Monday, April 19, 2021

The Flash 7x07 Review: "Growing Pains" (Everyone Just Chill) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

“Growing Pains”
Original Airdate: April 13, 2021

Our themes for this week’s The Flash include awkwardness, independence, and learning to accept the things you cannot change or something like that. I don’t know. A lot happens and I’m sure most of it was important, but I have to say this episode wasn’t nearly as fun and engaging as the one starring Cisco and Chester we got last week. Cisco isn’t even in this one at all! Chester is, and that’s nice, but still.


The main plot of “Growing Pains” is actually focused on Frost, which is odd because I’m pretty sure the title references what’s going on with Barry and the Speed Force and how awkward that relationship is. At the start of the episode, Barry finds that the Speed Force has made breakfast for everyone, right down to that classic “what do you mean we can’t get drunk before noon?” brunch drink, the mimosa. Gritting his teeth in obvious discomfort regarding the Speed Force’s presence, Barry grabs the mimosa pitcher and his speed goes on the fritz, ending in a lot of shattered glass and spilled orange juice.

Things don’t get less awkward after breakfast, either. Barry gets called to a crime scene and has to make up some excuse to stop the Speed Force from following him. By the way, the Speed Force is called “Nora” by everyone except Barry and I’m sure it’s supposed to signify Barry being unfair to her or something, but it actually is pretty weird she’s just... adopting the identity of Barry’s dead mom. Taking that form is one thing — it was, after all, the last form she took before dying — but taking the name too? It’s weird. I’ll probably start calling her Nora when I get sick of typing “the Speed Force” all the time, but I’m definitely not blaming Barry for sticking to it for as long as he does. Especially since I don’t think the Speed Force ever told everyone they could call her Nora.

At the scene of the crime, a van that had been carrying now-stolen tech is partially frozen and the driver of said van is more than partially dead. When the investigator lady whose name I keep forgetting (it’s Kramer — I got it now) sees the ice on the van, she immediately blames Frost for the crime despite having zero evidence to support that and, in fact, getting hit with some evidence that directly refutes it. According to her, ice equals Killer Frost — you know, despite the fact that we’ve encountered like half a dozen speedsters, more than two psychic/emotion-manipulation metas, two mirror metas, and even more than one giant killer gorilla. Sure, no chance there’s more than one meta out there with ice powers.

Kramer’s poor investigation instincts aside, the icy murder is indeed a mystery. One that Frost decides she’s going to solve herself, even though she’s currently wanted by the governor and Kramer has announced to the world that she’s being blamed for the murder on top of everything else. I really hate it when characters on shows make stupid decisions just because, without said stupid decisions, nothing would actually happen. Creating drama for the sake of having drama is never a good look on a show.

So Frost goes to the bar she used to work at, where all the criminals hang out. She asks the new bartender about any ice metas rolling into town and, just as their conversation is wrapping up, Kramer announces on the news that there’s a $100,000 reward for Frost’s capture. This is a great incentive for all the people in the bar to start a bar fight, ending in the new attractive bartender saving Frost with a beer bottle to her attacker’s head. Then he takes off his shirt to “Hot in Herre” by Nelly, giving us the funniest music moment this show has had since it introduced legit songs on the soundtrack.

Frost continues what Chester calls “going The Fugitive” as Team Flash tries to figure out their own stuff. Mostly, Barry is struggling to deal with the Speed Force being a walking, talking, looks-like-his-mom-ing person and not the otherworldly metaphysical being he’s familiar with. Iris has a heart-to-heart with her husband and relates the new awkwardness in Barry and New Nora’s relationship with how it felt after she moved out of the house and then visited her dad again. I guess the metaphor here is that the Speed Force is the new adult learning to be a person and Barry is the parent? Or maybe the Speed Force is the parent and Barry’s been struggling with trying to prove that he can do what needs to be done?

The whole plot with Barry and the Speed Force has been muddled since she showed up. It might have been predictable, but I kind of wish the show had gone the more obvious route of Barry being weirded out by the Speed Force looking like his deceased mom. As it is, it really seems like Barry was a jerk to her for no clear reason, got called out on it by Iris, and was suddenly fine and now there will be no conflict between them moving forward.

Anyway, Caitlin gets arrested for being Killer Frost based on the fact that she looks exactly like Killer Frost except for general pigmentation. Frost wants to bust Caitlin out of a CCPD interrogation room but she’s talked down by Caitlin and Cecile because Kramer has absolutely nothing to hold her on with Frost and Caitlin no longer sharing a body. The fact that Caitlin was arrested in the first place, though, is a sign that the real icy killer knew that body-sharing deal was a thing — and that, plus knowledge that the meta attack wasn’t necessarily a meta, gives Frost an idea of who the real killer is.

It’s the bartender! You know, the only other character introduced this episode and therefore the only likely suspect? Yeah, that guy. He’s obsessed with ice and thinks Frost doesn’t use her powers to their full potential or something. His motivation is lame. He stole the tech from the van to build fancy ice wristbands and scanned Frost to replicate her powers, and they have a fight that ends with Frost blindfolded with ice and Bartender Man (believe me, his actual villain name is somehow worse than the glib one I’ve bestowed upon him) getting stabbed with an icicle.

Barry and Allegra arrive in time to lend some first aid to the stabbed villain of the week. Allegra uses her UV powers to melt away Frost’s ice blindfold without leaving any water behind, because that’s not ice works. It’s a job well done for Team Flash! But the celebration is interrupted by Kramer announcing on a bullhorn that she has the place surrounded and she wants Frost to come out with her hands up. After some debate, Frost decides to turn herself in: she really did break the law, and if she wants to turn over a new leaf she’s going to have to be punished for the things she did. Frost hugs Allegra and Barry goodbye (it’s really funny how bad she is at hugs, by the way) and exits the building to be cuffed and hauled away until her post-break trial episode on May 4.

Other Things:

  • All the great lines belong to Chester this episode, including, “Cool, but scary!” when the Speed Force suddenly appears and “Anyone else taste pennies? It tastes like there’s 78 cents in my mouth,” when Barry’s speed goes on the fritz and he fries the room they’re standing in.
  • The bartender’s name is actually Mark Blaine and he goes by “Chillblaine,” which I think takes the cake for worst villain name. It sounds like the nickname a dudebro gives one of his broskies while on Spring Break. Cisco would be ashamed.


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