The Flash: Season 3 Episode 5 review – Monster
Trust and redemption were at the core of this week’s narrative, with the monster rampage serving as an allegorical backdrop to Caitlin’s Mummy issues and H.R.’s minor deception. Below you’ll find our spoiler-heavy review of this week’s episode.
Where the show has often played the deceit twist (first and most notably with Wells), this week they riffed a little on that expectation. This was achieved by showing H.R. talking into a kind of dictaphone and relaying that the group hadn’t yet sussed out his real intent for being there. If this caused a wave of sighing from viewers, thinking perhaps ‘not again’, then this was all rectified through its reveal as a narrative ruse when Cisco and the group confront H.R. later on. The recording is played and H.R. explains that he might indeed be a fraud when it comes to knowing his tech (and answering the test conundrum), but he holds no ill intent – all he’s hiding is that he’s writing a novel.
Now, this could be H.R. being very careful with which recordings he leaves laying around (he could have made one fake one, to cover himself), but we’re hoping the truth is that he’s simply just a good, honest guy (like Earth 2 Wells) and that the writers don’t show him to be playing afoul in any way. This was just one of the ways in which the entire episode lent heavily on the themes of trust and redemption. Another two examples were Joe’s forgiving conversation with the boy behind the holographic monster and Julian finally placing some trust in Barry and The Flash. This episode is about being willing to give a little trust now and then; about giving people some rope and a some leeway, rather than deciding immediately that they might try to hang you with it.
Last week we pointed out that the Wells from Earth 19 calling himself H.R. means that his name reads as H.R. Wells, which is a little obviously close to H.G. Wells. We knew that parallel would be broached by someone and indeed this week it was, during H.R.’s explanation about his novel, which he stated would be called The Tales of H.R. Wells, before stating “catchy, I know.” Does H.R. finding this catchy mean there was no H.G. Wells in Earth 19? Or is he simply making a joke of his own title choice, given its similarity to the classic Science Fiction author? Either way, we’re glad that someone pointed out the similarities.
The monster itself – while initially somewhat striking and reminiscent of Cloverfield – became a little underwhelming once its holographic nature was revealed. Where episodes like King Shark in Season 2 took the large monster idea and worked it brilliantly, this episode really under-utilised the entire monster concept, to the point where the episode’s title seems misleading. It’s a title that is no doubt intended to have a dual-meaning, however: one being the literal monster and the other being how our group suspect monsters to be lurking in their midst (like suspecting H.R.), as well as how Caitlin feels like she is turning into a monster, from her point of view. Let it not be lost too that the real monster turned out to not be real, just as the group’s fears of H.R. being a monster turned out to be equally as non-existent.
Where many shows (like LOST) use Daddy issues as a primary focus and drive for characters, few tackle “Mummy issues”, so it was nice to see that subject broached this week, with Caitlin visiting her Mother Dr. Carla Tannhauser (played by Susan Walters), to whom she didn’t seem very close. Carla eventually offers a sincere apology to Caitlin, which brings Caitlin out of her Killer Frost state. We like that with each passing episode Caitlin seems to be veering deeper and deeper into Killer Frost territory, and we hope nothing stops her full transformation, as that would certainly liven this season up a little.
Where Julian Albert has often seemed so hateful towards Barry that it appeared as though his distaste for Allen would never abate, this week offered some course correction for their relationship. Julian eases up on both The Flash and on Barry separately, agreeing to grab a drink with the latter at the end of the episode. This relationship has been fuelled with such an intense dislike (from Julian’s side) that we hope the writers make his softening seem believable, if indeed he does continue to soften and not revert back to his misplaced ire.
Put simply, while this season is certainly good television, it’s lacking the greatness of Season 1 and Season 2. Where those seasons both had major arcs involving huge villains, this season is just ambling along aimlessly, with no real overarching threat. While Flashpoint was the starting gun that provided the inital bang for the season, what it provided was underwhelming and now we’re left with no real threat and no real direction. Something needs to change soon, in order to keep up the show’s reputation.
We don’t want the show to begin treading that slow decline in quality that Arrow suffered. Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow (both of which we love) are doing far more impressive things this season than The Flash is, to the point where they’re actually showing it up. Whereas The Flash used to be the best among the the Berlanti shows.
Image credits: The CW