The focus is on family once again in The Flash Episode 5.19, titled “Snow Pack.” All is not hunky dory with the extended Flash family and we see the effects when one, or in this case, some family members are in pain, thanks to Nora’s supposed betrayal and Caitlin’s ice monster dad, but first – let’s talk about last week.
Fans here in New England suffered a betrayal of another kind after a weeks-long hiatus and a cliffhanger of an episode where Nora’s secret was revealed, when the next installment of The Flash was preempted for baseball of all things. When we tuned in for all the juicy details of Nora’s past and her relationship with Eobard Thawne, we were instead surprised with a Yankees/Red Sox game. I don’t know about other local fans, but I was not happy. The local station kept announcing that regular programming would air on the following Saturday, which meant that some of us had to wait until the middle of the night to catch The Flash on The CW site. That was bad form.
What did we miss? Only what may have been my favorite episode of the season, “Godspeed,” which was brilliantly directed by Killer Frost herself, Danielle Panabaker. With strong performances by Jessica Parker Kennedy and Tom Cavanagh, fans finally learned how Nora came into her speedster powers and under the mentorship of the Reverse Flash. “Godspeed” had the look and feel of a Season 1 episode of The Flash, which in my opinion, has been the strongest season of the series. Nora’s history as a speedster pretty much echoed Barry’s trajectory as the Flash. The strong emphasis on Eobard Thawne/Reverse Flash, who has always been my favorite incarnation of Harrison Wells (with Harry as a very close second), also played a major part in my enjoyment of the episode.
The Flash team went through Nora’s journal and all her secrets were revealed. Barry, unable to see beyond his disappointment in Nora and his hatred of Thawne, speeds Nora back to her own timeline, effectively banning her from ever returning to his. With the parting warning that if she entered the speed force again, Barry would feel it, Barry abandons his daughter before returning to his timeline. The big problem is, Barry did this on an impulse born out of anger, and never discussed it with Iris.
Which is exactly where this week’s episode, “Snow Pack,” picks up. Barry and Iris are having an out and out marital fight, and neither are pulling their punches. Iris cannot believe that Barry abandoned Nora without even considering her feelings or giving her the chance to say goodbye; and all Barry can feel is his own rage. He can’t understand why Iris is against his decision to banish Nora, and in what was probably the lowest blow we ever heard Barry utter, he says that perhaps if Iris had seen Thawne kill her parents in front of her, she’d feel the same way. Whoa…. Considering the fact that up until this point, Barry and Iris had been on the same page as parents to the unexpected arrival of Nora into their lives, it really felt like they had reached a breaking point.
This battle (spat is too small a word to describe the argument) is awkward for the whole team as well, with the focus of course being on the one who spilled the beans in the first place, Sherloque. Sherloque understands Barry’s anger but reminds them all that there is more to do to stop Cicada. But in the awkwardness of a family dealing with betrayal and pain, even Joe tells Sherloque that he’s done enough and his ‘help’ is no longer needed. Way to kill the messenger guys!
The moment is broken up by a call from CCPD and Joe and Barry have to go deal with a problem at the hospital. It appears that future Cicada/Grace has kidnapped herself (Coma/Grace) from the hospital. This Cicada has no qualms about messing with the rules of time travel, which changes everything we ever thought about changing timelines by messing with your own past. It’s an awkward development for Barry and Joe, and for any viewers who thought themselves well-versed in time travel. I have a bad feeling about this.
And where does Snow Pack fit in? Well, while the team is dealing with all of that, Caitlin’s dad – Thomas Snow (guest star Kyle Secor), aka Icicle, is back. Remember that whole story arc from the beginning of the season? He kills a guard and steals a prototype cryo-atomizer from Caitlin’s mom’s lab. But why? When Caitlin, Barry, and Joe go to investigate, we get to experience another family in pain. The relationship between Caitlin and her mom Carol (guest star Susan Walters) is more than frosty and Barry and Joe are stuck in the middle. Caitlin and Carol argue about everything, one-upping each other on their knowledge of cryogenics and how to stop Icicle. Barry goes off to find the tools needed to counteract the cryo-atomizer and just as he leaves, Icicle comes to attack. He shoots an icicle toward Joe, but the Flash is there to save the day, getting between Joe and Icicle and taking the blast. Barry is down, and Icicle kidnaps Carol and Caitlin.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Sherloque is about to breach himself back to his earth, when the alarm comes in about Barry. He uses the breach device to go directly to Tannhauser Labs, and Joe is unable to revive Barry. Sherloque has the brilliant idea to jump start Barry’s healing abilities by applying warmth to his suit, using two cords from electrical equipment. Sherloque saves the day.
