The Flash -- "Growing Pains" -- Image Number: FLA707a_0464r.jpg -- Pictured: Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Frost -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Caitlin Snow’s journey to Killer Frost and back has been an interesting one, from Earth-2 doppelganger to split personality to main personality to two different people. But now, the crimes of old are coming back to haunt Frost in an episode dedicated primarily to her. Spoilers follow for The Flash Season 7, Episode 7, “Growing Pains.”

“Growing Pains”

There are two primary stories at play this week. We learned last week that the new investigator in town, Kristen Kramer, has it out for Killer Frost. Meanwhile, it seems someone is trying to frame Frost for crimes she didn’t commit.

Meanwhile, Barry has a new housemate: the physical embodiment of the Speed Force, still in the form of his mother, Nora Allen, and guess what, living with a Cosmic Force that looks like your dead mom is pretty weird.

Icy reception

Investigator Kramer has set her sights singularly on Frost, and I have to give it to the actress, Carmen Moore. She made me dislike her pretty well. Interestingly, this isn’t Moore’s first outing. Back on Arrow, circa season 4, Moore played a different and entirely unrelated character working for Damien Darhk. I have a feeling Kramer is going to be a more memorable role for her.

While Kramer is investigating these #icecrimes, Frost is trying to figure out who actually committed them. That leads her to a bar she used to work at, tended by a tall drink of water named Mark that she instantly has chemistry with and knows a lot about the science behind mixology.

A news report showing that Killer Frost is wanted leads to her battling a bunch of guys while Mark watches, though he drops in at the last moment to put a guy down from behind.

This is a family show

Then, in one of the weirdest, funniest moments I can remember seeing on this show, Mark takes off his shirt while the classic Nelly jam “Hot in Herre” plays. Frost is slack-jawed with lust as Science Bartender strips for her. And you know what, I dug it. It was funny and weird, but Frost is funny and weird, too.

Eventually, Frost realizes that guy is the one framing her. This is Chillblaine, yet another cold villain. Instead of existing to slow Flash down, though, he’s there purely for Frost and Frost alone. The two battle it out. Actor Jon Cor is in great shape, and it’s tough to tell where it’s him or a stuntman. When the two characters are getting all icy and spicy, he’s flipping all over the place. It’s a short battle, but a fun one to watch.

Frost and Caitlin have been some of the show’s most consistently underserved characters. While Caitlin is still waiting to do something other than fix Flash or have a relationship snatched out from under her, Frost has been getting more attention, and this is a sort of acknowledgment of where she’s been and how much she’s grown.

The episode ends with Frost giving herself up to the authorities. Frost has become such a crucial character to Team Flash that it’s hard to imagine them just shipping her off to Iron Heights for the remainder of the show, so hopefully she’ll get a hero’s redemption as she’s put on trial for her crimes.

Not the Mama

While that’s going on, Barry is dealing with weirdness of his own. Now the embodiment of the Speed Force is not just hanging out at his Superhero Lodge, she’s staying at his loft and visiting him at work.

The close proximity of the quickly-healing Speed Force means that Barry’s powers are behaving strangely, like he’s getting unexpectedly overcharged. Commenters on forums were theorizing that the Speed Force was hiding something, and I was tempted to believe them, but this looks to be an Occam’s Razor situation. Barry is super weirded out by a cosmic force not just looking and sounding like his dead mother, but also now acting like people. She cooks him breakfast, she shows up at his work to help with processing and investigation.

Barry struggles with it, and reasonably so. I’ll admit that I don’t know how much time the Flash comics have spent embodying the Speed Force, so I don’t know how its handled there. Actress Michelle Harrison goes a long way toward making it work. I immediately believe that she’s simultaneously Barry’s mother and this otherworldly being, and that she wants to be accepted by him, the person she chose as her earthly avatar.

I’m not sure how I feel about all this time being spent on this embodiment, but I like the way all of this gets resolved. It seems to suggest that we’re going to see Barry growing in power as he fights the Still/Strength/Sage Forces, and that in itself could be interesting.

This is a surprisingly straightforward episode with two stories that are resolved rather simply and believably. There’s a minimum of CW-brand melodrama and characters just act like you’d expect them to. It’s refreshing, and I’m excited to see more of it.