Dear TV Writers: Your Fear of the Moonlighting Curse is Killing Your Show

What is the Moonlighting Curse, and why is it such a big deal to television writers? Read this in-depth look at the crippling phenomenon and find out!

Getting Rid of the Stigma: Mental Illness in Young Adult Fiction, by Megan Mann

In this piece, Megan brilliantly discusses the stigma of mental illness in literature and how some young adult novels are helping to change the landscape for this discussion.

In Appreciation of the Everyday Heroine

A mask does not a hero make. In this piece, I discuss why it's wrong to dismiss characters without costumes or masks as superheroes.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Flash 5x08 Review: "What's Past Is Prologue" (Memory Lane) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"What's Past Is Prologue"
Original Airdate: December 5, 2018 

Welcome, one and all, to the 100th episode of The Flash! Ah, a hundred whole episodes of this gloriously goofy and occasionally grim show about a dude who runs really fast. Can you believe it? Seems like only yesterday we met Barry “Humanoid Labradoodle Puppy” Allen... sigh. But anyway, what does the show have in store for us during this milestone episode?

Turns out, it’s time travel! ...Yeah, that’s pretty much par for the course. Keep on doing dumb things, The Flash. I do love you for it.

HAS NO ONE LEARNED THEIR LESSON?


Team Flash is still trying to get info on Orlin Dwyer, the human alter-ego of Cicada, but they’re not coming up with a whole lot of helpful information. They think they’ve figured out why he’s targeting metas; they assume it’s because Orlin’s sister was murdered by a metahuman, but as I said last week, we never really get that impression from the flashbacks. It always seemed more like the doctor helping him had more influence over his actions than any sense of sadness or revenge, but I suppose I can’t expect Team Flash to jump to that particular conclusion.

Cicada’s dagger is the most crucial obstacle for the team, but Nora comes up with an elaborate plan to negate its power-dampening power: she and Barry will go back through time and collect materials that can counteract the dark energy and magnetic properties of the dagger by using Savitar’s suit and the Speed Force transmitter used by Zoom to steal Barry’s speed, recalibrated with the energy from the original particle accelerator explosion. Right. Okay, I think I got it. And they’re going to keep their plan a secret from Cicada by planting the items in the past for their future selves to find? I guess? This is seriously a hundred episodes worth of convoluted, I’ll say that much.

After short diversion during which Barry wants to keep Nora from time traveling with him (Iris talks some sense into him), the two speedsters decide they’ll go to the past together. Cisco et al. have pinpointed the perfect dates and times for Barry and Nora to travel to, so that they can avoid making too many ripples in the timestream. These moments just so happen to be important moments in the history of the show, too — when you boil it down, we’ve basically got The Flash’s version of a clip show. But, you know, better?

Barry and Nora are ready to go to the past. Ralph even cues up Huey Lewis and the News’s “Back in Time” to mark this momentous occasion that happens way too often. I’m not denying that the music is actually a really cute moment, though. I always applaud the show for its forays into corny whimsy, and nothing’s cornier than Huey Lewis and the News.

First stop: the end of the Savitar fight from season three. I’m getting flashbacks to how horrendously boring that whole season was. Yeesh. Past-Barry phases into Savitar’s suit, it explodes, Nora grabs the tiniest shard imaginable, and ends up witnessing Iris shooting Savitar-Barry in the back. Nora’s life is a world of weird, let me tell you. She runs off with Barry after that, both pursued by a Time Wraith. You guys remember Time Wraiths? Because I sure didn’t until this episode reminded me they existed.

Back through time. Barry and Nora are tossed out of the Speed Force and into 2016, just before Zoom steals Barry’s speed and kidnaps Caitlin. While the others play out a past episode, Barry searches for the transmitter Zoom used and Nora witnesses a scene of Iris comforting Barry in the hallway. Harrison Wells — the angry, mildly antagonistic version from Earth-2 — interrupts Barry’s search and almost breaks the transmitter in a fit of rage. Barry manages to distract him with an idea for finding then-missing Jesse, dodges an encounter with Zoom, and he and Nora zip back into the Speed Force.

Unfortunately, they had been running from Zoom, so their aim at a timeline wasn’t exactly precise. Barry and Nora stumble out of the Speed Force and accidentally break the transmitter. After fighting about whether they should seek out Eobard Thawne-Wells for help with the broken transmitter, Barry stumbles across an unconscious version of himself. Turns out, they landed in that episode from the second season where Barry traveled back in time to ask Thawne about running faster. Jeez, there have been so many stupid time travel gambits in this show I had actually forgotten about that one.

With little choice left to them, Barry and Nora decide to visit Thawne-Wells after all. Thawne spends a little time trying to figure out who Nora is, first guessing a couple lady speedsters before settling on her being Barry’s daughter. Apparently, Thawne is more familiar with a universe that’s closer to the comic books, in which Barry’s daughter is named Dawn. Nora, by the way, is terrified of Thawne during their encounter, which is understandable enough when the guy is screaming about going home, but there’s definitely a sense that she knows more about how dangerous he is than she should.

Thawne fixes the transmitter while dropping a few digs at Savitar-Barry that I can’t help but agree with. Also, Barry tells him that the idea of using Savitar’s suit to get Cicada’s dagger was Nora’s. Thawne-Wells looks impressed and calls Nora a “clever girl,” but must speed back to the plot of that season two episode before he can say much else. Onto the particle accelerator explosion!

The version of Thawne-Wells that no one knows is actually Thawne-Wells is about to turn on the particle accelerator when he senses something amiss. It is, of course, Barry and Nora arriving. Hiding out in Thawne’s secret room, Barry activates the Gideon computer and sets it to work doing something… important, I guess? The audio cuts out while Nora tries to poke at the Reverse-Flash speed suit, which Barry interrupts. He tells Nora the reason why he hates Thawne so much: Thawne killed Barry’s mom, hoping a truly tragic event would break Barry and prevent him from becoming the Flash. Thawne really needs to read more comics. Tragedy creates heroes, you doof!

Once Gideon finishes recalibrating or whatever, the particle accelerator explodes. We get shots of people affected by this show’s major catalyst — from season one’s shot of Barry getting struck by lightning to last season’s shot of DeVoe getting struck by lightning. Ah, we’ve come so far on this single plot device. Let us appreciate all it’s given us in a hundred episodes, just for a moment...

Moment’s over. Barry stashes the dark matter-dosed transmitter in a pillar at the hospital and he and Nora return before Huey Lewis finishes playing. With twenty minutes left in the episode, Barry actually thinks he’s about to get Cicada. Ha! You poor, foolish Labradoodle. No, instead, you’re going to fight Cicada, almost win, launch his dagger into space, and he’s going to recall it. From space. What? And then Killer Frost will save everyone from getting murdered because she’s actually immune to Cicada’s powers thanks to being a non-dark matter meta, which is a neat reveal, but... what?

Cicada gets away, but here’s a twist! All episode, Sherloque has been suspicious of Nora and her journal full of time language code. It kinda makes him seem sort of shady (he even repeats the “clever girl” line from Thawne-Wells earlier) but things only get more intriguing when we see that some of Sherloque’s translation of Nora’s journal reads “the timeline is malleable.” ...What?

