The Flash – Season 9 Episode 2

Feb 16, 2023 | Posted by in TV
Flash

“Hear No Evil”

The Flash brings back Hartley Sawyer aka Pied Piper as the team is presented with a difficult choice.

I really feel for Danielle Panabaker after all she has had to endure over 9 seasons of this show. She was previously very open about the fact that it was difficult for her as an actor to process the confusion around what the Caitlin and Killer Frost dynamic entailed. It likely got easier to deal with once they were separated into distinct character but she is asked to do a lot and the show continues to pile more on her.

Flash

Chillblaine explains it all

This new entity initially goes by Snow and eventually chooses the name Khione. For the purposes of this review, she will be referred to as Snow. One of the few specific things about her is that she is neither Caitlin nor Frost; beyond that, she has no idea who she is. She is a newborn blank slate with none of Caitlin or Snow’s memories. Mark shows up to catch Team Flash with an exposition dump detailing how Snow came into being before explaining their plan to put Snow into the machine in order to bring back Caitlin. Once the team leaves the room, he and Snow have a private conversation where he reveals that he plans to also bring back Frost. It’s an awkward series of interactions that drop a lot of information on the viewer -most of which they already have, assuming they’ve seen the previous season- and poorly sets up one of the major conflicts for the episode to explore.

The problem, as always, is presenting something that hasn’t been thought through properly. In this case, the most significant emotional hook is buried under an overly complicated plot. That hook being that Caitlin is dead. Regardless of her walking into the machine willingly she died when she did and Snow emerged instead. It makes sense that Team Flash wouldn’t be immediately consumed by grief because they’re told that bringing Caitlin back is possible so they naturally focus on the mechanics of making that happen but once it becomes clear that they have been deceived and that Snow is an entirely new person born out of Caitlin’s death there is no acknowledgement that they have lost another part of their family. It especially stands out because Frost’s sacrifice was only a few weeks ago from their perspective.

Ultimately, it boils down to a choice between bringing Caitlin or Frost back. It’s impossible to do both so a decision has to be made. In an uncharacteristic display of competent leadership, Barry puts it to a vote and lets the team weigh in on who should be brought back. The vote skews heavily in favour of Frost initially though Barry decided on this course of action without having any idea which way to vote himself. It’s understandable in a way because it’s such an unthinkable choice though what is surprising is that nobody else present has any issues making a decision.

Flash

Snow makes her first friend

Iris eventually explains that she chose Frost because she didn’t choose her when she was alive and saw this as a way to make up for that which doesn’t paint her in a particularly favourable light as her decision is all about clearing her conscience. Similarly, the others seem to choose based on who they liked better. It’s horrific and no character comes out of this looking good though the biggest failure is on a script level as there is no attempt to explore any of this. Framed differently, this episode could have been built around examining how each character goes about making that choice and how they expect to live with themselves once they do.

As always, the posturing is pointless as a third alternative springs up that absolves the characters from having to implement the choice that they made. They are still tarnished by what they were willing to do but the actual consequences are taken from them. It occurs to Barry that Snow is a person and that they have all been discussing the prospect of condemning her to death in order to bring back their friend. He’s completely right and it makes sense that it wouldn’t immediately occur given the volume of information thrown at them over a short period of time. His conclusion is that the choice should be hers and he makes the point that Caitlin made a decision about who she wanted to be when she went into the machine so whatever happened to her is a result of a choice that she made.

While that’s true, it’s also a very insensitive thing for Barry to say and can be interpreted as him saying there’s no need to grieve because Caitlin chose to die. Frost also chose to carry out actions that led to her death but he and the rest of Team Flash mourned her loss. Furthermore, it presupposes that Caitlin knew exactly what would happen when she entered the machine. Barry certainly doesn’t have enough information to reach that conclusion and neither does the viewer. Caitlin and Mark’s work was focused on bringing Frost back but the actual detail of how she would come back wasn’t expressed. Chester expands this by talking about resurrecting her consciousness to be put in a body later but that wasn’t explored in the previous season. Even if it was, it’s evident that the desired outcome wasn’t achieved so Caitlin’s willing sacrifice didn’t result in the eventuality that she wanted.

