Monday, February 20, 2023

The Flash 9x02 Review: "Hear No Evil" (Choosing Choices) [Contributor: Deborah M]

“Hear No Evil”
Original Airdate: February 15, 2023

On this week’s episode of The Flash, Danielle Panabaker plays yet another entirely different character, there’s a lot of talk about choices and identity, and multiple characters yell at each other (to varying degrees of severity). It’s also all mostly broody, which is a real shame, but I guess I should be used to that by now.


We begin the episode with Barry confronting Caitlin-Who-Is-Not-Caitlin. The rest of the team shows up, along with Mark — whose name, again, I had to look up because he’s literally nothing to me — and Not Caitlin says she goes by Snow, has no idea who she is, and is very eager to figure it all out. Mark’s pretty unfairly pissy about Barry destroying Caitlin’s lab even though his and Caitlin’s Frankenstein shenanigans last season resulted in both Caitlin and Frost getting wiped out of existence. But don’t worry, he has a plan to bring Caitlin back! None of this explains the blue streaks in Snow’s hair. Did a makeover come free with the factory reset?

Barry’s expression of unamused exhaustion as Mark tells everyone his plan really sums it all up. Since the plan to bring Caitlin back is exactly the same as the plan to bring Frost back except for using a different power source, this whole thing has the makings of a farce that the show is (unfortunately) too serious to lean into. Come on, guys! It’s your last season, just make a whole episode about accidentally brain-wiping poor Caitlin and installing new personalities like some twisted Memento-themed Russian nesting doll!

Everyone is miserable this episode. It’s even raining in Central City and we get a series of scene transitions with characters’ faces overlaid with rainy windows, like a bad music video for a 1980s soft rock ballad. A serious-faced Team Flash looks on as Snow gets into the CRC machine that’ll supposedly bring Caitlin back but it backfires because Mark set it up to bring Frost back as well and the technobabble that runs the machine couldn’t handle it. Team Flash is shocked Mark would be so underhanded, but he declares — villainously? — that he doesn’t trust them to help him get Frost back and he’ll never give up trying.

Out in Central City, the villain of the week (the Fiddler) attacks Hartley Rathaway at a club he owns. Remember Hartley? I didn’t. He’s that guy who was evil in another timeline. Metahuman sound powers. Y’know. That guy. Anyways, when he’s injured from the attack he runs to STAR Labs for a “sonic cuff” to stabilize his heart rhythm. The scene provides some blessed comedy in this dreary episode, so even though I barely remember Hartley I’m incredibly grateful he’s here.

Barry goes to talk to a whiskey-soaked Mark in the middle of an empty bar and confesses to his own experiences with doing harmful things out of love. He says Mark is a member of Team Flash (really? Like, officially?) and having each other’s backs is part of the package. Barry gets a 911 text from Chester that tells him to get to STAR Labs and bring Mark, so the two leave without paying the bill. Rude. And illegal.

We get yet more technobabble about brain maps and neural whatevers that basically boils down to the team deciding to do what Mark wants and bring Frost back along with Caitlin. You know Barry was technically right about not bringing people back from the dead when he destroyed Caitlin’s lab last season, yeah? And that this is all very silly and if this show didn’t want Frost to be dead they shouldn’t have killed her in the first place? I’m going to miss a lot about you, The Flash, but your failure to think through your plotlines is not one of those things.

Snow has a really cute and touching scene with Hartley as the latter tries to fix his sonic gauntlets so he can go back out and fight the Fiddler. She figures out that he’s not eager to go because he’s scared for himself, but because he’s scared the Fiddler will attack his boyfriend, Roderick. He’s the reason why Hartley switched from villainy to... probably not heroism, since we’ve never seen evidence of that, but at least not villainy. Snow philosophizes about changing and what it means to decide who you want to be, which is thematically important for the next scene and this episode as a whole.

Barry learns from Thomas Snow’s research that, when he caused his daughter’s dual consciousness, he wouldn’t be able to reverse it without killing one of them. Well... yes, when you try to reverse the creation of a new consciousness, that does in fact mean destroying that consciousness. But relevant to current events, this means that Team Flash will have to decide who they want to bring back, whether it’ll be Caitlin, Frost, or they leave Snow as she is. The team puts it to a vote, and Mark is so annoying about anyone not choosing Frost that I want them all to vote for Caitlin just to spite him.