After taking a quick trip back to watch the original Nora and Henry in the past and have a father-daughter moment with Barry, Nora uploads her journal to Gideon, sending it to “the same recipient.” Nora then decides to deliver a message to said recipient and does a bit more time traveling. She arrives in 2049, angry at someone who’s revealed to be... Thawne-Wells! Probably! I can’t really explain why Thawne would still be wearing Wells’s face and there have been so many versions of Harrison Wells that he could be literally anyone, but the episode does seem to be hinting at this being Thawne-Wells, so let’s go with it.

Other Things:

  • Holy crap, Tom Cavanagh directed this episode and played three (four, if you count Thawne pretending to be Wells) technically different characters? Applause to you, man.
  • I loved everyone talking over each other while trying to figure out the best name for a power-dampening dagger dampener. Moments that give me the impression these actors have a lot of fun on set are my favorite.
  • Thawne-Wells and Cisco doing an awkward handshake puts the “awkward handshake” count of the season on two, I think. New running joke?
  • Next week: Crossover event!

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend 4x07 Review: “I Will Help You” (Hello, Mr. Nice Guys) [Contributor: Jenn]


“I Will Help You”
Original Airdate: November 30, 2018

In the November 16 episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (which was fun, especially because it spent most of its time playing around with different character pairings and dynamics; as a related aside), Rebecca and Darryl have a weird moment where they almost kiss. Why, you ask? Because Darryl spent the whole day being nice and kind to Rebecca. And she realizes that as icky and weird as their moment was, it gives her hope. She now knows she has the ability to be attracted to good guys — not horrible, messed-up ones.

So “I Will Help You” ending with epiphanies for Rebecca was entertaining, to say the least. But let’s back up and focus on what the episode was really about: telling the truth.

YOU’RE A MEAN ONE, MAMA BUNCH


We haven’t seen Rebecca’s mama since Rebecca tried to take her life. And when we return to Naomi’s life, we learn that she’s pretty much all caught up on what Rebecca’s been up to. With one notable exception. You see, Naomi doesn’t know Rebecca has quit the law firm. So she spends most of the episode bragging to Audra Levine and her mother about how successful Rebecca is. Slowly, Rebecca slips into more and more guilt over whether or not she should actually tell Naomi she’s running a small pretzel stand in the lobby of her old law firm.

There’s a stark contrast between the way Naomi ultimately wants to be perceived and the way Rebecca wants to be perceived. Though Rebecca comes through for her mother by providing her with a minor celebrity so Naomi isn’t caught in a lie, Naomi ultimately wants people to see her a certain way. She lies and bolsters herself because weakness is not an option. And it’s no wonder Rebecca learned to do the same. But what’s really refreshing at this point in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is that Rebecca has learned that if she can’t be honest with herself, she can’t be healthy. And if she can’t be honest with others, she really can’t be healthy.

Rebecca has made a lot of mistakes in her life. A LOT. But the one thing that’s admirable is that this time around, she’s choosing to be better. She’s actively choosing the harder path rather than hide — from herself and others.

So when Rebecca reveals to her mother that she’s made the decision to open a pretzel stand, not practice law, Naomi doesn’t take it well. Moreover, Naomi confronts Rebecca, telling her that she’s called the law firm and told the new senior partner that Rebecca wants her job back. In the moment, Rebecca does something we all have wanted her to do — she stands up for herself.

She doesn’t blow up at her mom for no reason. She tells Naomi off by setting boundaries. That’s healthy! It’s so healthy, because Rebecca knows that she’ll never earn the approval of her mother but she sure can try to earn her respect. Rebecca tells Naomi that she crossed lines, and that if she wants to be a part of her life, she has to respect who she is. There is no wiggle room for anything else. And if Naomi can’t accept that, then she can’t be a part of Rebecca’s life.

It’s a rare moment in the series where (because of the blocking of the scene, too) Naomi doesn’t have the upper hand or bigger persona. In a tiny New York apartment, Rebecca has emboldened herself and become bigger; and Naomi has shrunk into a place of submission. After all she’s been through — some of it self-inflicted — we root for Rebecca to tell her mom exactly what her place in her life is.

With that bold, courageous step, Rebecca gains a little bit more of control of her life back.

THE NICE GUYS


There are two sub-plots this episode, both of which focus on the men in Rebecca’s life becoming better individuals. After Nathaniel’s emotional awakening last week when he confessed his heart to Heather, he’s decided to think more of others. Unlike what we’d expect, it’s not an act — Paula recognizes that Nathaniel really is trying to grow as a person, offering to help one of Rebecca’s prison clients pro bono, and giving her money she needs.

But Nathaniel isn’t the only one whose softness is on display in “I Will Help You” — Josh agrees to house sit while Rebecca is in New York. While he’s house-sitting, he decides he wants to do something nice for Rebecca as a thank you. So he enlists the advice of Darryl (for the most hilarious, short-lived song about how to clean and be an adult), and decides to go out of his way to tidy up the home.

When Rebecca returns, she’s surprised and impressed! But when her date cancels on her and she spends an evening laughing and eating with Josh, she begins to realize something — she’s in trouble. Because in that moment, she remembered all the great times she and Josh had and feels those feelings again. When Paula tells Rebecca that Nathaniel was selfless and she believe he’s actually trying to become better — for his own sake, not to impress Rebecca or win her back — Rebecca begins to do the same and reminisce on all their good times.

The episode ends with her vocalizing that she’s in trouble, but it’s a good kind of trouble! For the first time really in the series, Rebecca is attracted to all of the good qualities a man possesses. She’s not attracted to Josh to fill a void, she’s not attracted to Nathaniel because he’s mean and dismissive. She’s attracted to them because they’re kind, selfless, and learning to become better people. Rebecca Bunch is attempting to cultivate honesty in every area of her life, and the self-awareness of how she’s feeling (as well as her ability to vocalize it to Paula instead of internalize it) is really a sign of growth.

Rebecca can only go up from here, right?

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Blindspot 4x07 Review: "Case: Sun, Moon and the Truth" (Game On) [Contributor: Jen]


"Case: Sun, Moon and the Truth"
Original Airdate: November 30, 2018

The powder keg that is Kurt and Jane finally exploded in "Case: Sun, Moon and the Truth." The secrets are out. Kurt knows. Remi's ruse is over, but now is finally when things start to get interesting.

KURT AND JANE


I am focusing only on Kurt and Jane because this is a massive Jeller episode. We pick up immediately from where we left off with Kurt confronting "Jane" with all her lies. Amazingly, she still tries to keep her cover going. Remi tells Kurt the woman who shot at him is the Sandstorm operative they've been searching for and she's been running her own operation.

Kurt replies, "I don't know what's worse: the fact that you are still lying to me, or you still think I'll ever believe you."


Kurt Weller is officially no longer Remi's patsy. It's refreshing to see Kurt on defense because he's been played for a fool so long. Unfortunately, Remi is not above low blows to keep her cover going by saying: "Finding out your dad was a killer made it impossible for you to trust anyone. Even your own wife."


