[WARNING – This review contains SPOILERS for The Flash season 3, episode 7.]
Last week’s episode of The Flash left off on one serious cliffhanger, with Barry at the mercy of a new speedster that only he can see and Wally trapped in some strange cocoon by Doctor Alchemy. Just how Team Flash gets out of this mess is anyone’s guess, but in all likelihood, it will involve their latest character to develop meta-human powers.
Caitlin’s trajectory from mild-mannered bio-engineer to full-on Killer Frost hasn’t been all that subtle, and in tonight’s episode – the aptly named ‘Killer Frost’, written by Judalina Neira, Andrew Kreisberg and Brooke Roberts, directed by Kevin Smith – her transformation will be complete. When she uses her powers to save Barry from Savitar, her cold-hearted Killer Frost personality is unleashed, sending Caitlin on a mission of revenge. As she hunts down Alchemy, Caitlin–or rather, Killer Frost kidnaps Julian and even fights with both The Flash and Vibe, making a strong argument for her eventual turn to the dark side. And when faced with a friend who may no longer be in control of their powers or themselves, Barry may have to treat her no differently than any of his other rogues and lock her up.
She’s As Cold As Ice
‘Killer Frost’ was an episode brimming with payoff; some more satisfying than others. Given its title, it’s fitting that Caitlin’s transformation into Killer Frost was one of those more satisfying developments, allowing Danielle Panabaker another shot at the icy villain she so clearly relished playing back in season 2. Her turn here as Killer Frost is just as compelling, and perhaps even a little more tragic thanks to the brief moments where she overcomes Frost’s anger.
Killer Frost’s ice powers (or heat induction powers) looked pretty neat and were used in clever ways; however, the strongest power at her disposal was the sick burn. She had loads of them, calling Barry out on not being able to save his mother, inadvertently killing Cisco’s brother, and even giving her powers. Making each one sting a bit more was that each had a kernel of truth to them, and reopening each wound revealed the post-Flashpoint hangups that have yet to be resolved.
Caitlin’s descent into villainy didn’t last of course, but it was certainly fun to watch. In fact, she took to the role quite easily, even straight-up monologue-ing at one of her victims. And there’s no guarantee she won’t slip into those bad habits again, but when confronted by Barry and told that in order to truly be the villain she had to kill, it was clear her villainy was more play-acting than genuine. It’s a touching moment between friends, only again demonstrating that what truly makes Barry a hero isn’t his super speed at all.
So Much Speed
The threat of Killer Frost is for the most part subdued in this episode, but new, much larger threats are starting to be fleshed out. Caitlin and Cisco were able to save Barry from Savitar, but from what we’ve seen of his abilities he’ll be an incredibly powerful foe. Luckily, they were also able to remove Wally from his coma cocoon, and after snapping him out of a fugue state, he appears to be the same old Wally – only now, with super-speed. Whether both Barry and Wally will be enough to stop Savitar seems pretty unlikely, but it’ll at least even the odds a little. (There is also Jay Garrick, due for a return to this universe, so that’s at least a third speedster.)
We also learn in this episode that – surprise! – Julian is, in fact, Doctor Alchemy. And while it’s a reveal seen coming a mile away, it isn’t entirely clear if Julian realizes that he’s Doctor Alchemy. After all, the voice which he heard in his head is one that had been attributed to Alchemy, but now that’s obviously Savitar’s voice. So could Savitar be manipulating Julian into acting as his acolyte against his will? Then again, maybe not, but the series has made an effort of painting Julian as more unpleasant jerk than explicitly evil. Though he does force Barry to quit his job and that was just downright cruel.
‘Killer Frost’ made it more than apparent that the ramifications of Flashpoint will continue rippling throughout season 3. Barry may have been able to soothe Caitlin, but his and Cisco’s friendship is again in a weird place. That will all have to wait, though, as will all this business with Savitar, because next week it’s time for an invasion when the heroes of The CW’s DC Universe collide.
The Flash season 3 continues next week with ‘Invasion’, part one of The CW’s DCTV crossover event at 8pm on Tuesday, November 29th.