Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Flash 5x19 Review: "Snow Pack" (An Icy Reception) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

“Snow Pack”
Original Airdate: April 23, 2019

This week on The Flash: two storylines tenuously linked by... making the right choices where one’s loved ones are concerned? Family trouble? Suffice to say, the connection between Metahuman of the Week plot and the Westallen family drama is an emotional one, rather than any interlocking stories. Also, Cicada II shows up out of absolutely nowhere. And here I thought “Snow Pack” was gonna be a filler episode.


Man, this one starts off with an emotional bang. Right out of the gate, Iris and Barry are having a total blow-out over Barry taking Nora back to the future in the previous episodes. It turns into a broader fight about Barry’s tendency to act based off his emotions — and only his emotions — without consulting anyone else in his life. Including, ostensibly, the most important person in his life: Iris. While Barry is hung up on how he can no longer trust Nora after her partnership with Thawne, Iris’s point is that Barry shouldn’t speak for the whole team, and he certainly shouldn’t speak for her.

We know the Westallen couple will be okay by the end of the episode (thankfully, the show left relationship drama in the dust early in its run) but there’s something more... real, I guess, about the fight that opens the episode. Like, it’s not the usual “you take risks and it worries me” fight you usually see between couples in superhero narratives: it’s a deeper issue regarding trust, open communication, decision-making. Y’know, couple stuff. Except it also involves transporting one’s grown daughter who hasn’t been born yet back to the future without consulting one’s wife or team of superheroes first.

When Barry uses the “you don’t understand how I feel about Eobard Thawne because you didn’t watch him kill your mother” card against Iris, that’s Iris’s cue to step away. She apparently saves whatever (likely vicious, likely focused on Barry’s utter stupidity) words she would have said to him for a letter, which Cecile and Ralph stop her from writing. Instead, Iris and Ralph decide to take a trip to the future to either bring Nora back or, at the very least, just talk to her.

And what is Nora doing now that she’s back in 2049? Why, the exact thing that made her father turn against her and banish her from the past, of course! Yes, although Eobard Thawne only has short amount of time left to live (allegedly) he’s spending at least some of it coaching Nora West-Allen in the ways of the Negative Force. Nora wants to get back to 2019 undetected by Barry, who would sense her presence in the Speed Force, so she needs Thawne’s help tapping into the rage-fueled Negative Force instead. Unfortunately for her, she’s not angry enough to use it. Unfortunately for us, she’s about to be.

Back in 2019, Caitlin Snow’s ice-powered dad shows up looking like Jack Frost on the cusp of a midlife crisis. Thomas Snow — or Icicle, I guess — wants to make his “Snow Pack” whole again by turning Caitlin’s mother Carla into an ice meta as well, then destroying the human sides of both Caitlin and Carla. Caitlin and her mother spend most of their time arguing bitterly, and when they’re not arguing they’re dealing with Icicle’s... uh, icicles? He throws ice knives at people a lot is what I’m saying.

Carla gets captured and put into a meta-making machine. Barry shows up just in time to take over rescuing Carla while Caitlin/Killer Frost chases after her dad via many swirly ice slides. Icicle apparently didn’t really have his heart set on a nuclear family after all, because he tries to kill Caitlin outright — only to be stopped by Thomas, who resurfaces and banishes his frosty personality long enough to have a heartwarming reunion with Caitlin and Carla. Then Cicada II shows up, stabs him, and absconds with a piece of cryo-tech. Woops! You almost made it, Thomas. Unfortunately, everyone Caitlin loves is doomed in some way.

If it makes everyone (sans Thomas, who is dead) feel better, Caitlin and Carla don’t really seem all that broken up about the situation? In fact, their relationship appears to be much better after the events of the episode. So much so, in fact, that neither one of them notices a testing vial changes color, signifying the continued presence of dark matter in Carla after Barry “stopped” the process to turn her into an ice meta.

From a repaired mother-daughter relationship to a fracturing one: In 2049, Iris and Ralph have tracked Nora down to Iron Heights, where they know Thawne is being held, and Ralph has managed to knock out (and impersonate) a guard so that Iris can talk to her daughter. Quick aside: I really liked the duo of Iris and Ralph, and I’m shocked to realize that Ralph seems to pair well with just about everyone? It’s a far cry from last season, when he paired well with literally no one. I liked the Ralph/Iris plot so well that I was pretty disappointed that it wasn’t more of a focus, perhaps with a small subplot dealing with Nora’s interactions with Thawne and virtually nothing with the rest of Team Flash. While it was nice to see a conclusion to the Snow family saga, that half of the episode felt out of place this late in the season, with a tacked-on appearance by Cicada II to keep it from being narratively pointless.

But anyway, Nora doesn’t respond well to the presence of her mother without Barry. While I get that Nora was, on some level, betrayed — how awful must Iris feel about that reaction from her daughter? Iris was the one who let Nora out of the holding cell, Iris was the one who stole a time machine to get to her, Iris was the one who stood up for Nora while Barry completely wrote her off as untrustworthy. Beyond those most recent actions, Iris has consistently been in Nora’s corner while Nora herself treated her like dirt, and when they actually made up and developed a decent relationship, Iris made an adorable list of all the stuff she wanted to do with Nora and pushed for them to spend as much time together as possible. But all Nora cares about is Barry? Jeez, I can’t even imagine how much that blatant favoritism must break Iris’s heart.

Since only one parent matters to Nora and that parent isn’t the one who shows up, Nora throws a temper-tantrum big enough to access the Negative Force and zips off, showing up in 2019. Thawne shows some confusion concern for Nora as well as the West-Allen relationship, imploring them all to stay together and work through their problems as a family. Uh. Thanks for the impromptu family counseling, time-traveling murder man.

Other Things:

  • “Thawne is manipulating [Nora]!” Barry says, while defending his decision to send Nora back to the future. Where Thawne is. And can manipulate her.
  • Joe West just... rips a metal door off a cabinet when Barry is in danger. Why is no one mentioning this?
  • I’ll never understand why Killer Frost consistently chooses to fight in close combat when she can just... throw ice at people. That Cicada II battle? Could’ve ended with an icicle right in Grace’s glow-wound.
  • I don’t know why Barry and Iris act like Nora belongs in 2019. She doesn’t. The only thing keeping everything from unraveling due to time travel shenanigans is the writer’s blatant disregard for their universe’s rules. Nora should be Time Wraith chow.


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