In this very solid episode, we begin to get a deeper look into the smiling, helpful, enigmatic Caitlin Snow - and the powers she's only given a hint of possessing. Meanwhile, Godzilla attacks Central City, and Barry's only way to save his home may be by working with Mr. Very Cranky, Julian Albert.
This episode opens, or just about opens, with my favorite Iris and Barry moment so far this season. I think it's a moment that shows the best of this relationship, just like last week's PDA obsession showed some of the worst. Barry's running to rescue the city from the latest, and on the way, encounters a bus with a bunch of trapped people, and a woman struggling to open the door. The woman is Iris. He asks her what the heck she's doing there. She tells him she's after a story, and that anyway you don't need to be a superhero to help people... and together, they open the door.
Then they respectfully back out, and this episode focuses on a person who doesn't often get the spotlight: Dr. Caitlin Snow, who's going back to her estranged mother for help. What makes someone return to an abusive situation? Often, it's because they believe they themselves are a monster. I think it's a complex mix of things for our complex Snow. Some of my thinking about Caitlin here is a little guess-based. We don't know how much changed because of Flashpoint, other than Caitlin now having powers. I assume all the dimensional travel last season still happened, they met Killer Frost, and Cisco revealed all to Caitlin, setting the stage for how she's reacting to her powers today. Her powers started manifesting "a few months ago" and seem to possibly be related more to Flashpoint than to Dr. Alchemy. This is important because it helps explain why Caitlin couldn't go to Barry and Cisco for help. She doesn't want to be seen as a monster. What happens during this episode, though, made me worried. Is it her powers making Caitlin go out of control, or is it her anger and confusion making her powers go out of control? Caitlin's one of my favorite characters on this show, and I'm overjoyed they're finally giving her a real plot to deal with. Nigel was definitely being extremely aggressive towards a fellow scientist and an adult woman, so I don't blame Caitlin for cracking, but I thought she was going to completely let go. While it was way too fast, I appreciated that her mother took off the glasses and opened up just enough to connect to Caitlin and bring her back from the edge. I wonder if we'll see Dr. Tannhauser again.
Julian and Barry's relationship also took center stage here, which I loved; Julian is a perfectionist who's fought hard to become who he is (even if he's a walking British cliché, down to the suit he poached from Giles on some episode of Buffy.) Barry seemed to honestly be working towards improving his relationship with Julian, and I liked him asking for an 'internship.' I wonder if they're going to let go of the whole Wells thing? I like Julian, and I could see him joining Team Flash as a sort of mentor, what with his military experience and sharp science skills. It's clear Julian has the science chops to be taken seriously by the team - and the ever-more ridiculous attempts to fill Wells' shoes need to stop, as the situation with HR "Hipster" Wells seems to show, and a true mentorship for Barry needs to grow somewhere. Tom Felton and Grant Gustin play well off each other here. The fake monster and the boy were really just stage dressing for these two beginning to develop their relationship. That speech Julian gave Barry at the end, Julian inviting Barry back into his office, Barry offering comfort even though he was thrown out, and Julian inviting Barry back - I loved the sequence. I don't think Julian is Dr. Alchemy - but I think, after his speech about what he would do if he had powers, that Julian might wind up tempted by the Doc. This is a dude who has a lot on the ball.
The Flash saves the day today by catching two bullets; nobody dies tonight, a more Flash-like feel for me than some episodes have been lately. His first catch saves the life of an innocent bystander on the street; his second saves the life of the young teenage boy who was using holograms to attack the city. In the end it's Joe who saves the boy's soul by giving him the way-out arrow: he has to accept today's consequences, but he'll have the chance to make choices that give him a different identity tomorrow. Even HR Wells doesn't turn out too badly: he's not a scientist, but he wants to do some good with his life. Is the lesson of this episode that nobody's really a monster? The coda from Caitlin's mother makes me worry about Caitlin: often, what people fear most is what they turn themselves into. Hurry, Caitlin, tell the team, get help, before this becomes a CW riff on Frozen!
Flashes of Insight
Special effects looked odd for some reason. Both Flash running through the city, and the creature who looked remarkably like a combo between the ALIEN creatures and Predator and Godzilla, were distinctly plasticky. Anyone else notice a weird change?
Caitlin's powers started manifesting 'a few months ago' - meaning when Barry ran back in time to save his mother? And not having anything to do with Dr. Alchemy?
Caitlin freezing tungsten was a cool, cool effect.
Iris continuing her weird obsessions. Now she wants her dad to date. To be fair, this is something I've been wondering for a while: Joe's a hottie. Where's his honey?
Hipster Wells: Murder on the Titanic. Who did it? Who cares? We're drowning. (He may be weird, but he gets some good lines.)
Dr. Tannhauser: If you don't stop squirming, I'll never find a vein.
Caitlin: What exactly are you testing for now?
Dr. Tannhauser: Any polymorphism that could help us understand how you're able to absorb that much energy from molecules to create gelid surroundings.
Caitlin: You realize I've run all of these tests already.
Dr. Tannhauser: Then what was the point of coming here?
Caitlin: Seriously, mom? I am terrified of what I'm becoming. You realize you haven't even asked me once how I'm feeling.
I thought this was a really solid episode both on the monsters/powers side AND the character building side. Still wondering about Dr. Alchemy, but I think he's got to be Eobard Thawne, when he's not busy doing whatever with Damien Darhk in Legends of Tomorrow. Five out of five angry holograph-using teenagers.
Sorry about the delay in posting this, and thanks for your patience, Gentle Readers!