‘The Flash’ Season 3 Episode 5 Recap and Review: Monster

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The Flash Season 3 Episode 5 Danielle Panabker

Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow in ‘The Flash’ (Photo by Katie Yu © 2016 The CW)

“I am terrified of what I am becoming. You realize you haven’t asked me once how I am feeling?” says Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker). “I’m trying to keep emotion out of this. Believe me it’s for your benefit as much as mine,” replies her mother (Susan Walters). “Right, because that’s your specialty, isn’t it? Being cold,” replies Caitlin, curtly, to her mother who continues to run tests to see what they can discover about Caitlin’s powers in episode five of season three of The CW’s comic-book inspired fantasy, action series, The Flash.

As the episode begins, Barry (Grant Gustin) is making breakfast for Cisco (Carlos Valdes) as a thank you for letting him crash at his place while Barry finds a pad of his own. As close as these two are, it’s obvious that Cisco needs a little space from Barry who’s trying too hard at being a great houseguest. Cisco decides to take the food Barry made for him to go and tells him he’ll see him at S.T.A.R. Labs. Once there, poor Cisco now has to put up with H.R. (Tom Cavanaugh) – the Wells from Earth-19 – who’s also trying way too hard to become part of the team. His efforts are wanting to be liked and accepted have included bringing bagels and coffee for everyone. Cisco tells the well-meaning H.R. to back off a bit, and Barry asks where Caitlin is. H.R. tells them she was at the lab earlier but left and left Barry a message. Barry and Cisco become a bit concerned until H.R. plays the message. Caitlin’s message lets them know she needs to take care of a few things and she’ll be back in a few days. She added the warning to keep her Hot Pockets out of sight from Cisco. Cisco, guilty, says it didn’t have a name on it as he swallows the Hot Pocket. Iris (Candice Patton), Barry, and Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) head out to work, leaving Cisco to work with H.R.

Caitlin has left to visit her mother, Dr. Carla Tannhauser – a brilliant biomedical researcher – to see if she can help her with her new powers. The minute these two see each other, it’s clear there is tension and hostility between them. Caitlin tells her mom that she has a patient who she thinks her mom might be able to help. Being busy and dismissive, Carla tells her to send over the file and she’ll get to it when she can. Becoming upset, Caitlin slams her hand down on her mother’s desk and yells, “I’m the patient, mother!” as ice and frost freezes the desk. Shocked, Carla calls her assistant and tells her to clear her schedule for the day. (Guess Cait’s mom’s not so bad after all).

Back at Central City, Barry goes to see the Captain to find Julian’s (Tom Felton) been complaining about Allen’s tardiness and his work ethic. Barry defends himself by saying he does his job, but the Captain reminds him that does not mean the rules don’t apply to him. Julian leaves upset that Barry only gets a 15-second reprimand and the problem is over. As Barry leaves, he starts to vent to Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and that’s when Barry’s phone goes off. It’s Cisco alerting Barry many metahuman alerts are going off downtown. Barry speeds to the area to see a giant Godzilla-like monster walking the streets, growling. “Uh, guys, there is a monster in Central City,” says Barry. Cisco and H.R don’t know what to make of it and start tracking the thing, which is causing transformers to explode but it’s not touching them as it goes by. People are screaming and running and The Flash helps some trapped passengers in a crashed bus get out with Iris assisting him, telling him she’s there to cover the story. Just seconds later the monster has vanished.

Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Team Flash is trying to figure out how a metahuman could get that big or if the creature’s something created by a new metahuman. Cisco and H.R. tell Barry he better pick Julian’s brain if he’s going to get any useful info on this case. Back at the CCPD lab, Barry tries to bury the hatchet with Julian and even strokes his ego saying he could learn a lot from him, asking if he could shadow him for a day. Julian isn’t buying it so Barry offers to move out of the lab so it could all be Julian’s, and Julian agrees. Out in the field, Julian and Barry are talking about the monster and Barry realizes that Julian hates the metas. Barry brings up The Flash and how inspiring he is for the city, but Julian believes he’s made the police lazy. The monster shows up again and causes chaos but just as quickly disappears. Julian, annoyed how Barry keeps defending the metas and praising The Flash, says he’s done with their shadowing arrangement.

At Dr. Tannhauser’s lab, Caitlin is using her powers to freeze temperatures over 2,000 degrees in the hopes that her mom will learn how she can either control her powers or stop them completely. Caitlin freezes something in seconds and even her mother and lab assistant Nigel are impressed. Later, her mom is getting ready to run another test on Caitlin when she admits she’s already run that test on herself. This is when Caitlin tells her mother that she’s terrified of what she’s becoming, obviously hoping her mom will be more motherly to her and show some parental concern. Dr. Tannhauser still tries to keep her emotions out of it, but reacts when Caitlin brings up her being cold and unfeeling towards her ever since Cait’s dad died. Dr. Tannhauser defends herself by telling Caitlin she could never understand the emotions involved in losing the love of her life, and Caitlin tells her mom about losing Ronnie, her husband, so yes she does know that kind of pain. The two get into it and it turns out that Cait’s mom is resentful and hurt Cait moved away to Central City and hasn’t been in touch with her for three years.

Meanwhile, in Central City Team Flash is trying to figure out the mystery of the monster. Cisco doesn’t trust H.R. and Barry’s also realizing H.R.’s really not contributing much to their brainstorming sessions. In fact, he seems to just be rewording what they say. Barry and Cisco decide it’s time for Cisco to vibe him.