I thought this was particularly nasty of Remi and really hit Kurt where it hurts, which is the point of course. We know it's all lies. Kurt is right about her, so it makes me want to scream that she uses his child murdering, pedophile, vile excuse of a father against him.

But this is what Remi has done for months. She's used everything she knows about Kurt Weller against him — particularly his trust and love for Jane. We have witnessed firsthand how Remi's plan was supposed to go: destroy the FBI from within by making Kurt Weller fall in love with her by pretending to be someone she's not.

My only hang-up in this grand scheme is why use the zip? Why not just do what Remi has been doing for months — pretend to be someone Kurt would fall in love with? Maybe there was an explanation in seasons one and two that I've forgotten, but the zip was quite the gamble. It erased everything that made Remi... well, Remi.

What's good about "Case: Sun, Moon and the Truth" is that this is something Kurt and Remi dive into quite extensively. In the middle of their showdown they are interrupted by a neighbor who needs to use their phone. Immediately, we should be nervous because Kurt and Jane don't have normal neighbors. Come on: it's Kurt and Jane.

Of course, they are ambushed and taken hostage by someone named Eve. The $500,000 Remi stole was Eve's money and she wants it back. Remi dodges and weaves, but Eve has her on surveillance camera stealing the money. Rookie move, Remi! This blows the lid off all her lies with Kurt. He remember a person using zip can revert back to their former self in the event of a major trauma... like the one Jane had a few months ago!


REALLY, WRITERS? Kurt knew this all along? He never considered for a second that's what could be going on with all of Jane's strange behavior? I hate when Blindspot throws in convenient plot contrivances to connect their storylines. This just makes Kurt look like even more of an idiot for not figuring it out sooner. My annoyance is tempered by the fact KURT KNOWS. We can finally move on from the main male protagonist being a complete dummy.


Eve forces Kurt and Remi to steal something she wants from the FBI evidence storage unit. She straps bombs to them so they cooperate. However, they are able to go into the storage unit alone when Kurt tips Eve off to the surveillance cameras he installed inside the storage unit when he was Assistant Director of the FBI. I love when Kurt throws his old titles around. It's hot.

This gives Kurt and Remi the chance to block the signal on their bomb vests. They use duct tape. Yeah, you read that right. Remi at least has the common sense to be insanely nervous about this plan, but Kurt is confident because he knows how ops with Jane go. The stuff they come up with always works. 

The two need to work on each other's signals because they cannot reach their own. This puts Remi in uncomfortably close proximity to Kurt Weller. He chooses this moment to ask her why she didn't kill him with the poison in the syringe. Remi doesn't answer, but you can cut the sexual tension with a knife. Jaimie Alexander and Sullivan Stapleton have chemistry that doesn't quit.  One of Blindspot's great strengths is finding new and interesting ways to capitalize on it without the relationship going stale.

They get the six pieces of duck tape on in the nick of time and Eve sets off the bombs.


Remi clings to Kurt for dear life and it's a rare moment when her true feelings rise above her mission. Kurt gently cradles her head in his hand, softly reassuring Remi the way he would Jane, but adding a smug, "And we're not dead." It's his way of sticking it to Remi for her lack of confidence in him, but also subtly acknowledges the way she held onto him. Kurt felt Remi's defenses come down in his arms and they both know it.

Now Kurt is going to use it to his advantage. As they search for the case Eve wants, Kurt and Remi embark on a philosophical discussion of sorts. He's picked up on Remi's rage and how much of it is directed at him. Boy, you ain't kidding, big fella. Kurt would like to know why Remi hates him so much and her answer is very simple: "Everything fell apart because of  you."

She means the Sandstorm operation — the plan to simultaneously end the U..S government and install a new one. Instead of leading Sandstorm to victory, Jane was the primary force leading to its failure and destruction... including the incarceration of her mother and eventual death of her brother.

Kurt is not buying it. Sure, it's a good list of reasons to hate him, but none of them are the real reason. We've watched Remi use everything she knows about Kurt against him all season long. Now it's Kurt's turn to use what he knows about Jane and Remi.

Kurt says: "I was supposed to fall in love with Jane. That was your plan. Things fell apart because Jane fell in love with me. You hate me because I remind you what a failure you are."

This is the "you fell in love with me too, na-na-na-boo-boo" speech. As burns go, it's a solid one. This also answers why Mama Sandstorm used the zip on Remi. If Remi was still Remi — if she retained all her memories — then there was a chance the mission would fail. 

We can only pretend to be someone else for so long. The fear was Kurt Weller would eventually figure it out. He would see through the ruse and the mission would fall apart. Sandstorm's success hinged entirely on Kurt not only believing in who Jane was, but also falling in love with her. There could be no room for error, which meant Remi had to be erased. She had to become someone new. Someone Kurt would fall in love with. It had to be real.

Mama Sandstorm was right to be concerned. She was right to use the zip, because Kurt has seen through the ruse. Remi pretending to be someone else — pretending to be Jane — wasn't enough to fool Kurt. The piece nobody counted on, particularly Remi, was this new person falling in love with Kurt. Remi believed even without her memories she would somehow retain herself. She believed all the training would stay in her mind and body. She was right about one of those. Remi stayed in Jane's body. She recalled all her physical training, but mentally she became someone else. The memories erased who Remi was and allowed for someone else to be born.

What's fascinating about the Jane/Remi character is we are always examining how much of Jane is in Remi and vice versus. Stripping Remi of her memories, her training, and all the garbage Mama Sandstorm poured into her traumatized mind allowed someone new to take hold. The person Remi could have been. The person she's truly meant to be — Jane. 

Remi wants to know why Kurt loves Jane so much. Kurt not only answers her question but explains the central internal battle of our heroine: "She's the strongest person I've ever met and, considering everything that she's been through, she's still compassionate and kind."

Remi is right. The zip made her a blank slate, but Jane wasn't someone Kurt molded. What drove Jane, from minute one, was an intense compassion. In the beginning of the series she was acting off instinct. She had no other means of making decisions because she had no memory to rely on. What is natural and instinctual inside of Jane is kindness, love and selflessness. 

This is why Kurt Weller fell in love with her. I think for both Jane and Kurt it was love at first sight. 


The moment Jane touched Kurt's face, she was reaching for someone to hold onto. She was looking for a place to start and she found it in Kurt. And Kurt found a place to start in Jane. 


We can argue he fell in love with Jane, at first, because Kurt believed she was Taylor Shaw.  Of course, this was always Remi and Sandstorm's plan. However, one reason Kurt believed Jane was Taylor was because he saw all the same goodness. Her goodness isn't erased because Jane wasn't Taylor, nor does it erase why Kurt fell in love with her.

So now that Remi is back, where did those qualities go? If Jane was acting off instinct in the beginning, then goodness is what is innate in Remi... until it was destroyed by her mother. Kurt says: "Jane has exactly what you don't. That's the choice to be whoever she wants to be. You're the one that's been shaped into a weapon. You are exactly who your mother made you to be."

