Kaiju attack! Even as a giant lizard beast stomps through Central City, the biggest monster on ‘The Flash’ is Caitlin’s heartless mother.
In the previous episode, Barry promised Joe that he’d move out of the house. While he looks for a place of his own, he’s crashing with Cisco, who finds the intrusion more annoying than expected. Even when he tries to be helpful and considerate, Barry’s just a bit much to live with. Cisco also tells Barry that something about the new “H.R.” Wells doesn’t feel right to him. He suggests that he and Barry keep an eye on the guy, lest he turn out to be another evil traitor.
Caitlin takes a day off to go visit her mother, Dr. Carla Tannhauser (Susan Walters from ‘The Vampire Diaries’). Carla is of course also a brilliant scientist, and happens to specialize in cryo-medicine, which is awfully convenient when her daughter has just developed the meta-human power to freeze stuff with her hands. Caitlin may be turning into Killer Frost, but her mother is the real ice queen. She’s all business and treats her daughter as a lab rat with no concern for her feelings.
At S.T.A.R. Labs, H.R. is annoyingly chipper. He speaks in weird phrasings and keeps raving about coffee, which has apparently been wiped out by a blight on his Earth. He suggests that they play some team-building exercises, which no one else has the slightest interest in. Cisco tells him to step back and just observe for a while.
When Barry gets to work at the police station, he discovers that Julian has ratted him out to their captain for numerous petty rule infractions. The captain gives Barry a 15-second lecture, which only makes Julian feel even more persecuted. Their conversation is interrupted when a meta-human alarm goes off downtown. Barry makes an excuse to slip away and then races to the scene, where he finds not a meta-human, but a building-sized monster tromping through the streets. Everywhere the monster moves, power transformers explode near it. This causes so much interference that Cisco isn’t able to track it from the lab. As the beast ducks around a corner, it suddenly vanishes and Barry has no idea where it could have gone.
The next day, Barry tries to make peace with Julian through flattery. He says that he could learn a lot from him and asks if he can shadow him on a case for a while, in order to study his evidence-gathering techniques. In return, he offers to move to another office and leave the crime lab all to Julian.
Carla determines that Caitlin freezes things by sucking all the energy (and thus heat) from them. She has the ability to absorb enormous amounts of energy. Caitlin is a smart cookie and had already figured that out on her own. She hoped to use this experience as an opportunity to bond with her mother. Failing that, the two of them squabble some more and are driven even further apart.
Julian dislikes Barry almost as much as he dislikes meta-humans – all meta-humans, including The Flash. Studying the monster attack pattern, he theorizes that the creature could have been controlled remotely. While he and Barry examine the evidence downtown, the monster returns. Barry is frustrated that he can’t get suited up as The Flash without tipping off Julian, who stupidly tries to play hero by going after the monster armed with just a service pistol. Barry winds up having to surreptitiously save Julian from falling debris when another transformer explodes.
Fed up with her mother, Caitlin tries to leave her lab. She’s blocked by a scientist named Nigel, who’s disgruntled by Carla’s treatment of her employees. He gets aggressive with her, and Caitlin can’t stop herself from attacking him with her Killer Frost powers. Carla sees this and intervenes. Realizing that this is her own fault, she apologizes to her daughter, who then regains control of herself.
Grateful to Barry for saving him, Julian admits that he hates meta-humans so much because he’s jealous that he never got super powers like so many other, less deserving people did.
Cisco finally figures out what it is about H.R. that’s been bugging him. For as much he talks and talks and talks, nothing he’s said has actually been helpful. All of his suggestions for dealing with meta-humans or this new monster have just mirrored ideas the others came up with first. Barry and Cisco go snooping in his room and discover a voice recorder where H.R. talks about having a secret agenda. Naturally, they assume it must be an evil secret agenda.
H.R. walks in on them, upset at the invasion of his privacy. When they confront him about the recording, he claims that he’s writing a novel about his adventures traveling the multiverse. On his Earth, he’s a bestselling author as well as a scientist. Cisco and Barry remain skeptical.
Caitlin returns the lab just as the monster attacks the city again. Barry races to intercept it, carrying a super-tensile rope that Cisco whipped up. His plan is to wrap the rope about the monster’s legs and trip it up. (Yes, Cisco explicitly references the AT-AT scene in ‘Empire Strikes Back’, which H.R. has never heard of.) However, the rope passes right through the monster. It’s a hologram!
As police snipers shoot at the monster, their bullets of course pass through it as well. Barry has to catch a bullet before it strikes an officer on the other side.
Having determined where the signal controlling the monster is coming from, Julian tries again to be a hero. He goes alone to catch the perp. Barry (as The Flash) arrives just in time – not to protect Julian, but to stop him from shooting the suspect. It turns out that it’s just a smart kid who was bullied at school and created this monster illusion to make himself feel powerful and scare the bullies. Julian is shaken when he realizes that he almost killed a child.
When H.R. once again proves useless during this crisis, Cisco calls him out as a fake. H.R. admits that he’s really only an “idea man” who takes credits for others’ work. He doesn’t actually know how to implement anything. He didn’t even decrypt Dr. Wells’ message. One of his employees did. H.R. took the opportunity to come to a new Earth because he had been discredited on his own. Cisco calls him a con man. He can’t believe that, out of a multiverse of endless possibilities, they found the only Harrison Wells who isn’t a genius. H.R. begs for another chance. Barry says that he can stay for a few weeks. If he can’t prove himself a useful member of their team in that time, he’ll be shipped back to Earth-19.
Julian feels terribly guilty about his mistake. He opens up to Barry about family problems he’s had. He also says that he was wrong about The Flash, and allows Barry to stay in the crime lab. The two of them end the episode by going out to get a drink together.
Caitlin continues to keep her meta-human abilities secret from her friends. Her mother sends her a message warning her not to use her powers, because the more she does, the harder they’ll be to reverse. A furious Caitlin freezes the computer. It seems that she’s taking a dark turn.
I’m actually relieved that H.R. has been debunked as a fraud already. I found him kind of annoying when he was introduced, and it’s good to know that was deliberate. Making the team interact with a version of Dr. Wells who’s actually useless might be a fun dynamic for a while, so long as it isn’t permanent.
On the other hand, I’m not thrilled with the idea of Caitlin turning dark. That seems like a very clichéd storyline. I hope it’s dispensed with quickly.
At this point, I still believe that Julian will turn out to be Doctor Alchemy, though that’s difficult to reconcile with his emotional outburst to Barry in this episode, unless that turns out to be a big lie.
My only serious disappointment with this episode was that the monster wasn’t real. I’d like to see Barry face an actual threat like that.