“Monster” (3×05) is a well executed villain of the week story that explores different perspectives on power through ancillary characters. Overall, the episode plays like a Buffy The Vampire Slayer tale, with the metaphorical relationship between the monster villain and adolescent feelings of powerlessness. A giant monster terrorizes Central City, but it’s a threat born from fear. The same emotion found behind Julian Albert’s hatred for metahumans, Cisco’s (Carlos Valdes) annoyance with H.R. (Tom Cavanagh), and Caitlin’s (Danielle Panabaker) decision to suppress her powers. The Flash season three continues to explore the consequences of having extraordinary abilities, after all power is a finite resource.
“I’m saying before two weeks ago Julian didn’t exist,” snaps Barry (Grant Gustin) to Joe (Jesse L Martin) after an awkward meeting with Detective Singh (Patrick Sabongui) regarding office misconduct. The cliche co-worker relationship takes a more interesting turn as the episode progresses, and we learn more about Julian Albert’s mysterious backstory. The Flash writers deliberately chose not to give Julian a metahuman sob story, but explain his hatred for “the chosen few” though a more relatable fear, isolation. We learn about how Julian’s interests in science made him indifferent to his family legacy. He found a place to belong in his field of study, which was taken away shortly after the particle accelerator explosion. This is a very relatable feeling for viewers, and a surprising character motivation. Then, during the final monster showdown The Flash saves Julian from killing the teenage boy behind our Central City monster; well that certainly escalated quickly. Tom Felton really impresses during his final scene with Grant Gustin, as he reconciles his guilt over his decisions earlier that day. After this episode I am no longer thinking that Julian Albert is the man behind Dr. Alchemy, but more curious to learn about his character’s path during both Flashpoint and the original time line.
“Plan is proceeding, characters are in place, and nobody’s the wiser as to why I’m really here,” says H.R., forgetting the mention Cisco’s growing suspicion. This season’s Harrison Wells is almost a parody of the previous series villains. H.R. is not an evil speedster pretending to be a hero, nor an evil speedster disguising himself as a mentor figure, but he is definitely a fake. Early on in the episode Barry drops some “Joe Knowledge” on Cisco about trusting H.R., that was very reminiscent to a similar conversation about Joe Garrick (Teddy Sears) last season. Now, in an episode filled with some very strong character beats the writers offer levity through this storyline as we observe Cisco quickly losing respect for H.R, . and simply becoming annoyed with the doppelganger. After all, the Harrison Wells from Earth-19 is not even a scientist, just a con artist and writer. I appreciated the humor added to H.R. trying to win Cisco over through his inability to quotes films and try to help take down the monster terrorizing Central City, but when is Harry coming back? Where do the writers go with this character after this episode? Hopefully, we find H.R. useful in learning more about this timeline’s version of events leading up to the particle accelerator explosion, and current whereabouts of the real Harrison Wells. I can see some future character paralleling, especially considering Dr. Tannhasuer (Susan Walters) opinion about working for him over her.
“Seriously Mom, I am terrified about what I’m becoming, you haven’t asked me once how I am feeling,” shouts Caitlin after realizing that her mother will not be providing the comfort she needs, while her powers grow. Again, The Flash writers illustrate another perspective on metahumans through Caitlin’s growing fear of herself. Since we learn that Caitlin on this timeline receives her powers during the particle accelerator explosion, she is “one of the chosen few,” but is it a blessing? Caitlin is really having an Elsa moment and views her newfound abilities as a curse. The real momentum generated from this story arc’s progression comes from anticipating the moment when Caitlin will turn her back on Team Flash, and become a villain. Who will she kill to earn her metahuman namesake…but more importantly why? During a season about a hero trying to make peace with the consequences from using his powers selfishly, the writers made a smart choice to insert the long anticipated Killer Frost arc into the series. Both Barry Allen and Caitlin Snow receive their powers on the same night, during the same accident, and yet they each embrace their powers in very different ways. This has potential to be a very strong antagonistic relationship, but different from Barry’s dynamic with Eobard Thawne.
The monster in this episode may have been a hologram, but Dr. Alchemy is very real and refuses to let Barry unburned himself from creating the Flashpoint timeline.