Thursday, April 22, 2021

The Flash Season 7, Episode 7: Growing Pains

This week on The Flash we get a reasonably decent episode, as it sets up a potential new villain and ties up a plot hole that's been dangling for several seasons now.

Growing Pains introduces us to Chillblaine, a villain from the comics who has icy powers just like Frost. Based on the amount of time the writers spend setting him up, there's no way he's gonna be just a one-off villain. We'll definitely see more of him later in the season, as it looks like they're grooming to become a love interest for Frost!

Speaking of her, this week the writers finally deal with Frost's legal situation. As we all know she started out on the show as a villain (in Season 3's Monster, I believe?), and committed various crimes over the years.

At some point in the past couple seasons though she redeemed herself, and became a valuable member of Team Flash. Thanks to her newfound heroic status, Barry & the Gang forgave her past crimes and welcomed her to the family.

Unfortunately things don't work that way in the eyes of the law. Despite the fact that she's now a superhero, Frost is still a criminal with a violent past. The creators finally seemed to realize that this week, as her bill's come due and she's being made to pay for her past crimes.

Of course the writers are only doing this because it's convenient to the plot, but hey, I'll take it.

Finally, this episode deals with the Barry/Speed Force situation— specifically, his visible discomfort at having an energy zombie of his late Mother bunking with him and Iris. Amazingly, the writers actually take a surprisingly subtle look at how the Speed Force's new human form  affects Barry, which I wasn't expecting. Well done, guys!

Unfortunately they botch it at the end of the episode by forcing him to have a change of heart and fully accept the Speed Force's appearance and presence in his life, but... eh. I appreciated the effort.


The Plot:
Barry returns to his apartment after some Flash business, and finds the Speed Force has cooked an elaborate breakfast for him and Iris. Suddenly his hand begins vibrating uncontrollably as his speed glitches. Barry worries that something's wrong with his speed after finally getting it back. The Speed Force says it's probably her fault, as she's been slowly increasing his powers in case the other three Forces return.

Barry gets an actual CSI call and says he has to go. Of course the Speed Force wants to come with and help. Attempting to get away from the overly clingy force of nature, Barry tells it to stay put. When she insists, he says it probably wouldn't be a good idea to show up a crime scene with someone who looks exactly like his late mother. The Speed Force reluctantly agrees to stay behind, but says she'll be there in a flash (heh) if he gets in trouble. Iris looks concerned as she watches this unfold. Which she should, since she's the one who invited the Speed Force to stay with them in the first place.

At STAR Labs, Cecile meets with Frost and reviews all the criminal cases against her. Cecile says even though CCPD dropped all the charges, the State didn't— so Kristen Kramer can still come after her. Frost insists she's grown and is now a good person, which she seems to think makes a difference. Cecile begs her to lay low for a while, reasoning that if Kristen doesn't get results in a week or so she'll get bored and go back to the Capitol (???).

Cisco apparently has the week off, so Barry calls Chester to the crime scene. There they find an Ivo Labs van that's frozen solid, and missing an experimental cryogenic microchip. Chester asks what happened to the driver, and Barry points out a pile of bloody ice chunks.

Just then Kristen arrives, sees the frigid crime scene and jumps to the conclusion that Killer Frost is the culprit. Joe points out that there are other ice-powered metas in town, and it wasn't necessarily her. Chester scans the area and detects tons of dark matter particles, which isn't what fuels Frost's powers. Barry also notes that the ice patterns are different from Frost's.

Kristen doesn't care about any of this, and orders Joe to issue a warrant for Frost's arrest. Joe realizes his hands are tied and reluctantly agrees. Barry tells Chester they need to find out who killed the guard in order to clear Frost's name.

Chester returns to STAR and tells Frost about the new ice-powered meta, and how Kristen thinks she's responsible. Frost promises him she'll stay put. Allegra, who was also a former criminal, recognizes that's she's lying. Later Frost tells Allegra she's secretly going after the meta to clear her name, and orders to shut up about it.

Barry's still analyzing the crime scene when the Speed Force shows up. She says she's been monitoring him somehow, and that Kristen admires him. He tells her to go wait back at the apartment.

