With the way that time travel and alternate universes work on ‘The Flash’, I expect that pretty much anyone who’s ever appeared on the show will come back around eventually. Last week saw the return of another old friend we thought was gone for good (“friend” being a relative term in this case).
Leonard Snart, a.k.a. Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller), left Central City to go on time-traveling adventures with the ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ crew, only to get killed off there at the end of last season. He returns to ‘The Flash’ briefly via a flashback to three years ago. I’m sure you can guess when this scene takes place. We’re introduced to two new villains, Sam Scudder and Rosalind Dillon, enjoying the spoils of a recent bank robbery. Scudder is swankily dressed in an expensive suit and can’t stop staring at himself in the mirror. Their partner, Snart, enters the hideout upset that these boneheads haven’t kept a low profile like he ordered. They have a fight, which is interrupted by the S.T.A.R. Labs reactor meltdown. Both Sam and Dillon are hit by Dark Matter. Sam disappears into the mirror he’d been obsessed with.
Cut to the present day. The building that housed the gang’s hideout has been abandoned for years. It’s disrupted when a construction crew comes in to tear down the place. When one worker walks near the mirror, Sam reaches his hand through it and grabs him, demanding to know where Leonard Snart is.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Jesse is very eager to train with Barry. When they go running through the reactor core, she loses control and stumbles. Barry lectures her on “the difference between having powers and having precision,” which was a lesson he had to be taught as well. Jesse’s flirtation with Wally is also getting pretty serious, but Wally hesitates when she moves in for a kiss for the first time. He’s worried about them getting too close if she’s probably going back to Earth-2 soon.
Indeed, Jesse’s father Harry is eager for them to return home. When Cisco and Caitlin protest that they still need his help here on Earth-1, he suggests that perhaps it’s time to find another Harrison Wells. With a whole multiverse of possibilities, there must be another Dr. Wells somewhere out there who can fill in for him. To find one, he makes a satellite device he describes as a “fishing lure” that will transmit a signal across universes. In the message will be a complex computational formula that only a genius such as himself could solve. It’s basically an IQ test, and only by passing it will someone receive instructions for how to contact Earth-1. Wells considers this a sort of job interview. This presumes that his alternates in other universes would want to leave their homes and come to Earth-1, when he himself would rather go to Earth-2. It also disregards the possibility of an evil genius (like the Reverse-Flash who posed as Wells throughout Season 1) pretending to be a nice guy and then causing havoc.
Now loose in the world again, Sam Scudder discovers that he has the power to travel through mirrors or glass. He uses this to start a new crime spree and hunt Snart for revenge, unaware that Snart is dead (or at least missing, as most people believe). After Barry and the gang catch onto him, Dr. Wells theorizes that his meta-human ability allows him to create wormholes through reflective surfaces. Cisco struggles to assign Scudder a nickname when Wells beats him to it with “Mirror Master.”
Scudder’s girlfriend Rosalind is currently in captivity at Iron Heights Prison. She’s also a meta-human now, with the power to cause a crippling sense of vertigo in other people. Determined not to be upstaged in the nickname game again, Cisco blurts out “The Top.” Because she makes people feel like they’re spinning, get it? Yeah, kind of lame. Cisco needs to work on his nickname skills some more.
Joe goes to question Rosalind in prison when Scudder suddenly appears in her cell, which happens to have a glass wall. Joe watches helplessly as Scudder walks her right out through that wall.
Scudder and Rosalind return to the old hideout. She demonstrates her power for him. You wouldn’t think that someone whose superpower is making people dizzy would be a terribly formidable threat, but the way it’s depicted on the show is actually pretty cool. For some reason, Sam did not feel any passage of time in the mirror. To him, only one day has passed since he saw her last. He asks about Snart, and Rosalind says that he left town a year ago and hasn’t been heard from since. The only thing standing in their way of becoming the new crime kingpins of Central City is The Flash.
Dr. Wells starts getting bites on his fishing lure. He, Cisco and Caitlin review holographic messages from the first candidates. In the initial batch are a doddering cowboy, a steampunk weirdo, and a mime. All three get hard passes. A hipster Dr. Wells from Earth-19 impresses Cisco and Caitlin, but Harry shoots him down as well without explaining why. As it turns out, even though this whole project was his idea, he doesn’t like the idea of being replaceable.
A police report comes in about Mirror Master robbing another bank. Barry races off to intercept and Jesse tags along to help. They confront Scudder, who leads them on a chase up a glass-walled skyscraper. On the roof, Jesse stops to face off against The Top, but falls victim to her vertigo power and falls off the side of the building. Barry briefly breaks off his pursuit of Scudder to save Jesse. When he finds him again, Scudder tosses Barry into a mirror, trapping him on the other side. The villains get away.
Jesse brings the mirror back to S.T.A.R. Labs. When Barry tries to talk, his words come out backwards. Conveniently, Cisco has a device on hand that will translate and play back the words correctly. (It also magically keeps Barry’s words in sync with his lip movements, but we’re probably not supposed to think about that too hard.)
Jesse blames herself for Barry’s situation. When she goes off to sulk, Wally follows after her and, setting his earlier concerns aside, kisses her.
Barry says that he has tried phasing through the mirror but can’t get out. Wells postulates a theory that they need to freeze the mirror to Absolute Zero in order to slow the molecules or something, but a device he whips up to do that can’t get it cold enough. Cisco suggests asking Hipster Wells what he makes of the problem, but Harry resists. After they leave the room, Caitlin sneaks around to the back of the mirror and freezes it with her hand, thus confirming that she indeed has Killer Frost’s meta-human power. She’s too frightened to tell anyone, though.
Barry gets free. Before Wells and Cisco can question how that happened, another report of Mirror Master activity comes in. This time, Barry has an idea.
While Scudder is robbing another bank, he sees none other than his nemesis Leonard Snart chastising him. How can this be? Scudder chases after him and is lured into a trap. Snart was just a hologram. Barry quickly encircles him in a ring of mirrors. When Scudder tries to leap through one to escape, he comes out another and winds up in the center again. Barry calls this the “Drostre Effect,” an infinite reflective loop. It’s a simple trick, but apparently effective enough to outwit this numbskull, who never considers just pushing one of the mirrors aside without using his powers.
Jesse has an even simpler solution for dealing with The Top. She simply decks the woman.
Scudder and Rosalind are both sent to Iron Heights. Scudder gets locked in a cell covered with anti-reflective tiles so he has nothing to escape through.
Harry finally concedes that it’s time to step aside and let another Dr. Wells take over. The hipster from Earth-19 (who calls himself “H.R.”) arrives through the breach and is kind of a douche, but nobody seems to mind. Cisco gives Harry a hug. (Remember when everyone thought he was a prick?) Harry mentions that his freeze machine didn’t work and he doesn’t know how Barry got free from the mirror. Harry and Jesse then return to Earth-2.
The episode ends with Caitlin at home. As she tries to take a shower, the water freezes. She also develops a white streak in her hair that she has to cut out before anybody sees it. Clearly, not only does she have Killer Frost’s powers, she’s afraid that she can’t control them.
Mirror Master and The Top both seem like they’re probably pretty goofy characters in the comics, but the TV show handles them really well. The way their powers are depicted is pretty neat.
I’m not sure how I feel about this H.R. guy yet, though I find it kind of amusing that Tom Cavanagh appears to be reprising his role from the short-lived TV show ‘Love Monkey’, in which he played a hipster music producer. I don’t know what the point of that is, and I imagine that it might get really annoying, but hopefully he’ll dial it down in future episodes.