They don’t, though, and it’s two to one for Frost coming back before Barry is up. He asks for more time to decide whether or not to essentially kill one of his best friends in an attempt to clean up a mess he tried to prevent in the first place, but Mark says he’s putting Snow in that CRC whether Barry votes or not and whatever happens, Barry gets the blame. Seriously, this guy is an official member of Team Flash? Gatekeep better, people. Anyway, Snow overhears everything and feels guilty about causing so much strife.

Iris chats with a contemplative Barry and tells him the reason she chose Frost was because she didn’t choose Frost when she was alive. What are you talking about? Frost died fighting a villain — she was neither chosen nor un-chosen and she went out entirely on her own terms, as this episode literally tells us at the end. This lapse in sense causes Barry to have a revelation.

Cecile meets Snow, who really is super endearing. It turns out Snow is the first person Cecile hasn’t been able to read with her powers, but she’s cool with it because Snow “seems like a friend.” Cecile asks Snow how she’s feeling and Snow says she likes herself and is afraid of going back into the CRC. Barry interrupts to tell her that the choice will, ultimately, be her own. Thomas didn’t make a choice for his daughter(s) and Caitlin made a choice for herself, so it’s Snow’s turn. Snow happily hugs Iris, Barry, and Cecile before heading off with her newfound free will.

Alarms are blaring at STAR Labs, which means it’s time for a metahuman of the week battle. The signal puts Fiddler at Hartley’s club and when they go to check on him in the med lab, they find he’s already gone. Fiddler disappears all the club employees with her violin screeching before Hartley shows up to find her torturing Roderick and then she disappears him, too. Barry zips onto the scene and breaks Fiddler’s violin, but apparently she can also scream her power. When she’s done, Hartley hits her with his upgraded sonic gauntlet and goes in for the kill, thinking his only reason for staying on the path of good — Roderick — is gone, before Barry stops him and reveals that Roderick and the others aren’t dead. They’re trapped in a “vibrational phase” (Sigh. Fine.) and Hartley can use his gauntlets to rescue them.

Hartley instinctively knows how to fix vibrational phases, I guess, and presses one button on his gauntlet to set everyone free. Barry wonders what to do with the Fiddler, but is interrupted by what looks like more phasing. He sees a blurry Captain Boomerang, who leaves with the Fiddler and Hartley’s gauntlets. What? How? He was wearing them. Huh?

Mark is still being annoying and pushy about getting Frost back, but Snow dashes those hopes when she informs him that she’s not getting back into the CRC and wants to go on to live her own life, taking on the name Khione from Thomas Snow’s notes. She peppers in some nature references, which she also made when she was talking to Cecile, so I’m wondering if nature powers are going to come in at some point later on. Mark tries yelling Khione back into the CRC, but Hartley sweeps in to break the whole machine with his screaming powers in order to protect her, having accepted her as a friend after their little scene together. Mark threatens Hartley and kicks the door on the way out. Hey, Barry? Maybe change some security codes to prevent that guy from getting back into the lab.

A Barry and Iris denouement over coffee leads to everyone heading to Hartley’s club to dance awkwardly to disco music. It’s all very funny and sweet and I wish we’d had more of that kind of levity throughout the episode, but alas.

The episode officially ends with Boomerang using Hartley’s gauntlets to do something that stabilizes Red Death, who had been threatening the Fiddler into working for him. Red Death runs out of the warehouse to laugh evilly on top of a building. My closed captioning literally uses the words “laughs evilly.” Red Death declares to the city that the Flash disgraced him and they’ll pay the price, justice will be served, so on and so forth. These villains need a new script.

Other Things:

  • Hey, The Flash — despite me providing evidence to the contrary, your viewers do have memories that last longer than a week. Flashing back to moments from last episode was not necessary.
  • Iris acting appalled at how someone got into STAR Labs is hilarious. Iris, people have been waltzing into that place easily for nine years.
  • We get some outtakes over the end credits of everyone in the dance club without music, which is wonderful.


Post a Comment