Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Flash Season 3, Episode 5: Monster

Wow, it's been a busy week here at Bob Canada's BlogWorld! I could have sworn I posted the latest Flash review several days ago. As I was scrolling through old posts, I realized I completely forgot it. Yikes! Time for a vacation.

This week's The Flash was a very odd episode. Plot-wise it felt a lot like a filler episode, as it introduced a "villain" of little or no consequence. Character-wise though, there was quite a bit of development and progress, as we got to see the newest iteration of Harrison Wells in action, and found out quite a bit about Caitlin's family life and her "delicate condition." As I said, an all-around odd episode.

Halfway through the show I was convinced that Hipster Harry, aka "HR," was somehow behind the giant monster. I'm betting the writers planned it that way. They also did their best to make him appear to be yet another sinister version of Wells, when the reality was far different, and more bizarre.

No doubt about it
 Tom Felton was basically playing Draco Malfoy at the beginning of this episode. His Julian Albert character has been pretty similar to Malfoy since the season started, but it was particularly obvious this week. The two characters even have the same motivation! Julian had his panties in a bunch because his nemesis Barry Allen constantly flaunts the rules and gets away with it because he's "special" and everyone likes him which is identical to Malfoy's beef with Harry Potter.

Any second I expected Lord Voldemort to appear and force Julian to kill Barry.


The Plot:
This week we see that Barry's moved out of Joe's house, and is living with Cisco until he finds a place of his own. Hipster Harrison Wells, aka "HR," is also crashing at there, much to Cisco's chagrin. He's beginning to regret inviting this version of Wells to our Earth. Caitlin visits the office of her mother, Dr. Tannhauser. She asks her for help with her newly developed ice powers. Their relationship is chilly (heh), and Tannhauser tells her daughter she's much to busy to see her. Caitlin slams her fist down on the desk, instantly freezing it. Tannhauser cancels all her meetings for the day. That's one way to get her attention!

Over at STAR Labs, HR is trying to fit in with the rest of the Gang. It doesn't go well. Barry suddenly remembers he has a real job as a CSI at the Central City Police Department, and heads to work. Captain Singh meets with Barry over allegations from his co-worker, Julian Albert. Singh gives Barry a simple slap on the wrist, which infuriates Julian, as he wanted him fired.

Barry receives a metahuman alert and races downtown. He sees a gigantic kaiju-type monster rampaging through the streets of Central City. Before he can figure out what to do, the monster disappears. Back at STAR Labs, Barry notes that an electrical transformer near the monster blew up, even though it never touched it. HR suggests they use carbon fiber ropes against the monster— somehow. HR retreats to an empty room and pulls out an odd looking Earth-19 recording device. He records an entry on it, saying, "Plan intact. No one knows why I'm here." Ominous!

At Dr. Tannhauser's lab, she and her assistant Nigel test Caitlin's powers. Back at the CCPD, Barry tells Julian he wants to start over and try to get along. Naturally Julian poo-poos the idea. Barry tries flattering him, asking if Julian can show him how to be awesome like him. Amazingly, this less-than-subtle ploy works.

The monster returns, and Barry and Julian hurry downtown to investigate. They notice the transformers exploding around the monster again. Suddenly a piece of debris falls toward Julian. Barry uses his speed to move him out of harm's way. Somehow Julian doesn't notice he was just saved by a speedster.

Caitlin decides she's had enough testing, and says she's returning to STAR Labs. Nigel says "Nope!" and locks her in the lab. Nigel's apparently a big crybaby who says he's tired of Dr. Tannhauser getting credit for all his work, and he's going to publish a paper on Caitlin's powers or something. He grabs Caitlin and threatens her, and she instinctively protects herself by freezing his arm. Dr. Tannhauser appears and tells Caitlin she'll deal with Nigel, and to leave.

Meanwhile, Barry asks Julian why he hates metahumans so much. He's apparently a big crybaby as well, basically saying he's jealous that he doesn't have superpowers and can't flaunt the rules like the Flash does. Really, that's it? That's his reason for hating metas? What is he, six years old? Barry says that being a metahuman probably isn't all that great, and comes with its own set of problems. This infuriates Julian for some reason, and he says the job shadow deal is off. Julian then figures out a way to predict where the monster will strike next, and informs Joe, who assembles a strike team.

At STAR Labs, Cisco and Barry discuss HR, who they realize has been absolutely no help whatsoever. They go through his things and find the recording device. They're listening to it just as HR walks in. He explains that in addition to being a scientist, he's also a writer, and he's recording notes for his novel. Barry and Cisco don't quite buy this explanation, but just then the monster returns.

Barry rushes to the scene with HR's carbon fiber rope. He tries to wrap it around the monster's legs and topple it like an AT-AT. He discovers the monster's really a harmless hologram. The CCPD's strike team doesn't know this though, and begin firing on the monster. Their bullets go right through it, heading toward innocent civilians. Barry manages to catch all the bullets in midair, and shouts for everyone to stop firing.

Meanwhile, Julian somehow figured out the hologram signal's coming from one of the nearby buildings, and confronts the person who's generating it. He orders the mystery person to surrender. When they don't, Julian stupidly fires on them. Luckily the Flash shows up and catches the bullet, saving the controller's life, and Julian's career as well. They then see the monster controller is just a fifteen year old boy.

Joe talks to the kid and asks why he did it. The kid's yet another crybaby, and says the usual— he was bullied at school, he wanted to feel powerful, he created a giant monster hologram, yadda yadda. Joe tells the kid he'll have to pay for what he did, but he can still turn all this around.

