THE FLASH Season 5 Episode 6 Review: The Icicle Cometh

Since her debut a few years back, The Flash has cycled through at least half a dozen backstories or explanations for how Killer Frost came to be, never seeming to be able to settle on one for good. The most recent re-imaging of Killer Frost into as a childhood affliction of Caitlin’s started off as promisingly such an obvious retcon could, but over the past few weeks it’s done to precious little to further her character or the larger plot. Ideally, the debut of her father Dr. Thomas Snow (Kyle Secor) might have been help to change this, but if anything his appearance seems to have lead to even more regression. 

 One of the main problems with this episode is that it’s obvious from the outset how the exactly how the story will play out—from Caitlin being overwhelmed by seeing her dad again that ignores his frequent lies to their icy brawl after his inevitable betrayal. There’s no attempt to subvert any expectations or even have an enjoyable self awareness about the cliches they’re playing straight. Cisco does at least point out how absurd her father’s story is; unfortunately, the true story he discovers ends up being equally ridiculous and full of holes, and so just succeeds in making it harder to keep track of what ice-based magic cures are real and what ones are fake. 

Of course, having a familiar plotline doesn’t have to be a death sentence for a story, but if that’s the case than you usually need some significant character moments or a strong rapport to do the heavy-lifting. Yet even with the revelation of her dad doubling as the supervillain Icicle, Caitlin doesn’t seem to grow at all from the ordeal. Aside from being a scientist, Thomas Snow has no real personality; possibly this is meant as a clue to the fact he’s donning a fake persona, but it makes for very dry viewing to have what should be a charged scene like the long awaited father/daughter reunion cluttered with exposition about how ice superpowers can be used to combat ALS instead of anything approaching human emotion. 

Weirdly, Barry’s reaction to the situation ended up being more compelling than either Snow’s, as he realized fatherhood has given him a brand new blindspot when it comes to approaching villains. We know there are still important secrets Nora is keeping from the rest of the team, and it’s still unclear what caused her to realize she had speed powers in the first place. I was hoping Nora’s investigation with Iris and Sherloque might touch on this thread again and give us some nice symmetry, especially since Sherloque previously seemed to be somewhat suspicious of the stories she fed the rest of team, but no such luck. Still, it seems like establishing Barry’s judgment as compromised when it comes to parent child situations right as Iris and Nora finally connect is destined to be some kind of foreshadowing for what’s still ahead. 

The episode ends with mostly Killer Frost returned, but with little inclination of what her future holds. Personally, I’ve always felt that by making her into an anti-hero, Killer Frost lost what distinguished her from the always expanding band of meta-humans in STAR Labs. Her powers aren’t particularly unique or formidable, so her cruelty and vicious disposition were necessary in order for to stand out as something more than yet another meta teammate for Barry. Now that Killer Frost has evolved to the stage where she’s making corny speeches about the power of friendship, it hard to see where this leaves Caitlin to develop in the future. Her father is still out there, yes, but Caitlin takes this in stride and seems to shrug it off like she did every other revelation about her childhood. For all the potential Killer Frost has on paper, it seems like the series would be better off to put the story on hold until the writers decide on how Caitlin can actually evolve with the show instead of forcing her to constantly rehash Killer Frost’s origins until one sticks.

Written by Kaitlin Roberts, THE FLASH Beat Writer

Related Posts:
THE FLASH Season 5 Episode 5 Review: All Doll'd Up

THE FLASH Season 5 Episode 4 Review: News Flash