Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my all of my reviews of The Flash here.
At last: Killer Frost.
Caitlin Snow’s metamorphosis into her icy persona took a major step forward in an episode that proved The Flash‘s interpersonal relationships were much stronger than this season’s main plot has been so far.
“Killer Frost” picks up at last week’s cliffhanger, with Wally encased in a cocoon and Barry at Savitar’s mercy. The new villain easily overpowered Flash, dragging him around the city like a rag doll. Stop me if you’ve heard this story before. Because, yes, that’s exactly what Reverse-Flash and Zoom did in the last two seasons.
This highlights a major problem with the continuing use of speedsters as villains: seasons become repetitive. At this point, there’s very little to differentiate Savitar from Zoom, aside from proclamations of godhood and an over-produced armoured suit. Which in my opinion is inferior to Zoom’s simpler but much more frightening, hollow-eyed look.
Luckily, “Killer Frost” quickly moved past the unimpressive villain and focused on a much more interesting, personal, and emotionally significant antagonist: Caitlin Snow herself. This shift was a marked improvement that propelled this week’s Flash to greatness.
The Flash‘s strongest asset has always been Team Flash. So to see Caitlin turn dark and say such venomous things to her friends, to witness the emotional reactions from Cisco and the others, and to put them in a situation where they had to fight her was incredibly poignant.
Now, I will note that I personally wasn’t a fan of the idea that Caitlin’s powers alone would turn her evil. I would have preferred a long arc that saw Caitlin transform into her darker self more organically, rather than a split-personality situation.
Despite that, “Killer Frost” did a great job making Caitlin’s anger and hate believable by laying the blame at Barry’s feet. Killer Frost accusing Barry of selfishness and ruining the lives of people around him was powerful and resonant because there was an element of truth to it. I have been waiting for Barry to get royally chewed out for messing things up so spectacularly since “Flashpoint”, and “Killer Frost” finally made me feel the consequences of Barry’s actions.
More importantly, this finally allowed Barry to truly feel regret for those actions and to atone for them in a meaningful way. First, his acceptance of his guilt when he offered to literally sacrifice himself to Caitlin. Then, his fractured friendship with Cisco, who at last discovered that Dante’s death was caused by Barry. And finally, a tangible loss in the form of quitting his job to protect Caitlin. The shot of him leaving his lab, looking up at the ceiling where the lightning first struck him, was particularly effective.
The emotional conflict of the episode was dominant enough that it’s easy to forget two major developments also took place. First, Wally got his powers and became a speedster. And the episode’s cliffhanger: Julian is Doctor Alchemy. It’s almost disappointing how obvious that was, but at the same time I’m hoping this finally makes Alchemy—and by extension Savitar—an interesting villain.