Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Flash Season 5, Episode 6: The Icicle Cometh

This week's fair to middling episode of The Flash is full of surprises, as we get the sudden conclusion of a major storyline, an unexpected reconciliation and an unlikely team up.

The big news of course s the resolution of "The Search For Thomas Snow" plotline. I honestly didn't expect them to wrap it up this early, as I figured they'd drag it out until at least the mid-season break.

As resolutions go... meh. Sadly it was a bit of a letdown. Truth be told I was never all that invested in the Thomas storyline in the first place. To me it felt like the producers vastly overestimated its importance, and thought it far more interesting than it actually was.

Despite the fact that they've been setting up this plot for months, the conclusion felt terribly rushed, which made it even less compelling. It also didn't help that you could see Thomas' betrayal coming down the street from a mile off, like a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade float.

We also got a surprise reconciliation between Nora and Iris this week. I wasn't expecting that either. Of course having the two of them kiss and make up this early only guarantees there'll be another wedge driven between them before the season finale.

One thing the writers have been doing this season is mixing and matching the various members of Team Flash. This week's pair-up was the most unlikely ever, as they threw Ralph and Cecile together. I have to say, they worked surprisingly well together, and had a fun and breezy chemistry.

Speaking of Ralph, this week's episode highlights the fact that he he no longer serves any real purpose on the show. For absolutely no good reason, his former role of Team Detective has been annoying usurped by Sherloque.

The producers could have picked any occupation in the multiverse for this season's version of Harrison Wells, but they chose detective, thereby duplicating Ralph's profession and rendering him pointless. I don't know why they keep doing this, as it never works out and does a great disservice to the characters.

At some point they're gonna have to either come up with a purpose for Ralph or write him off the show. He can't stand in the background and listen to the others forever.

Lastly, let's talk about Cicada. It's obvious the producers want us to be terrified every time he shows up on screen. So far that's not happening. In virtually every episode in which he's appeared, he wheezes something awful as he clutches his side and painfully staggers to his home, where he usually collapses. And this guy's supposed to be scary? My Aunt Fannie could defeat him with her purse!

Heck, he even passes out altogether in this episode. I think they're showing us how bad off he is to establish a ticking clock element in the series. If so, fine. We got it. Time limit established. Now make your villain do something that's actually scary, besides bleed and lose consciousness.


The Plot:
At Jitters, a young woman named Raelene picks up her order. As she walks by Cicada (in his street clothes), his jagged metal lightning bolt begin to glow, indicating she's secretly a meta. Outside, Cicada confronts Raelene, who realizes she's been found out. Her forearms immediately transform into swords, and the two battle it out. Eventually Cicada stabs her in the back with his bolt and says, "You never should have existed."

Team Flash realizes that when their old satellite exploded in last season's finale, it sent dark matter-infused shrapnel all over Central City. They use their new satellites to determine where forty six of these fragments landed. For reasons, they think the satellite's core hit Cicada and gave him his powers. If they find the core, they'll know where Cicada was when it hit him, and may be able to deduce his identity.

Ralph says he'll check with FEMA, while Iris, Nora and Sherloque run off to check the forty six landing sites (!). That leaves Barry, Cisco and Caitlin alone. The two guys tell Caitlin that they did a little digging, and know which of the Tannhouser black ops sites her dad's in— the one in the arctic.

Ralph goes to the West house, hoping Joe will accompany him to FEMA and look intimidating. Unfortunately he's out, but Cecile insists on tagging along, claiming she can look mean too. Yeah, all four feet of her.

Cut to Barry, Cisco and Caitlin, dressed in their finest Captain Cold parkas. Cisco uses a portable device to open a breach to the arctic. They step through into a frigid landscape rocked by a brutal snowstorm. They stumble around until they spot the facility. Barry vibes the trio inside, because doors are so passe.

They wander around inside a bit, and are stunned when they find a very much alive Thomas Snow. He tells Caitlin he went to the site to try to cure his ALS (which used to be MS, but what's in a disease?).

He says he somehow managed to halt the progression of his disease (!). Unfortunately the Tannhouser Corp. closed the site while he was working there, meaning he's been stranded inside for the past twenty years. When they ask how that's possible, he says he lived off stored rations and would occasionally climb inside his cryogenic chamber for months at a time.

