REVIEW: The Flash, S5E19 – Snow Pack

The Flash found its heart once more by focusing on family in “Snow Pack,” which paralleled Iris (Candice Patton) and Barry’s (Grant Gustin) crisis over their daughter with Caitlin’s (Danielle Panabaker) icy family reunion. But while one half of the episode felt genuine and compelling, the other half crumbled under its own weight.

Proof it happened.

As much as the Snow family was the center of the story, the West-Allen one was the soul of it. Patton and Gustin especially were given the chance to shine in their scenes together – which they haven’t even had for the last few months. It was gut-wrenching yet realistic to witness the recriminations that passed between them as Iris struggled to understand why her husband would send Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy) away without consulting her, but “Snow Pack” did an admirable job of attempting to flesh out both perspectives if even Iris was clearly right. And it also didn’t get resolved in one argument, with Iris actually choosing to stay at her father’s for the time being and going so far as to type up an angry letter on her laptop. By the end of the episode, though, they both learned the valuable lesson that family doesn’t leave each other behind. And viewers were even blessed with a kiss in the loft, which is a miracle considered the former had been banned and the latter burned.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Westallen’s first big fight as a married couple was that Ralph (Hartley Sawyer) turned out to be their staunchest defender. Horrified at the thought of “the Meghan and Harry of superhero royalty” splitting up, he not only counseled Iris to reign in her anger but also went all the way to 2049 with her to collect Nora and bring her home. Sawyer and Patton have always had a fun friendship chemistry, and it was wisely used this week to contrast the darkness brewing in Nora and threatening the family dynamic.

That darkness was brought out by none other than Eobard (Tom Cavanagh), though it seems he may done so unintentionally while trying to help her get back home. If The Flash is to be believed, Barry’s once greatest enemy has now become a genuine father figure to Nora without an ulterior motive. He obviously isn’t very good at helping her, but even Iris comes to realize that he truly cares about her daughter even if he’s still manipulating her in the process. Barry leaving her behind made her willing to try out Eobard’s negative speed force, which was activated by Iris coming to help without her husband in tow. Now Nora’s in full red-eye rage mode, a Reverse XS unto herself, and it will take Iris and Barry combined to bring her back. But is this what Eobard wanted all along, or is he sincere that he wants her to have the family he denied Barry? That uncertainty is one of the best nuances in the season right now.

Dads causing mommy-daughter rifts.

On the other hand, Caitlin’s family angst contained very few nuances at all and instead circled the same drain she’s been traveling towards since she became Killer Frost. As lovely as it was to see her make up with her mother after over a decade of misunderstandings, the potential warmth from that reunion was canceled out by her dad’s alter ego and his nonsensical plan. Hoping to create his own ‘ice family’ at the expense of Carla and Caitlin, Icicle kidnapped the ladies and used Caitlin’s blood to make a metahuman serum for her mother. The plan was (partially) foiled by Barry, but then “Snow Pack” felt it was appropriate to not only make Caitlin lose a fight to her father – who hasn’t been doing any kind of training for ten years – but also play no part in his miraculous transformation. Instead of letting her actively appeal to the man trapped inside the meta, the episode resolved the issue by having Thomas stop himself from killing his daughter without any fanfare.

Even that Snow family redemption was short-lived, however, because next Cicada had to be inserted into the plot. Adult Grace, having already abducted her younger self for unknown reasons, barged into the Tannhauser labs to steal Thomas’ cryogenic macguffin and once again Caitlin failed to be an effective opponent. After defeating his alter ego to save his daughter, Thomas had to step into the fray on her behalf once again – and this time he lost his life. Considering the high-octane emotions running through all the Barry, Iris and Nora scenes throughout the rest of the episode, it was a shame that Thomas’ death barely made any kind of impact. Caitlin and Carla were joking around and getting drinks the very next scene, completely oblivious to the fact that Carla would be the next family member to fall prey to the split identity issue that’s been plaguing Caitlin since Season 3.

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