By Chancellor Agard
April 13, 2021 at 11:16 PM EDT
S7 E7

After introducing brand new Forces of Natures in the last three episodes, The Flash took a bit of a break from that storyline in tonight's episode "Growing Pains." Yes, Speed Force/Nora was still hanging around and went through some growing pains with Barry, but the episode was mainly focused on Frost's past coming back to haunt her. Let's dive into this perfectly fine installment:

We begin with Barry speeding home to find Iris setting the table as Speed Force makes breakfast. To say this entire situation creeps him out would be an understatement. While Iris calls her Nora, Barry insists on referring to her as the Speed Force, which is indicative of the emotional distance he's trying to put between it and himself. However, the Speed Force is very eager to connect with Barry and keeps trying to help out. She boosts his powers, which causes his speed to glitch multiple times, destroying evidence in Frost's case, and Barry responds by snapping at her, which is a color we rarely see on him.

I'll admit, I was somewhat surprised by why Barry was so wary of the Speed Force. I thought it would be as simple as him not being comfortable having someone who looked just like his dead mother hanging around the apartment, but it was slightly more nuanced than that. Barry doesn't necessarily trust this Speed Force because of his experiences with the past one, and he just views it as this cosmic entity that gives him his powers and nothing more. It takes Iris pointing out that the reborn Speed Force — the one he created through his love for Iris — has changed, and he needs to give it a chance. And that's all nice, but I still don't completely trust the Speed Force. It's pure power, and power protects itself. I'm waiting for her juicing Barry's powers to backfire.

Meanwhile, in the A-plot: Frost finds the CCPD on her tail after someone frames her for a break-in and murder at Ivo Laboratories. Barry and Joe do their best to convince the ever stoic and cold Kristen Kramer that Frost has reformed and she's not responsible for the attack, but their words fall on deaf ears because Kramer refuses to entertain the idea that Frost has reformed. In fact, Kramer has the DA issue a warrant for Frost's arrest. Team Flash tells Frost to lay low, but the impulsive meta ignores them and tries to clear her name on her own.

So Frost visits O'Shaughnessy's, the bar she used to work at, to see if anyone has any idea who could have framed her for the attack. There, she meets the charming and science-minded new bartender Mark (Jon Cor), who has her back when the bar turns on her because they want the reward CCPD is offering for her capture. It's clear Frost is attracted to him long before the "Hot in Herre" needle-drop when he takes his shirt off post bar brawl. Part of me wishes I didn't read about Cor being cast as the icy villain Chillblaine several months ago because knowing where this is all going kind of took the air out of this scene and episode for me. I just kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, which takes some time to happen. Anyway, Mark gives Frost a tip that leads her to the cleverly titled Wieringo Mills, but when she gets there, she finds an empty warehouse with a camera that just scans her.

Meanwhile, Kramer forces Joe to arrest Caitlin after someone calls in an anonymous tip (it was Mark!). Frost rushes to the precinct to break her out, but Cecile talks her down. In the process, Frost realizes that Mark is the one who framed her and returns to the bar to confront him. It turns out Mark is obsessed with ice and has been studying Frost for years so that he could use technology to recreate her powers (insert half-baked idea that Mark is a stand-in for toxic fans here). Unfortunately, he finally succeeds in this episode. Cue the Frost vs. Chillblaine fight! (Yes, Mark chose the terrible name Chillblaine himself.) Frost beats Chillblaine with the classic "stab yourself to stab the guy holding you from behind" move. Not only that, but Frost got Chillblaine's confession on tape.

Unfortunately, the recording won't necessarily help because Kramer and the entire CCPD show up and surround the bar before Frost, Flash, and Allegra can get out of there. Realizing there's no easy way out, Frost decides to take responsibility for all the crimes she committed four years ago and turns herself in. And like, that's fine, I guess. It's been so long since Frost was a villain that this twist didn't work for me emotionally. That being said, the promo for next week's episode has me intrigued because it looks like the judge sentences Frost to have her metahuman powers removed.

Grade: B-

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