The Flash — Killer Frost
This week brings us the long-awaited Kevin-Smith-directed episode of The Flash, by which I mostly mean “who cares who directed what episode of what show, they all feel the same!!” I just thought you might like to know that since I have such a rare and unrivalled level of ambivalence towards so many things and maybe you don’t feel the same way [about life]. He directed one last year [an episode of The Flash] and he’ll be directing an upcoming episode of Supergirl as well. I think it’s a job he got mostly on the basis of crying. Anyway, it might not matter to you who directs the individual episodes of the TV shows we watch, but I think, for whatever role he may have played in it, Kevin Smith’s “Killer Frost” episode was one of the better episodes of the season. Of course, so far it’s also been the worst season of the entire series.
I almost forgot last week’s episode ended on a cliffhanger, and the resolution of that cliffhanger this week reminded me of why, because as exciting as it should be to see Wally finally get his powers, it wasn’t really, and there were a lot of other, bigger things happening to divert our attention. There were a lot of things happening in general actually, big and small, and if there’s one thing we can give this episode of The Flash credit for, it’s bringing a lot of hanging story threads to fruition. So much fruition! Obviously Wally got his powers in an (eventually) stable form, but there’s also everybody finally finding out everything about Flashpoint, Caitlin going full Killer Frost, Cisco getting used to having powers that could lead to active crime fighting (he can teleport now?), and the three [with Flash] even had a mini-superhero teamup! And biggest of all, we finally learn that Draco Malfoy was a death eater this whole time!
I think for most anyone who’s ever watched a show like this (or had any sort of active thoughts about fiction and how stories usually work,) the fact that Tom Felton’s Julian was Alchemy was far from a shock, but it really was kind of shocking to find out that the obvious play for this show’s latest villain was what wound up happening. You almost have to imagine there’s more than meets the eye with this story, but for now it seems that’s one mystery solved, and at least with the sequence of events presented, it was a good reveal considering it followed Julian getting Barry to quit the CCPD. Oh yeah, that also happened, so let’s hope we get some silly moments (maybe even a montage!) of Barry working odd jobs that ultimately don’t fit who he is on the inside (because what kind of worthless person works jobs that aren’t right for them?).
For an episode literally called “Killer Frost”, Caitlin really didn’t get a lot of focus, and her full-on villain turn (and nearly as quick reversal towards episode’s end) was a bit jarring if not half-baked. I okay with putting that aside though because it at least spotlights the psychological toll her powers seem to be taking. She’s not just a female Iceman, she’s also crazy! And she had a point when she reminds us that Barry really has failed his friends in the big, cosmic, universe-altering picture, at least more so than most heroes do.
The other major debut of the night, and maybe the tipping point for just how much was going on this episode, was Savitar, the god of speed, who easily outclasses Barry’s superspeed by going so fast that he almost seems to warp reality. If you were looking for action in “Killer Frost”, Barry’s “fight” with Savitar definitely qualified, and the new villain now stands revealed as our ultimate big bad, influencing Alchemy in the same sort of spooky, perhaps telepathic way Alchemy had done when he empowered the Rival. And, of course, alongside Savitar, we have a newcomer at the CCPD with Matt Parkman/Greg Grunberg all of a sudden showing up as Detective Patterson, and it’s weirdly hard for me not to put those two together the same way we all knew Draco Malfoy was Alchemy. Just ‘cause he’s chubby doesn’t mean he can’t run at superspeeds, that’s prejudiced! That’s ignorant to assume! Also, fun fact, back when he played Matt Parkman on Heroes, he fell in love with a character who had superspeed. Granted, that was a terrible story development in a terrible season of a show that wound up being mostly terrible, but I still remember it.
Somehow they’ve convinced us to care about these characters on The Flash, the memory of how they did that and the excellence of season one of the show fading with every week that passes, and despite squandering so much of this show’s potential with repetition and sloppy storytelling, there’s still something about the Flash gang that works and keeps us going even through this show’s dark periods. This is the first episode in a while I’ve actually felt like talking about afterwards, that I’ve felt actively engaged in, and that I didn’t mind writing about, so y’know what? I’m giving “Killer Frost” a four! I’m giving this one four stars… even though it probably doesn’t deserve it.