That night Frost sneaks out to O'Shaughnessy's Pub in Keystone City (where she used to work). She tells the bartender, Mark Blaine, that she's looking for a new ice meta who's trying to frame her. Mark pours her a cocktail and says he might know something. Frost is distracted by his smoldering good looks.

Just then she sees a news report on the bar's TV, in which Kristen offers a $100,000 reward for Frost's capture. She looks around the bar and sees the other patrons converging on her. She manages to beat them senseless (without even using her powers!). She's attacked by one last thug, but Mark knocks him out with a bottle of booze.

Mark then gives her the info, saying there's a new meta who uses experimental tech, and keeps it in a secret lair outside of town. Frost asks what this will cost her, and he suggestively tells her to come back and ask for him sometime.

Cut to CCPD, where Barry's in his lab analyzing
 the ice samples he took from the crime scene. The Speed Force appears and asks again if she can help. Chester (who's there for some reason) says she could use her Universal Force powers to help speed up the process and crunch the data. Barry says no, insisting on doing things the "right" way.

Suddenly he loses control of his powers again, and begins speeding uncontrollably around the lab. He inadvertently destroys the computer, losing all the his data. He blames the Speed Force and tells her to get lost. Hurt & angry, she zooms off.

Elsewhere, Frost breaks into the ice meta's lair. As she walks around the place, she's scanned by a high tech device. She turns on the lights, sees the place is empty and realizes she's been duped.

Meanwhile, Kristen and her SWAT team show up at Caitlin's apartment. Assuming she's Frost, she tells Caitlin she's under arrest. Joe's forced to put meta-dampening cuffs on Caitlin and haul her off to jail.

At CCPD, Cecile meets with Caitlin in the interrogation room. She says Kristen didn't find any incriminating evidence in Caitlin's apartment (???), and as soon as her blood test reveals she's not a meta she'll be free to go. Joe says someone who knows Caitlin used to be Killer Frost must have tipped off Kristen.

Just then Frost calls Cecile and tells her and Caitlin to back away from the wall. Realizing she's going to try to break her out of "jail," Caitlin pleads with Frost to stand down. Frost says it's not fair that Caitlin's been incarcerated because of her. Suddenly Frost has an epiphany, figures out who's framing her and takes off after them.

Joe confronts Kristen and tells her she's harassing an innocent person in Caitlin. He also says Frost is innocent, as she's saved his life many times while working with Team Flash. Quite rightly, Kristen tells him he needs to honor his badge and bring Frost in.

Back at the apartment, Iris tells Barry the Speed Force is pouting in her room. She says she's new to the whole "Existing As A Person" thing, and he needs to go easy on her. He says Iris doesn't understand what it's like to see something that looks like his dead Mother walking around and having breakfast with them. Iris says he & the Speed Force will just have to figure out their new relationship. Thanks for being so understanding, Iris!

Barry gets a text from Chester and speeds to STAR. Once there, Chester says he salvaged some of the computer data, and has a lead on the new ice meta. He says the suspect used synthetic dark matter (?), and is a scientist who knows Caitlin & Frost used to be one person.

Barry notices Frost isn't there, and Allegra sheepishly says she went off by herself to catch the new meta. Barry forgives her for lying (?), and says they need to find Frost pronto.

Frost returns to the bar, where she reveals she knows Mark's the one who framed her. GASP! She asks how he knew she & Caitlin were connected, and why she shouldn't just kill him and be done with it. He begins monologuing, saying when he was a kid he went skating and fell through the ice. He froze to death, but was revived by paramedics, and realized in that moment that ice holds the power of life & death.

Mark then began stalking Frost, admiring her powers from afar. He became a cryo-geneticist at Ivo, where he tried to replicate her powers by creating a special microchip. His superiors thought he went too far and had him arrested. Once he served his time, he attacked the Ivo truck and took back the chip he'd created. He then arranged for Frost to visit his lair, where he scanned her body. Thanks to that data, he's now as powerful as she is.

Mark then activates a pair of gauntlets, and tells Frost she can call him "Chillblaine." Oy.

The two then have a big setpiece battle (something that hasn't happened on the show for weeks), as they fire away at one another with icy blasts. Back at STAR, Chester detects their meta signatures. Barry grabs Allegra and speeds off.