He also reveals he's been monitoring STAR Labs for years, through a glitchy, one way video surveillance system. Gosh, that's not the least bit creepy at all...

Ralph and Cecile arrive at FEMA. Cecile tries to intimidate the douchebag running the place, but it doesn't work. She fears she's lost her mojo, baby.

Barry, Cisco and Caitlin breach Thomas back to STAR Labs. Caitlin takes him for a walk outside, his first in two decades. Cisco tells Barry that Thomas' story is full of holes and he doesn't trust him. Like a dope, Barry says they should just be happy for Caitlin and Thomas.

Iris, Nora and Sherloque begin investigating the fragment sites. Iris notices a flyer on a bulletin board, advertising a waterfront carnival back on the night of DeVoe's Enlightenment. Since they know Cicada's a father, she says that's something a dad might take a child to see. They arrive at the waterfront, but can't locate the core. Sherloque suggests it might be in the bay, and Nora uses super speed to draw the water away from the shore.

While out on their walk, Thomas suddenly he doubles over in pain. As Caitlin helps him up, she sees his right arm is apparently freezing solid. She somehow gets him back to STAR and runs a series of tests on him. He then reveals the truth— by trying to cure his ALS, he created an even deadlier disease, which spreads whenever his emotions spike. 

Thomas goes on to say he discovered Caitlin carried the genetic marker for ALS as well, so he perfected his treatment and performed it on her. This had the side effect of creating her Killer Frost persona.

Cisco says if the treatment created a dual personality in Caitlin, it must have done the same to Thomas. He denies it, saying his lack of a second self is probably what's killing him. Sure, why not?

Ralph and Cecile return to FEMA. This time Cecile accuses the administrator of insurance fraud, which intimidates him enough to hand over a box of records to her.

Cicada sneaks into the hospital to steal meds for his wounds. His doctor friend tries to treat him, but he refuses her help and leaves.

Meanwhile, a suspicious Cisco breaches back to the arctic and searches Thomas' lab. He returns to STAR and tells Caitlin that Thomas isn't her dad. As proof, he shows her a tray of skin grafts the imposter's using to look like Thomas Snow. Thomas has a ready explanation for that too, saying his disease disfigured him, and he's using the grafts to look human. Caitlin's furious at Cisco's accusations, and tells him to get out.

Barry confronts Cisco in the hall, saying he needs to let Caitlin have this time with her father. Cisco tells Barry he's seeing himself and Nora in the situation, and it's blinding him to the truth. He tells Barry he needs to start thinking like a CSI.

Barry IMMEDIATELY returns to Caitlin and says she should keep an open mind about her father. Wow, that was a lightning fast reversal! She says she doesn't have time to talk, as she's just finished making a serum that'll stabilize her father's condition.

Just then Caitlin stops in her tracks and realizes the truth. If her father really doesn't have a dual personality as he claims, her serum will cure him and that'll be the end of it. But if he DOES have his own secret Killer Frost side, the serum will lock that in, permanently killing his human self. She realizes that's what's happening, and her father's evil side is using her to make him permanent. Wow, that's a pretty big leap to make there!

The trio confronts "Thomas," who finally admits the truth. He transforms into Icicle, who looks not unlike the Cold Miser. He then uses his cold powers to knock them all out, yoinks the serum from Caitlin and scampers off.

A bit later, the rest of the cast returns to STAR and finds Barry and the others knocked out cold (heh). They wake up and fill everyone in on the plot. Cisco locates Icicle at a Department Of Defense site located... somewhere (it's never clearly stated where). He's freezing the entire building, trying to lower the temp to absolute zero. Once he does that, he'll be able to take the serum and kill his human side forever. I'm not gonna try to understand any of this, so let's just roll with it.

Team Flash breaches to the DOD site to try and stop Icicle. Unfortunately they must not have been listening when Cisco said it was cold there, and they all immediately begin freezing. All except for Caitlin that is, who seems immune to the intense cold. She pleads with "Thomas" to let the others go, but he gives her a Vader speech about ruling the galaxy as father and son, er, daughter.

