The Flash S03E07 “Killer Frost” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- In the confusion following the “appearance” of Savitar in Alchemy’s den (confusion since no one other than Barry can actually see him) Alchemy escapes.
- Savitar takes Barry out for a sprint round Central City, dragging Barry along in his wake like a rag doll.
- When Savitar finally stops running he starts laying into Barry who’s defenceless against him.
- Cisco and Caitlin have no choice other than to use their powers to help Barry.
- Together the duo drive Savitar off – for now – but both Cisco and Caitlin pay a price for helping out: Cisco has a headache and Caitlin starts going over to the darkside.
- The cocoon containing Wally is taken back to STAR Labs. They can’t cut into it in case Wally is chemical soup inside. Joe feels hopeless.
- At the CCPD, Joe brutally interrogates one of Alchemy’s acolytes (great band name) to try to discover Alchemy’s whereabouts.
- Caitlin arrives and tells Joe that Wally has emerged from the cocoon. She’s lying to get him out of the way. She then tries to interrogate the whereabouts of Alchemy out of the acolyte too.
- She fails but on the way out bumps into Julian who quickly works outs something’s not right. So she kidnaps him and takes him to an empty frozen products factory because… well, maybe it feels homely to her, okay?
- She forces Julian to use his techy hoodoo to track down known associates of Alchemy; there are two main suspects.
- Cisco uses his tech hoodoo to locate Caitlin. Barry as the Flash speeds to the factory and rather callously knocks Julian out so he can speak to Caitlin.
- Caitlin explains she’s looking for Alchemy in the hope that he can rid her of her powers.
- She then stabs Barry in the leg with an ice dagger and scarpers.
- Later, when she terrorises one of Alchemy’s known associates in his home, Barry and Cisco show up to take her down.
- They stick her in the pipeline BECAUSE THAT’S THEIR SOLUTION TO EVERYTHING! No one on Team Flash is ever going to join Amnesty.
- But in one of those wonderful cases of plotlines dovetailing, Joe decided now is the time to cut Wally out of the cocoon.
- The cocoon explodes and Wally emerges with superspeed but his brain and body disconnected. He’s very disorientated and runs off.
- Caitlin’s biochemistry skills are required so Barry goes to talk with Killer Frost.
- He lets her out of her cell then says she will have to kill him if she wants to get any further, but he refuses to put up a fight. He’s appealing to the goodness of Caitlin within.
- His gamble works and Caitlin re-emerges. She swiftly whips up some Make-Wally-Normal juice, which Barry administers when they track him down. Wally becomes normal. Well, aside from the whole being a speedster thing. But he’s so, so cool with that (especially as he’s already faster than Barry was at the beginning).
- In hospital Julian wakes up (that was some hit you gave him, Barry!). Barry talks to him before the cops and they come to a deal; Julian will not shop Caitlin as the meta who kidnapped and attacked him if Barry resigns from CSI.
- Central City’s Police Department (like Holby City hospital) clearly has no notice period as Barry clears his desk that very night.
- Meanwhile Savitar appears to Julian and tells him he must become Alchemy again.
“Killer Frost” is less of a self-contained episode in itself and more of a relay race. During the course of its 42 minutes, the baton starts with the Savitar plot, is passed to Killer Frost plot, then onto the Kid-Flash plot, and then back to Savitar plot. And none of it feels forced; there’s some lovely dovetailing here as the appearance of Savitar forces the emergence of Killer Frost while the emergence of Kid-Flash forces Barry to risk his face-off with Killer Frost. This is a show used to juggling storylines, but this time there’s no to-ing and fro-ing between parallel plots but rather one dramatic throughline. It means the episode feels less formulaic than the show can feel sometimes, and creates a pleasingly different structure.
It also helps that we can’t level our usual criticism at the villain-of-the-week; the villain this week does actually have a fully fleshed-out back story – one that’s been fleshed out over two and half seasons! Admittedly, the fact that Killer Frost is brought back under control by a stern talking to by Barry (he was skating worryingly close to, “Pull yourself together, woman”) is a little anticlimactic. But this clearly isn’t the last we’re going to see of Caitlin’s dark side (even one of Alchemy’s acolyte is foreshadowing like a good’un, promising a future in which Killer Frost has a role to play) so we’ll let that slide for now. Plus, the scene in which Barry talks her down was a great showcase for Grant Gustin and Danielle Panabaker.
As a more linear piece of storytelling than usual that mean that the episode does feel a little like a series of setpieces at times but since most of those set pieces are very entertaining that’s hardly an issue. The opening sequence continues to make Savitar look like a very credible new threat and not just another ranty speedster gone bad. Caitlin’s descent into the dark side works well and it’s great to see her get a grip on new ways of using her powers (frosty breath, frozen kiss) so quickly. Another character getting used to powers quickly is Wally who emerges from his cocoon with a spectacular explosion and then, after some meds, proves in tests to be faster than Barry was as the beginning; Wally’s left grinning like he’s got a canoe stuck in his mouth.
