Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Flash 3x07 Review: "Killer Frost" (Left Out in the Cold) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

“Killer Frost”
Original Airdate: November 22, 2016

Listen: I get that S.T.A.R Labs and Team Flash have given wayward metahumans and cross-dimensional villains top priority on their list of Things to Deal With, but seriously. They need to spend at least a little time figuring out why supernatural powers turn people evil. Because Caitlin going from a soft-hearted biochemist to someone willing to murder in cold blood (no pun intended... this time) makes zero sense. We can’t even blame Flashpoint for her sudden morality shift, either, since she was a harmless and — as far as we saw — non-metahuman pediatric eye doctor in that timeline.

(And yes, this raises some questions about her pent up hatred for Barry’s Flashpoint-causing actions, since there is zero connection between Flashpoint Caitlin and Killer Frost Caitlin. More on that later, though.)

So why is the team not asking what causes people to go evil? Initially, all the villainous metahumans we saw were pretty villainous before they got powers (I discussed this fact a bit in my “Magenta” review) so it made sense that they were just More Villainous when they became metahumans. But Caitlin was good, in both the Flashpoint timeline and this one, so what was it about the powers that made her turn evil? Why did the team know immediately that the powers were the main factor? They didn’t suspect anything else — not even the influence of Alchemy or Savitar, who have affected metahuman powers in the past — and immediately blamed the powers themselves, despite the fact that multiple team members are metahumans on the side of good.

All I’m saying is that these scientists need to do some actual sciencing, pronto. This is a question that needs answering.


The episode is called “Killer Frost” and, unlike “Shade,” it actually is about Killer Frost. Caitlin’s fall toward the dark side progresses whenever she uses her powers, which is why she cuffed herself with those dampening cuffs last week. However, being a metahuman on Team Flash means you have to use your powers to save Barry from mortal peril eventually, and rescuing him from that mirror a few episodes back doesn’t count. Rescuing him from Savitar, the God of Speed? Totally counts. Especially since Savitar is on a real power kick and wants to show Barry how great he is at running fast. Barry’s new costume should just be a t-shirt that reads “Dear Evil Speedsters: It’s really cool that you can run fast. Most speedsters can run faster than me. Please stop trying to prove yourself, there is no prize for being really fast, I don’t care.” That might be too long to fit on a t-shirt, though.

After Caitlin rescues Barry from Savitar, things start going downhill for her stability. She even breaks into a CCPD interrogation room to threaten one of the Savitar acolytes so she can ask for Alchemy’s location in a weird, crackly effects-voice that I don’t recall Killer Frost ever having but, hey. It sounds pretty cool. I’ll allow it. Since Alchemy grants people powers, Caitlin has made the logical leap that he could take hers away — which isn’t a terrible plan, and probably would have worked at least a little bit if Caitlin had just told her friends what she wanted to do. Instead, she goes on a freezing rampage across the city and repeatedly threatens the lives of strangers, her friends, and Julian.

Caitlin continues on her search for Alchemy, threatening to freeze Julian to death if he doesn’t create an algorithm to find Alchemy disciples she can question. Again, this is a situation in which having a crew of geniuses and a high tech laboratory might come in handy, right? I can figure out how it makes sense for Caitlin to use Julian for this, when finding Alchemy isn’t even very dangerous or stupid, as far as Team Flash plans go. As much as I appreciate them finally giving us a Killer Frost episode, I just wish they hadn’t convoluted the logic surrounding her.

If Caitlin were desperate and trying to find a way out of her metahumanity, just wanted to be normal again, I would be okay with it. That’s a fine plot. I might even be okay with her keeping it from the rest of the team, even though it’s pretty clear that keeping secrets in this group is never wise. But it’s not that she’s trying get herself help that baffles me — it’s the fact that she’s legitimately evil. She targets the rest of the team emotionally as well as physically, delivers a pretty scathing comment to Barry about his failure to save his family members, and even puts the blame for Dante’s death and Killer Frost’s existence on him.

