[WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for The Flash season 3, episode 7, ‘Killer Frost’.]
The Flash isn’t even at the halfway point for season 3, but it’s already packed in an incredible amount. The season launched with Flashpoint, as Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) made his biggest mistake yet – going back in time to save his mom, and messing up the entire timeline in the process. (A decision with ongoing repercussions, as we discovered this week on the show.) Since Barry has returned, we’ve met Jesse Quick (Violett Beane) in all her costumed glory, got a whole new Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), seen Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale) with his speedster powers, and met two new, related, big bads for the season.
Dr Alchemy’s identity has been one of the big questions of the season so far, with the power-granting, Flashpoint-connected, hooded villain only appearing in a plague-doctor inspired mask… up until tonight.
‘Killer Frost’ was, unsurprisingly, focused primarily on Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) as she struggles to cope with her emerging cold powers. In her search for Dr Alchemy, who she hopes can reverse her abilities, Caitlin battles Cisco (Carlos Valdes), nearly kills Barry, and puts Julian (Tom Felton) in the hospital with frostbite — and a concussion from Barry. The big reveal comes in the final moments of the episode, when Julian hears Savitar’s voice in his head, commanding him to “become my servant once more” in order to bring Savitar’s return. The episode ends with a shot of Julian reaching into a locked cabinet to pull out his Alchemy robes.
Plenty of fans theorized that Julian could have been Alchemy all along – it wouldn’t be the first time that a new ally in Barry’s life turned out to be the season super-villain. In addition, the character of Julian is an entirely new creation, despite most of the bigger characters in the show having some connection to the source material. It’s also not Felton’s first time playing the villain, obviously, as he grew up playing the odious Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter franchise.
This reveal suggests that The Flash took their inspiration for Dr. Alchemy in the show from the Curtis Engstrom (Alchemist) version in the comics. This character, like Julian, was not a criminal but an intelligent man who was trying to do some good with his work. Engstrom worked for STAR Labs, rather than the CCPD, but both were originally smart and well-intentioned. Engstrom was tempted away from his principles by the Philosopher’s Stone, and Julian’s unwillingness to go to Savitar in the show suggests that we could learn more about the stone – perhaps it is powerful enough to win Julian’s allegiance? We have yet to see how this may tie in to his apparent hatred of metahumans, although this is sure to be explored as the season continues. We also don’t yet know how Julian became Alchemy, or how he gets his power to bestow meta-abilities (beyond the fact that it is connected to Savitar somehow). In many ways, this reveal asks as many questions as it answers.
While this is exciting news for many Flash fans, others may not be thrilled about tonight’s big Alchemy moment. This follows the pattern set up in the previous seasons, that a new character appears and gets close to Team Flash, before being revealed to be the enemy in disguise. Many were hoping that the show would do something entirely different this season (although Savitar is presumably not going to be connected to Team Flash in this way!). Others will be disappointed that Felton will now be unlikely to return for season 4 – although it is possible that Barry breaks Savitar’s hold on Julian and establishes him as a regular member of the team. Some may also wonder if this reveal happened a little too quickly. There are still 16 episodes to go this year, and with Flashpoint essentially dealt with and Alchemy revealed in only seven, that leaves a whole lot of Savitar for the next few months. Then again, after seeing that epic Savitar/Flash fight at the start of this week’s episode, we’d be ok with that!
The Flash season 3 continues next week with ‘Invasion’, part one of The CW’s DCTV crossover event at 8pm on Tuesday, November 29th.