Suddenly Caitlin transforms into Killer Frost. She blasts Icicle across the room, breaking the serum in the process. He cries out in anger as he sees the serum destroyed. Just then the real Thomas Snow appears for a second. This causes Killer Frost to hesitate just long enough for Icicle to regain control and escape.

Killer Frost blasts the controls, and the room begins heating up again, saving Team Flash in the nick of time.

In the wrap up, Caitlin says she owes her mom an apology— all these years she thought she was the villain, when she was only trying to protect her from her dad. Cisco says he's been thinking about what happened when DeVoe attacked Caitlin last season. He didn't use Melting Point's powers to drain Killer Frost from Caitlin. Instead he used Brainstorm's powers to create a mental block, preventing her from turning into Killer Frost. Um... why the hell would he do that? Because the script says so, of course. Anyway, Cisco gives her the mental dampener that Harry invented. She puts it on, and is able to talk to Killer Frost again.

Iris & Nora unveil the satellite core they found in the bay. Barry notes it has an impossibly perfect lightning bolt-shaped crack in its side, indicating that's where Cicada got his signature weapon.

Cicada stumbles into his home and tries to patch up his injuries, but passes out on the floor. His doctor pal comes in and says his injuries are killing him. He ominously growls (literally!) that they're making him stronger.


• I know she was basically a T-1000 knockoff, but damn if Raelene didn't look cool! I'd actually rather have seen an entire episode with her as the villain!

• Near the beginning of the episode, Nora asks Iris, "Um, do you mind if I actually come with you too? It's just that I saw you jump off a building last week and that was awesome."

Having Nora mentioning an event she saw last week makes it sound she was watching the show like we did!

• Once again, Joe's absence is Cecile's gain. For the second week in a row the series writes around the fact that actor Jesse L. Martin is off on medical leave, and gives his plotlines to Cecile.

I get why Martin had to bow out, and wish him a speedy recovery. But show-wise, how many times can Joe just happen to be out for a walk when Team Flash needs him? Doesn't he have a cell phone they could call?

• Barry and Cisco tell Caitlin they took the liberty of figuring out where her dad Thomas may be holed up. The three of them then have a very confusion conversation:

Cisco: "But I had the satellites track down all the decommissioned Tannhauser black ops sites that your dad could possibly be in.:
Caitlin: "Okay."
Cisco: "And and then I hacked into their security systems."
Barry: "He was the last person to enter one of them. A week after he died."
Cisco: "And he never left."

Wait, what? Did Barry just say that Thomas entered a black ops site a week after he died?

I guess what they're trying to say here is that the security cameras spotted him entering a site after he was legally declared dead. But surely there had to be a better way to phrase it!

• At one point Barry, Cisco and Caitlin don cold weather gear as they prepare to breach to the Arctic. As they get ready we see Cisco and Caitlin both wearing heavy boots, but Barry's rocking his usual pair of Chuck Taylors. Does he understand where the North Pole is? Or do speedsters not get cold feet?

By the way, when the trio leaps through the breach, they emerge in the middle of an intense blizzard. Cisco says, "Can't see anything! My face just went full weekend!"

What? I don't get that line. Is that some kind of drunken joke, like his face is numb?

• I'll probably get slammed for body shaming here, but who cares. Cecile honestly believes she's an intimidating force to be reckoned with as she tries to scare the FEMA guy into handing over confidential records. HAW!

Cecile may be many things, but intimidating she is not. Fun fact: the internet lists actress Danielle Nicolet's height at five feet. That seems unlikely. Look at the photo above. If she really is five feet tall, then Hartley Sawyer (aka Ralph) would have to be seven feet at the least!

• As Cecile tries and fails to be intimidating, she introduces Ralph as her associate. We then cut to Ralph, as he quickly flashes his "badge" to Fema Guy. Note that said badge is actually just his normal everyday wallet!

Take a good look at the contents of his wallet. In addition to a photo of an unidentified man, we can see a business card peeking out. The top of the card reads, "THE GOLDEN." That would likely be The Golden Booty, the strip club where Ralph took Team Flash for Barry's bachelor party in last season's Girls Night Out! 