Chillblaine gets the upper hand and fires a blast of ice at Frost's eyes, temporarily blinding her. He taunts her, as she fires wildly around the bar. Suddenly he grabs Frost from behind, intending to snap her neck or something. Frost forms an ice dagger and says she has one thing Chillblaine can't copy— ice healing. She then stabs herself through the chest and impales him as well.

Chillblaine collapses to the floor. Suddenly Barry swoops in and patches him up so he doesn't die. Allegra uses her powers to melt the ice from Frost's eyes.

Just then Kristen arrives with an army of police, and tells Frost she has two minutes to surrender. Barry says they have enough evidence now to prove Chillblaine was the killer. Frost sensibly says she didn't commit THIS particular crime, but she's guilty of many others, and it's time to pay for them. FINALLY, someone actually understands the law on this show! She walks out of the bar and surrenders to Kristen.

The next day Caitlin's been released, but Frost is being arraigned in court. Barry apologizes to the Speed Force, saying he'd like to get to know her better and she's welcome to stay with him and Iris. She says she's fully healed, and is confident that together they can take on the other three Forces.

• Still no Tom Cavanagh in the opening titles this week. I'm telling you, he's coming back— most likely as Eobard Thawne. Just have patience.

• Last week the Speed Force wondered if she was causing Barry pain by taking the form of his dead mother. At the time, Iris said, "Nah, it's fine," and said "Nora" was a pleasant reminder to him. I said it sounded to me like Iris was projecting her own feelings onto the situation, as it was clearly weirding out Barry to have his dead mom prancing around.

Turns out I was right! This week Barry confesses to Iris that he's uncomfortable having the Speed Force living with them. Amazingly Iris seems genuinely surprised by this, as if it never occurred to her that seeing what amounts to the ghost of his mother might unnerve him.

This points out just how insensitive Iris has been throughout this whole situation. Jesus, at one point when they're eating breakfast Iris even tells the Speed Force, "You know, in a weird way it's like you've been a part of this family all along." This causes a near-spit take from Barry.

And rightly so! How the frak does Iris not understand how hard this is for Barry? When he was a kid he watched helplessly as Eobard Thawne murdered his mother Nora right before his very eyes! Now in effect an energy zombie of his mother is living with them, and Iris is either oblivious or indifferent to how that makes him feel.

Amazingly, this isn't even the worst time Iris has been dismissive of Barry's emotions regarding his mother. Back in Season 5's Snow Pack, Barry became upset when he found out their future daughter Nora was working with Thawne. Rather offer her support and empathy to him, she accused Barry of becoming "overly emotional" about the situation! What the hell?

Then to top it all off, she told Barry it didn't bother her in the least that her daughter teamed up with the man who murdered his mother! Jesus Jetskiing Christ, Iris! You're supposed to be one of the heroes, right? Not an evil villain from some alternate dimension where everyone's an asshole?

This highlights something I've noticed on the show for years, but never really brought up till now— Barry and Iris have little or no chemistry together. There. I said it. Ever since the series began the wruters been telling us that Iris is Barry's lightning rod, and their love is the most powerful force in the universe and some such hooey.

But that's the trouble— it's always been a case of tell, not show, as their love for one another is an "informed attribute." Iris in particular has always seemed stiff and informal around Barry, as if she's his ACTUAL sister, not just an adoptive one. Maybe there's just no physical spark between the two actors. Or maybe they secretly can't stand one another in real life, and their animosity leaks onto the screen. Whatever the reason, it's a problem the show's always had.

• As the episode begins, the Speed Force is still staying with Barry & Iris, and cooks them a comically massive breakfast. Note that the producers very obviously have Iris call her "Nora," while Barry distantly refers to their new boarder as "Speed Force."

This perfectly and cleverly highlights the fact that Barry's still uncomfortable having an entity that looks exactly like his late mother stay with them. Well done, writers!

• When the Speed Force first appeared many seasons ago (in The Runaway Dinosaur, I think?), it was a cold, logical and omniscient entity, and was always attempting to teach Barry lessons about being a hero.

Now it's become a clingy and overly emotional codependent, who becomes visibly distraught when it's separated from Barry for more than a few minutes. So why such a big change?

Actually I think this is a pretty cool little touch. The Speed Force was an omniscient entity, but it's now found itself in a human body for the first time in its existence. In essence it's become a child (albeit in the form of a woman), and doesn't know how to handle complex human emotions. That's a surprisingly deep dive for this show!

