Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"Killer Frost" Returns! Alchemy Is Revealed! Kevin Smith Delivers On The Flash!

The Good: Decent performances, Wonderful character development and arcs, Engaging villains
The Bad: Moments of special effects (moments when Savitar does not move realistically), Some simple problem/simple solution elements to the Wally subplot
The Basics: "Killer Frost" reveals a number of horrific post-Flashpoint truths to The Flash and Cisco, cutting a swath of destruction in her path!

The Flash has been having an awkward third season and the truth is, when "Killer Frost" was announced, it was tough to believe that the season would get better right away. After all, Killer Frost was a character potentially built into The Flash when Dr. Caitlin Snow first appeared in the pilot as part of the S.T.A.R. Labs team. But, she was not part of the original dark matter disaster which turned her fiance into half of Firestorm and in the second season, Killer Frost was introduced as the Earth-2 incarnation of Dr. Snow. So, as The Flash attempts to make sense of the universe Barry Allen has altered as a result of the events of "Flashpoint" (reviewed here!), the show is struggling to integrate Killer Frost and make Dr. Snow's sudden transformation into her make any rational sense. "Killer Frost" manages to find the right balance in developing the character, though.

"Shade" (reviewed here!) leads into "Killer Frost" and it is hard to discuss the new episode without some references as to where the prior episode went. After all, "Shade" was something of a cliffhanger with Wally West getting cocooned by Alchemy's magic stone and Ramon had just seen a vibe vision of himself and Killer Frost in open conflict, which gives the new episode an inherent sense of conflict at the outset. As well, the introduction of a new Speedster at the climax of "Shade" puts Barry in the middle of a conflict at the outset of "Killer Frost!"

As The Flash is attacked by Savitar, who claims to be the god of the Speed Force, H.R. and Iris implore Ramon and Snow to step into the field of battle to stop Savitar. Dr. Snow is concerned about Ramon, herself and the cocooned Wally. Joe West is frustrated by Wally being trapped in the cocoon and he leaves to interrogate his captured Alchemy acolyte. But his interrogation is interrupted by Dr. Snow, who comes in to find Alchemy's location. Snow takes Julian Albert hostage, as her powers begin to take her over. Found by H.R. and Ramon, Barry intercepts Dr. Snow before she can harm Albert after he designs an algorithm that allows them to find Savitar and Alechemy's acolytes.

With Dr. Snow slipping into her villainous metahuman persona of Killer Frost, the S.T.A.R. Labs team and Joe try to locate the acolytes. When Snow is told her future by one of Alchemy's acolytes, she is shocked and she squares off against Cisco Ramon and The Flash. After she is captured, seeing how she is transforming leads Joe to cut Wally out of the cocoon . . . with disastrous consequences!

"Killer Frost" has Joe West doing actual detective work and in some ways, the brief moments of his interrogating the acolyte are the closest the show has come to a DC Universe version of NYPD Blue. Teaming up Joe and H.R. leads to yet another intriguing couple of scenes between Jesse L. Martin and Tom Cavanaugh. Beyond that, Joe is the victim of his own hubris motivated by the love of his sons. Trying to save Wally is a very human mistake.

H.R. continues to define himself and actually prove his worth by helping the S.T.A.R. Labs team realize they have ways that they can find The Flash. H.R. develops well by actually standing up to try to protect Wally West. He even tries to be a friend to Joe and when he inspires Joe, it is well-executed.

Dr. Snow's descent into Killer Frost is well-handled by keeping in character. Saving Barry pushes Snow over the biological threshold into becoming Killer Frost and that starts to twist her perspective. Danielle Panabaker steps up through the process of the transformation as Snow brutally reveals the truth of Dante and the post-Flashpoint death of Ramon's brother. Dr. Snow drops some of the harshest truth bombs of the season and Barry Allen is characterized as an additional antagonist in "Killer Frost." Allen's prior screw-ups come back to haunt him in "Killer Frost" and Dr. Snow seems surprisingly reasonable in the episode as she gets angry at Barry.

Barry and Cisco's relationship is almost entirely destroyed in "Killer Frost" and the episode's climax promises big changes for The Flash. Kevin Smith gets one of the best scripts of the season and he manages to direct the hell out of the episode in such a way that it shines. One has to believe that the effects for Savitar cost more than the entire budget of one of Kevin Smith's earliest movies, but Smith proves once again that he knows how to take a good story and make it into an impressive cinematic work. "Killer Frost" uses the whole cast well - despite the predictable motivational speech from Iris to Barry mid-episode - and it does a decent job of developing villains who are now surrounding The Flash and the S.T.A.R. Labs team!

For other works with Danielle Panabaker, please check out my reviews of:
The Flash - Season 2
The Flash - Season 1
Piranha 3DD
Friday The 13th

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into The Flash - The Complete Third Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the third season here!


For other television season and episode reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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