The Flash “Killer Frost” episode score
The Walking Dead — Swear
“Oh good, an extra-long episode where we find out what’s been happening with Tara,” said no one ever.
I don’t have a lot of thoughts to share about “Swear” other than “What the actual hell?” and “What a waste of time!”, but here’s what I have to say about the episode when forced to elaborate:
Tara is probably the worst, most annoying character on The Walking Dead. I dislike her more than Andrea when she was with the Governor. I dislike her more than Beth. Now I get the need for comic relief and I get the need for a main cast member who’s identity isn’t anything in particular (she’s neither weak nor strong, she’s not a great fighter but not a liability in a fight, she has no particular specialty or physical characteristics that make her dominant in one way or another), but man Tara sucks. She makes dumb jokes that aren’t funny or properly awkward enough to be endearing, she weirdly unaffected by what’s going on in a way that makes her seem more unimportant than emotionally strong, and it’s easy to forget her when she’s not around. Remember when she had an older sister? Remember when she had a niece? Remember when they took the Governor in after the fall of Woodbury in a move that would ultimately get her older sister and niece killed? Neither do I, nobody does! Those things feel like they happened in an entirely different universe now, so why is she still on the show?! And now she gets an entire episode!? After this season!?!?
I will say one thing positive about “Swear” and it’s that I think the episode benefitted from its singular focus, and it’s the kind of narrative approach that really would have helped last week’s “Go Getters” and its “focus” on Maggie and Sasha that got mixed up with bits of leftover crap from other stories. If anything positive, “Swear” is a coherent episode that manages to do a decent job of bookending itself with a non-linear narrative that shows us that despite everything they’ve been through since we last saw them (which sounds like a whole lot of not finding anything and, at least for Heath, getting all sad about stuff), Tara and Heath are both still okay people. We kind of already knew that, though, but seeing Heath go through a bit of a test at least told us something about his character. Too bad the episode wasn’t at all about him, we still don’t know where he is, and that ongoing mystery, for however long it lasts, won’t add up to a whole lot since we barely know him.
As for the episode’s primary content, Tara, separated from Heath during a walker attack, finds an Oceanside village that kind of seems like a women’s prison camp or an ersatz Paradise Island until we find out these people got that way (no men) because of the Saviours. That all lines up, and it’s interesting to see that a group of people got away from Negan’s gang (though after heavy losses, even the ten-year-old boys were killed!), but that’s about the end of my interest in the group. I, frankly, don’t ever want to see any of them again, almost irrationally so and to the point that I’m questioning my presumed lack of misogyny, but of course we’re going to, because of the one thing these people have that our people need: guns. Also fish, but mostly guns.
There was a lot of running and shooting in this episode (and it seems cruel to ask these things of an actress either during or soon after her pregnancy) but “Swear” was really kind of boring and at least somewhat disengaging. I guess maybe it’s not as genuinely bad as I’m calling it, but it wasn’t good, especially not with how little progress has been made so far in this entire season. When Tara finally makes her way to Alexandria to find that Glenn, Abraham and Denise have all been killed since she’s been gone, it is a sobering moment of realization of how bad things have gotten, but there’s only so much sobering a person can take when every preceding episode was also primarily concerned with sobering. Season seven of the Walking Dead, in which we’ve met and had to live with Negan, almost feels like the anti-season six and its action-packed dynamism, the point in this whole series where it finally felt like the writers were taking advantage of how entertaining this show’s central concept could be, and following that logic, if season six was the fun season, the season we now have, seven, is the anti-fun [season].
The Walking Dead “Swear” episode score
It’s The Flash this week, it has to be, The Flash by a country mile! Look, Walking Dead, I don’t know what you think you’re doing, but it’s not good TV.
Also, as a quick reminder — Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is finally back this week and the four-part, week-long, all-encompassing Arrowverse crossover “Invasion!” begins tonight with Supergirl.
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