• At STAR Labs, Cecile meets with Frost and lists the various crimes she committed over the years, including aggravated assault, attempted murder and two counts of kidnapping (the exact ones I listed last week!). She then points out that even though CCPD dropped their investigation into Frost (?), the State didn't, so she still has numerous charges against her.

Go Cecile! For once someone on this show actually understands how the law works! 

• Cecile begs Frost to lay low for a while, saying, "You're an artist, okay? Just take some time off, chase those canvasses, create... just do it all here at STAR Labs where you're safe."

Wait... what? Artist? Since when? Yes, technically it's true that last week we saw Frost creating a truly dreadful collage that looked like it was literally made of garbage. 

But need I remind everyone that in last season's A Flash Of The Lightning, Ralph (remember him?) took Frost to an art gallery to inspire her. After the trip, she attempted to create some art of her own, and came up with this. Yikes!

I suppose it's possible she realized she had no talent for drawing, so she switched to collage at some point in the last year. Trouble is, she's terrible at both!

• Caitlin also pleads with Frost to lay low until Kristen gets bored with the investigation and goes home. Frost eventually gives in and says, "Fine. I'll quarantine here."

I see what you did there, The Flash writers!

• Chester tells Frost that he and Caitlin are trying to fix one of HR's transmorgifiers so she can go out in public.

The transmorgifier first appeared back in Season 3's Shade, where HR used it to alter his appearance, since he looked exactly like mass murderer Eobard Thawne. He brought it from his homeworld of Earth-19, which apparently had slightly more advanced tech.

• Cisco sits out this episode due to The CW's strict Covid restrictions (I'm assuming), so Barry calls Chester to help assist him. Chester's overjoyed at the chance to prove himself, shouting, "Blazing Bessie Blount, I just got my first solo crime scene call!"

Once again I had to look up one of Chester's references. Bessie Blount was a mistress of King Henry VIII of England in the early 1500s. I've no idea how she might be relevant to this scene though.

• When Chester gets the call from Barry, he excitedly wonders what kind of crime scene he'll be investigating and says, "Maybe it's a 10-90. Maybe it's a 10-11." His phone then dweedles and he exclaims, "Oh, snap! It's a 10-35!"

So what's a 10-35, and why's it got Chester so pumped? Welp, in police code, a 10-35 means... "General Crime Alert." Wha...? So is that the joke? That he's giddy over a vague and generic message? Or did the writers not bother to look up what the code meant?

• Wow, for the second time this season, Barry actually performs his day job! Glad to see the writers are finally remembering he's a CSI.

• When Barry investigates the crime scene, he finds an Ivo Labs van that's been completely encased in ice— along with the hapless driver, who was frozen solid and shattered. Naturally Kristen Kramer takes one look at the situation and assumes Frost is responsible.

Later on we find out that Chillblaine attacked the van and driver in order to frame Frost. It's all part of his convoluted plan to get her to come to his lair, where he can scan her body and somehow replicate her powers.

Wait a minute... if Chillblaine needed Frost's powers, that would imply he didn't have any of his own, right? So how'd he freeze the van and driver? Did he maybe have 
some ice powers, but wasn't as strong as her? Did he use a freeze gun like Captain Cold? I'm confused.

Even stranger, a bit later Kristen states that the Ivo van is covered with Frost's fingerprints, proving she's the culprit. So... how did Chillblaine manage THAT?!?!? How'd he figure out a way to duplicate her prints before he ever met her? Whoops!

 Chester sees a small pile of maroon colored ice on the floor, and asks what it is. Barry informs him it's what's left of the Ivo van driver, who was apparently frozen solid and then shattered. Did Chillblaine cut the guy in half before he froze him? Because there's no way in hell that's the remains of an entire adult.

• Chester scans the crime scene and says the dark matter readings are off the charts. Barry & Joe then look uncomfortable, as if that proves Frost's involvement. 

But... Frost didn't get her powers from dark matter. Caitlin's father Thomas Snow discovered that she had the gene for ALS, so he used experimental cryogenic therapy on her to prevent the disease from ever manifesting. These experiments resulted in Caitlin developing super powers, along with a dual personality (that eventually became Frost).

