With her newfound metahuman powers starting to change her physically, Caitlin turns to her biologist mother for help. Meanwhile, "HR" Wells tries to endear himself to Team Flash... much to Cisco's increasing annoyance and suspicion. And Barry tries to convince Julian Albert to let Barry assist him with his work as a giant monster threatens Central City.
The Kaiju genre (giant city-destroying monsters movies like Godzilla) and The Empire Strikes Back (the plan for how to bring down the monster mirrors that used by Luke Skywalker to bring down an AT-AT walker.)
Granting that Julian Albert is a colossal dick, he does raise a good point about Barry disappearing in the middle of the day to deal with STAR Labs business and nobody in the CCPD noticing or making a big deal about it. Given what a stickler Captain Singh is, you'd think it would have come up by now even with Joe helping Barry cover.
Nigel, the lab assistant who threatens Caitlin, is an idiot. Not only because he is attempting to hold a woman hostage as a lab specimen to get back at his boss INSIDE of said boss's lab, but the woman he is trying to take hostage is a metahuman who is having trouble controlling her potentially lethal powers. He also threatens her while in the same room as her with no protective measures whatsoever!
Danielle Panabaker had a limited role in the first few episodes of this season. She more than makes up for it here, as Caitlin deals with her mother issues. She even manages to come off as menacing despite the cheesiness of the scene in which Nigel the lab assistant tries (and fails) to take her captive.
Tom Felton continues to be that guy you love to hate... right up until the final scene, in which he shows he is capable of playing a character more complex than a grown-up Draco Malfoy.
Tom Cavanagh is clearly having fun playing HR and it is a credit to his talents that he's perfectly at home playing a fourth character here.
It's a short scene but Jesse L. Martin is fantastic as he gives the teen who created the monster a well-needed fatherly talk. Dad Cop rules!
The effects work for this episode is of high quality even by the standards of this show. Between Caitlin's manifestations of her powers, the CGI for the monster and the sequence with The Flash outrunning numerous sniper bullets, everything looks amazing.
The sequence in which Barry fixes breakfast as super-speed is a frequent occurrence in the original comics.
It is revealed in this episode that Caitlin's powers do not generate ice - they absorb the energy from other objects, causing them to ice-over as they quickly lose heat. This is consistent with the powers of Killer Frost in the comics, which are based around heat absorption rather than the generation of ice.
The monster turns out to be an advanced hologram. This was a frequent ploy used by The Mirror Master in the original comics.
The monster finally appears on the corner of Second and Fulton. This may be a nod to Helen Stephens - a 1936 two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner (100 meter dash and four-person 100 meter relay) who was nicknamed The Fulton Flash.
Dr. Tannhauser mother wrote a paper on applications in cryo-medicine.
Cisco uses the STAR Labs satellite to get a visual on the monster before it disappears.
Cisco also, based on HR's suggestion, uses the sound of car alarms going off as a crude form of sonar to track the monster's location before it disappears.
HR says that Earth 19 has ropes made of carbon fiber. They are ultra-light yet strong enough to pull a battleship.
After hearing that transformers sort out near the monster, HR theorizes that the monster must generate some kind of electrical pulse.
Dr. Tannhauser attempts to test Caitlin's ability to slow molecular motion with a shaft of solid tungsten heated to 2000 degrees Centigrade. Tungsten, it should be noted, has the highest melting point of all metals - 3422 degrees Centigrade.
Dr. Tannhauser tests Caitlin for polymorphism that might explain how she can absorb that much energy from molecules causing gelid surroundings.
The blast pattern and scoring on the insulation of the destroyed electrical transformers was consistent with a power surge.
The monster's movements were contained to a prescribed area. Barry suggests that the monster had to be kept within visual range.
Cisco says power drawn from the blown transformers can't be the source of the monster's power since they didn't detect a surge in the power grid. Barry suggests a portable Tesla tower might be powering the monster through broadcast power.
HR proves unable to use a computer to triangulate the position of the signal being used to create the monster.
(As her Dr. Tannhauser is in the middle of blowing off Caitlin's request for help with a patient.)
(Caitlin pounds her hand onto the desk. The desk and everything on it immediately begin to ice over.)
Caitlin: I'm the patient!
