‘The Flash’ Post-Show Analysis, Season 3, Episode 7: ‘Killer Frost’
Welcome back to Up To Speed, in which Flash TV show recappers Dylan Todd and Ziah Grace break down the latest episode of The Flash and talk about what works, what doesn’t, and where the series might be headed.
This week, Caitlin goes rogue as her ice powers kick in, Wally becomes an Inhuman, Savitar pops his claws, and Alchemy is revealed. "Killer Frost" was directed by Kevin Smith from a story by Judalina Neira, and a teleplay by Andrew Kreisberg and Brooke Roberts.
Dylan: So I guess we should start off by addressing the oversized jorts in the room and point out that this week’s episode is directed by none other than Kevin Smith. In case any readers aren’t familiar, Smith emerged fromn the mid-'90s indie filmmaker scene that brought us Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson and Robert Rodriguez.
Ziah: To be fair, that decade also brought us Robert K. Weiss, Iain Softley, and Kevin Reynolds, so let’s not be too generous to filmmaking.
Dylan: Smith made a name for himself with Clerks, a talky, low-budget film about nerdy slackers working as clerks. From there he went to Mallrats, a talky, slightly-higher-budget film about nerdy slackers in a mall. Then there was Chasing Amy, slightly-higher-budgeted-still, still talky, but this time about sexual politics and love. In hindsight, it’s a kind of problematic film, but at the time, it was critically hailed.
From there, Smith started a slow crawl up his own backside, releasing the solipsistic Dogma, and the even more self-indulgent Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. He parlayed his success as a filmmaker with a nerdy bent into a relatively brief career in comics. The ones that came out were… not that great, aside from a pretty decent run on Green Arrow that revitalized the character.
Ziah: Don’t forget Batman: Cacophony, where Batman reveals that he peed himself while fighting crime once! Or the Daredevil arc where a Silver Age romantic lead gets AIDS and Mysterio nerds out about "Kraven’s Last Hunt."
Dylan: Ugh. So yeah, from there, Smith has built a pretty substantial geek empire, with a host of podcasts, a couple of nerd-centric reality TV shows --- one that was reviewed here to hilarious results, and a second, newer show with Greg Grunberg, who I’ll get to in a little. But yeah, Smith brings a bit of baggage with him in this, his second directed episode
Ziah: Oh man, I remember that! “WizardBeardGate.”
Dylan: That review contains one of the most purely amazing sentences written by humans, wherein Chris Sims describes the one guy’s hair as looking like “Dumbledore [humped] a mushroom.” Bravo.
Ziah: Didn’t that guy send a complaint about the review? Ah, the days before term-searching on Twitter became the Go-To move for angry creators upset that people had any sort of taste.
Dylan: I just remember him threatening to beat Sims up at San Diego Comic-Con. Which was good times, good times.
Anyway, not content to dip his snoochie-boochies in just movies, comics and reality TV, Kevin Smith has started directing superhero TV shows. Last season’s “The Runaway Dinosaur” was a decent episode! A little too quippy, but overall a solid entry. How do you think he did this season?
Ziah: As with last year’s "Runaway Dinosaur," which need I remind you, did not involve a single dinosaur, I thought he did fine. It was fine! There just isn’t enough of a visual style for the show in general for me to be too impressed with any of the directors, but I didn’t notice anything overly impressive here either. But let’s get into it proper.
Dylan: The episode opens with Flash getting his butt handed to him by the self-proclaimed God of Speed, Savitar, only to be saved by a reluctant Caitlin, who used her ice powers to slow down Ol’ Savvy and make him visible, allowing Barry to get away to do his usual mid-season mope where he talks about how powerful his enemy is and how he can’t possibly defeat him. This is compounded by Wally, who grabbed a magic rock last episode, cocooning himself in a gross husk.
Ziah: Man, if I had a nickel every time I got a magic rock that cocooned me in things… Anyway, I know you don’t read anybody’s opinion but your own (and that of our commenters), but there was apparently a minor hubbub this past week as fans were talking about how Savitar is invisible to non-speedsters? Turns out that wasn’t much of a clue, as it’s revealed in the first five minutes, but that’s still cool!
Dylan: Yeah, and we know he’s invisible to everybody but Barry because they say it like three times in the first five minutes.
Ziah: We get some good scenes of Savitar the Hedgehog throwing Barry through the… Chaos Tunnels? Whatever those blue tunnels were in those Sonic games. You ever play those Dyl? Gotta go fast and all that? Anyway, there’s even a cameo for Jerry Bruckheimer’s tree that’s struck by lightning in all his films! RIP Bruckheimer’s tree, you will be avenged.
Dylan: Speaking of avenging, Joe’s quest for the truth about Alchemy leads to him questioning one of Alky’s cultists, which leads to Caitlin going rogue to try and freeze some answers out of the cult-man. Which leads to her kidnapping Julian to try and get some more info by hacking the planet. Which leads Barry to confronting an increasingly-agitated Caitlin. How’d you like this stuff, Z?
Ziah: Sure is a bit uncomfortable to see shows where torture is just kind of a totally acceptable way to gain information, though, huh? I mean, Joe playing “Got Your Nose” with a cultist’s busted nose was more funny than anything else, but still.
Aaaanyway, this was a strong episode for Danielle Panabaker, huh? I always forget how genuinely fun she can be when she really hams it up with some venom.
Dylan: Yeah, it’s nice to see her be able to do something interesting besides stand around and say doctor stuff.
