FLASH SPOILER Review: Episode 3x05 - "Monster"

The Flash (3x05) - "Monster"
Written by:         Zack Stentz
Directed by:       C. Kim Miles

Alright gang, time to actually get this season kicked into gear and I don’t know about you but nothing helps me get kicked into gear quite like a healthy breakfast.  Barry Allen seems to agree, but we all know his need for food intake is pretty high but he also an ulterior motive.

As you’ll recall, Barry moved out of Joe’s house for the sake of his romantic life, Joe’s loss is Cisco’s gain(?) and they’re now roomies for the time being at least.  Now back when I had roommates if I was getting breakfast I’d be pretty pumped.  Cisco seems a little put out, maybe it’s because he doesn’t trust Earth One’s new roommate “HR Wells.”  Don’t know why, it’s not like the previous two Wells betrayed them or… Oooooooh.

Somewhere else in DC America, Caitlin has pretty much literally ran home to mother with her little “I have super ice powers and since I don’t know any bald men in wheelchairs or Canadian men with metal claws that’s pretty much exclusively a villain thing” problem.  Caitlin’s mom has got it going on, not necessarily in the same way as Stacy’s Mom (though Susan Walters isn’t exactly hard on the eyes) more in the “I’m a scientist turned successful CEO feminist business woman” way.  You know, no big deal.  I’m sure everybody’s mom runs some big corporate lab.

Back at STAR Labs, HR is treating the team to bagels and coffee and showing off how “wacky” his earth is compared to ours.  (Coffee on Earth 19 has been wiped out by blight and apparently Mathew McConaughey wasn’t there to go through a blackhole and save it.) So he’s looking to stay, but Cisco isn’t ready to roll out the welcome mat just yet. So HR is going to have to work a little harder to build trust.

Speaking of building trust, Barry’s been called into Singh’s office, it seems my new favorite CSI has chronicled Barry’s failings as an employee better than I have and has taken his issues to the Captain. Harsh but by the book, Julian.  I like it.  Barry’s a little pissed, but I gotta take Julian’s side here.  Being a superhero doesn’t excuse you from the rules, Barry.  You’re not a Clinton.  Barry complains to Joe but Joe’s just plain tired of the fighting.  I know it’s been two weeks for Barry, it’s been a year for everybody else.  The Barry who was there has probably burned up most of the sympathy by now.

Saved by the bell.  There’s a big problem down by the harbor.  So what’s the deal this week?  Cocktail Waitress that can suddenly breathe fire?  Star Football Player that can now cause earthquakes?

It’s a ten story tall monster stalking around.  Hey, that’s a new one!  What kind of ironic thing happen to you the night of the Accelerator Explosion?  So while Barry and Cisco try to figure things out and HR pouts over a bagel.  Iris has taken to helping out bystander on the scene.  She’s gone full Lois Lane, ladies and gents.  Amy Adams would be proud, so am I so I’ll use this cheap excuse to put this picture of Amy here:

This frees up Barry to stop our would-be Godzilla but all the traffic cams are down for some reason.  Fortunately, HR hits on the idea of tracking the monster by following the sound of car alarms.  But the monster still manages to disappear.  Back at STAR Labs, Barry Cisco and HR are stumped, every meta-human they’ve encountered so far had the decency to be human-sized and give off some way to track them but this a-hole is doing neither. 

In fact, all they’ve got is a transformer exploding without the monster touching it and a half-plan to use carbon-fiber ropes to stop it.  That probably means something so HR pressures Barry into making nice so they can get a look at the transformer.

At Dr. Tannhauser’s (Caitlin’s mom) lab, they’re running the usual medical exams.  Bloodwork, reflexes and flash freezing molten tungsten. (As a serious aside, if you’re reading this and you’re a script or novel writer let’s clear this up.  When you use “centigrade” for temperature, no do not use degrees.  Something would simply be “2000 centigrade.”)  Caitlin’s cooperating the best she can but she does have a strained relationship with her mother so it’s difficult.  They determine that Caitlin’s powers work by absorbing energy.

At the Police Station, Barry has managed to choke down his pride to try and extend an olive branch to Julian.  When that fails miserably, Barry uses something that always works: Flattering his skill as a scientist and bribery in the form of moving out of the lab into a storeroom.

Meanwhile, Cisco is working on the carbon-fiber ropes while HR basically sits there filling the air with babbling about his adventures on Earth-19 (still no mention about Batman defeating Jack the Ripper, though.)  When Cisco bails out, HR takes the opportunity to do something that every Wells has done before; use his journal to plot vaguely.

Iris visits Barry with lunch and she mentions Joe is now actively blowing off DA Horton.  So, he’s either playing hard to get or he’s spooked for some reason and Iris has vowed to get to the bottom of it.

Back with Caitlin and her mom is still running tests so Caitlin finally admits why she came to her.  It’s what you’d expect, Caitlin’s run tests on herself already and found little helpful information so she came to her mom for comfort.  Unfortunately, Carla was never the same after Caitlin’s father died and she falls back into scientist mode as a defense mechanism.