So why's everyone linking Frost & dark matter here?

• A couple weeks ago when Kristen first appeared, I said the writers were doing everything in their power to make us hate her, and think she's a big old meanie for wanting to arrest sweet little old Frost.

I also pointed out that Kristen wasn't wrong, as Frost IS a criminal and SHOULD have to pay for her past crimes. That's kind of how the law works. 

Of course the other characters disagree, believing the fact since Frost is now "good," that somehow clears her of her past actions. Sorry, gang. Feeling bad about your crimes doesn't let you off the hook. Kristen's just doing her job here.

Technically Kramer could probably go after Caitlin and the rest of Team Flash as well! They could all be charged as accomplices, since they knew of Frost's past crimes and her whereabouts, and never turned her in. At the least they could all be charged with aiding and abetting a felon or harboring a fugitive!

Even though I think Kristen is one hundred percent right, I'll admit that her fervor in this episode seems to go wayyyy above & beyond simply seeing justice served. It's almost like she has a genuine vendetta against Frost. I'm wondering if at some point we'll find out that her life was affected by her at some point? Like maybe Frost inadvertently caused the death of someone close to Kristen or something?

• Barry & Chester vow to find out who killed the Ivo guard to clear Frost's name. Once again, that would exonerate her of THIS particular crime, but not any of the others. It's amazing how none of the characters on this show seem to understand how the law.

• At one point the Speed Force appears at the crime scene in order to "help" Barry. Note that her lightning looks completely different from Barry's or any other speedsters' we've seen before. Her lightning seems much more... violent, for want of a better word, as it actually seems to distort space as she appears. It even causes the air around her to smoke for a few seconds after she zooms to the scene.

So does this mean anything, or is it just a flashy visual effect? 

It's possible this different effect is due to her being a universal force of nature crammed into the body of a middle-aged woman. Or it may be a subtle clue that the Speed Force isn't actually the Speed Force after all. It could mean that it's actually Thawne in disguise, as so many fans have been speculating.

• Frost pays a visit to her old job, O'Shaughnessy's Pub in nearby Keystone City.

Turns out this pub looks a LOT like the alien bar seen in the first several seasons of Supergirl. It would not surprise me if this was just a redress of that same set.

 While at the bar, Frost sees a news report in which Kristen offers a $100,000 reward for any info on Killer Frost. Note that once again, Channel 52 appears to be the only TV station in the Central City area. And like I point out every time it appears, this is a reference to the New 52, one of DC's many, many attempts at rebooting their comic universe.

 Immediately after Kristen offers the reward, the episode veers straight into John Wick territory, as the other bar patrons all turn on Frost, determined to take her in. We then get what I believe is the first actual fight scene so far this season! It only lasts a scant few seconds, but it was amazing to see some actual superheroics on this superhero show, rather than watch the characters defeat the villain of the week with the Power Of Friendship.

 All through Frost's brief fight with the thugs, Mark stands behind the bar, sipping a beer as he idly watches. When one of the patrons sneaks up behind Frost with a knife, Mark saves her by knocking him out cold with a bottle to the head.

Immediately after this we cut to a wide shot of Mark, as his hair's plastered to his forehead with sweat, and he pants as if he's been fighting as well. But... he literally just sat there and watched. His only involvement was the one second it took to knock out the thug. So why the hell's he sweating so profusely? Did they cut out a scene where he joined in the fight?

 The Flash is one of the wokest shows out there, as it prides itself on its diversity, inclusivity and any other "ivity" you can think of. That's why I was surprised by this scene, in which Mark whips off his shirt for the flimsiest of reasons and exposes his admittedly impressive physique.

We then get a long, slow pan up his tanned torso, as the camera give us a lingering look at his sculpted abs and chiseled pecs— accompanied by Nelly's Hot In Here on the soundtrack! It was one of the most blatant and obvious things I've ever seen, as he stopped just short of oiling himself up and staring intently into the camera.

Now just imagine if the roles were reversed, and this scene featured Frost stripping down to her skivvies instead of Mark. The SJW crowd would take to Twitter in a nanosecond, where they'd howl up a storm and shriek accusations of sexism and exploitation. 

I guess the lesson here is cheesecake bad, beefcake good.

