The Flash – Season 3 Episode 7
The Flash moves things along when Caitlin becomes Killer Frost and the identity of Alchemy is revealed.
For me, Caitlin’s manifesting powers has been a mixed bag but has been getting better recently. Having her be honest with Team Flash about what she’s going through has really moved things to a place that I’m happy with and her transition in this episode is handled particularly well.
Her shift to being essentially the Metahuman villain of the week doesn’t feel completely natural but it definitely works. At its core it is a story about Caitlin using her powers and becoming completely overwhelmed by them to the point that she is willing to do anything to get rid of them. She is terrified of what she is turning into and loses sight of herself for a while.
It doesn’t easily translate to her being comfortable with kidnapping as well as hurting people as it does feel like a bit of a lightswitch moment as far as she’s concerned. One minute she’s relatively fine and the next she’s on a relentless quest to find Alchemy so that he can take away her powers.
This isn’t something I hold against the episode because her switch to villain of the week allows for some really intense emotional moments. Team Flash has to bring down one of their own for the first time. This isn’t someone who has been dishonest from them since the day they met, this is someone who has been there every step of the way, helped them and suffered with them so the emotional heft of this conflict is significant. The burning question becomes how to save someone they love from themselves without hurting them.
Caitlin is never allowed to go too far as a villain which makes sense as she is still fundamentally a good person so her own morality wouldn’t allow her to kill though the fate of one of Alchemy’s acolytes remains a bit of a question mark. She does hurt Julian but not significantly so it doesn’t seem like she has any murders on her conscience as a result of the events of this episode.
Team Flash really struggle with the prospect of bringing her down because they want to help her but the fact that she doesn’t want to be helped makes it really difficult for them. She doesn’t do much in the way of physical damage though the injury she inflicts on Barry is pretty brutal. Using her medical knowledge to hurt Barry in a way that will slow him down for a few hours is a nice touch and the kiss of death she gives him is another good use of her connection to the team since Barry doesn’t really expect it.
She inflicts significant damage on the team emotionally by revealing that Dante was alive and well before Barry changed the timeline. This news completely crushes Cisco as Dante’s death becomes less about a random accident and more about being Barry’s fault. In Cisco’s head Barry’s actions caused Dante’s death and that’s something he has difficulty dealing with. It isn’t resolved by the end of the episode as Cisco tells him he isn’t sure if they will be ok after this. It’s a crushing moment and Carlos Valdes plays it well. I was impressed that he was still able to work with Barry after this because saving Caitlin is more important than his personal feelings. I’m interested to see how this develops but having emo Cisco for too long will hurt the show very quickly.
While her shift to being the villain didn’t fully work I feel that the opposite can be said about her snapping out of it. Barry telling her that she will have to kill him to get past him when he lets her out was a tension filled moment despite the fact that it was obvious where it would go. Danielle Panabaker successfully conveyed that she might want to do it. It felt like she was trying to do it when her instincts were telling her not to. Eventually she realises that this isn’t really her and she returns to her old self. The potential is still there for her to fall back into her villainous habits and I hope this happens again as there are a lot of places this story could go. We still haven’t seen the flash forward that Cisco experienced so that may come sooner rather than later.
Danielle Panabaker completely knocks it out of the park with her performance in this episode. There’s real pain in the way she plays Caitlin and her performance never descends into cartoonish villainy. Her portrayal of Killer Frost last season was deliberately over the top to match the overall style of Earth-2 but the Earth-1 version is conflicted and nuanced. I did find the voice a bit distracting but I enjoyed the pay-off when she pretended to be the same old Caitlin with the voice giving her away. The venomous tone she uses throughout in reference to Barry particularly was great as it shows some buried resentment towards Barry who seems to routinely mess with the lives of others for selfish reasons. It’s hard not to agree based on his behaviour this season.
Barry is really affected by everything Caitlin says about him and takes it all to heart as you might expect. The near loss of his friendship with Cisco is a major blow to him and he reconsiders all of the decisions he has made. Iris tries to help him justify it by reminding him of how hurt and lost he was while pointing out that Caitlin might have always been destined to have powers and Dante could easily have been run over. There’s no way of knowing so no sense in beating himself up about it as far as Iris is concerned.
I don’t really agree with her as Barry should have to shoulder the consequences of what he has done. Killer Frost and Dante’s death are indirectly his fault and he shouldn’t lose sight of that. The important thing is that he learns from this and doesn’t do it again. He needs to consider how other people are affected by his decisions and learn not to be so casual about them. Iris offering support is all well and good but she isn’t considering everything either.
Barry’s leadership skills are explored here which is somewhat rare at this point. He realises that everyone should be focused on helping Caitlin rather than fighting each other and it’s his job to make sure that everyone realises that. Personal issues can wait as Caitlin takes top priority.