Now that's some impressive attention to detail, as well as a deep callback! Kudos to The Flash's art/prop department, who are obviously having way too much fun.

• Caitlin and the others find Thomas Snow marooned in the Arctic base. They're puzzled when Thomas calls Barry and Cisco by name, even though he's obviously never met them. He explains that he recently established a link to the STAR Labs security system— a connection which allowed him to see Team Flash, but not communicate with them.

So basically Caitlin's presumed-dead dad, who's very much alive, has been secretly spying on her and her friends for several years. If you don't think that little bit of info is creepy as hell, you're already dead. This is also our first indication that Thomas isn't all he claims to be.

• As Thomas explains how he survived inside the Arctic base for two decades, he name drops several colleagues who stayed in touch with him, include Louise Lincoln, Victor Fries and Harrison Wells. 

OK, we all know who Wells was, but what about the other two? In the comics, Louise Lincoln was the second incarnation of Killer Frost, who first appeared in Firestorm #21 (vol. 2) in 1984.

More interesting though is Victor Fries, aka Mr. Freeze. He's one of Batman's main villains, and first appeared way back in 1959 in Batman #121.

Note that this is the second Batman reference in two weeks now. I'm pretty sure they're laying the groundwork for Batgirl's appearance in the upcoming Elseworlds crossover event.

• When Caitlin sees her dad for the first time in twenty years, she asks how he can even be alive, considering he suffered from ALS. He tells her he was able to use the lab's cryogenic facilities to freeze the progression of the disease.

Once again, Thomas Snow's MS gets retconned into ALS.

See, back in the Season 2 episode The Reverse Flash Returns, Caitlin said her dad died suffered from Multiple Sclerosis, aks MS, and eventually died from the disease.

But then in the Season 4 episode Think Fast, Caitlin tells her therapist Dr. Finkel that her dad had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, aka ALS, and hid his symptoms from her. 

Admittedly ALS and MS are similar conditions, but a doctor like Caitlin would never confuse the two. Either the writers thought ALS was a more cinematic disease than MS, or they forgot what they'd previously established.

• After Caitlin returns her dad to Central City, they go for a walk in a park. He tells her about all the things he's missed during his twenty year exile at the North Pole, including Jitters coffee.

Really? Jitters has been around for over two decades? I guess it's possible, but I always figured it was a trendy coffee shop that likely opened five or six years ago.

• This episode is filled with some truly amazing Comic Book Science. Shortly after Thomas collapses, Caitlin takes him back to STAR Labs and examines him. When he comes to she tells him, "I ran some tests while you were unconscious. You have a cryogenic malignancy and a somatic mutation."

If you look it up, "cryogenic malignancy" literally means "low temperature cancer." Comic Book Science, everyone!

Also, the producers helpfully illustrated Thomas' dire condition by showing us a microscopic view of his cells... um, frosting over, I guess?

• This is some heavy duty nitpicking, but whatever. Iris, Nora and Sherloque go out looking for the STAR Labs satellite core. Along the way Iris spots a flyer for a carnival, and for reasons says it could be a clue to Cicada's real identity.

Apparently they don't update this bulletin board very often, as that flyer's dated May 22, 2018. Tear that thing down already! 

Also, as a graphic designer, that flyer really grinds my gears. It tells us the name of the event and the date, but that's it. Where's it being held? What are the hours? How much are tickets? Info, people! A flyer's one and only job is to inform!

Told you it was heavy duty!

• To absolutely no one's surprise (except maybe Caitlin's), Thomas Snow goes full villain in the third act and becomes Icicle. In his frozen form he looks strangely familiar, but I can't quite figure out where I've seen him before...

Oh yeah! Now I remember!

• As might expect, Icicle's from the comics, and debuted in All-American Comics #90 wayyyyy back in 1947! He was a completely different character there though, as his real name was Dr. Joar Mahkent (not Ma Kent!). A second version of the character first appeared in Infinity Inc. #34 in 1987. As is typical, it'd take 50,000 words to adequately recap their origins, so I won't even try. Both had similar icy powers.

