Review: The Flash 7×05 “Fear Me”
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Director: David McWhirter
Writers: Lauren Barnett and Christina M. Walker
Starring: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Danielle Nicolet, Jesse L. Martin, Michelle Harrison, Carmen Moore, Ennis Esmer
Reviewed by: Jason Larouche
New villain, Psych, unleashes everyone’s worst nightmares, a government agent appears in town with an agenda, and Caitlin and Frost assess their new situation.
The rollout of new threats continues this week and hits on themes of exposure, accountability, and revelations.
It’s cool seeing some classic Team Flash fun being reintroduced amidst the drama, such as the Caitlin-Frost separation and Cisco’s villain naming skills back in play. Even Firestorm’s matrix made a previous cameo. After so much focus on Barry and Iris, it was good returning to a more pronounced team dynamic. Speaking of villains, I would like to apologize for last week’s review in which I failed to recognize the CGI character as female. Further, that she was already a villain from the comics known as Fuerza (kudos to the writing team for giving Cisco the honor of tapping into Latin flair in naming her). I’ll make more of an effort to do better research.
Regarding Caitlin and Frost, it’s a cool new dynamic I hope to see for a long stint. Last time we saw a scenario like this was in the second season when Caitlin was held prisoner by Zoom and forced to team up with Killer Frost. Interweaving Frost’s dilemma over reintegrating into Caitlin with Psych’s whammy on the team was seamless. What worked is the subtlety of her visual disappointment. It’s understandable she is enjoying time to herself, while in a contradictory manner, Caitlin feels lonely without her presence in her mind. The conversation feels natural and like a discussion between sisters, which is how Cait now sees Frost. That is a huge quantum leap from when Frost first manifested in the third season. It will be interesting – and funny – to see how they can go from being mental roomies to actual roomies.
The lingering subplot of Frost’s past crimes as “Killer Frost” coming back to haunt her via this new government agent, played by Carmen Moore, also drives home the notion of accountability. She’s now a full person, and with that comes the fact that she can no longer hide inside of Caitlin. It leaves one to wonder how severe were her crimes? We only know bits and pieces of what she’s done with Savitar and those months when she was away. Perhaps with this new subplot, broader answers will be revealed. But will this also endanger Joe’s position as Captain? Time will tell.
Frost’s worst nightmare is balanced with Barry’s and Cecile’s scenes this week. It’s not often you see Grant and Danielle together in many scenes not involving Joe and Iris. It makes sense, I guess, for the Paragon of Love and his empathic stepmother to team up against a foe that can tap into their worst nightmares. But beyond that, their worst fears are at opposite ends, yet relatable. One is afraid of failing to save his loved ones in spite of his powers, while the other is fearful of hurting them because of hers. It gave Danielle a chance to show her character’s chemistry with Barry, as well as how far her powers have progressed. They are a family, and this episode is the first to showcase that in a long while.
The resolution tapped into the hilarity of Team Flash inadvertently building the Flash Museum by hoarding previous baddies’ gadgets and costumes. As a superhero team that’s science based, it has always made sense for them to hold on to technology that can be reverse engineered or employed like in this episode. Cecile’s reaction to The Thinker’s chair was as hilarious as much as it was fascinating. The color scheme taps into Cecile’s fears of her powers turning her to the dark side. As to whether that will be a subplot further explored this season remains to be seen. I have some theories on that but I will withhold them until there’s a reason to discuss them in detail.
This week’s episode also felt like a late Halloween episode with the fear-wielding Psych. Elements such as the living nightmares he conveyed, and even The Speed Force itself shaken by him, elevated this villain’s threat level. The Voodoo-style mask and name is a departure from his comic book counterpart, Bashir, but his mastery of what’s known as The Sage Force is the same. The creepy camera angles and diffused purple colors are low-tech, but work in all the right ways.
Frost’s, Barry’s, and Cecile’s nightmares are appropriately the strongest given their subplot’s focus. Although reminiscent of horror films like Saw, and of previous mindscape trips in past seasons, these elements remain consistent facets of what it’s like going into someone’s mind. Barry seeing Thawne and Savitar in his first nightmare makes sense psychologically, given he just assured the group shortly before encountering him at the bank of their previous matches. Kudos to the writers for showing the lingering trauma from those encounters manifested from his short-term memory. Candice as a reanimated corpse in Barry’s second nightmare was brilliant. Her body contortions coupled with sped up camerawork made her look appropriately terrifying.
Regarding the aforementioned theme of exposure, we get that as Barry knows he will be drawn back in to Pysch’s nightmare effects, yet moves forward anyway. The way Barry is shown getting a grip is not unlike how anxiety patients get through panic attacks.
Michelle Harrison’s reappearance as the living embodiment of The Speed Force drives home the fact that it has been reborn if the past two episodes did not already do that. Her presence, due to being injured by one of these Force avatars upgrades what seems to the uninformed as just a few episodes into a season-long journey. It also inspires a second look into that Speed Force storm after Barry and Iris restored his powers.
One note of interest is the nature of Frost and Caitlin’s separation. While necessary to include Mirror Monarch’s impact on this season, I feel that this should have been a natural progression of this metahuman DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder). Also, why did we not see Iris and Joe’s nightmares? Or Allegra’s and Chester’s? Where were the extended Team Flash this week?
And finally, the victims at the bank. Do employees as hostages always have to be comic relief? I mean they could be worried about their family, deep secrets revealed, disease prognosis, but these hostages? The Dow dropping? Being financially ruined? I’m sorry, but it just feels cartoonish for bank employees’ deepest fears directly related to their jobs.
The shock and surprise factors played out nicely this week, complimented by the nightmare villain Psych. Excellent scenes with BOTH Danielles and Grant. Seeing Michelle Harrison weekly will be very interesting, and her interactions with Grant’s character given Barry sees his mother when he looks at this Avatar of his powers. Next week promises big laughs and nostalgia for those who enjoyed the nineties. See ya then!