Dr. Tannhauser: (into her phone) Cancel my appointments and have Nigel meet me in the bio-lab. We have work to do.
(Iris works to pry open the stuck doors on a stalled bus. The Flash runs up.)
The Flash: Iris! What are you doing here?
Iris: Working a story! And last time I checked you don't need super-speed and a red suit to help people!
Dr. Tannhauser: I told you, you never should have taken that job at STAR Labs.You could have stayed here, had access to a world class facility!
Caitlin: And have all of my work be in the shadow of your reputation.
Dr. Tannhauser: Of course. The only time you need your mother is when you're in trouble.
Caitlin: What's that supposed to mean?
Dr. Tannhauser: Oh, c'mon, darling! You ran off to Central City to play scientist with that disgraced quack!
Caitlin: I was trying to make a name for myself!
Dr. Tannhauser: For three years. Barely a word. Until trouble hit. And here you come, walking through the door and expecting mommy to drop everything in her life to try and fix it.
Caitlin: You have no idea what I've been through-
(HR describes an epic metahuman battle on Earth 19 as Cisco tries to weave a carbon rope.)
HR: It was like that movie where the gladiator was the lead gladiator... what was that called?
HR: That's better. On my Earth, it was called "Sweaty Men" and it didn't take.
(Julian and Barry are looking at Barry's projection map of where the monster has been seen.)
Julian: You know, this is exactly what I was talking about. Some meta has been gifted this incredible power and this is the very best thing they can do with it? Terrorize a city? It's pathetic.
Barry: Why exactly do you hate metas so much?
Julian: If you think I'm going to break down now and tell you that one of them killed my parents and that's why I have to do this job, I'm not. I don't need a deep, personal reason to hate metas, Allen. I just need to see person after person, transformed given these... extraordinary abilities and watch them be squandered. Robbing banks? Hurting people? Spreading fear? It's just... well, it's not just a crime. It's an absolute waste! I mean, can you imagine what it would be like to have those powers? I mean, I would... I would be helping people. I would be improving the world. I guess I wasn't one of the chosen few, was I?
Barry: That's it? You're.. mad at them because you weren't chosen? I'm sorry, I mean, I'm just saying... It can't be easy being a metahuman. Having your life.. their lives change in ways that neither one of us could possibly imagine. It's got to take some adjusting.
Julian: Right. So now you're defending them?!
Barry: Well, no, I mean.. I don't think-
Julian: This internship thing we're doing is completely over.
Barry: ... whatever.
Cisco: Barry? We're going to do 'Empire'.
HR: Empire of The Sun, Barry!
Cisco: What? Empire Strikes Back!
HR: Empire Strikes Back, Barry!
Cisco: Just take it down, like it was an AT-AT.
HR: Just like an AT-AT!
Caitlin: The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
(HR and Cisco look up at her in surprise.)
Caitlin: Even I've seen Empire.
Joe: Do you realize how many innocent people could have been hurt or worse? What made you do something like this?
Teen: I just wanted to feel powerful for a change.
Joe: And that did it? Scaring people?
Teen: ... yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it did! You know the kids at my school? They tease me. Every. Day. I'm a weirdo there. You know, I'm just sick of feeling scared all the time! I just wanted someone else to feel that way for a change.
Joe: Look.. I know sometimes things are hard at your age. But trust me... it does get better.
Teen: So.. what happens now?
Joe: Well, there are severe consequences for what you did and you're just gonna have to accept that. But listen, you're young. You can turn all of this around.
Every moment of Nigel's sudden face-heel turn and attempting to threaten Caitlin.
Barry is staying with Cisco until he can find his own apartment.
HR is also staying with Cisco.
Caitlin first mentioned her emotionally cold mother in 219.
HR claims that instead of "Good morning." people on Earth 19 say "Sumptuous day!"
HR continually plays with a pair of drumsticks while speaking.
HR learned all of Team Flash's usual coffee orders. Iris likes skim milk chai lattes. Wally likes iced Americano with three espresso shots. We don't hear how Barry usually takes his coffee but HR got him the decaffeinated version. Cisco takes French roast with cream.
According to HR, the entire coffee crop on Earth 19 was wiped out by a blight.
HR claims that the keyboards on Earth 19 are different than on Earth 1. This is why he claims he has trouble turning on the computers.