Flash

Seeing the truth

Mark comes off worst as he is willingly fixated on putting Snow to her death in order to bring Frost back. His motivation is clear and he’s a passionate advocate for Frost’s resurrection because of his feelings for her but there is no exploration of whether he considers Snow to be a person. He treats her like an anomaly and a means to an end that can be used in order to bring Frost back, It’s never explicitly stated that he doesn’t see her as a living person who deserves to live as much as anyone else does nor does he pass any comment on the matter within the episode. He is left frustrated and upset by the end and what he will do next is left ambiguous so it’s possible an arc will play out where Mark comes to value Snow for the person he is and accept the loss of the person he wants back but the lack of exploration of his feelings at this point stands out and does the character no favours.

Snow chooses to live and wants to carve out her own identity. As stated above, she is a blank slate so has to figure out who she is and what her place in the world is. One mildly interesting fact is that Snow is immune to Cecile’s empathy powers which means that they get to have a meaningful conversation where Cecile asks questions and reacts to them rather than simply telling people how they’re feeling. It’s a refreshing change and highlights how valuable a character Cecile can be when deployed correctly. She is the first person who talks to Snow like she’s a person and asks what it is she wants. Snow has no idea but prompting her to consider it rather than see herself as a resource to be used is an important first step.

The construction of the episode means that Snow is never all that interesting by herself. Danielle Panabaker’s performance suggests that she doesn’t know how to play the character so most of the time she is defined by being soft-spoken and meek. There’s a flatness to the portrayal that makes it difficult to invest in the new addition which seems to be the fault of the writers crafting a sloppy and unfocused moral dilemma that never lands on whether it’s about her or not. It’s also a confusing choice to introduce a new character in a show’s known shorter final season rather than concentrate on giving Caitlin a meaningful sendoff instead of being brushed aside as she is here.

Flash

They are capable of having fun!

Snow’s other strong scene is the one she shares with Hartley. It provides a connection between the two plots on a narrative level and attempts a thematic link that doesn’t quite work. Hartley is set on killing Andrea Wozzeck aka Fiddler (Magda Apanowicz) because of what he thinks she took from him. Snow comes from a place of complete innocence and flatly states that Hartley shouldn’t kill because killing is wrong and that she can tell he isn’t a killer. He talks about how the man he loves encouraged him to change and become a better man but Snow points out that regardless of the inspiration, the change has to come from within and deciding to change doesn’t mean that you’ve decided who you want to be.

This feeds into her decision to choose to live a life and be her own person rather than give it up for the sake of someone else. She tells Mark that he has to accept Frost’s loss because she didn’t choose to exist but now that she does she has a right to choose what to do with that existence. As far as she’s concerned, Frost and Caitlin are gone and it’s wrong to ask her to give up her life for their sake. Nobody has the right to do that. It’s dressed up in nature metaphors that are cheesy but the sentiment works well enough as a conclusion to a very messy plot.

Hartley’s presence in the episode is largely pointless and largely only exists to provide intermittent action beats while continuing to set up the Red Death threat. He does have meaningful moments such as Barry showing him that Fiddler hasn’t killed anyone and that those she attacked need his help to be freed. He has an arc of sorts that ends with him choosing not to kill Fiddler and a connection is created between him and Snow when he destroys the machine in support of her choosing to live. It’s functional but far from engaging and a waste of a character that has been used well in the past.

Fiddler is a scenery-chewing villain and a poor showcase of Magda Apanowicz’s acting ability in such a forgettable role. She turns out to be under Red Death’s command which means she doesn’t even have agency within the plot. The Red Death setup is painfully familiar as well. Using supervillains as henchmen is reminiscent of Zoom and a maniacal mysterious figure operating outwith the knowledge of Team Flash is all too common in this show.

The episode does feature a rare occurrence; Team Flash unwinding and having fun. They go to Hartley’s club to do nothing more than dance the night away and it’s delightful to see. I’ve mentioned previously that levity is few and far between on this show so seeing the team simply enjoying being around one another is refreshing and provides an excellent showcase of the chemistry the actors share. It also allows for a subtle continuation of the growing Allegra/Chester relationship without it being obnoxious.