• The writers get a little carried away with the ice puns as Thomas asks Caitlin how her mom's doing. She replies, "The same. I don't really see her that often, and when I do, she's cold as ice." Thomas replies, "Oh, well, look, she may be a little bit chilly, but she does love you, Caity." Oy.

• I was very confused by the end of this episode, as at first I assumed that Thomas' absolute zero chamber was located inside the Tannhouser black ops site in the Arctic.

Apparently not though, as it actually took place inside a Department Of Defense facility. I have no idea wher ethis place is, but it's definitely not the Arctic.

• Late in the third act, Team Flash breaches into the DOD facility to confront Icicle. They're all (except for Caitlin) immediately incapacitated by the brutal subzero temps inside the building.

Why the hell did they all rush headlong into this building with no protective gear? They can clearly see the array is -100 degrees, and Caitlin says in five minutes it'll be -460, aka absolute zero! 

For some reason they're all surprised when they breach into the room and instantly collapse from the cold. Jesus Christ, what the frak did they think was going to happen?

By the way, Cisco joins the action at the DOD site all decked out in his Vibe gear. If you'll recall, his costume was destroyed a couple weeks ago in The Death Of Vibe. The reappearance of his costume isn't necessarily a mistake, as he may have had a spare or even created a new one. Still, I thought it was worth pointing out.

• Man, that Icicle sure starts chewing the scenery once he's inside the DOD site. When Barry and the others appear, he chortles, "More superheroes to freeze!"

Shades of the Batman & Robin movie!

• It was nice to see Killer Frost reappear this week, if for no other reason than so Caitlin will finally quit whining about her.

• Icicle escapes by generating blasts of cold air from his hands, which act like rockets to propel him skyward. Much the way Iron Man flies!

I... guessssss that kind of makes sense? It's definitely no crazier than the ice slides Killer Frost used to travel through Central City back in I Know Who You Are.

• At the end of the episode, Team Flash recovers the remains of their dark matter-infused satellite. Barry notices a chunk missing from the satellite's casing, that's somehow in the shape of a lightning bolt.

The exact same shape in fact, as Cicada's jagged glowing weapon!

What do you think the odds are that an explosion would blow a perfect lightning bolt-shaped shard out of the side of the satellite?

• We learned a couple weeks ago that Cicada's given name is Orlin. The show hasn't mentioned his full name yet, but if you poke around online, you'll find it's Orlin Dwyer.

This week we find out that Orlin's comatose daughter is named Grace Gibbons. So does that mean she's not his daughter after all? Maybe Orlin went through a messy divorce, and Grace took her mother's maiden name? Or maybe she's his stepdaughter?

• Man, Chris Klein, aka Cicada, goes all in on the gravely voice in this episode. At the end of the episode, his doctor pal wants to stitch up his wound. Cicada struggles to his feet and literally growls, "NOOOO!!! IT'S MAKINNNNG MEEEEE STRONGERRRRRARRRGHHH!"

I'm sure his voice is supposed to sound terrifying, but it's so outrageously over the top it's actually laughable.

This Week's Best Lines:
Cecile: "Um, what did you need? Maybe I can help you."

Ralph: "Oh, I need somebody to flash a badge and generally look intimidating, so..."
Cecile: "You don't think that I can be intimidating? Oh, my God, you don't, do you?"
(Cecile climbs up onto the couch so she can meet Ralph's eyeline for the first time in her life)
Cecile: "Ralph, I am the district attorney. You know I psychically teleported the Flash inside the Thinker's mind whilst giving birth to my daughter, sans epidural— it hurt! I literally saved the world between contractions, and you don't think that I am intimidating?"
Ralph: (quiety) "I'm really intimidated right now, actually. You are very intimidating."

Cecile: "Just, uh oh, give me five. I gotta go pump first."
Ralph: "What are we pumping? Ohhhh..."

Cisco: "No cold signatures in the area. Snow Country for Old Men must be miles away, 'cause he sure as hell isn't in Central City."


  1. I suspect "full weekend" is actually 'Full Weeknd", as in the singer The Weeknd with the hit song "I Can't Feel My Face".

  2. Ah... that would probably explain it then. Sorry, I wasn't aware of "The Weekend." I watched the video, and surprisingly it wasn't bad.


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