This exploration continues in how he deals with Julian’s knowledge of what Caitlin has done. The first thing he does is approach Julian as a friend and ask him not to say anything. Caitlin needs help not a prison sentence and Barry wants to get her that help. Julian’s reaction seems somewhat reasonable at first but his silence does come with a very shocking condition. He asks Barry to resign because as far as he’s concerned Barry is incapable of properly carrying out his duties as a CSI since his morality isn’t what it needs to be. From Julian’s point of view it makes complete sense since he doesn’t have the context of why Barry behaves the way he does.
Barry resigning as a CSI without hesitation says a lot about him as a person. Iris points out how much he loved that job and Barry responds by declaring that there is nothing he wouldn’t do to protect his team. If he has to quit a job he loves so that Caitlin doesn’t go to prison then that’s a small price to pay as far as he’s concerned. It’s a slightly different take on the heroic sacrifice and it works really well.
Julian is hardly in a position to place judgement on anyone as this episode reveals that he is secretly Alchemy. I’ve said on a number of occasions that it’s too obvious a choice and won’t be that but it turns out that the most obvious answer is the correct one. I don’t think it’s a good idea because it means that everyone in the show is either on Team Flash or acting against it which makes the world feel pretty small. Julian would be better served as Barry’s antagonistic co-worker rather than being another villain. It is possible that Alchemy is no big deal as it seems like he is simply another Savitar worshipper who wears a mask for some reason and it could be that Julian doesn’t even know that he’s Alchemy which could create some interesting material when he finds out. I’m not all that excited by the reveal though as I think it’s a really boring choice.
Based on this reveal I’m pretty sure that H.R. will turn out to be Savitar since main villains have to be connected to Barry in some way. I think that the face changing tech seen last week will have something to do with it and H.R. is actually his partner pretending to be H.R. I don’t know why he would be doing this or what his endgame will be but that is my current prediction. As for how H.R. could be around the team when the Savitar attack was happening; it can be explained by going down the whole time remnant rabbit hole of confusion again. I hope not but it seems to be the pattern on this show.
So far Savitar seems like he really means business in that he is so much stronger than Barry is. I liked the effect of him travelling as it seemed to involve wormholes rather than physically moving from place to place. This is similar to the original Hunter Zolomon from the comics who appeared to run fast by manipulating time. Other than being an imposing powerful threat I’m not sure what to make of him but I am impressed on a visual level so far.
Wally’s cocoon causes a lot of concern for Joe who refuses to accept that there’s nothing to do. His reaction is one of a concerned father who wants to protect his son and as such he behaves irrationally. Cutting Wally out is his number one priority and he doesn’t consider the consequences. It’s a good showcase for Jesse L. Martin who conveys these feelings perfectly and now that Wally has his speed there is a chance for his character to become a larger part of the show but I wonder how the show will address having two Speedsters around as there could be too much power going on.
I also wonder if there will be greater consequences for Wally being removed from the cocoon early. Maybe his powers are temporary or tainted in some way. Considering how much Wally clearly loves having them it would be interesting to see how he deals with potentially losing them. Time will tell but so far I’m fairly on board with this.
This episode was directed by Kevin Smith. I wouldn’t normally talk about the director or the direction because I know very little about that but I felt I should mention it since I had the opportunity to sit in a round table discussion with the man earlier this year. He’s certainly passionate about the show and blends into the house style really well which is certainly important to keep this show looking as slick as it does. I’ve put the round table discussion below the rating so please do give it a listen as he talks about The Flash and other comic book stuff.
A great episode that allows Caitlin to shine as the villain of the week. Her transition to villainy doesn’t entirely work but her acting as the antagonist along with her return to sanity works really well. Danielle Panabaker knocks it out of the park performance wise and Caitlin using insider knowledge about the team against them was a nice touch as it forces Barry to rethink his decisions while Cisco struggles with the truth about the timeline before Barry changed it.
Wally has his speed now but I wonder if there will be any consequences to leaving his cocoon early and how the show will handle another Speedster. Julian agreeing to keep quiet about Caitlin’s actions as long as Barry resigns was interesting as it makes sense from Julian’s perspective that Barry has questionable ethics affecting his job as a CSI. The reveal that Julian is Alchemy is far too boring and obvious but it seems that Savitar is the real villain. So far Savitar seems very threatening but there might not be that much to him. Still, I like him on a visual level.
Check out my round table experience with Kevin Smith below the rating. You can also find it on iTunes, YouTube or any major podcasting app you can think of. Just search for Kneel Before Pod
- Savitar’s effective introduction
- Caitlin as the villain of the week
- Barry’s sacrifice to protect Caitlin
- friction within Team Flash
- the Julian reveal
- Caitlin’s shift to villainy not completely working
User Review( votes)