[Review] The Flash (2014) Episode 3×05: “Monster”

If someone hasn’t used some variation of “Good Vibrations” as a title for a Barry/Cisco pairing, then I’m going to be very disappointed in all of you. Enjoy this recap of CW’s The Flash.

Kicking this one off with some domestic bliss between Barry and…Cisco?

Spoilers under the cut.

Wait, did the actual episode script get replaced with someone’s Barrisco slashfic? No, turns out Barry’s crashing at Cisco’s place because he wants to move out of Joe’s. Problem is, Barry’s pretty clingy and won’t let Cisco have some time to, as Cisco puts it, butter his own toast. Of course, what’s actually bothering Cisco is H.R., the new Wells. Cisco’s not completely trusting of this strange man whom they just met, but Barry cautions him against pre-judging. Barry’s kinda stupid in that way. If Barry trusted his or anyone else’s instincts more, his life would be so much easier.

While Caitlin goes to visit her mother to find a cure for Killer Frost, H.R. begins his long…looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong obsession with coffee. H.R. suggests team-building exercises to help build trust with the group, but everyone else has to get to work. Barry finds himself in Captain Singh’s office, where Julian has literally tattled on him. Julian’s right, though, that Barry is held to a different standard than anyone else would be, but my god is Julian such a sniveling shit. Barry gets called downtown, where it’s go-go-Godzilla time, but something’s just a bit off with it…well, more off than one would expect from a giant monster destroying the downtown area of a major metropolitan city.

Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, H.R. is basically doing his, “My Earth is different in this way,” shtick and is just so very extra while they’re trying to figure out what to do about the monster. While Cisco and H.R. get to work on a carbon fiber lasso, Barry heads back to the CCPD labs and tries to convince Julian to get him access to the case. After that tactic fails, Barry just bribes him with singular use of the crime lab if he lets him tag along.

After we get through the very predictable stuff with Caitlin and her mother, Barry and Iris have the exact same conversation that Barry had with Cisco, only about Julian. Speaking of Julian, he has Barry meet him at the crime scene and they surmise that the monster is being controlled via line of sight. And then the monster shows up, and Barry has to save Julian’s life from a random falling street sign.

We come back from commercial break to see Caitlin leaving her mother’s facility, unable to get any emotional attachment from her mother. In a swerve that would make Vince Russo proud, the lab assistant suddenly becomes evil and wants to lock Caitlin away to run tests on her. Caitlin quickly makes him see the cold, hard error of his ways before her mother manages to stop her from killing him. Seriously, that turn came out of nowhere and jarred me right out of the episode. Which is bad, because I haven’t really even been into the episode that much.

We’re back at CCPD, and Julian and Barry are brainstorming…well, Julian is brainstorming. Barry’s just trying to figure Julian out. Julian ends their partnership, so Barry heads back to S.T.A.R. Labs to brainstorm with Cisco and H.R. Barry and Cisco finally get to the point where they realize H.R. isn’t actually helping, but just reframing the questions.

After we get a scene with Joe and Iris discussing Joe’s potential love life, Julian bursts in and tells the captain where the monster is going to be next. And then back to S.T.A.R. Labs, where the major revelation about H.R. is that…he’s a writer and he’s going to write a novel about Team Flash. The monster appears again and Barry tries to trip it with the carbon fiber rope, but it goes right through it. Of course it’s a hologram. Fortunately, Barry is able to stop a sniper’s bullet before it hits a random bystander, and then also stops Julian before he kills the kid who was controlling the monster.

This scene where the kid explains why he did it screams so much white male privilege, Donald Trump just named it to a cabinet post. He tells Joe that he’s a weirdo and he’s bullied and he wanted to scare people instead of feeling scared. While it’s not the same as picking up an assault rifle, the parallel to white males committing acts of mass violence in America is readily apparent.

While bullying is a factor in many mass shootings, LGBTQIA+ and POC youth tend to be bullied far more often than your average white male, and yet it’s the white males who commit the most acts of domestic terrorism. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t sympathize with white male victims of bullying, but this episode presents the kid’s excuse for terrorizing people as justified. A lot of us were bullied in high school. We didn’t all start killing people for it.

Fuck this episode. Second time in two episodes this show has gotten me so mad that I’m genuinely raging. By the way, this is one of the only episodes I didn’t see when it originally aired, so you’re getting my fresh perspective on this.

Harry’s a con man, Caitlin’s home, Barry and Julian are starting to bond, yadda fucking yadda. Please, for the love of all that’s good and just, let the next episode not fill me with anger.

George Hatch can be found on Twitter at @Raeseti, or sitting down with his editor for an hour while we fact-check his statements even though maybe forty people are going to read this review. It’s the principle, kids.

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