“Hear No Evil” is a big stumble for The Flash after a good premiere, and it bodes ill for the show’s final season. While there are some good themes of personal choice and weighing human lives, one of the main characters is treated with shocking callousness, a new character fails to impress, and a subplot features a dud of a villain.
The new version of Caitlin, who calls herself “Snow,” is part of a plan to bring both Caitlin and Frost back from the dead – but she and Mark Blaine are hiding something from Barry. A music-themed villainess who calls herself the Fiddler targets Hartley Rathaway and his new boyfriend. Chester and Allegra take several steps back because they’re the dumbest would-be couple TV ever invented. Joe reveals the true reason why he wants to leave Central City.
Immediately, “Hear No Evil” explains who Snow is – she’s the result of Caitlin’s experiment to bring Frost back. She’s also all that’s left, as the procedure killed Caitlin, leaving only the intended vessel for Frost. Blaine explains that it was Barry’s destruction of Caitlin’s lab that forced her to try something even riskier than her original plan, but that he and Snow have figured out how to save both Caitlin and Frost if Barry and his team will help them. If this looks too neat, it’s because it is; Blaine is up to something, and Snow is his accomplice. This is a good introduction, laying out the key pieces of the plot; unfortunately, the rest of the episode fails to capitalize on the best parts of it.
After hearing that he’s responsible for Caitlin’s death, you’d think Barry would feel guilty. Well, he doesn’t; no one outside of Blaine seems to feel much of anything in “Hear No Evil,” and it’s downright creepy. Blaine’s plan is to trick Team Flash into helping him resurrect Frost in Snow’s body by making them believe they’re saving Caitlin too. But when Chester realizes something is wrong and ends the procedure, Blaine confesses that he was only trying to bring back his girlfriend. The result is Barry investigating a lead in Caitlin’s father’s research and realizing that they can only bring back one of the “sisters.”
This is when “Hear No Evil” gets disturbing; they all vote on whom to resurrect, and some of the reactions are cheerful. Allegra votes for Frost, and she smiles and does little girly jumps while doing it, smiling at Chester like she expects him to agree because she knows he likes her. You’re effectively choosing to kill someone so that someone else might live – a person who is supposed to be your friend – and you’re happy about it? That’s monstrous. Blaine is cheerful too, but he’s an evil psychopath, so I expect it from him. But Allegra is supposed to be one of the good guys. Then, Iris votes for Frost, and she tells Barry it’s because she didn’t pick Frost before and it’s only fair to choose her now. Isn’t Caitlin one of your best friends? What normal person thinks like this?
Barry ultimately realizes that this is about choice. Frost chose to sacrifice herself, and Caitlin chose to risk her life trying to bring Frost back. Now, Snow is a living, breathing human who needs to have that same choice, rather than have the others force it on her. This is a good theme, and it’s explored well insofar as Snow, who ends up choosing herself, deciding she wants to live for herself instead of having Caitlin or Frost imposed on her. That’s perfectly reasonable, and it could have been used to examine loss, grief, and the value of individual choice over everything else, no matter how much we love those we lost.
But it isn’t. Once Snow – whose name is now Khione because whatever – decides to live, not a single person mourns Caitlin. Barry and Iris decide that dying is what she would have wanted, and I don’t think anyone else even mentions her again. They find plenty of time to party at a club, though, because I guess they decided to get busy living or get busy dying. They act like they never cared about her, to begin with, and this is added to the fact that one of the original stars of the show was killed off-screen. What a slap in the face to one of the series’ best and longest-running characters.
It doesn’t help that Khione is a wet blanket. She has no personality, which, I guess, is the point, but when you’re replacing someone like Caitlin, you’d better make her stand-in worthwhile. Her biggest character moments aside from choosing to live are having a childlike outburst before running away in a snit and deciding she likes dancing. But it’s okay because she’s already everyone’s new best friend, just in case we were under the impression a single one of them feels bad about losing Caitlin. I don’t like this development at all, and I don’t care where Khione goes from here.
The rest of “Hear No Evil” is underwhelming as well. Joe tells Cecile he wants them to leave Central City so she won’t be in danger; apparently, this is a discussion for another day. After making out with each other last week, Chester and Allegra are still dancing around each other like sixth graders. The subplot about a villain-of-the-week named the Fiddler going after Hartley Rathaway doesn’t make much of an impression either. It serves mostly to give Khione yet another new best friend so he can tell us how awesome she is. I guess it’s supposed to tie into the theme of choosing life over death, but the circumstances are too different for it to feel connected, and Rathaway gets an easy out when the Flash helps him save his boyfriend.
Rathaway’s ordeal does further the season’s main plotline, though, as the Fiddler, while being a big lame-o on her own, is another one of the big bad’s minions, and her actual mission is to steal Hartley’s gauntlets to, from what I can tell, give her boss corporeal form. I’m interested in finding out who this guy is; he seems to have it in for the Flash, so maybe it’s someone we’ve already met. And that looks too much like a bat on his chest for it to be a coincidence. It’s a cool ending to a letdown of an episode.