Flash

Tune in next week, same Flash time, same Flash channel


Verdict

A sloppy and unfocused episode that buries its central conflict underneath clunky exposition and fails to properly explore the ideas it has . The introduction of Snow is clumsy as it is done through an awkward series of interactions that drop a lot of information on the viewer and Team Flash. The most significant emotional hook is that Caitlin is dead but it’s buried under an overly complicated plot. It makes sense that Team Flash wouldn’t immediately be consumed by grief because they’re told that bringing Caitlin back is possible so they naturally focus on the mechanics of making that happen but once it becomes clear that they have been deceived and Caitlin is dead there is no acknowledgement that they have lost another part of their family. It especially stands out because Frost’s sacrifice was only a few weeks ago from their perspective. Ultimately, it boils down to a choice between bringing Caitlin of Frost back. In an uncharacteristic display of competent leadership, Barry puts it to a vote and lets the team weigh in on who should be brought back. It’s horrific and no character comes out of this looking good though the biggest failure is on a script level as there is no attempt to explore any of this. As always, the posturing is pointless as a third alternative springs up that absolves the characters from having to implement the choice that they made. They are still tarnished by what they were willing to do but the actual consequences are taken from them. It occurs to Barry that Snow is a person and that they have all been discussing the prospect of condemning her to death in order to bring back their friend. He’s right in his conclusion but the surrounding assumptions are deeply problematic. Mark comes off worst as he is willingly fixated on putting Snow to her death in order to bring Frost back. His motivation is clear and he’s a passionate advocate for Frost’s resurrection because of his feelings for her but there is no exploration of whether he considers Snow to be a person. He treats her like an anomaly and a means to an end that can be used in order to bring Frost back. There is the possibility of an arc in the wake of this but the lack of exploration of his feelings stands out.

Snow chooses to live and wants to carve out her own identity. One mildly interesting fact is that Snow is immune to Cecile’s empathy powers which means that they get to have a meaningful conversation where Cecile asks questions and reacts to them rather than simply telling people how they’re feeling. It’s a refreshing change and highlights how valuable a character Cecile can be when deployed correctly. The construction of the episode means that Snow is never all that interesting by herself. Danielle Panabaker’s performance suggests that she doesn’t know how to play the character so most of the time she is defined by being soft-spoken and meek. There’s a flatness to the portrayal that makes it difficult to invest in the new addition which seems to be the fault of the writers crafting a sloppy and unfocused moral dilemma that never lands on whether it’s about her or not. Snow’s other strong scene is the one she shares with Hartley. It provides a connection between the two plots on a narrative level and attempts a thematic link that doesn’t quite work. Their conversation feeds into her decision to choose to live a life and be her own person rather than give it up for the sake of someone else. She tells Mark that he has to accept Frost’s loss because she didn’t choose to exist but now that she does she has a right to choose what to do with that existence. Hartley’s presence in the episode is largely pointless and largely only exists to provide intermittent action beats while continuing to set up the Red Death threat. He does have meaningful moments such as Barry showing him that Fiddler hasn’t killed anyone and that those she attacked need his help to be freed. He has an arc of sorts that ends with him choosing not to kill Fiddler and a connection is created between him and Snow when he destroys the machine in support of her choosing to live. It’s functional but far from engaging and a waste of a character that has been used well in the past. Fiddler is a scenery-chewing villain and a poor showcase of Magda Apanowicz’s acting ability in such a forgettable role. The Red Death setup is painfully familiar as well. The episode does feature a rare occurrence; Team Flash unwinding and having fun. It’s refreshing and provides an excellent showcase of the chemistry the actors share. It also allows for a subtle continuation of the growing Allegra/Chester relationship without it being obnoxious.

Overall
  • 4/10
    Hear No Evil - 4/10
4/10

Summary

Kneel Before…

  • an uncharacteristic display of competent leadership from Barry
  • the suggestion of an interesting moral dilemma
  • a strong use of Cecile
  • Team Flash simply having fun together

 

Rise Against…

  • a sloppy and unfocussed moral dilemma
  • Snow being too indistinct as a character
  • burying the emotional hook under an overly complicated plot
  • bizarre assumptions being made around Caitlin’s choice to enter the machine
  • none of the characters coming across well because of their willingness to choose between Caitlin and Frost
  • Mark’s feelings not being explored to a great extent
  • Hartley’s presence being largely pointless
  • Fiddler being nothing more than a scenery-chewing villain
  • the Red Death setup being overly familiar

 

What did you think? Select your rating in the “User Review” box below

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User Review
1.13/10 (4 votes)

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