This sums up the entire conundrum that is Remi and why the zip was such a gift. It gave Remi a choice for the first time in her life to be someone else. She chose Jane. The reason Remi hates Kurt Weller so much is because he reminds her of who she can be. Kurt's love and his faith in Jane is a constant mirror reflecting the best parts of Remi in the face of the worst.

Remi wants to know why it took Kurt so long to figure out she is not Jane if the two women are so different. Kurt replies, "Parts of you inside of her that keep her alive. There's nothing of her inside of you."

This is where I disagree with Kurt. I believe this is his anger and betrayal talking. He sees Remi's fight, her will to survive, and even some of her dubious characteristics in Jane. Keep in mind Jane has a habit of lying to Kurt frequently. He can acknowledge Remi lives inside of Jane. He cannot acknowledge Jane lives inside of Remi.

He's wrong. The reason she can't kill Kurt, the reason he felt Jane in his arms as Remi held onto him so tightly, is because Jane lives inside of Remi too. Jane is the best parts of Remi. She is who Remi becomes when you strip away all the rage, violence, and abuse. The memories may be gone, but Remi cannot ignore what is instinctual in her heart. Her goodness is instinct. Her love for Kurt is instinct. Every action she takes is a means to bury those feelings deeper and deeper until they are erased.

Blindspot is continually examining the meaning and impact of memory on our identity. We are our actions. We are our choices. Remi and Jane are completely different people. It is the age old battle of good versus evil. The angel versus the devil. The light versus the dark.

Yet, we know there is grey within us all. Nobody is entirely good or bad. Our identity is not a light switch. The zip may open and close doors for Remi and Jane, but each persona still has free will.
Jane has made the wrong decisions. She has lied, betrayed, and killed. Jane is a good person, but she is not perfect.

As for Remi, there is some part stopping her from killing Kurt Weller, Edgar Reade, Patterson, and Rich Dotcom. She may argue it's tactics and it is to her advantage to allow her husband and friends to live, but we know different. It is love buried deep inside.
Remi: So you did make it out of there. 
Kurt: I think you called because some part of you still cares about me. It's why you locked me in that hallway instead of killing me. There is some part of Jane still inside of you. I'm not giving up on her. 
Remi: Well that's good to hear because as long as you believe that, you can't kill me either. But if I see you again, I won't have that problem.  
Kurt: I will find you. I will not give up on my wife. I will get her back. 
Remi: So then I guess it's game on.
Remi's phone call makes Kurt see the truth. If he wants to save his wife, then Kurt has to see the Jane in Remi just like he sees the Remi in Jane. Patterson and Rich's cure will save Jane/Remi's life, but it's going to be Kurt's love, and the love he sees in Remi, that's will save Jane's soul. Hopefully Kurt gets his wife back before she kills anybody. GAME ON.

Stray Thoughts:

  • Rich and Patterson solve another tattoo and find another of Roman's data caches. It's full of medical research so we are full speed ahead on these two finding a cure for Jane.
  • Zapata is headed to Mexico with Madeleine to convince the cartel to share their computer hacker so they can crash this plane. I am getting bored with this storyline. Zapata is not going to crash a plane so can we move onto something more interesting?
  • Weitz and Reade discover the pilot Zapata and Madeleine uses from documents they obtained from HCI Global. This feels highly stupid of Madeleine and Zapata not to conceal the name of the pilot better, but whatever. Weitz and Reade know she's headed to Mexico and they are going to follow.
  • Madeleine offered Weitz the presidency of HCI Global. I still can't figure out if he's good or bad, but I am leaning toward good.
  • I miss Kurt as the Assistant Director. Can we go back to that please?
  • Is it me or are they putting Zapata in less and less clothes every week? Of course, Audrey Esparza looks amazing, but all these low-cut and silky tops feel very negligee. Are they somehow equating sexy with evil? I don't love that message.
  • $500k is all it takes to run a terrorist organization? Seems low.
  • "Mints of the fifth floor bathroom were enough to sell me. How do they make them spicy hot and minty fresh at the same time?" Rich officially gets all the best lines now.
  • Rich hitting himself with the pickax has me rolling.
  • Do the video cameras not pick up the doors being ripped off? There's a shocking lack of video security at the FBI storage center.
  • I love Weller didn't trust Remi for a second and he blew up the case.

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Flash 5x07 Review: "O Come, All Ye Thankful" (Family Ties) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"O Come, All Ye Thankful"
Original Airdate: November 27, 2018 

Time for things to go Barry-centric again! After a couple episodes focusing on other characters, I suppose we’re due for a more solid delve into the main character of the show and main villain of the season. But I am happy to say that The Flash seems to be keeping its good episode streak this week: while “O Come, All Ye Thankful” had a couple problems I’ll talk more about later, it certainly wasn’t a bad episode, and the West-Allen Family story we get makes up for a lot of faults in my eyes.

‘TIS THE SEASON (KINDA)


It’s Thanksgiving in The Flash universe, which is fitting for an episode all about family relationships (adopted families or otherwise). The episode begins with Barry and Caitlin making pie for the Team Flash Thanksgiving meal. It’s adorable, especially since Barry is awful at it and Caitlin tries to comfort him with puns. Kindred spirits, Caitlin and I. Anyway, Iris and Nora arrive from a mother-daughter day out getting manicures and it looks like their bond is still going pretty strong — a fact which I love and encourage.

Unfortunately, the buzz of a nice day spent with her mom is snuffed out when Iris explains some stuff the Flash Museum in the future left out — mostly stuff involving Barry’s poor judgement and total lack of self-preservation instincts. Nora connects some dots and realizes that the reason why her hero father is missing in the future is because he was being a hero and, like walking into the Speed Force at the end of the show’s third season, sacrificed himself for the greater good. Yep. Sounds about right for our dumb, heroic Labradoodle.

As Nora grapples with new information about her father’s motivations for leaving, a new meta arrives on the scene: Weather Witch, who wants to hold Central City hostage in exchange for her father, Weather Wizard. Her first strike against the city ends up with Barry dead and Nora trying to revive him with some shots of Speed Force lightning to the heart. Quick shout-out to Jessica Parker Kennedy, who plays Nora and delivers a perfect combination of desperation, fear, and horror as Nora attempts to revive Barry — and relief, fear, and horror when the attempts finally succeed. It’s a moment that really nails down exactly what motivates Nora throughout the episode, and why — even though she’s a hero herself and knows what that role entails — she asks Barry to hang up the Flash costume and just be her dad.

Like I said, Weather Witch is looking for her dad, who’s currently locked up in Iron Heights. Team Flash initially thinks she wants to save her dad from prison, but it turns out she wants to kill him for being a deadbeat all her life. Wow. Extreme. Anyway, how wonderfully coincidental that Weather Witch, a former amateur storm chaser, managed to get one of her weather devices infected with dark matter-infused satellite parts and gained powers like her dad’s. Guess life’s just funny that way. Superpowers-related question, though: how is Joss not killed by her own lightning tornadoes? The staff she uses has metapowers. She’s just a normal human; she shouldn’t be immune to lightning.

