Why is it that everyone who gets meta-human powers on ‘The Flash’ turns evil – except of course for selected instances where it’s not convenient for the plot (Barry, Cisco, Jesse)? Even Caitlin, the sweetest-natured (not to mention smartest) character on the show, develops a meta ability and all of a sudden she’s a full-on murderous psychopath. That trope really rings false this time.
Picking up where the previous episode left off, Barry struggles to fight Savitar, the self-proclaimed “God of Speed.” No one else can even see the big, ugly Decepticon wannabe. Barry begs Joe to shoot anyway, but his bullets just bounce off. While everyone else is distracted with that, Alchemy slips away.
Savitar grabs Barry and kicks his ass all around the city. He moves at a new level of speed Barry has never experienced before and creates weird light tunnels when he runs. Barry is helpless to fend him off. Monitoring the situation from S.T.A.R. Labs, H.R. actually proves himself useful by suggesting a 3-verus-1 fight. When Savitar stops for a moment, Cisco creates a portal to his location and pulls Caitlin through. She throws a freeze blast in Barry’s general direction, freezing Savitar solid. After a moment, Savitar shakes himself free of that and runs away, scared off by what is honestly a pretty weak opponent he should have run circles around and slaughtered.
Opening this dimensional breach gives Cisco what Caitlin describes as a “mini-stroke,” which amounts to a bad headache. He resolves not to do it again, thus allowing the show’s writers an excuse to never mention the ability again. When H.R. hears that the new villain calls himself Savitar, he recognizes that as also the name of the Hindu god of motion.
The team bring the cocooned Wally back to the lab but aren’t sure how to get him out, or even if it would be wise to do so. A panicked Joe returns to the police station to interrogate one of Alchemy’s minions who was captured at the lair. Shortly into it, Caitlin interrupts to tell Joe that Wally came out of the cocoon and is fine. Joe immediately runs back to the lab, but Caitlin stays behind to question the minion herself. She demands to know where Alchemy is and tortures the man with her freeze powers until he talks. As she tries to sneak out of the police station afterwards, she runs into Julian in the hallway. Caitlin forces him to come with her.
When the other police realize that Julian has been kidnapped, a hostage rescue team headed by a Det. Patterson (Greg Grunberg) mobilizes to hunt the captor down.
Caitlin brings Julian to an abandoned warehouse (is there any other kind?) and demands that he use his computer wizardry to make an algorithm that can detect Alchemy for her. She has apparently forgotten that she’s also a computer genius and could just as easily do that herself.
H.R. once again comes up with a good idea when he suggests that Cisco track Caitlin the same way the team previously tracked Captain Cold. Cisco locates her in a frozen foods warehouse, and Barry races off to stop her from harming Julian (whom Caitlin had just caught sending a text to Patterson with his location). However, when Julian gets whiny and demands that The Flash kill Caitlin, Barry smacks him with a speed slap and knocks him out cold.
Barry asks Caitlin what the hell she’s doing, and she explains that she needs Alchemy to take away her meta powers. She wants to be normal again. Caitlin is very cruel to Barry and reveals over the open intercom that Cisco’s brother Dante would still be alive if Barry hadn’t created the Flashpoint timeline.
Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Patterson’s S.W.A.T. team. Barry tries to help Caitlin escape, but she makes an icy blade to sever his tricep. Even with speed-healing, it’ll take him about four hours to recover. Caitlin then runs off on her own.
Back at the lab, Cisco is pissed at Barry for (even if indirectly) causing his brother’s death – and for refusing to alter the timeline again to fix it. I feel like we’ve already hashed this out before and creating drama over it again is just redundant.
Eventually, the team formulate a plan. While Barry recovers, Cisco, Joe and H.R. will stake out Alchemy’s other acolytes and wait for Caitlin to show up. As they suspected, she sneaks into one acolyte’s house. The man is clearly a religious fanatic. He says that Alchemy is essentially another henchman. They all worship Alchemy, who has already shown them the future, in which Caitlin is Killer Frost. Alchemy won’t remove her powers.
Cisco confronts Caitlin in the street outside the man’s house, which leads directly into the vision he previously had of the two of them fighting. Caitlin throws ice darts at him, and Cisco shoots sound wave blasts at her. Barry heals in time to race to the scene, only to slip and fall on an ice patch Caitlin makes in front of him. She then freeze-kisses Barry and walks away telling him to vibrate to warm himself up. Before she can get away, Cisco blasts Caitlin again and knocks her out. He and Barry bring her back to the lab and lock her in the Pipeline.
While all this is happening, a frantic Joe decides that he can’t wait any longer and makes H.R. help him cut Wally out of the cocoon. He immediately regrets that decision, because whatever was happening to Wally inside the cocoon obviously hadn’t run its course yet. He’s a big vibrating blur, then runs off.
When nobody has any ideas what to do next, Barry decides that they need Caitlin’s biochemistry expertise. He goes to talk to her in the Pipeline cell, but Caitlin is a catty bitch and refuses to help. Barry opens her cell and tells her that she’s free to go, but she’ll have to kill him. Calling her bluff, he says that he won’t fight her, but the only way she can get past him is to straight-up murder him. Caitlin hisses and snarls, but then finally snaps out of it and gives Barry a crying hug. I guess that’s all it takes to cure her evilness.
Quickly forgiven by everybody all-around, Caitlin theorizes that Wally’s mind and body are out of sync. No worries, she can whip up an easy-peasy antidote for that. Joe realizes that the best place to find Wally is at his mother’s house. Sure enough, there he is, standing in front of it. Barry zips in and gives him the shot, and Wally passes out, no longer vibrating.
In short order, Wally is perfectly fine. He’s apparently also one of the lucky meta-humans who doesn’t turn evil, even though Alchemy gave him his power. Caitlin starts wearing the anti-meta cuffs again. Cisco isn’t sure if he and Barry will ever be OK. (Spoiler: They totally will. Give it a week.)
Julian wakes up in the hospital and Barry begs him not to turn Caitlin in. Julian demands that Barry immediately quit the CCPD. Barry reluctantly agrees. After Barry leaves, Julian tells Det. Patterson that he doesn’t remember who kidnapped him.
Later that night, Julian hears a voice in his head. It’s Savitar, who says that he needs him again, thus revealing that… yup… Julian was Doctor Alchemy the whole time. Shocker.
Not that you’d have any reason to guess as much if you didn’t see his name in the credits, but this episode was directed by Kevin Smith – yes, the Kevin Smith, of ‘Clerks’ and (lately) ‘Yoga Hosers’. Absolutely nothing in the episode exhibits any sign of his sense of humor or personality or directing style, such as they are. It could just as easily have been directed by any of the show’s regular staff without a difference in a single shot. That’s probably a good thing, given how most of Smith’s recent movies have turned out.
I’m not a fan of Kevin Smith so go ahead and chalk this up to personal bias if you want, but the episode is better than most of his movies that I’ve seen. As an episode of ‘The Flash’… eh, it’s OK. I’ve described most of my issues with the plotting above. The shocking surprise revelation that Julian is Alchemy is no surprise at all. I called that early in the season and never doubted it. Turning Caitlin evil only for her to get over it with a little talking-to and a hug is also rather silly and pointless.
Smith didn’t write the episode, so none of the blame for that falls on his shoulders. Nonetheless, this is one of the weaker episodes of the current season.