• The Speed Force shows up at Barry's lab, where he's analyzing data that could clear Frost. Unfortunately her presence causes his powers to glitch again, causing him to zoom uncontrollably around the lab and inadvertently destroy the place.

Once it's over, Chester says, "Anybody else taste pennies? It tastes like there's seventy eight cents in my mouth!" OK, that was pretty funny, and probably the best line of the episode.

The Speed Force then notices that Barry's glitching accidentally fried his computer, and remarks that all the data he was working on is lost for good. Um... why would that be? Do they not have servers or flash drives in the Arrowverse

• Cecile tells Caitlin she's in the clear, as Kristen couldn't find any incriminating evidence in her apartment. Wha...? Frost has been LIVING in Caitlin's apartment for the past couple weeks! How could there be no evidence of her presence there? Did she really not bring a single piece of clothing or even one personal item with her? What about the collage she was working in the previous episode? Or her costume?

Cecile also says Caitlin will be released when her blood test doesn't show the meta gene. I thought Caitlin wasn't a meta in the first place, as she got her powers from her Dad's experiments. Maybe she is and I just forgot, I dunno. It's hard keeping seven years of convoluted continuity straight in my head.

If Frost IS a meta, then I guess that means when she got her own body she drained every genetic trace of it from Caitlin? That was certainly convenient!

• Acting on a tip from Mark, Frost pays a visit to Wieringo Mills, where she hopes to find the secret hideout of the new ice meta in town.

This is a VERY obvious nod to artist Mike Wieringo, who drew The Flash comic in the early 1990s. I liked Wieringo's art quite a bit, as it had a bold and unusual quality to it that was somehow realistic and yet cartoonish at the same time.

He and writer Mark Waid also co-created Impulse, aka Bart Allen. He's a popular young speedster character, who's rumored to be appearing on the show sometime this season. 

Sadly, Wieringo died in 2007 at the much too young age of just forty four.

• Joe apologizes to Caitlin for being forced to arrest her, and says, "This ain't how law enforcement's supposed to work. I'm gonna go talk to Kramer."

Uh, yeah Joe, this is EXACTLY how law enforcement's supposed to work. Caitlin looks just like Killer Frost, so in the eyes of the law there was probable cause to arrest her and bring her in for questioning.

Joe then confronts Kristen and tries to convince her Frost is innocent:

Joe: "This evidence, this anonymous phone call? It's like someone is trying to frame Frost." Kristen: "Okay, then who?"
Joe: "I don't know, but Frost helps keep this city safe. Hell, she's saved my life... more than once."
Kristen: "She's still a criminal. Captain, you seem like a good cop, and I know that Dr. Snow is a friend of your family. But if you really want to honor your badge, you need to think about what is truly best for the public good."

Once again the writers are bending over backwards in an attempt to make us hate Kristen, but like I keep saying— she's not wrong here! And as a POLICE CAPTAIN, Joe should know that.

• When Frost finds out Caitlin's been arrested, she plans to bust her out of CCPD. She calls Cecile and tells her and Caitlin to get away from the North wall of the room— presumably so she can knock it down with an ice blast. Cecile then does this adorable little motion as she tries to figure out which is the North wall! Haw!

• Note that when Frost is planning to free Caitlin, we see she's taken drastic measures to camouflage her appearance by... placing a baseball cap on her head.

She's in good company here, as this is the standard "Impenetrable Superhero Disguise" that was worn by virtually every major character over in the MCU.

• Caitlin tries to convince Frost not to break her out of jail, as that'll only make things worse for the both of them. She tells her, "
When Kramer looks at you, all she sees are the mistakes you've made. She doesn't see how much pain you've gone through, or how much you've grown because of it. You're a good person, Frost, and human or meta-human, you deserve the chance to prove it."

First of all, I know I'm senselessly beating a long-deceased equine carcass at this point, but one more time— none of these characters seem to comprehend how the law works! It doesn't matter how much "pain" Frost's gone through or how much she's "grown" since committing her crimes. SHE'S STILL A CRIMINAL! Feeling bad about what she's done won't exonerate her. At best her extenuating circumstances MIGHT get her a lesser sentence, but she's still gonna be convicted if caught.