Back in the future, Nora is with Thawne bemoaning her state of affairs and trying to figure out a way to get back to Barry and Iris and stop Cicada. She asks Thawne how to travel in the speed force without Barry being able to detect it and he explains to her that she has to tap into her negative energy – the anger that she feels will create another speed force. Nora’s first try isn’t strong enough, and Thawne tells her she is too much like Barry; her powers come from the light. But that’s when Iris shows up.
How did Iris get to the future? Remember the secret S.T.A.R. Labs tech storage and that time travel hamster wheel that Thawne created to get back to his timeline in Season 1? Well, Iris goes to Gideon to activate the device and she and Ralph go to the future so Iris can talk with Nora. The talk doesn’t go so well. Nora becomes furious at both of her parents for not listening or understanding that she and Thawne are trying to help. Her parents won’t listen, and Barry stops loving her. This is just the rage and impetus she needs to tap into the negative energy of Thawne’s speed force and she runs off.
Iris has to go back to her timeline and Thawne warns her to stop Nora and not abandon Barry. Barry needs his family to be the Flash. Thawne seems to genuinely care. Is this master manipulation on Thawne’s part or has he grown a heart when faced with his own death? Time will tell.
Back to the Snow family – Icicle wants to use the cryo-atomizer on Carol and then he will have his family back. Caitlin is in meta cuffs, so she can’t use her Killer Frost powers and Icicle takes a blood sample from her and grabs Carol. Caitlin tries to stop him but he blasts her with ice, injects Carol with Caitlin’s blood and places Carol in a cryo chamber to start the process. But the ice blast is all Caitlin needed to break out of her cuffs and transform into Killer Frost. She goes to save Carol, so Icicle breaks the chamber controls telling her she can either save her mother or chase him, and flies off.
That’s when Barry shows up, after using Sherloque’s smarts to determine their whereabouts by tracking ice signatures via satellite. Frost tells Flash to save Carol while she battles Icicle. Barry, who seems to have lost his own abilities to think straight and all of his own scientific knowledge, doesn’t know what to do. He can’t touch the cryo chamber because it is too cold and tells the team via his comm that he doesn’t know how to rescue her. Luckily that’s when Iris makes it back to the labs and takes control, suggesting that he generate heat by using a lightning bolt and phasing through the chamber. It works and Carol is saved.
Killer Frost is outside chasing Icicle on ice highways that they are blasting into the sky. It would have been a cool effect, but I literally could not stop thinking about Elsa in Frozen and the scene from the upcoming movie trailer when Elsa makes an ice highway to get across an ocean. Anyway, Icicle gets the better of the battle and just as he is about to finish Frost off, his inner Thomas takes over and stops him from killing her. The battle of the personalities and Thomas’s love for Caitlin destroys Icicle and he is just Thomas once again.
They go back to the chamber where the Snow family is reunited and we start to think all is well when Cicada shows up, incapacitates Barry, and starts throwing her daggers around. Killer Frost faces off with her and they battle it out, with Frost again about to lose. Cicada throws her dagger at Frost but Thomas steps in the way, taking the dagger in the back to save his daughter. Thomas dies in his daughter’s arms, and Cicada steals the cryo-atomizer, intending to use it in some way on her younger coma self.
Whew! That’s a lot for one episode. Back at S.T.A.R. labs, Caitlin tests her mother’s blood and assures her that there are no traces of meta abilities in her because the green vial did not turn white. But after the two leave to share a drink and mend their broken relationship, the vial does turn – portending that we have not seen the last of the Tannhauser/Snow/Frost family drama. Barry and Iris make up, with Iris telling Barry about Nora being back in their timeline and they have to find her. Iris also tells Barry that Thawne seems to care for Nora. Our episode parting shot is of Nora, finally reaching this timeline and slowing down – but now she is full of negative energy and has glowing red eyes. Uh oh….
I’m looking forward to next week when the team has to deal with Negative Nora and here’s hoping that there are no more baseball games to get in the way of the season’s final episodes! You can watch the promo for “Gone Rogue” below.