Caitlin keeps pizza pockets in the STAR Labs fridge.
According to HR, people on Earth 19 say "Until next communion." instead of "See you later."
Every traffic camera in a ten-block radius loses power whenever the monster appears. Barry also notes that electrical transformers blow out near the monster despite not being touched by it.
After Cisco says they don't have a magic monster lasso, HR talks about there being ultra-light but super-strong ropes made of carbon fiber on Earth 19.
Alfred Hitchcock was also a filmmaker on Earth 19, but one of his movies was Murder on the Titanic.
Caitlin first manifested her powers several months before this episode occurred, but she assumes she acquired them during the Star Labs Particle Accelerator explosion.
According to HR, Earth 19 had a Flash who organized a battle between all of the good and evil metahumans in an arena. The event was called World War M.
According to HR, the movie Gladiator is called Sweaty Men on Earth 19. It was not a hit.
Julian dislikes metahumans as much as he dislikes Barry.
Dr. Tannhauser closed herself off to Caitlin after the death of Caitlin's father. He died from some disease which Dr. Tannhauser tried - and failed - to treat.
Caitlin refers to her brief marriage to Ronnie Raymond and his death in 201.
Julian Albert has four years military training and carries a gun despite that not being normal procedure for CSI officers.
Cisco and Barry both note that HR hasn't actually contributed anything to their brainstorming over the monster - he just repeats what they say in different words.
HR claims to run the STAR Labs on Earth 19. He also claims to be a scientist and a best-selling novelist. His preferred genre is science-romance. He came to Earth 1 hoping to get material for a new book based on his adventures there.
The monster is revealed to be a large hologram. This explains its limited range and the blown transformers - the hologram requires a large amount of power to render.
Cisco realizes HR is a complete fraud when he is unable to triangulate a simple signal.
HR claims to have been named Entrepreneur of the Decade by Tech Magazine on Earth 19.
In the end, HR admits that he is an idea man but that he hasn't got the faintest idea how to implement those ideas. He was the face of STAR Labs on Earth 19 and - as he would have it - the inspiration. Then he was exposed and things fell apart for him. He saw the chance to travel to Earth 1 and writing his book as an opportunity.
HR's partner at STAR Labs was the one who actually solved the algorithm that Harry Wells created.
HR claims that he was present for when most of the evil metahumans on Earth 19 were defeated, albeit it in an advisory role. He says he can still be of use to Team Flash by telling them how metas that are unfamiliar to them were defeated on his Earth. The Team agree to keep him on for a few weeks to give him a chance to prove himself.
Julian Albert was the eldest son in a British old-money family that didn't appreciate his desire to become a scientist. He abandoned them to move to the United States where he could study freely, becoming an expert in his field. In the wake of the discovery of metahumans, however, he felt useless and powerless since so much of what he thought he knew was proven wrong. This spurred him to study metahumans so he wouldn't be useless or powerless.
At the end of the episode, Julian and Barry reconcile enough that Julian doesn't make Barry hold to his agreement to move his desk out of the lab. The two also go out for a drink together.
Dr. Tannhauser determines that the more Caitlin uses her powers, the more difficult it will be for her to reverse the changes to her body.
We aren't told where Dr. Tannhauser's lab is but it isn't in Central City. (She makes reference to Caitlin running off to Central City.)
The Fridge Factor
Apart from forcing the drama, there's no good reason for Caitlin to be hiding her powers from the rest of Team Flash. It's particularly glaring given the problems the team has had recently due to a lack of honesty and all of the scientists among them - Cisco especially - knowing what it is like to be confronted by an evil doppelganger with your powers.
The Bottom Line
A routine monster-of-the-week episode - no pun intended. The actual monster is rather lame but the plot does give the ensemble a chance to play around a bit. It's fun to see the Wells/Cisco dynamic change with Cisco now being the humorless one. And it's gratifying to see Julian Albert developed into something besides "Science Malfoy". It's the Caitlin subplot that truly sells the episode and it will be interesting to see how things develop in coming episodes. Really, the only weak link is the continuing "Joe romancing the DA" subplot, which hasn't been given enough attention to be interesting. But Joe West's attempt to mentor a troubled teen more than make up for it.