Nothing like a 30 ft tall reptilian beast to really get folk to open up a bit, huh? Seemed like everyone who’d been holding back on this season of The Flash cracked open the widow to their soul during “Monster”. Yet another standalone episode that skipped any and all Dr. Alchemy lore for a more personal story.
Surprisingly, or not surprisingly once you factor in the TV budget, the titular “Monster” wasn’t all that effective during the episode. The kaiju stomping through the streets of Central City while citizens crashed and transformers exploded, made for a nice visual, but not something that could be sustained throughout the episode. Add to that, the fact that the monster never really interacted with anything or anyone, the surprise of it actually being a hologram didn’t land as hard as the writers may have expected. By the time that reveal happened, the sense of danger and urgency was already gone. The hologram reveal and the villain behind it were both empty in some respects. The hologram because Flash not figuring it out until the AT-AT attempt, while funny, only worked because Barry didn’t try anything sooner. I don’t knock the kid for being bullied, but if you can put together lifelike holograms, maybe applying that talent to something a little more productive is the way to go.
The emotional crux fell on two stories, really. Caitlin going to her mother for help and Julian opening up to Barry about why he hates Metahumans.
Julian’s revelation came at the tail end of the episode, after they’d discovered the bullied teen behind the “Monster”. I feel better about Julian’s presence on the show now that he’s been better fleshed out. Maybe they can treat him like a full character instead of some weird analogue of Draco Malfoy.
Caitlin’s time with her mother delved further into her Killer Frost powers, revealing that she may not be in full control of herself while using them. Not only did she have a frosty outburst while trying to get her mothers attention, but the mere mention of not being able to use them set her off. Caitlin’s mother was as frigid as her daughters powers. Coming off cold and uncaring for most of their interactions. Barely aware of Caitlin’s presence, or troubles. She didn’t even know that Caitlin’s husband died….twice.
The Flash is really good at taking a step back from the overarching story without feeling like bloat. The discovery that HR (Wells 19) was a fake was fun enough. And left the door open to meeting someone else from his world. “Monster” wasn’t a raucous adventure, but it was effective where it needed to be. Next time Dr. Alchemy pops up, we’ll be slightly more invested in the players than we were just a few episodes ago. We have to remember these are the exact same people from last season thanks to Flashpoint. So exploring the little differences in downtime adds a much needed connection. Ones we won’t be so glib about losing.