Monsters are so in right now. DC Comics recently wrapped up the “Night of the Monster Men” crossover event in the Batman comics. Marvel is starting to unveil its “Monsters Unleashed” event, which sounds interesting. Now, The Flash is taking on monsters in an episode that contains some interesting material, but never quite jelled for me.
When we last left Team Flash, they had just welcomed a new Harrison Wells to Earth-Prime — H.R. Wells from Earth-19 — and this episode finds the team getting used to him. As was teased last week, H.R. is unlike any Wells we’ve met so far. He’s hyper, outgoing, nice, and conscientious; it’s actually kind of off-putting, especially for Cisco, who can’t seem to bring himself to trust this Wells. After Cisco tells him to step back a bit and just watch and learn, H.R. finally gets around to passing on Caitlin’s message that she’s taking a few days off.
After her shower incident in last week’s “The New Rogues,” Caitlin decides to visit her mother Dr. Carla Tannhauser, a very successful biomedical researcher. From the moment Caitlin arrives at her mother’s office, it’s clear there’s some tension between these two women, and all of their resentment comes bubbling to the surface while Carla runs tests on her daughter’s new powers. Her mother is upset Caitlin moved away three years ago and hasn’t spoken to her since, while Caitlin resents the fact her mother became very cold to her after her father died. Carla says Caitlin can’t possibly understand the pain she was going through, but Caitlin says she can, since her husband died nearly a year ago.
Although I didn’t think this particular part of the story had enough time to breathe, I did enjoy how the show put more effort into explaining why Caitlin has always been kind of cold. When the character was first introduced, her coldness was mostly blamed on her losing Ronnie, but the mother/daughter dynamic definitely gives Caitlin some new dimensions. If there’s one thing parents do, it’s screw up their children. However, it feels like Caitlin and her mom kind of rushed to a resolution.
Dr. Tannhauser’s assistant tries to kidnap Caitlin because he wants to use the data to leave her mom. He grabs her and Caitlin instinctively starts to freeze him. Thankfully, her mom bursts into the room and is able to talk her down. “I know I didn’t raise a killer. For what it’s worth, I am so sorry,” her mom says, which actually helps a lot. Carla says she’ll make sure no one finds out what happened.
Caitlin’s relationship with her mother isn’t the only one that thaws tonight. The latest Central City crisis — a giant Godzilla monster that keeps disappearing without any explanation — forces Barry to turn to Julian for information. However, Julian wants nothing to do with Barry because he doesn’t trust him, especially since Barry has surreptitiously accessed his case files. To get the information he needs, Barry tries to appeal to Julian’s ego by asking him to train him. That doesn’t work, so Barry offers to move out of the lab if Julian lets him shadow him for the day, a deal Julian accepts.
NEXT: Not everything is as it seems with this Wells
As Team Flash tries and fails to figure out how to stop the monster, which causes transformers to explode without touching them, Cisco’s suspicions about this Wells start to grow when he realizes H.R. isn’t actually contributing anything to their discussions. Barry notices the same thing, so they decide to have Cisco vibe on his stuff. However, H.R. walks in on them going through his belongings — including a recorder with some suspicious personal messages —and H.R. finally comes clean, explaining he’s both a scientist and a science-romance novelist hoping to use his experiences on this Earth to churn out another novel. At least this Wells doesn’t have a sinister purpose for being on Earth…
However, Team Flash will have to wait to dig any further into H.R.’s news because the monster starts attacking the city again. The Flash zooms out and quickly discovers the monster is a hologram, which was obvious pretty early on. Julian has figured out the same thing and managed to find the person responsible for the monster. Julian orders the perpetrator/Elliot Alderson cosplayer to step away from the computer and when he does, Julian fires his gun. The Flash arrives in time to catch the bullet before it reaches its target and reveals a 15-year-old boy is responsible for it all. Julian thanks The Flash, a big deal since Julian hates all metas.
Obviously, it falls on Joe to have a firm but understanding chat with the precocious teen. The kid explains he created the hologram because he was tired of feeling powerless and scared. He wanted everyone to know how he felt. Joe does his Joe thing and says that while there will be consequences for the mayhem he caused, he’s young and still has time to make up for his mistake.
With the day saved, Team Flash again confronts H.R. — who was useless in helping solve this week’s problem — and finds out he isn’t much of a scientist at all. As he himself admits, he’s just the ideas man. On H.R.’s Earth, he worked with a partner who was the actual brains, and H.R. was just the face of S.T.A.R. Labs. H.R. begs them not to throw him off the team; he thinks his ideas will still help them and he wants a chance at redeeming himself by actually doing some good with his life. Barry, ever the good guy, says they’ll give him a few weeks to prove his worth before sending him back. I personally like the idea of meeting a Harrison Wells who isn’t a genius. It’s a nice change of pace that keeps things from feeling too repetitive.
Barry returns to the lab and finds Julian brooding. In a surprising move, Julian opens up to Barry and explains how he can kind of empathize with the kid because he, too, feels powerless in this new world. Right as he got to the top of his field, the world changed with the introduction of metas and now he’s struggling to figure out how he fits in. I like The Flash’s attempts at planting the seeds for a story about how a human responds to the extraordinary and superhuman; however, I hope it doesn’t just introduce the idea and let it go. Julian is someone who desperately wants to make a difference and almost a killed a young boy trying to do just that. It’ll be interesting to see how Barry helps him find new ways to change the world even though he doesn’t have powers. Anyway, Julian admits he might’ve been wrong about Barry and the two of them go out for a much-needed drink.
“Monster” ends with another Caitlin-centric stinger. Her mother sends a video message warning her not to use her powers because it’s changing her. In anger, Caitlin freezes the entire table and destroys the monitor.
I’m not exactly sure why, but “Monster” felt rather thin. The episode tries to do a lot and doesn’t have enough time to give the different plot points the attention they deserve. The Julian-Barry stuff was a highlight of the episode and I hope the show continues building this dynamic — it’s fairly interesting, and it’s nice to see Barry interact with someone who doesn’t find him immediately charming. On the other hand, let’s hope this isn’t the last time we see Caitlin’s mother, as it feels like we’ve only scratched the surface of that relationship.
Wall of Weird:
- Iris talks to her dad about how he keeps turning down the D.A.’s requests for a date.
- “People, you need a muse. I can be your muse.” —H.R., pitching himself to Team Flash
- “You’re lucky we’re pretty big on redemption and doing good here.” —Barry to H.R.