Then we get the Barry/Julian showdown, which is a little odd at first, since Julian seems to need to press the eject button on all his ethics to make that deal with Barry. But as it turns out there are mitigating circumstances: JULIAN IS ALCHEMY!
Now, this should feel like a letdown, as it’s been looking likely that Julian is Alchemy since he first appeared… at the same time as Alchemy. But don’t be fooled; we’re betting there’s a twist. After all, in season one it seemed really obvious that Wells was Reverse-Flash… which he was, except he wasn’t actually Wells. The writers probably have something far more interesting in store for Julian than just being Savitar’s henchman.
It isn’t all good news. The odd structure means that the episode lacks a big action climax. Killer Frost is defeated with amazing ease (Cisco blasts her). Wally is tracked down and cured with a complete absence of drama. Iris iss once again given one measly scene with dialogue of any consequence and once again it came across like contractual obligation. PLEASE GIVE A HER SOMETHING TO DO!
But overall, director Kevin Smith does good once again. He seems to be enjoying his time in the Arrowverse (he has a Supergirl episode coming up soon as well) and his assured tone suits this shared universe well. We wouldn’t be surprised to see him getting an associate producer credit of some sort soon.
- Barry casually smacking Julian unconscious without losing a beat in his conversation with Caitlin is hilarious.
- While some of the FX for Savitar running weren’t up to scratch (see below), the subsequent fight scene was excellent with some very effective “money shots”.
- Plus the image of the frozen Savitar was just gorgeous.
- “But what I do have is my detective skills and my instinct, and time and time again, I don’t use them because you guys all tell me that everything is gonna be okay.” Deliberate or not, this little speech by Joe complements Julian’s argument a couple of episodes back that a reliance on the Flash is making the police lazy.
- “Barry’s real superpower isn’t speed. It’s hope. Kid’s got an endless reservoir. Believes everything’s gonna work out.”
“Well, he’s wrong about this one. They all are. I said it before: when my gut tells me something is off, I trust it. And I need them to trust me.”
“The next time your gut tells our team what to do, I’ll trust it.”
“How do I know you’re not just telling me what I want to hear?”
“Well, what does your gut tell you?” This exchange between HR and Joe is lovely and continues the growth of HR as a character. Seems his BS about being a man who “inspires” others isn’t just BS. At least three times this episode he does indeed tease real solutions out of people with gentle prompting. It’s when he’s less subtle (sticking his hand in the air and going, “I know!”) that he pisses people off.
- Some of the Savitar FX when he’s running about with rag-doll Barry are a bit ropey. It looks like a character performing a special movie in Dragon Ball Z.
- Julian tells Barry he must quit CSI because, “Your moral compass has broken my friend.” Talk about the pot calling the kettle black – Julian has just agreed to turn a blind eye to a potentially dangerous metahuman just because he has a grudge against Barry and sees an opportunity to be rid of him. Okay, his thinking may be skewed by the fact he’s secretly Alchemy but it would have been nice to at least hear Barry pick him up on this hypocrisy.
- “You scared me for a second, getting all Mother of Dragons on me with that hair,” may have been a funny line if all of Killer Frost’s scenes hadn’t taken place in the dark so it wasn’t clear that her hair had even changed colour.
- “Every time I think you’ve run out of ways to be a hero, you show me another one.” Sorry, Joe, you’ve just taken the cheese way through the acceptable barrier. That’s a real Legends Of Tomorrow line.
- Are we supposed to assume that Barry’s punch left Julian unconscious for hours? That’s pretty brutal. That GBH! And how come Julian wasn’t furious at the Flash for hitting him? Did he assume Caitlin has knocked him unconscious?
And The Random:
- Ledded Goh may sound like an odd name for a frozen goods company, but that’s because it’s an in-joke. Say it fast and it may sound like you’re saying “Let It Go”, as in the notorious earworm song from Disney’s Frozen.
- Director Kevin Smith has revealed on social media that the fact that there’s lightning when Barry leaves the CSI office is a deliberate reference back to the pilot episode when Barry gains his powers after being hit by lightning in that very same office. (Um… and yeah, we added some lightning because the actual lightning in the show didn’t show up well in a screen grab).
- Killer Frost’s “frozen kiss” is one her trademark special moves in the comics.
- We could be barking up completely the wrong tree, but when Savitar says, “You are the past, whereas I… I am the future, Flash,” could it be possible that there’s no comma before “Flash”? In other words Savitar is saying, “I am the future Flash,” or that he’s the Flash in the future? Are we going to see Barry (or Wally) turn bad following a growing obsession with the Speed Force?
- Detective Patterson is played by Greg Grunberg, still best known for playing mind-reading cop Matt Parkman in Heroes. Grunberg also co-hosts Geeking Out, an American TV late-night talk show comedy series, alongside this episode’s director, Kevin Smith.
- Talking of Patterson, he’s credited as Tom Patterson. There’s no character going by that name in the DC comics universe but there is a Celine Patterson, aka Skitter, at one-time a member of the Teen Titans who turned into an insect-like creature when she slept. Are they related?