Monstrously Boring - The Flash S03E05 "Monster"

I get that in a tv season with 23 episodes, you end up having to write a bunch of filler episodes just so your main storyline doesn't overstay its welcome. But could you at least make your filler episodes have more substance than a holographic godzilla?

I make up for a bad episode with cringey Harry Potter and Frozen jokes, so you should keep reading.

(spoilers beyond the jump)

In case anyone is wondering, Iris West manages to not have romantic drama with Barry this week, and she is kind of in one scene during a monster attack helping some people out of a bus (but Flash has to help her even in this) and she does make a vague reference to being there for a story. O...kay, I guess? Kind of an improvement? Ish? But then they ruined it by making her most substantial scene be one in which she tries to give her father permission to date the hot D.A. that keeps trying to ask him out on a date.


Well that's enough of that. Let's get on with the freak-of-the week, shall we? This week, the freakshow is just an excuse to develop Julian's character a bit more. I'm into it, because Tom Felton.

Ten points of hotness to House Slytherin, Mr. Felton
Turns out Julian has had enough of Barry being the "golden boy" around the CCPD and being allowed to come and go as he pleases and do what he wants. Julian Malfoy is pretty upset when Barry Potter just gets a light wrist-slapping from Dumble... I mean the police chief, which leads into a scene where Barry appears to make a genuine attempt to give their poor relationships a total restart. Appealing to Julian's pride, Barry asks to shadow him on the job so that he can learn from the best, but Julian only bites after Barry promises to move into a storeroom downstairs and give up the lab completely.

Okay but there's a monster roaming around Central City! Like really, it's a monster!

Grr. Arrgh. 
The monster appears only for a brief moment, and its presence knocks out traffic cameras and a transformer, but much to the confusion of Team Flash, it then simply disappears. Hologram, I said to myself. I hate it when I give myself spoilers.

Anyway, while the team tries to figure this new monster meta out, Cisco is already over the presence of HR Wells at STAR Labs. Turns out our new Wells from Earth-19 isn't very useful, and Cisco eventually realizes that Wells is really good at BSing them by basically restating what Cisco and the team have already said.

I TOLD you guys to go with Steampunk Harry. But did you listen? Nooooo.....
Cisco and Barry think their new Wells has something to hide, so they go snooping around his belongings, only to find a voice recorder with some potentially incriminating stuff. I don't want to spend a lot of time on this weaksauce Wells side-story, so let's jump ahead to how this ends. HR Wells is a fraud, in that he's not a scientist at all. He's a novelist whose "partner" figured out the Wells formula, and he's here now just to get a good story for his next book. Barry and Cisco decide to go ahead and give him a few weeks to prove himself useful, or he has to go back home.

Look, just skip ahead to the inevitable and get Earth-2 Harry and Jesse back. Please?

So Julian and Barry are investigating the monster sighting and we get a little more of Julian's problem with metahumans. Julian has a gun, and apparently he was in the military for a while. And then later, back at the lab, Julian goes on an anti-meta tirade about how they end up using their powers for bank robberies and such, and Barry quietly tries to suggest that maybe they should try to see things from their point of view. You suddenly get these powers, you're freaked out, don't know what to do, and sometimes you do bad things. And sometimes, you do good things, like The Flash does. Julian is unimpressed and tells Barry to bugger off and not shadow him anymore.

A final encounter with Godzilla has Barry trying the old Empire Strikes Back trick, but since this thing is totally a hologram I called it way back when, that doesn't work. Julian, however, had figured out how to follow the electrical grid to the source, and Barry realizes that you'd need some major power to run a hologram like that. He follows the source too, just in time to stop Julian from shooting the culprit.