I’m all for blaming Barry for the stupid thing he did. While touched by Iris’s love for Barry, when she tells him that things weren’t his fault and he should stop blaming himself, I disagreed entirely. Barry learns from regret and I think he needs to continue feeling the guilt he feels about Flashpoint. I don’t want to defend Barry, because the feelings I had at the start of this season still stand: Barry did a stupid, selfish thing that hurt a lot of people. He needs to acknowledge that and never stop acknowledging that, even when things seem okay. The only way Barry can stop himself from making such a huge mistake again is if he keeps his guilt and the lesson learned from Flashpoint fresh in his mind.

But this episode’s emotional linchpin — one I have been waiting for and would have loved any other time — of Caitlin bringing up Barry’s Flashpoint idiocy makes zero sense.

Like I mentioned in the introduction, Flashpoint Caitlin had no powers. If she did have powers, they weren’t turning her evil or manifesting in any way similar to this version or the Earth-2 version. Based off the information given by the show up until this point, the only conclusion I can reach is that there was no Killer Frost in that other timeline. The development of Caitlin’s powers is actually pretty hard to link to Flashpoint at all, which means that Caitlin’s anger over Barry “causing” her the metahuman trouble she’s in during the episode makes no sense.

Barry needed someone to call him out. He still needs people to keep calling him out, over and over. The words “DO NOT TIME TRAVEL” need to be so drilled into Barry’s mind that he sees them on his eyelids every time he closes his eyes. I only wish that Barry’s call-out weren’t so lacking in logic.

Anyway, by the end of the episode, Caitlin has control over herself (thanks to a pep talk from Barry after she nearly murders him) and seems to have been forgiven by everyone. Unfortunately, the anger baton has been passed to Cisco, who is back to being mad at Barry over Dante’s death. I have a suspicion that these stories of personal conflict were less about moving the plot forward and more about creating some drama within the team. Which is terribly frustrating, since I don’t think this team needs drama — in fact, I love that there’s so little drama between them and, even when there are some differences of opinion, those differences don’t create awkward wedges that prevent them from caring about one another. Yeah, so I’m not exactly thrilled about the return of Grumpy Cisco just because the writers have dictated that personal strife is a requirement for every season.

After Caitlin is subdued and Barry is trying to clean up the frosty mess she made while temporarily evil, he pays a visit to his BFF-That-Never-Was, Julian. Julian’s in the hospital, mending from his encounter with Killer Frost (and Barry’s fist) but he’s ready to tell the officers of the CCPD about the metahuman who almost froze him to death. Barry gets into Julian’s hospital room before he can give his statement and begs Julian not to do it. I guess Julian’s snarky English nature made him immune to Barry “Adorable Puppy” Allen, since the guy immediately blackmails Barry into quitting his job in order to keep Caitlin safe. Which Barry does, because he’s very good at keeping his friends happy when he’s not ruining their lives with brief bouts of selfishness.

Oh, and Julian is probably Alchemy. Fun! And predictable!

Other Things:
  • Wait, are Barry and Cisco still roommates? Is this going to go mega-awkward?
  • I think I’m liking H.R. more and more each episode. He’s so chipper and quixotic that even the sad background music can’t get him down!
  • I refrained from puns in this review because the episode did a good enough job without me adding to it. I’ll get you next time, puns.
  • "Barry's real superpower isn't speed. It's hope." And poor decision-making skills.
  • Who learned that Alchemy was a Doctor Alchemy? I don’t think anyone called him that in the show, though that was his name in the comics.
  • "Barry Allen. Don't you ever work?" It was the dead of freaking night when Patterson asked that.
  • Wally’s a speedster now, by the way, and — of course — he’s showing signs of being faster than Barry. Why do all the evil speedsters mess with Barry when everyone is always faster than him?
  • Am I the only one who thought it was sufficiently implied to Cisco and everyone else that Dante was alive during the original timeline? Barry’s confusion over his death should have been enough of a clue, but Cisco, a genius, failed to connect the dots?


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