Ziah: She still does, though! Which was amazing. “I memorized the hippocratic oath and said it to anyone who stepped on bugs.” She seems like she would’ve been a buzzkill(er frost) as a kid.
Dylan: Speaking of buzzkills, this episode also features a cameo by Greg Grunberg, the Luckiest Man In Hollywood.
Ziah: Oh yeah! From Heroes (and from work)!
Dylan: Yeah, Grunberg grew up best buds with JJ Abrams, so he’s also appeared in the NuTrek films, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mission Impossible 3, etc. He’s basically living every nerd’s dream and I hate him for it. JK, JK but seriously yes.
Ziah: So, did he replace Singh, or what? He dates Pied Piper in the comics, right? And Piper in the show has shown up and was dating someone?
Dylan: We have yet to see post-Flashpoint TV Pied Piper, so who knows? He could be dating anybody! Maybe Joe! As for Grunberg, he’s just here. He’s always just here. Standing off to the side, wearing an X-Wing pilot uniform that deserves to be mine.
Ziah: Aw Dylan, you’re in the background of every Star Wars movie in my mind! Just you and Chewbacca, hanging out, throwing the ol’ Swamprat around.
Dylan: From your lips to Kathleen Kennedy’s ears. So anyway, Caitlin goes a little nuts, Barry gives her a talking-to and manages to turn her back to the Good Guy’s side by using the power of friendship, which is definitely magic, apparently.
Ziah: Nope! He uses the power of martyr-ism and offering to get hit! Which is his truest superpower TBH. When Savitar asked if Barry had had enough of being punched earlier, we all knew what was coming. Barry Allen, the punchest man alive.
And friendship is definitely not magic this episode, since Cisco found out about his dead brother being the result of Flashpoint!
Flashpoint! Just as bad as murdering your brother!
Dylan: Ziah, why did I think we already resolved this “my dead brother is dead even though he was nothing but a turd to me when he was alive” plot?
Ziah: Wait, you felt that way too? Okay, I just figured it was me. Good. Yeah, this was mad confusing.
Dylan: No, I definitely feel like this was already brought up, but maybe it was before Barry’s last reset? IDK, this season’s been kind of a pain to keep track of, if we’re being honest. But I sure did hate all the Cisco drama this week.
Ziah: I actually enjoyed it!? It was really nice to see Cisco dealing with his (justified) resentment towards Barry just straight up murdering his brother because he missed his mom while also not being a Dante-style b-hole. He still helped Barry and was there for him, but he was wearing “You murdered my brother by creating and then destroying an alternate timeline by letting a future-time serial killer murder your mom for the (first, second, third?) time” blues on his sleeve.
Dylan: Ziah, I love and respect you, but you are dead wrong here and I hope you realize this before it’s too late.
Ziah: You would recognize those feelings if you had b-hole siblings that you would still be a little sad to see get time-murdered, Dylan. Time heals all wounds, but not those for some reason.
Dylan: What’s a little time-murder between friends, really?
Ziah: So, let’s talk about Julien. It’s a real bummer to see him turn out to (probably) be Alchemy. His speech to Barry at the end about how the wheels of justice don’t turn on “friendship” was actually pretty convincing (even if Joe and Iris seem determined to keep Barry from learning lessons), and it’s a real shame to see a pretty fair point of view get thrown under the bus cause he’s a supervillain. How’d you feel about this twist, D?
Dylan: Yeah, we’ve been expecting it, so it’s really just a bummer to have it be this obvious. It’s not even close to a twist. It’s just like, a slightly wobbly line.
Ziah: Yeah, it’s really an easy way out, since they cast such a recognizable actor in the role, but still a shame.
Let’s stay positive though! I love Thrells. I love him. He is my favorite. Maybe better than Twells? I don’t know! Definitely in the running. He’s so useless, but still helpful (but only just). He’s great. How do you feel about Thrells, Dylan? Are you… enThrelled?
Dylan: You know, I don’t hate him any more despite him Thrells-blocking Joe last week. He’s fun, but my heart still belongs to Twells. Plus, Twells means more Jesse, and she’s just fun. More fun that Thrells’ drum sticks. It’s like they say: chicks before sticks.
Ziah: Jesse’s 1000% gonna show up now that she and Wally are Universe-Cross Speedster lovers, so you know what that means --- Twells V. Thrells: Dawn of Just Ice (Caitlin is Killer Frost this episode).
Dylan: I ship it.
Ziah: Oh, and speaking of uncouth dad figures, I really liked Joe trying to figure out his role in the team, and deciding that he is the Tum-Tum of the STAR-os (shout-out to my 3 Ninjas fans, what). Just making those gut decisions while those science people do science-y things.
Dylan: Oh man, Joe decided to just go for it with that saw thingy despite all the nerds in the world telling him not to do that exact thing.
Ziah: I’ve never connected with a character more than when Joe said he was gonna cut into the gross green thing and bunch of his smarter, decades-younger friends said not to.
Dylan: There’s a little bit of Joe West in all of us, I believe. That little voice that tells us, “You know what? Doctors aren’t all that smart. They’re basically just cops for your body. I can probably remove this ingrown toenail myself. A scalpel is just a small, skinny gun. Let’s do this!”
Ziah: Truer words, D.
Dylan: So next week is the big crossover! There’s gonna be aliens. Are you stoked, Ziah?
Ziah: Stoked like Billy Joel making stove-top popcorn! Until next time, Flashers!