Secondly, Caitlin's "Human or meta-human" line somehow causes Frost to figure out that Mark's the one who's framing her. How she came to that preposterous and unlikely conclusion from simply haring the word "human" is apparently none of our business, as it's never addressed.

• At STAR Labs, Chester works on the computer Barry fried, and says, "Okay, so I somehow managed to salvage some of the ice data that we lost."

Well THAT'S certainly an interesting creative solution! If you've written yourself into a corner, just have your characters say they "somehow" did something.

• Frost returns to the pub, where she tells Mark she knows he framed her, and demands he tell her why. Turns out that Mark is actually Chillblaine, the new ice meta in town and this week's Big Bad. Several things here:

So Chillblaine, huh? Cool name for a cold-powered supervillain, right? Wrong!

According to the internet, chilblains (the proper spelling) are sores or bumps on the skin that occur after exposure to cold temperatures. So yeah. He named himself after a gross skin condition.

Chillblain's from the comics, where there've been a whopping FOUR different versions of him! It seems that Golden Glider (the sister of Captain Cold) was fond of recruiting handsome but less than intelligent men to act as her sidekick. She'd give each of them a freeze gun and a costume, and they'd commit various crimes together.

When one Chillblaine was killed, she'd simply seek out a replacement. The first three had fairly short lived criminal careers, while the fourth one ended up killing Glider herself.

TV Chillblaine differs quite a bit from his comic brethren, as he's a disgraced genetic scientist rather than a muscle-headed jock. His origin story did involve skating and falling through the ice to his death. Golden Glider typically used skates to get around, so maybe that's a subtle nod to the her?

As is typical for this show, they didn't bother with a costume for Chillblaine, as he's decked out in a t-shirt and jeans.

• When I was about thirteen, I wrote my very first mystery story. I won't bore you with the details, except to say the main character was a ghost detective. Hey, I was a kid, what can I say? Anyway, I showed this fiendishly clever whodunnit to my best friend, confident he'd never figure out the killer's identity. Instead he pointed him out about two pages in. I was gobsmacked! 
When I asked how he solved the mystery so easily, he pointed out that that my story only had three characters— the Detective, the Victim and Other Guy. He said the Detective probably wasn't the murderer, and it's unlikely the Victim killed himself, so that left Other Guy.

I learned a valuable lesson that day that's stuck with me my entire life: If you're writing a murder mystery, make sure you have more than ONE suspect.

Which brings us to this episode. Frost discovers someone's trying to frame her for murder, and sets out to discover who's responsible. Who could it possibly be? 
I assume we're all supposed to gasp in utter shock and amazement when we find out the culprit is Mark. Unfortunately this wasn't much of a surprise, as HE'S THE ONLY CHARACTER ON THE SHOW THIS WEEK WHO ISN'T A REGULAR!!!

To be fair, I can't fault the producers too much here. The CW's implemented very strict Covid protocols on all their shows, which limits the number of actors and guest stars who're allowed to appear in a given episode. I'm sure the writers would have loved to have brought in half a dozen additional suspects to complicate the mystery, but circumstances forced them to settle for one.

• I'm struggling with Chillblaine's convoluted master plan here. As I understand it, he wants ice powers just like Frost's, but can't figure out a way to duplicate them exactly. In order to get them, he somehow commits an ice-themed murder, knowing she'll be blamed for it. He then counts on her showing up at his bar, looking for info on the new ice meta in town. He then gives her the new meta's address—which is really his own secret lair— betting she'll check it out so he can take a neurogenic scan of her and use the info to allow him to fully replicate her powers.  

That all seems needlessly complicated, as the entire plan would have collapsed if even one thing went wrong or happened in a different way.

• There's some time/editing weirdness going on when Frost returns to the bar to confront Mark. As she walks in, he looks up and says, "That was fast," implying that she just left.

In reality she's been gone for hours— long enough to leave Keystone City, find Chillblaine's fake lair and check it out, go to CCPD to try & break Caitlin out of jail and then finally return to Mark's bar. So why's he acting like she's only been gone a few minutes? 

Even stranger, he's sweeping up the broken glass from their earlier fight, which would indeed indicate little or no time has passed. But he's also wearing a different outfit than he was in his previous scene, suggesting it's the next day!

It feels like they shot a lot more stuff with Mark, but huge chunks got cut for time, leaving his scenes choppy and fragmented.

