'The Flash' season 3, episode 5 recap: The new Harrison Wells reveals his monster secret
It's the day after Halloween on our Earth, but in The Flash universe, the monsters are coming out to play — specifically, one giant one. In "Monster," a massive two-legged beast is terrorizing Central City and it's up to Team Flash to take it down. Meanwhile, Caitlyn is coming to terms with her abilities and the new Wells spills his secret.
The Flash isn't afraid to get a little wacky. This is the show that gave us a telepathic gorilla and street shark, after all. So, a giant Cloverfield-esque monster traipsing through the city? Why not. It can also disappear? Sure, that works. Wait, huge twist: It's actually a hologram being projected by a bullied 15-year-old coder. To be fair, it's not any less plausible than a gangster who can travel through mirrors.
The emotional stakes around the monster plot in this episode are a lot more interesting. The show uses the monster to explore Julian and Barry's relationship, giving Tom Felton a lot of screen time and scenery to chew. We learn Julian doesn't like meta-humans because they all squander their gifts on "robbing banks, hurting people and spreading fear." Which is true. He says if he were meta he'd help people. But he also doesn't like the Flash, because he thinks he's making the police department weak. Make up your mind, Malfoy!
This all leads to the episode's climax, in which Julian nearly shoots and kills the 15-year-old coder behind the monster. The Flash stops him. Julian later confides in Barry that he understood how that boy felt. Chasing meta-humans makes him feel scared and inferior too. He also says he understands the Flash now. Barry reciprocates by talking about losing his parents and by the end of the scene they're friends. That was easy.
As a side note, our villainous 15-year-old coder admits he did it because he "just wanted to feel powerful for a change. This echoes abused foster child Magenta from a few weeks back. The show enters rich territory when it makes its villains complicated, confused and truly damaged characters, rather than one-note shoot-em-up mobsters.
Speaking of complicated and confused, Caitlyn goes to see her scientist mother, Dr. Carla Tannhauser, about these pesky new ice powers. It turns out their relationship is pretty messed up: After Caitlyn's father died, the two became estranged. Caitlyn seeks her out not only to help with the out-of-control abilities, but to mend emotional fences. The results are a mixed bag. Tannhauser apologizes in the end, but Caitlyn still doesn't feel whole. She also learns the more she uses the ice powers, the harder they'll be to reverse.
Things are going about as poorly with the new Harrison Wells. Cisco didn't trust him from the get go and he was right not to. The new Wells, who goes by HR, is, in fact, a giant fraud. First, he reveals to Barry and Cisco that he's a novelist hoping to find his next great story. He claims to also be a scientist, but when Cisco figures out that he can't do anything technical, he's exposed again.
HR reveals to the team that on his Earth he's the "idea man." He's more a figure head than an actual scientific genius and had his partner solve the puzzle test to be the new Wells. Wally labels him a con man and the team is ready to give him the boot, but Barry intervenes. HR will stay on as their "muse," but only for a few weeks. This Wells is clearly meant to juxtapose the two previous incarnations and while it could get irritating in the long run, his lighter tone is amusing for now.
"Monster" felt like another small step in the season's arc. Thankfully, in two weeks, it looks like we'll be back at it with Wally's hunt for speed and Dr. Alchemy.