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The Flash Proves Not Everything Is As It Seems

The monster in "Monster" was just a hologram, but it was a metaphor

Noel Kirkpatrick

On this week's episode of The Flash, the titular "Monster" wasn't anything more than a hologram created by an angry teenager so that Central City could feel what he felt every day going to school. Obviously the kid needs counseling, and his parents should check their credit card bills for all the gear he would've needed to purchase to create a hologram on that scale, but the monster this week didn't really stir up much in the way of danger or in fun. It was just a little too out-there for a show that tends not to trade much in the kaiju vein of the fantastical.

That being said, the monster being all light and furry proved to signify a half-decent metaphor for the more (meta)human-centric depths in the episode. Team Flash was trying to figure out how to stop a skyscraper-sized monster, instead of looking for a picked on and frustrated kid.

To the same point, in between trying to wrap carbon rope around the monster's legs like it was an AT-AT and Barry (Grant Gustin) was a T-47 airspeeder, Team Flash was unearthing truths about themselves and those around them.

First up is H.R. (Tom Cavanagh), but you'll need to allow me to do a minor victory dance as I called H.R.'s secret last week. He is, in fact, a kind-of-sort-of riff on H.G. Wells... just without Wells' own actual background in science.

It turned out that H.R. was just the face of S.T.A.R. Labs on Earth-19, and not the brains behind any of the lab's innovations. In fact, H.R. is a writer of science romances -- an appropriate term, since that's what we use to describe the sci-fi of H.G. Wells' day.

​Grant Gustin, The Flash
Katie Yu/The CW

Without much in the way of scientific thought -- dude can't even triangulate something -- H.R. positioned himself as an ideas man, a muse for the Earth-1 Team Flash. I'm rather on board with this idea of a Harrison Wells who seeks to bring out the best in his team through cultivating teamwork, and prompts them to do their best by repackaging their ideas to them and getting their coffee orders exactly right. It's a different kind of relationship, one that isn't focused on being a mentor (however willing or unwilling), but on being a facilitator to allow the team to grow on its own. It could be just what they need.

The absence of another scientific mind on the team does leave the door open for someone else to step into the role, however. As my colleague Megan Vick suggests, it could be Julian (Tom Felton). He and Barry finally broke down some barriers this week, and we learned that Julian comes from an old money traditional British family, which he abandoned to become a great scientist... who works at CCPD's crime lab instead of any number of major scientific powerhouses in or around Central City. But it's because Julian wants to help folks in the most direct way that he can, and that's through solving crimes.

Julian was frustrated by metahumans on a couple of levels. One, he's just a prideful guy who reached the height of his field only to have metahumans disrupt it all. Two, he's more than a little jealous and judgmental about how metahumans use their powers for destruction, terror, and mere bank robberies.

Julian is walking a fine line here. Clearly his desire to learn more about metahumans may drive him to unlock their secrets, but to what end? Would he be tempted toward destruction, or toward salvation? And would joining Team Flash push him more to one outcome or the other? While this seems a bit Draco Malfoy all over again, there's likely room for some variation, especially since he's warming to both Barry and Flash.

Finally, there's the actual metahuman in hiding: Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker). While the hidden depths -- or lack thereof, in H.R.'s case, depending on how you see his value -- of our other two characters don't hint at monsters, or at least not yet, Caitlin's control over her powers became more erratic, and the Killer Frost within came more and more to the forefront.

Much of this is just a matter of seeing the Killer Frost eyes appear, or Panabaker shift into the Killer Frost tone and cadence, and so we know what to look for beyond blue lips and white strands of hair. But it's also the situational triggers. Her own mother's (Susan Walters) detached demeanor in a moment of need coupled with random lab assistant's (Thomas Cadrot) desire to use Caitlin for his own ends likely resulted in a double-whammy of isolation and helplessness.

Yes, she should've turned to Team Flash earlier, and I look forward to her rationale for not doing so, though I suspect it's because she knew they'd realize that she was becoming Killer Frost from Earth-2 and feared they'd no longer see her as their friend. Instead, they'd see her as the monster she's struggling to combat.

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, one of The CW's parent companies.)