The Flash has a lot going on this week, with enough plot and storylines to fill at least three episodes. I kind-of wish the show had just picked one of them to focus on.
Days of Future Past
When Barry returns to the present day, Iris is pissed at him for making a unilateral decision to return Nora to the future and strand her there. They have a screaming argument and, quite frankly, Barry is a total dick.
Sherloque agrees with Barry’s logic and his actions, but pretty much everyone else sides with Iris. (Cisco is absent again this episode, written out with a line about taking a trip to visit Breacher.)
In 2049, Nora goes crying to Eobard Thawne in prison. She begs him to teach her how to time travel without being detected by other speedsters. Thawne explains that the way he accomplished that was to create his own Speed Force, a Negative Speed Force. He can teach her how to do it, but she might not like it. Nora says that she’s desperate and needs to go back to see her dad again. Unfortunately, her first attempt to enter the Negative Speed Force fails because she can’t conjure up enough negative energy.
With help from Ralph, Iris steals the Time Sphere and travels to 2049. The two of them break into Iron Heights Prison, which fortunately only has a single guard. Iris confronts Nora in front of Thawne’s cell and begs her to come back with her. However, Nora gets super-angry when she realizes that her dad still doesn’t want to talk to her. She loses control, is consumed with negative energy, and runs off straight into a breach to the Negative Speed Force. Inside it swirl memories of all the bad things that ever happened to her. The effect makes her angrier and angrier as she runs.
Cool As Ice
Tannhuaser Industries, the lab run by Caitlin’s mother Carla Tannhauser (Susan Walters), is raided. Carla recognizes the culprit as Icicle (Kyle Secor), the meta-human alternate personality that took over her ex-husband’s body. His costume and hairstyle look really ridiculous. He steals a sphere doodad that Carla explains is a prototype Cryo Atomizer, which is apparently really good at making things get very cold.
Later, Icicle attacks again and kidnaps Caitlin and her mom. They wake up locked in a Tannhauser black site. Icicle says that he plans to use the Atmomizer to turn them into what he is so they can all be a happy (albeit evil) family.
Sherloque helps Barry locate Icicle’s lair, but not before the villain locks Carla in a cryo chamber and begins the conversion process. Caitlin turns into Killer Frost and fights her dad while Barry uses his lightning for heat and phases Carla out of the chamber.
Icicle attempts to flee. Killer Frost chases after him, riding giant ice slides in loop-the-loops through the air. They throw a lot of ice at each other. Icicle impales Frost through the shoulder with… well, with an icicle… and knocks her down, turning her back into Caitlin. Before he can finish her off, Caitlin’s read dad, Thomas, breaks through and shatters the Icicle visage. Seeing his daughter in danger gave him the strength to take control of his body again.
Grace Under Fire
Cicada II breaks into the hospital and kidnaps Grace Gibbons, the younger, still comatose version of herself. Caitlin reasons that at least the girl will be safe, because Cicada II would just hurt herself if anything happened.
At the conclusion of the Icicle storyline, the Frost family is reunited. Before they can celebrate, Barry is blasted by a heat attack from Cicada II. Killer Frost tries to fight her, but Cicada II nearly kills her. Thomas jumps in front of Cicada’s blade and sacrifices himself to save his daughter again. Cicada grabs the Atomizer device and runs as Thomas dies.
Barry is moved by Thomas’ final words to his daughter: “Family shouldn’t leave family.” This makes him have a change of heart about Nora. Iris and Ralph return from the future and explain what happened.
Caitlin runs a test and determines that her mom is free of meta-human genes. Barry must have rescued her from the chamber in time. Mother and daughter decide to set aside their strained relationship and go out for a drink together. As they leave, of course, Carla’s test results belatedly indicate that in fact she is now a meta-human after all.
Iris and Barry have a talk, and Barry apologizes for being such an unreasonable asshole. Iris tells him that she believes Eobard Thawne may actually care for Nora.
Nora completes her journey through the Negative Speed Force and arrives in the present day. Her eyes are glowing red, which I imagine can’t be a good thing.
This is a needlessly cluttered episode with too many storylines, any of which could have been expanded to its own episode (not that I advocate drawing out the season any further than it already is).
I don’t understand Nora’s thinking. Her actions make no sense. There’s nothing actually preventing her from using the regular Speed Force to go back in time, except that her father told her not to. If she’s planning to go back and talk to him anyway, why does she need to use the Negative Speed Force? Barry’s certainly not going to like that one any more than if she’d just done it the normal way. Daddy’s gonna yell either way.
I complained in previous articles about Barry’s over-the-top reaction to Nora’s betrayal. At least this episode addresses that, but I still don’t like much of anything about the way the storyline’s been handled.
Has Nora gone dark now? Is the rest of the season going to be about stopping her from doing something terrible? If so, I don’t find the heel-turn particularly convincing, though I am amused that this franchise already has another character named “Nora Darhk” who recently switched from bad to good on Legends of Tomorrow.