Caitlin Snow. Killer Frost. Khione? Danielle Panabaker is one of the very few original cast members left on The Flash, and she’s played more characters than just about anyone in the Arrowverse, short of Tom Cavanagh. This episode slots a last-minute solution to the Snow Problem that highlights one of the show’s most irritating issues. Spoilers follow for The Flash Season 9, Episode 02, “Hear No Evil.”
“Hear No Evil”
Barry (Grant Gustin) feels guilty for what happened to Caitlin and Mark (Jon Cor) comes up with a plan which makes everyone skeptical. Meanwhile, Red Death looms in Central City and commands that failure is not an option. Joe (Jesse L. Martin) asks Cecile (Danielle Nicolet) to make a choice which leads Cecile to think about the greater good. Allegra (Kayla Compton) and Chester (Brandon McKnight) take a step in a new direction. Lastly, old friends pay an unexpected visit to S.T.A.R. Labs.
When we talk about storylines in shows, usually there’s an A story and a B story, with them either connecting directly together or giving a character not involved in the main storyline something to do. In this episode, though, the two storylines don’t feel like either an A or a B. The storyline the episode is named after, which pits a new version of the Fiddler against Hartley Rathaway, is a typical villain-of-the-week story. The other story, which feels like it has “B-Story” energy, kills off a main character and replaces her with another version of that same character.
That’s weird, right? It’s pretty weird.
What’s my name?
As a cliffhanger to the fun and fresh season premiere, Barry met a new version of Caitlin. She’s not a doctor and she’s not a metahuman–and she has some blue streaks in her hair so that you can tell her apart from the other versions of her. This character introduces herself as Snow at the beginning of the episode, and gives herself a new name by the end.
While the team is working on all of this, the Fiddler–a completely new one–attacks Hartley Rathaway outside of his nightclub. Rathaway, as a reminder, is the Pied Piper, a rogue that Flash fought much earlier in the show, and then who reappeared after the Crisis event. The Fiddler handily defeats Rathaway before he zooms off with his sonic gloves and shows up at Star Labs for help.
One Size Fits None
Neither of these storylines is terribly satisfying. The Rathaway/Fiddler storyline is mostly there just to remind us that Red Death is out there pulling strings, and we get even less development for the Fiddler than we did for Captain Boomerang. With him, at least we got to see that he’s still a goofball of a villain. Fiddler is roughly 50% visual effects, which is not a compliment when we’re talking about a CW show. It’s just chess pieces being moved around.
On Caitlin’s side, we see Team Flash debating what to do. Mark/Chillblaine is obsessed with bringing Frost back, and nearly kills Snow in the process. The members of Team Flash go back and forth–do we try to restore the Frost/Caitlin duality or just Caitlin?
The show is actually aware of one of its own problems here and yet doesn’t seem to know what to do with it. The Flash has frequently taken Caitlin’s agency away in these situations, and it’s only with the latter part of Caitlin and Frost’s sisterhood that they began to feel really independent. Then Frost sacrificed herself to save the team from Deathstorm, killing off the much more interesting version of Caitlin in the process. As Team Flash tries to figure out what to do, they eventually come to the extremely obvious answer of, “what if we just asked this human in front of us what they want to do regarding their body?” This character is being granted freedom from a character perspective, but it still manages to feel like a cheap way to resolve the character–especially when it feels so rushed.
This new character calls herself Khione, after the Greek goddess of snow. Instead of Caitlin’s cool and calm doctor persona or Frost’s punk-rock superhero style, Khione is a hippy-dippy-seeming person who is innocent and pure and speaks so truthfully and from the heart that even the empath Cecile can’t pull anything extra out of her. Khione is a literal case of what-you-see-is-what-you-get. So instead of a medical doctor with expertise in metahumanity, or a villain reformed into a superhero thanks to the relentless love of her sister, we now have a woman who has no idea who she is and retains neither medical knowledge nor superpowers. In what world is this the most interesting answer the Flash writers could come up with?
The Best and Worst of Flash
This episode, honestly, pairs nicely with the previous one. While that one was breezy, fun, and refreshing, this one is all of the stuff I’ve come to resent about The Flash over its 9 seasons. It’s a bunch of pseudoscience gibberish meant to support a boring character decision that feels like it wasted the show’s precious time. As much as I love these characters and this world, episodes like this are why I’m ready for The Flash to be done.