• Believe it or not we actually get a SECOND fight scene in this episode— this time between Frost and Chillblaine. It's pretty cool (heh) too— especially the part where Frost is thrown backward through the air and stops herself with ice blasts that act as retro rockets.

Once again, it was awesome to see an actual fight scene on the show after so many episodes without one. I have to assume this is another result of the Covid precautions— the actors probably aren't allowed to touch one another for the duration of the pandemic, which would make close quarter fighting a bit difficult. Looks like they threw caution to the wind this week and went for it anyway!

• As fun as the fight scene was, I could have done without all the flirty, smoldering looks between Frost and Chillblaine as they grappled. It's a perfect example of the "Belligerent Sexual Tension Trope," in which two enemies have a brawl and inadvertently become attracted to one another. THAT'S certainly never been done before!

I'm calling it right now— Chillblaine's gonna get thrown into Iron Heights, and then an episode or two later Frost will end up there as well. The two of them will then set aside their differences and work together to escape, and eventually become a couple, despite their mutual animosity. You heard it here first!

• During their battle, Chillblaine shoots a blast of ice into Frost's face, effectively blinding her. She then staggers around the bar, firing wildly as she tries to blast him back.

It's really too bad she never thought to... I don't know, reach up and wipe the ice away from her eyes. Or maybe hit it lightly with her fists to shatter it.

Is there something abnormal about the ice he shoots in her eyes? Like is it some special, super dense variety of ice? Because she eventually has to get Allegra to use her infrared powers to melt it off her face.

• Frost eventually defeats Chillblaine by shoving an icicle through her body and into his. Ouch! Several things here:

First, Frost is able to survive having a jagged shard pierce her body because she has "ice healing," which is similar to Barry's speed healing. This has been a thing on the show for several seasons now, and I've never understood it. How does ice heal anything? Extreme cold slows down molecular activity— which is kind of the opposite of how healing works!

Secondly, once Chillblaine's run through with the icicle, he instantly drops to the floor— where Frost literally leaves him for dead! This is odd, as in just a few seconds she's gonna give Team Flash a big, heartfelt speech about how how much she's changed for the better and yadda yadda. 

I dunno... DID she change? She just mortally wounded a guy and walked away! Fortunately for her Barry swooped in and patched up Chillblaine so he didn't die.

• I get that this is a comic book show, and the producers are trying to tell a story without getting bogged down with real world details. That said, Frost and Chillblaine are fighting inside O'Shaughnessy's Pub in Keystone City. Once their battle's over, Kristen shows up with the Central City Meta-Human Task Force. Yeah, that wouldn't be allowed. They'd be out of their jurisdiction in Keystone, and Kristen would have to coordinate with the cops there in order to arrest Frost.

• When Barry sees that Kristen's there to arrest Frost, he tries to think of a way to save her.

Barry: "Chillblaine here is the real killer. So I'll go out. I'll hand him over. I'll let them know you're innocent."
Frost: "Guys, I may not have killed that person today, but I'm not innocent. I have to go out there myself."
Allegra: "What?"
Barry: "Frost, Kramer has a warrant for all the crimes you committed before joining Team Flash. You get arrested, you're facing hard time, if there's a conviction."
Allegra: "Uh-uh, that ain't happening. We can hide you somewhere while we figure this out." Frost: "Right, then you're harboring a fugitive. I can't let you do that. Guys, before today, I never paid for any of the bad things I did."
Allegra: "Because you were out saving the world!"
Frost: "And I thought that was enough too. But, if I'm gonna prove that I've really changed, then I have to own up to it, as... painful as that might be."

YES! FINALLY, someone on this show understands how crime and punishment works. Everything Frost said about her criminal past and guilt is one hundred percent true. For the record, I don't want to see her go to prison either, but that's the way it has to be.

• At the end of the episode, Barry apologizes to the Speed Force— whose presence and resemblance to his dead Mom made him uncomfortable— and says he'd like to get to know it better.

I suppose this was the mature thing to do, but I was still disappointed by his sudden change of heart. It felt unearned, like the writers forced him to change way too soon— especially after they spend two episode showing how upset he was by the whole situation. It felt distrespectful to him, like they weren't taking his feelings seriously. Who do they think they are, Iris?

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