Julian’s called Barry to the scene of the monster’s rampage to look at the transformer.  Julian believes that it was a power surge that blew up the transformer and while Barry believes that equals coincidence.  Julian believes there’s something going on and he’ll figure it out.  Good news, gents! The monster’s back so you’ll have an opportunity to observe things first hand.

Back with Caitlin, she’s had enough poking and since he mother isn’t helping in the “Help me, mommy. I’m scared!” Department either, Caitlin’s going home.  Unfortunately for her, Carla’s assistant, Nigel is also frustrated by Carla’s personal skills.  In his case, it’s his work being overshadowed by Carla’s so he has a plan to use Caitlin’s powers to make a name for himself.  Unfortunately Nigel doesn’t seem to understand, that with one notable exception, ice powers= villain in the making.  Caitlin freaks out and uses her powers on Nigel, severely injuring his arm.

Before Caitlin can do even worse, Carla stops her and convinces her to leave.

Back at the Station, Barry and Julian have figured out that not only is the monster blowing out transformers, it’s confined to a ten-block radius.  This is where Julian gives us his motivations via backstory.  Julian grew up an heir to a rich and powerful family in England but his ambitions didn’t lie in the family business rather in the sciences and instead of squandering his gifts he left England to become a great scientist.  Only for metas to start showing up and make his work feel meaningless.  That’s why he doesn’t like metas, he sees them as squandering their gifts on petty crime or saving cats out of tree.

Back at STAR Labs, when Barry gives Cisco and HR the information he’s gathered.  Something interesting happens, it seems HR isn’t exactly up to the usual high standard of genius that you get from a Harrison Wells.  After he leaves, Barry and Cisco realize HR’s not actually doing anything, just throwing flowery language at them, so it’s time to vibe him.  They don’t get a chance to vibe him but they do stumble on his audio journal.  That’s when they learn HR’s secret evil plan: He’s a writer with a plan for Wor- Write a great novel? Well that’s interesting, not quite what I expected but cool.

So what better time for the monster to attack than now?  So, it’s time for our carbon rope and a little homage to Empire Strikes Back and bingo-bango problem solved, right? Nope! It’s a hologram and the police have dispatched snipers, we’ve got ourselves a serious pickle.  Barry needs the team to figure out where the hologram is coming from, but while HR claimed to be a scientist/novelist he’s more of a novelist/novelist so he is of zero help.  Time to run, Barry.

Barry arrives just in time to save a bystander from sniper fire and keep the police from killing anybody.  Cisco’s managed to find where the signal came from, and sends Barry there.  Julian’s also found it and has confronted our villain, with gunfire.  Fortunately save the kid and Julian and learn he’s just a bullied kid.  So after a Joe speech on bullying (cue the Full House lesson time music) Julian finding some new respect for the Flash and Barry being able to actually offer a successful olive branch the city is safe for democracy again.

Back at STAR Labs, it’s time to confront HR about him being a fraud.  But lucky for him, Barry and company are soft-hearted when it comes to Harrison Wells-es so they’re going to give him another chance and that’s pretty much it.

Well, except for Caitlin getting a message from her mother.  She’s got a big problem, the more she uses her powers the harder it will be to cure her or control them.  If she wants any hope of getting rid of her powers she cannot use them under any circumstances.  Caitlin response with restraint… Well not really, she has a flash of temper and freezes the computer.  Good listener, our Caitlin is not.

This was better.  After the last two weeks of essentially marching in place I felt like we’ve got some forward momentum.  Trust in Zack Stentz to provide a shot in the arm in that regard.  I liked the HR plotline a whole lot.  It’s would’ve been so easy to just make him another scientist with a hipster gimmick.  I feel like this provides a lot more opportunity story-telling wise.  After all, he still has that Harrison Wells mark of genius but he will no longer be a safety net for the team. 

The relationship between Caitlin and her mother was fine… I guess. No real new ground was covered as it was typical “you don’t understand me, mother!” Stuff with some techno-babble rubbed on it.  However, I like the ticking time bomb being added to Caitlin with her powers.  Telling someone they can’t use their powers pretty much guarantees their going to have to after all.

The development of Julian was also nothing new/earth-shattering but was welcome all the same. 

Lastly, I could’ve done without the bully stuff, it’s always so heavy handed.  We all know bullying is bad, as so many are so fond of saying “It’s Current Year.”

All said and done, I liked this episode more than the last two so while it’s not back to the standard I believe Flash capable of it’s a step in the right direction that will have to hold us for two weeks.


Three Things We Learned This Week:

1)      Caitlin’s mother is a prominent scientist and business owner.
2)      HR Wells is a fraud.
3)      Caitlin’s powers are becoming harder to control.

Three Questions:

1)      Did HR make up all that stuff about a final battle?
2)      Will Caitlin’s mother be able to help her before her powers cause her to do something she can’t take back?
3)      Will Julian’s family play a role down the line?

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