After her attempts to kill her father are thwarted, Weather Witch decides it’s time to threaten a whole airport full of people and, eventually, all of Central City unless Team Flash serves Weather Wizard up for her to kill. Barry goes to the airport, but he needs Weather Wizard’s wand to counteract Weather Witch’s powers. Nora speeds the wand to Barry, who must risk his own life in the lightning storm if they have any chance of saving all the people still trapped at the airport. Nora looks at her dad, then looks at all the scared citizens, and realizes that being a hero has to mean taking risks and that Barry is the sort of person who would always choose saving others over saving himself.

When Weather Witch is behind bars, Team Flash gets to celebrate Thanksgiving together. Cisco, Sherloque, and Caitlin all need a little convincing to join the party, since they all had a bad year — or, in Caitlin’s case, bad several years. Seriously, Caitlin I am so sorry the writers are so mean to you. Thankfully (ha!) Killer Frost is now available to snark some sense into them, so they go and celebrate with the others as one big, happy, makeshift family.

CICADA SECRETS


Thanksgiving also inspires Cisco in the quest to find out Cicada’s identity. Since they know the victim connected to Cicada is a girl named Grace Gibbons, who doesn’t have any family on record (thanks to the mysterious pro-Cicada doctor), Cisco still figures any family she might have will likely visit on Thanksgiving Day. He hacks into the hospital security and sees Cicada himself arrive at Grace’s room and identifies the man as Orlin Dwyer.

Who is Orlin Dwyer, though? A series of flashbacks throughout the episode tell us he was once a selfish, self-loathing man whose niece, Grace, was dropped off at his apartment after his sister was killed in a metahuman attack. Orlin is initially terrible to Grace and such an awful guardian that I question the efficacy Child Protective Services in Central City. They seriously just drop kids off at the nearest relative’s house without determining if that person is in any way equipped to take care of a child first? Jeez, guys. Run a background check, will you?

Life is tough-going for Grace and Orlin while Orlin utterly fails to be a respectable adult and Grace gets reprimanded by school authority for calling kids rude words she learned from Orlin. After Grace correctly surmises that Orlin hates himself and that’s why he’s such an awful, angry person, Orlin begins trying to make things better for her and them, as a family. He gets a fixer-upper house and even gets her a dollhouse they can build and decorate together.

A year after Grace arrived in Orlin’s life, they’re at the carnival together and are ready to be a family. Unfortunately, the Enlightenment happens. Grace is knocked out by debris and Orlin gets a huge hunk of metal to the chest, which he leaves in until he can deliver an unconscious Grace to the hospital. Dr. Mysteriously Very Helpful takes uncle and niece in, but while she can help the former, the latter’s fate is unknown. The doctor expresses how Grace getting hurt is really the fault of metahumans, which pushes Orlin to officially become Cicada. And the shrapnel he’d been impaled with becomes his dagger.

Now, I really do like this little backstory we get for Cicada, especially since the show established from the start how empathetic the character is toward people with strong family connections. The flashbacks work to reinforce that, explain his connection with Grace, and explain why he blames metahumans for his troubles. However, I think the show might have rushed through all those explanations a bit by putting them all in the same episode.

Personally speaking, I would have found the “learning to be a family” story more compelling if Orlin and Grace’s relationship was extended over flashbacks in several episodes, and I would have found Cicada’s motivations against metas more believable if he’d... y’know, mentioned hating metas at any other point before the doctor brings it up? Orlin’s sister was killed by a meta, but that gets one blink-and-you’ll-miss-it mention, and then nothing. As it stands, Cicada’s motivation seems more like an attempt to blame literally anything for Grace’s injuries, so he latches onto the first option given to him. While emotionally sound, it’s a narratively weak origin for a metahuman serial killer.

Other Things:

  • The music in some of the scenes this episode stood out as particularly great, especially the drum-based music before Barry’s confrontation of Weather Witch.
  • Next week: The Flash’s 100th episode!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Doctor Who 11x08 Recap: “The Witchfinders” (Whoo Hoo, Witchy Woman...) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]


“The Witchfinders”
Original Airdate: November 25, 2018

Ain’t no party like an early 17th-century party because an early 17th-century party is actually a witch trial!

In the tiny village of Bilehurst Cragg, Mistress Becka Savage has gathered the villagers to drown another suspected witch. When they had landed, the Doctor had reminded the team that interfering in historical events was a big no-no. I don’t see why she bothered. As soon as the “witch” is dunked into the lake, the Doctor throws off her coat and jumps in after her.

A ROYALLY SANCTIONED WITCH HUNT


Despite the Doctor’s heroics, the woman is dead. Becka is furious that the ceremony was interrupted and apprehends the Doctor until a flash of the psychic paper informs her that the Doctor and her team are Witchfinders. Instantly apologetic, Becka invites them back to her manor home. On the way, she tells them that she owns much of the land in Bilehurst and is dedicated to purging Satan from everything and everyone, including her horses.

After a bit of snooping around in the Mistress’ room, the Doctor attempts to reason with Becka but the woman is fiercely devoted to King James I, who in turn supports witch trials. Any further persuasion is interrupted by the appearance of King James himself, in all his foppish ridiculousness. He reads the psychic paper and demotes the Doctor to assistant witchfinder because she’s just a woman. She can’t possibly be in charge. Instead, Graham — the only white male available — is recognized as head witchfinder and given a hilarious hat to denote his position. Becka and the king agree that killing everyone in the village is a price worth paying if it means saving their souls from Satan.

MUDDY WATERS


While the others are meeting the king, Yaz has stayed behind to comfort the granddaughter of the supposed witch. Willa’s day goes from bad to worse when she’s attacked by seemingly sentient roots at her home. Yaz hurries back to tell the Doctor, and they return to Willa together — leaving Ryan and Graham to stall Becka and the King from destroying the entire village by nightfall. As you might suspect, Willa’s grandmother was nothing more than a healer who made medicines to help people. After learning that Becka is Willa’s cousin, the Doctor and Yaz encourage Willa to stand up to her and protect herself and her village.

But there are other problems besides Becka’s misplaced witch hunts. The roots that attacked Willa are made of alien mud, which reanimates Willa’s grandmother and several other bodies buried in the earth. King James comes running out of the forest and orders his bodyguard to shoot the mud zombies but is instead blasted with energy from the mud grandmother. Due to her intellect, sonic screwdriver, and love of talking, the Doctor is fingered as a witch. Poor Willa is pressured into agreeing with the accusation.

Alone with King James, the Doctor urges him to trust her and set aside his fear. Meanwhile, her team track the mud zombies to Becka’s house and see granny taking the ax from Becka’s bedside. The Doctor is tied to the same tree branch as every other witch in preparation for her drowning. When Becka touches the branch, it reacts to her. The Doctor begins putting pieces together. Mud runs from Becka’s eye. The Doctor is dropped into the water.

A GOOD OL' FASHIONED TORCH-WIELDING MOB


Even though the team begs the king to bring her up, he hesitates for a long time. It doesn’t matter. The Doctor is very good at holding her breath and learned how to escape from chains from Houdini so she was already free. She confronts Becka directly and the woman finally breaks down. After chopping down a tree spoiling her view, she was infected by the alien mud. In the hopes of ridding herself of the infection, she sought out and killed “witches,” but it’s made no difference. As everyone watches, she is overtaken by the infection and transforms into a Morax, an alien army that the Doctor deduces were imprisoned under the tree for war crimes.