Frustrated, Caitlin is getting ready to go when Nigel comes into the room and asks why she’s leaving. She admits she really came looking to get something from her mom, which she doesn’t think she’ll ever receive. Nigel tells her she should stay and that they can help her, but Caitlin says she has the science and can do the work herself. This is when Nigel presses a remote button and it locks the door. “Sorry Frosty, you’re not going anywhere,” says Nigel. Caitlin asks what he thinks he’s doing and tries door but it’s locked. She tells him to open it and he tells her he’s sick of doing all the work and being stuck under Dr. Tannhauser, confessing the data he’ll collect studying her is his ticket out. Caitlin tells him to let her out and that he’s not going to test her. Nigel grabs her and Caitlin uses her powers to freeze his hand which makes Nigel yell in pain. Cait’s mom comes in yelling for her to stop and that this isn’t her. “You don’t know anything about me, mother,” says Caitlin not even sounding like herself as her eyes turn crystal blue. “I know I didn’t raise a killer,” replies her mom which gets Caitlin to look up at her and away from Nigel. “For whatever it’s worth, I am so sorry,” says Cait’s mom as Caitlin’s eyes return to their natural brown color and the icy frost stops flowing from her hands. “It means a lot,” says Caitlin, finally sharing a big hug with her mother. She tells Caitlin to go and she’ll make sure no one finds out what happened.

Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Cisco is going through H.R.’s things and finds a pen into which he’s been making recordings. Barry and Cisco are discovered by H.R. and he admits his deep secret is that he’s a novelist as well as a scientist. He’s a little upset about them not trusting him and a voice asks who they don’t trust…it’s Caitlin. Both Cisco and Barry are happy to see her and bring her up to speed quickly because they’re getting another meta alert. The Flash races out and finds the monster once more roaming downtown. Cisco and H.R. decide to handle the beast the way Luke took out the “AT-AT” in The Empire Strikes Back by using cables to trip him up. As Barry attempts to do this, he discovers the monster is nothing more than a hologram. The police and SWAT have shown up and are getting ready to fire on the monster when The Flash catches the first bullet fired before it hits an innocent bystander and yells for them to stop. He realizes Julian has probably figured out the monster is a hologram and Barry believes he sees the person controlling the image in one of the nearby buildings. Julian is already there, gun drawn, and instructing the perpetrator to step away from the computer. Julian fires his gun but thankfully The Flash arrives just in time to stop the bullet from hitting its mark. That’s great because it turns out the perp is just a kid. He’s a bullied young teen who wanted people to respect him for once. Julian thanks The Flash as he’s leaving, and Joe takes over and gives the teen an earful but also consoles him a little, telling him he’s young and has time to turn everything around.


At S.T.A.R. Labs, Team Flash finally talks it out with H.R. after realizing he was only the idea man and never really accomplished anything all his own on his Earth. Wally, rightfully, calls him a con man, and H.R. pleads with them to give him a chance to help them and prove himself. Team Flash is feeling generous and Barry tells him they’ll give him a few weeks to see how it works out but if it doesn’t, back to Earth-19 he goes.

Barry goes to the CCPD lab to pack up his stuff and finds a brooding Julian still there. Julian tells Barry what happened and admits he can understand the teen’s motivation. He confesses to Barry he has always felt like the odd one out, first in his family and now at the CCPD. Julian tells Barry to put his stuff back and that he doesn’t want him to leave the lab. “I was wrong about The Flash. Maybe I’m wrong about you, too,” says Julian. As Julian’s about to leave, Barry stops him and asks if he wants to go get a drink.

The final scene is with Caitlin who watches a message from her mother on her computer. Looking concerned, her mom tells Caitlin that the one thing she knows for sure is that the more Caitlin uses her powers, the more they change her. She tells her it’s vital that she doesn’t use her powers and that’s when Caitlin’s eyes turn crystal blue again and ice and frost comes out of her hands, freezing the computer and effectively destroying it. Caitlin looks surprised and scared once again.

The Flash Season 3 Episode 5 Review:

Overstuffed with too many subplots and a bit rushed, episode 5 titled “Monster” takes its most interesting storyline – that of Caitlin and her mother – and races through it, coming to a conclusion way too soon. By far the best storyline this season is the slow transformation of brilliant and loving Caitlin to the cold and deadly Killer Frost. With all the build up of her mother being a cold-hearted you know what from last season, it feels as though Caitlin’s visit and final bonding with her mother should have been at least a two-part episode. In fact, the same could be said of the third season opener, “Flashpoint.”

The stand-out performance in this episode goes to Danielle Panabaker who captures all the fear, resentment, anger, and need for comfort that Caitlin is experiencing, perfectly. The scene where she tells her mother that she’s terrified of becoming Killer Frost is heartbreaking. Also impressive is the scene in which she defends herself from the lab assistant trying to keep her prisoner and a much colder and dangerous side of her personality comes out due to her using her powers out of fear and anger. It made chills go up and down this critic’s spine.

With Barry maybe making a new ally in Julian, the truth about H.R. being exposed, and poor Caitlin beginning to lose control of her powers or maybe they’re beginning to take control of her (Jeez, just tell Barry, Cisco and Wells from Earth-2 already and have them help you Caitlin, PLEASE!), here’s hoping that Team Flash will soon find out about Caitlin’s dilemma and find a way to help her learn to control her powers and stay their Caitlin.

GRADE: B-

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Kevin Finnerty

Professional film critic since 2003 and a member of the San Diego Film Critics Society. Host of “The Movie Guys” radio film review show from 2007 through 2013. Film and television critic for Showbizjunkies.com and a movie buff since 1973.
Kevin Finnerty
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1 Comment

  1. I thought this was the worst episode of the season so far and I disagree about Panabaker being the stand out performance. She’s actually the weakest actor/actress on the show and her scenes with her mother and the lab assistant made it glaringly obvious.

    I thought the stand out performer for the episode was definitely Tom Felton