been stomping through the city. It’s through this investigation that we learn about Julian’s disdain for meta-humans, even the good ones like The Flash. When Julian almost kills the young kid who’d been controlling the hologram monster, he opens up even more to reveal his desire to live up to his family’s expectations, and how helpless he feels not being able to understand meta-humans. His change of heart isn’t a huge head scratcher like Nigel’s, but I would have loved a bit more of Julian being Barry’s professional foil. As nasty as they’ve been to each other for the past year, the two heading out for an over-work drink felt forced.
Just a few moments into the episode it’s made clear that Cisco isn’t completely feeling Nu-Wells a.k.a. HR. This felt like the kind of skepticism they should have had and addressed before bringing in a stranger from another Earth and making him privy to all of your secrets. It doesn’t help that HR talks too much, tries too hard, and ultimately contributes nothing to their investigation. At one point he admits that he’s been hiding the fact that he’s an author and was taking notes about this experience for his next novel. Yet, he makes an even bigger admission when the team realizes he doesn’t really know anything. He makes them think their ideas were his and just repeats everything they say as if he had the solution on the tip of his tongue and they just beat him to it. Turns out, he’s a great idea man, but has no real scientific knowledge or training to implement the plans. His parter in Earth-19’s S.T.A.R. Labs decrypted their invitation and urged HR to go for it. He probably just wanted HR’s chatty ass out of his lab.
I wasn’t a fan of the fact that no one blinked twice about Wells’ suggestion of plucking a Wells out of the multiverse considering how many times they’ve been betrayed by people who travel through time and space. To make Cisco suspicious this week felt a bit like closing the barn door after the horses are already out. Even more confusing is that they agree to let him stay for a few weeks more. If his partner ends up being someone of importance, I’ll give this storyline a bit more credit.
There were other things that brightened the episode, like Barry crashing at Cisco’s until he can find his own place. Since Joe has twice now (once again off-camera) turned down Cecile for a date, it makes sense that Barry would move out before he’d found an apartment (which doesn’t solve his privacy with Iris problem); he wants Joe to get his life. However, Joe is unwilling to talk about it with Iris when she tells him to go for it. Are we supposed to believe Joe has been single and celibate for two years? And speaking of Iris, it was great seeing her help her city without needing to be instructed to do it by Barry or Team Flash.
Still, it’s scenes like those (Cisco’s apartment, Iris counseling Joe), plus Barry and Iris having a lunch date in his office, which sets this show apart from other superhero series. Even when the villains disappoint, the other beats are great because we care about these characters.
But Wait; There’s More
Caitlin gets a video message from her mother explaining that the more Caitlin uses her powers, the harder it will be to get rid of them. She cautions her not to use them, but Caitlin is so frustrated she ices the desk and her laptop before she can hear the rest of the message.
Leave your thoughts on the episode below or on the Facebook post for this review, and we’ll read them on tonight’s podcast!
The Flash S3E5 = 7.3/10