The Morax escape with the King. To protect themselves, the Doctor has her team and Willa chop up the branch from Becka’s tree, which was used as a sort of lock on the Morax’s prison. When made into torches, the tree will be toxic to the Morax. The mob of five march toward the remainder of the tree, where they find the Morax preparing to release their own king and infect King James.

The Doctor is able to reactivate the prison, which draws all of the Morax back into it, except for Becka. Grabbing a torch, the King lights her on fire, destroying her completely. He boasts at having actually vanquished Satan. In the morning, Ryan rebuffs the King’s request to go with him to England and the Doctor and her team depart, giving King James and Willa a look at true magic as the TARDIS dematerializes.

Final Thoughts:

  • This episode did a great job of finding a balance between the season’s theme of people being the true villain and an actual monster of the week. Becka Savage was a villain all on her own because she killed innocent people, namely women, in an attempt to save herself. But the Morax were just as awful and wicked. 
  • Alan Cumming as King James I was so funny and so gay. He took one look at Ryan and was instantly flirting. We couldn’t have asked for a better guest star to portray a historical figure.
  • I’m glad this season has found a good way to address how the Doctor is treated differently as a woman than when she was a man without making that a focal point of every episode. 
  • The Doctor: “These are hard times for women. If we’re not being drowned, we’re being patronized to death.”
  • The Doctor: “Honestly, if I was still a bloke I could get on with the job and not waste time defending myself!”
  • When told that many women were accused of being witches because they talked too much, the Doctor replies, “Which is daft because talking’s brilliant!” I love her so much.
  • Throughout the episode, the Doctor was adamant that she doesn’t believe in Satan. Um, she literally met the devil as the Tenth Doctor. Just sayin’.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Blindspot 4x06 Review: "Ca-Ca-Candidate for Cri-Cri-Crime" (The Jig Is Up) [Contributor: Jen]


"Ca-Ca-Candidate for Cri-Cri-Crime"
Original Airdate: November 16, 2018

"Ca-Ca-Candidate for Cri-Cri-Crime" is highly focused on the case of the week, but that's just because the writers want to drop the "Kurt knows" bomb at the end of the episode.

CASE OF THE WEEK


New York Congressman Justin Trimble's murder triggers the tattoo database. He spells out "GPA" with his own blood (yuck), which leads Team Blindspot to a tattoo they already solved — the flag. Does anyone else remember this tattoo? I sure don't, but then again I never remember the tattoos.

The marked stars on the flag correlates to Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Alaska (GPA). Given the political angle of Justin Trimble's death, the team determines the tattoo is pointing to Growth and Prosperity for America — the most powerful lobby in the United States. One of the candidates GPA gave money to was Matthew Weitz, the director of the FBI.

However, when the team questions Weitz, he says he doesn't know Trimble very well. Patterson and Rich rapidly discover evidence to prove he's lying. Why does anyone ever lie to Patterson on this show? Lying to Patterson is like shooting a gun at Wonder Woman. (Yes, I just compared Patterson to Wonder Woman and I am completely comfortable with the analogy.)

Rich is not convinced of Weitz's guilt simply because he lied, saying: "I know the role of FBI director has been a little Defense Against the Dark Arts around here lately, but it makes no sense for Weitz to be working against us. That's career suicide, and Weitz loves his career."

Rich gets ten points for using logic and 100 points for referencing Harry Potter. This whole Weitz thing hits the team squarely in their Eleanor Hirst-damaged hearts, but quite frankly I always thought the team was a little quick to trust Hirst. It's nice to see them distrustful of the next FBI director — it is Weitz we're talking about here — but Rich plays out the director's angle and it doesn't make sense. Honestly, having a reformed criminal and smarmy politician on the team may be the best thing to ever happened to the show. Team Blindspot often needs help seeing the shadier side of things.

Kurt and "Jane" investigate the murder scene and they find a USB drive Justin had been hiding. He was being blackmailed and recorded the conversations. Unfortunately, Justin pushed GPA too hard for evidence. GPA became suspicious of his motives and had him killed. The team needs to find out who else is being blackmailed.

Weitz shows up at Frank Davenport's house, who is third in line for Speaker of the House. Davenport also got Weitz his job at FBI.  It's all about networking people! Don't let anyone tell you different.

Justin wanted to blow the whistle on GPA, but Weitz needed proof he was being blackmailed before opening a criminal investigation. Unfortunately, Trimble lacked the finesse required for such a task and he was murdered. Weitz is certain Davenport is also being blackmailed since he voted the same as Justin on every GPA-related bill. Davenport refuses to listen to Weitz and tells him to let it go.

Jeller and Patterson Dotcom (Yes, I made Rich and Patterson a ship name. They are work spouses after all) come to the exact same conclusion: "This whole conspiracy is about China." Kurt notes the outline at the bottom of the flag is the same shape of the Yangtze River. Roman was trying to tell the FBI that the country has been infiltrated by China. Patterson Dotcom came to the same conclusion when they discovered China's interests were represented in all the bills GPA lobbied for.

Yeah, what else is new?

Sorry, it's probably highly concerning I'm not more freaked out by China owning the U.S., but it's not a shocker. We are trillions of dollars in debt and I'm fairly certain we owe China a large chunk of that bill. I'm more or less bitterly resigned to this fact.


Weitz shows up five second later and announces this case is all about China. The nonplussed reactions are gold. Weitz showing up late to the party will always be hilarious. He has determined it's time to let the rest of the team in. Why Weitz didn't tell the team what was going on in the first place is beyond me. It all feels like an extremely roundabout way of painting Weitz in an unflattering light. We've had an evil FBI director. I didn't need to do it again, even for a short amount of time.

Trimble informed Weitz another congresswoman wanted to blow the whistle on GPA and the team discovers Elaine Bell has the same voting record as Justin. Weitz also recognizes a common phrase on her calendar, which is code for keeping a meeting closed and quiet. The team assumes she's about to meet with GPA, but they aren't fast enough getting to her house. The same assassin who shot Trimble shoots Bell in her driveway.

Team Blindspot cannot figure out who is working for GPA because their donor list is so prolific. Weitz orders every field office to put every congress person on the GPA donor list into protective custody. All in total it's over 100 people and it's a fairly impressive Weitz moment. He is useful for a change. Miracles do happen.

Reade and Weitz go to Davenport's house to put him into protective custody. Davenport confesses what GPA has on him: he had an affair with an underage girl. He agrees to the protective custody, but just wants to secure his office before they leave. WEITZ AND READE LET HIM WALK AWAY.


NOOOO! Why are characters so stupid? This is clearly outside of protocol. No FBI agent worth their salt would let someone in protective custody out of their sight for five seconds. This is the stuff they used to pull on The Following all the time. FBI agents would split up and then... "Oh no!" the killer murders them one by one. How about you just stay together, idiots, LIKE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO! Sorry, I'm still super bitter about how stupid that show was. Moving on.