Just a dumb kid. 
So the freak-of-the-week is just a kid who did the hologram thing just to scare people, because he himself is bullied in school and he wants other people to know what that's like. Joe West has to give a terrible speech that's kind-of-but-not-really a "it gets better" commercial, and Julian is totally freaked that he nearly shot a child. The hologram plot was just an excuse to lead into Julian breaking down and telling Barry about why he wants to do good as a forensics expert. It has something to do with a cliche British story about being the heir to the throne of old money, but wanting to do something meaningful, so he comes to the States to be a scientist, and as soon as he gets to the top of his field, bam... metahumans show up and now he knows nothing about them. And he nearly became a monster this night, by almost shooting a kid who feels like a monster. And Julian becomes less of a monstrous co-worker by telling Barry he doesn't have to move to the storeroom. And then he and Barry go out for drinks because they are totally bros now.

I mean, I didn't mind the overall development of Julian, and Tom Felton and Grant Gustin acted the hell out of their final scene together in this episode, but they could have surely gone with a less cliche story than old money. Am I the only American here who doesn't think all Brits are old monied snobs? And surely there could have been a way better story to be told than hologram Godzilla to lead to Julian's change in character.

Look, Elsa, that equipment is pretty expensive. Do you mind?
Okay but there's one "monster" we haven't talked about, and that's because I saved the best for last. In a boring and rather weak episode, I am happy to report that the best part of it actually belongs to Caitlin. Finally we get some serious character development.

Scared of the monster she's becoming, Caitlin heads home to ask her mother, a renowned scientist, for help. Mom is totally cold (sorry) and kinda treats Caitlin like a test subject, but she's got this lab assistant who seems pretty chill (sorry). Things get d-icy (sorry) when Caitlin and mom have an argument, in which we find out that her mom became distant after the death of Caitlin's father, and mom accuses her of "not understanding" these things. To which Caitlin replies that she does, because she lost her husband last year. This is the point at which mom seems to start to defrost (sorry!) towards her a little.

Still, Caitlin is about to leave in a huff, but lab assistant locks her in the room and tells her she's not going anywhere, because she's the key to his "getting out" from under her mother's shadow or something. I mean, couldn't you just go get another job? Anyway, Caitlin's not having any of it. I honestly don't know what this guy thought he was going to do to keep a meta locked up. Or why he thought it was a good idea to lock himself in the room with her.

Caitlin! Remember! "Conceal, don't feel!" 
Caitlin's mother stops her from killing Moron, giving Caitlin the hug she desperately needed, and our future Killer Frost skedaddles back to Central City, where she fails to tell Cisco and the team about her budding powers. Which, to be honest with you, doesn't make a lot of sense to me. At this point, why are you keeping it a secret from probably the only people who are going to be able to help you through this?

Mom calls Cait later to tell her that she needs to not use her powers as much as possible, because once she changes, it's not going to be easy to change her back. This is apparently quite upsetting.

Caitlin, don't know what you're upset about, but you really need to let it go. (#sorrynotsorry)
All of my terrible ice puns and Frozen references aside, it was nice to finally get some character development for Caitlin that didn't involve the men in her life. This was distantly related to her father's death, but this was the story about a woman failing to connect with her mother despite having a lot in common. We get father/son narratives fairly often in modern media, but mother/daughter ones are fairly rare. I wish this story had gone much deeper, but this is a typical problem for Berlanti shows: they tend to touch on a potentially powerful story, but fail to do more than a shallow chop job.

Caitlin deserves better, but at least we got more for her this week. In two weeks we get the Kevin Smith-directed "Killer Frost" episode where hopefully all this comes to a satisfying head. I actually hope we see Snow Mom again, and that she has a genuine part to play in pulling Caitlin back from the brink. That would be a far more compelling narrative than say, having Flash pep-talk Killer Frost under control.

Nothing new to report on the Flashpoint timeline front, and Dr. Alchemy has apparently taken an extended vacation with  Prometheus from Arrow or something, because we haven't seen either of them in two weeks.

So what did you think of HR Wells, Killer Frost, and Godzilla? Sound off in the comments!

Ivonne Martin is a writer, gamer, and avid consumer of all things geek—and is probably entirely too verbose for her own good.