At STAR Labs, the Gang confronts HR, saying they know he's a fake. He confesses that he's not really a scientist, but an "Idea Man." Someone who comes up with great concepts, and lets others actually implement them. He says he was the face of STAR Labs back on Earth-19, but something went wrong and his life fell apart there. He wants to prove himself here and be their "muse." Cisco wants to boot him back to Earth-19 immediately, which sounds like a great idea to me, but Barry insists on giving him another chance. Sometimes Barry's an idiot.

Meanwhile Julian confesses to Barry that he almost killed a kid, but the Flash stopped him. He says maybe the Flash is alright after all. Barry invites Julian out for a drink. Awww... they're bonding!

Caitlin's mom sends her a video message, warning her that the more she uses her powers, the harder they'll be to reverse. Caitlin subconsciously freezes the computer. It seems inevitable at this point she's going to become the Earth-1 Killer Frost.

• So in this episode we find out that Caitlin's mom is named Dr. Tannhauser. Looks like someone on the writing staff is a fan of Blade Runner!

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die."

• At the CCPD, Barry grumbles to Joe about Julian, and what a dick he is.

Barry: "He's unbelievable."

Joe: "You know what? I wish you two could be a little less oil and water and a little bit more oil and vinegar. You guys have been at each other's throats for a year now."

Barry: "That's just it. From my perspective, it's been two weeks." 

Joe: "So you're saying that before two weeks ago, you weren't Julian's enemy?"

Barry: "I'm saying before two weeks ago, Julian didn't even exist."

This seemingly innocent little exchange is filled with all sorts of mind-bending time travel implications. For one thing, everyone living in this new timeline has a past, or at least memories of a past. How can that be if it's only a couple of months old? 

In effect, when Barry's shenanigans created brand new versions of his friends and loved ones with simulated memories of their respective lives. Creepy! 

Joe even has memories of Barry fighting with Julian for the past year. This despite the fact that Barry never even met Julian until a month or so ago. That implies there was another version of Barry Allen in this timeline, and our Barry just... overwrote him. Like you'd write over a computer file on a disk. That's kind of... chilling and disturbing.

Of course the episode just blurs past all this, hoping the audience won't think about it too hard.

• Gosh, Caitlin's mom Dr. Tannhauser is so unemotional and distant. You might even say she's (place pinky next to mouth, ala Dr. Evil)... cold. Apparently the writers think we're all too stupid to figure this out for ourselves, so they actually have Caitlin come right out and state it.

• I honestly forgot Caitlin had been married until she brought it up. She was married to Ronnie Raymond, who was one half of Firestorm until actor Robbie Amell left the show to make a name for himself in movies, starring in classics like The Duff.

• This week we learn quite a bit about HR's home dimension of Earth-19:

There's an Alfred Hitchcock on Earth-19, and there he directed a film called Murder On The Titanic. Of course murdering someone during the Titanic disaster would be the most ridiculous crime possible, since pretty much everyone was already doomed to die. Or maybe it's the smartest— kill someone, hop on a lifeboat and the evidence sinks to the bottom of the ocean.

Earth-19 also has the movie Gladiator, although there it's called Sweaty Men. Wakka-wakka!

HR also mentions an event on Earth-19 called "World War M.: He says, "So then The Flash... my Flash, again, not your Flash... we hatched a plan to gather all the remaining meta-humans into one place for a final showdown. They called it “World War M.” It was glorious. Two forces on opposing sides of the stadium."

As near as I can tell there's no "World War M" anywhere in DC Comics, so I think this was just some random throwaway line, and not any sort of Easter eff or reference.

• OK, I get that the people of Central City were panicked and running scared, but you'd think after a while a couple of them would notice that the holographic monster isn't actually causing any real damage.

By the way, the monster looked pretty darned cool, and reminded me a bit of the one in Cloverfield. Well, strike that. It might have reminded me of the Cloverfield monster, if that movie had actually given us a good look at the goddamned thing.

• Cisco determines that the monster hologram is originating from the Hamilton building. 

The Flash writers just lovvve to name streets and buildings after DC comics writers and artists, so this is probably a reference to noted scifi author Edmond Hamilton. He occasionally worked for DC, and wrote quite a few titles. As far as I know he never wrote any Flash comics though.

• I'm usually not a fan of The Patented The CW Pep Talks that appear nearly every week on The Flash. That said, the one Joe gives to the kid who created the holographic monster was pretty good. Joe actually cared about the poor little schlub, and his speech seemed to give the kid a sliver of hope. Well done, writers!

• Welp, Julian's animosity toward Barry didn't last long, did it? We're only five episodes into the season and they're already "mates." 

The writers would love us to believe Julian will be invited into the STAR Labs Gang, but I think it's far more likely he'll be recruited by Doctor Alchemy, who'll tempt him with superpowers of his own

• Next week on The Flash: Well, there ain't no next week. Next Tuesday all the networks will be covering the end of the world the Presidential election. Thor help us all.


  1. Tannhauser is also one of Wagner's operas. I know nothing about it, but a quick google search showed me that the protagonist is famously self-destructive. So that could be a bit of foreshadowing ...

    Also, didn't Marvel have a big House of M war a few years back? Could this be a reference to that?

  2. Yeah, I vaguely remember hearing about some "House Of M" miniseries a few years ago, but I never read it. Maybe HR's Earth-19 is really the Marvel Universe.


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