The five seconds gives Davenport plenty of time to call his GPA associates and gives me the chance to scream, "I told you so." Weitz and Reade end up in a gun battle. Well, technically Reade is in a gun battle because the FBI director does not carry a gun.


Say what now? Is that a thing? That doesn't feel like it's based remotely in reality.

Weitz finally figures out Davenport lied about the underage girl and is working for GPA. Davenport pulls a gun on Weitz, they struggle, and Reade saves his life. Kurt and Jane also stop a GPA assassin making a second attempt on Elaine Bells' life. Weitz vows to have all the GPA legislation repealed.

TEAM BLINDSPOT


Reade is debriefed over the files Zapata stole by Sabrina Larren, who works directly for the CIA director and is taking over for Jake Keaton. Larren tells Reade he's in a safe place and can tell her how Zapata gained access to the FBI server. I want to be proud of Reade for telling the truth, but he was so blindly stupid to this completely obvious lie that I could only shake my head at him. Reade lies about everything to the higher-ups (including his drug past), but this? This incident requires full transparency? Sigh.

This is the second stupid thing Reade did this week. The first is putting a murder suspect target on Zapata's back. The woman Tasha broke into Reade's apartment with is Claudia Murphy, an MI6 agent. (So Tasha wasn't lying about that!) MI6 believe she is missing and potentially dead.

Reade theorizes Murphy may have threatened Zapata and she retaliated. This convinces Larren to bring Zapata in, dead or alive. Of course Reade is right about Tasha, but he didn't need to hang a billboard out there for the CIA. Reade assures Larren the whole "dead or alive" thing is no problem for him.


Larren does not believe Reade for a second and convinces Weitz to fire him since he cannot be objective when it comes to Zapata. Facts are facts. No argument from me.

However, Weitz firing Reade is all a ruse. He needed the CIA to believe the FBI stopped looking into Zapata. Weitz explains when the CIA says "dead or alive," it typically just means dead. He's grown fond of Team Blindspot (uhhh, really?) and wants Reade's help to bring Tasha in alive. And thus the Save Zapata Super Secret Task Force is born.

Back on Tasha's show (doesn't it feel like she's on her own show?), Madeleine instructs her to target Adam Booth. He is the head engineer at Bradley Dynamics and Madeleine's best shot at infiltrating Project Arvo. Apparently, building a global army is quite expensive and Crawford left HCI Global $40 billion in debt. Bradley Dynamics is their main competitor and Madeleine wants Project Arvo to fail so HCI picks up some more lucrative contracts. This feels like a lot of exposition for simple corporate espionage, but whatever.

Ever the good lackey, Zapata threatens Booth's wife, thereby convincing him to take photos of all  pertinent Project Arvo documents. Booth tells Zapata she's the worst after he completes the required task. Zapata pretends like she doesn't care, but then she sad pandas when she turns away. This has been Tasha's arc pretty much all season long. She does something horrible for Madeleine, thereby proving she's not remotely in control, feels bad about it, but does it anyway. We are in episode six. I need to move it along.

Project Arvo is a state of the art aeronautics system, but it's for a commercial airliner and not the army. Madeleine can't beat Bradley Dynamics to market, so she will let them launch their new plane and Zapata will crash it. It will be a PR disaster and put HCI Global back in the black.

... I guess? This feels like one of those Rube Goldberg mouse traps. A lot of things have to go right to achieve a desired goal. Are we really expecting Zapata to crash a plane full of innocent people? No, of course not, because she sad pandas every chance she gets.

This storyline of Zapata seizing power and using it push along her worldview was interesting when it involved controlling Blake. But now Madeleine is controlling Zapata and she's in way over her head. It stopped making sense why Tasha didn't reach out to Team Blindspot weeks ago, so now I'm really shaking my head at the ridiculousness of this entire plot.

KURT AND JANE


We're back to the good old days of Kurt staring at Jane during ops, but unfortunately it's not because of all his fuzzy bunny feelings. He's trying to assess if his wife is crazy. Spoiler alert, Kurt: SHE IS.

Remi has been hard at work running drills to prepare to break into Mama Shepherd's black site location. Her nefarious partner, Violet, has been unable to crack the door key code in a reasonable short amount of time and Remi's patience is thinning. They end up dead in any scenario they run, but getting someone who can break the key code faster will take months. And Remi doesn't have months.

Remi decides to incite mass panic as a means of distraction instead of trying to break into the black site via stealth. I am wondering how one incites mass panic and anything I come up with is very bad. We are rapidly approaching Armageddon Remi, so it'd be super great if Kurt clued into what is going on.

Kurt agrees, thank goodness. He's not buying anymore of "Jane's" lies. Particularly the one about finding a potential black market cure and keeping Kurt out of the loop because she was afraid he wouldn't understand. Remi fails to realize Kurt would burn the world to the ground if it meant saving his wife and it ultimately gives her away. Kurt puts a tracker on her. GAME ON.

I know this whole "Jane is evil" storyline is distressing to those of us who just want our Jeller to be happy and focused on making all the babies. (We'll get there. Just hang on), but it is extremely satisfying watching Kurt turn from being the hunted to the hunter. Remi's lies have been particularly good up until now, but the cracks are starting to show.

Like when Remi asks, "Would you still want to know the truth about your father, knowing how much pain it would cause you?"

See Remi, when you ask questions like this, Kurt is going to think you are hiding the truth from him, because... well, history. And the black market cure nonsense isn't a good enough cover. Might as well hang a sign out there, lady.

What did I enjoy, however, is Kurt's answer. He would want to know the truth no matter what — even if it destroyed his happy memories — because: "They were already wrecked. It was all lies." THY NAME IS CHARACTER GROWTH. I've been waiting years for both Kurt and Jane to understand honesty is one of the most important building blocks to a successful relationship. If you don't have trust, you have nothing. And these two have been willing to blow their trust in one another far too frequently in the past. So at least Kurt has learned some lessons.

Kurt offers "Jane" one final swoonworthy out: "You always run from your problems. This time why don't you try running to me?" It's just so frustrating he's delivering these heart stopping lines while "Jane" is evil. I'm hoping the hot burning sun that is Kurt Weller's love is enough to melt even Remi's cold heart. If not, then we need Kurt to say these lines to Jane again once she's not a homicidal Looney Tune anymore.

Kurt follows the tracker to the warehouse where Remi has been practicing her black site break-in scenarios. Weller runs into Violet and they end up in a shootout. Suffice it to say, Mr. Doe is not a happy camper when he arrives home.

Remi tries to dodge and weave. She gives her level best, "Oh no!" when Kurt tells her Violet almost killed him. But eventually Remi knows the jig is up. Kurt asks her what is going on and the facade drops. Remi reveals her Machiavellian face — the one hiding over Kurt's shoulder, where only we could see, any time he held his wife.

Kurt sees Remi for the first time and finally understands something is horribly wrong.

Stray Thoughts:

  • "Okay, look, it cannot all be armed nukes falling out of airplanes all right?' So much truth here.
  • "I can't believe I'm driving to Westchester twice in one day." Weitz went toe-to-toe with Rich with the one liners this week.
  • No idea how the bullets missed Reade.
  • "Who else is Lebron?" "Patterson. " FACTS

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Flash 5x06 Review: "The Icicle Cometh" (No Business Like Snow Business) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"The Icicle Cometh"
Original Airdate: November 20, 2018 

This week on The Flash, Caitlin tries to reconnect with her long-lost father as most of Team Flash try to figure out who the villain of the season really is and where that evil dagger of his came from. Much like last week’s episode, the show successfully manages to give a character other than Barry the spotlight for a bit — Iris before, Caitlin now. We get a lot more season plot balance in this episode versus last week’s more precisely focused episode, but still. It’s all cool.

(Pun intended. Pun always intended.)

POPS-SICLE


We’re continuing the Cisco and Caitlin C-Story from last week, except now it’s been graduated to the A-story. Congrats, guys! Half the team (Iris, Sherloque, and Nora) splits off to hunt down the dark matter-infused satellite core and Cicada answers and the other half (Caitlin, Cisco, and Barry) head to the North Pole, which some investigation work has identified as the last known location of Thomas Snow, Caitlin’s dad. Aww, Team Flash: Original Recipe is together for this episode! That’s nice.

Once Barry phases himself and his friends through a wall, it takes no time at all for the three to stumble across Thomas. Thomas reveals that he already knows who everyone is because he’s had access to a one-way video feed into S.T.A.R. Labs for a while. Um. Creepy? He says it’s because he used to video chat with Harrison Wells (the real one?) but yeah, the idea of someone secretly watching everyone in the lab long enough to figure out who people are is really, really creepy. Strike one against Thomas!

Thomas went to the lab in the first place in order to stop the progression of his ALS and, because he was dealing in kooky crazy science, he quarantined himself just in case things went awry. The good news is, he made progress with stopping the symptoms of ALS. The bad news is, the site he was working in was shut down. With him inside. By Caitlin’s mom. That sounds really harsh. Some might even call such behavior... cold.

With his story shared, Thomas accompanies the three back to S.T.A.R. Labs. Cisco is not okay with this because he finds Thomas’s story super suspicious, even making a snarky reference to him creeper-watching the lab through that video feed. Valid, Cisco. Super valid. Also, Cisco being suspicious of Thomas? Strike two against him, although I don’t even know why I decided to start measuring strikes. It’s obvious just from the actor’s line delivery that Thomas is actually evil.

While out on a walk with Caitlin, Thomas has some kind of attack and his arm goes all icy. Caitlin takes him back to the lab and, when he comes to, he explains that his attempt to cure his ALS led to something deadlier: a mutation that’s rewriting his genetic code, which will eventually kill him. Then Thomas admits that he found the genetic marker for ALS in Caitlin and, wanting to stop the disease before it ever manifested in his daughter, did some experimental cryogenic gene therapy on her that gave her the Killer Frost alternate personality.

Cisco is understandably judgmental about this dude’s willingness to do scientific experiments on his own daughter. Seriously, Caitlin’s mom felt no qualms about locking her husband up in a black ops site and faking his death, and her dad performed experiments on her when she was a little girl. Frankly, it’s a miracle Caitlin has such a gentle personality, because her parents are nightmare people.

Caitlin, Barry, and Thomas devise a plan for stopping the deterioration of Thomas’s cells while Cisco protests against everything that’s happening so conveniently on Thomas’s behalf. Cisco recognizes that both Caitlin and Barry are letting their emotions get in the way of their rationality. Barry just sees the Snows finding each other again as a lovely reunion between father and daughter, like what Nora experienced when she traveled back in time to meet him, and Caitlin is so desperate to have a family member she can genuinely connect with that she’ll accept anything Thomas tells her. Even after Cisco uncovers holes in Thomas’s story, Caitlin takes her father’s side over her friend’s.

Eventually, though, Caitlin’s scientific brain manages to work out the truth without the bias of familial love clouding it: Thomas’s cryogenic meta personality plotted everything just to manipulate Caitlin into making a serum that could permanently suppress his human side. When Barry, Caitlin, and Cisco confront him, he turns all frosty and knocks them out, then swipes the serum Caitlin developed. He still needs to apply the serum in sub-zero temperatures, though, so he heads to a DOD site to find a device that allows him to do so.

Team Flash follows Thomas — now dubbed Icicle — to the site so they can stop him, but it’s too cold in there for regular humans to survive. Caitlin, who is apparently immune to the cold thanks to Killer Frost, is the only one left standing while everyone else freezes. And speaking of Killer Frost, desperation to prevent Icicle from destroying Thomas Snow forever causes Caitlin to manifest Killer Frost again. She’s able to fight off Icicle and destroy the serum but, after a brief moment in which Thomas seems to fight through the Icicle personality, he escapes in the end.

The whole experience wasn’t a total loss, though, because when Caitlin returns to S.T.A.R. Labs, Cisco (inspired by the sudden reappearance of Killer Frost during the fight) provides a new explanation for how Killer Frost was lost in the first place: DeVoe hadn’t destroyed her, but instead locked her behind a mental block. Ostensibly, Caitlin would just have to access that part of her mind again, and Killer Frost would be back for good. He gives her Harry’s mental dampener from last season, which allows Caitlin to directly communicate with Killer Frost, so they can build up their relationship. Neat!

SEARCH FOR CICADA


Everyone who isn’t chilling with Caitlin in the A-story is on a quest to find more information about Cicada. Iris and Nora team up because after the whole jumping-off-a-building thing, Nora now sees her mother as the coolest human on the planet (and it’s adorable even when it’s awkward). Oh, and Sherloque is there too. Their job is to hunt down the actual satellite core, from which Cicada’s dagger likely originated. In an endearingly odd pairing, this leaves Ralph with Cecile to track down the names of people who might have been treated by FEMA after the Enlightenment crisis.

Iris and Nora figure out that the core might have fallen into the water, and Iris talks Nora through a technique she used when she was briefly a speedster. It’s a real mother/daughter bonding moment, but not quite enough to end all the awkwardness between them. They do manage to pull up the satellite core, though, and bring it to S.T.A.R. Labs just in time for Ralph and Cecile to arrive with a name that could possibly belong to Cicada’s daughter, making Team Flash one step closer to the villain’s identity.

Other Things:

  • We do get some scenes with Cicada himself, and he’s developed a horrible case of Batman Voice I don’t remember being so annoying in previous episodes. Also, the doctor who keeps helping him out is getting more and more intriguing.
  • So Cecile is a straight-up metahuman empath now? I can never tell if the show wants her abilities to be permanent or not. I do appreciate the Deanna Troi Star Trek reference, though.
  • Holy crap do I love Iris and Nora’s awkward handshake at the end of the episode. It’s beautifully inept. Kudos.
  • “Ralph Made Me Laugh, What Is Happening” count of the episode: at least two. First, when Ralph authoritatively held up his wallet, sans any form of ID, when meeting with the FEMA field director guy. Second, when he swept everything off the guy’s desk while leaving, just to be petty.