CHECK : The Flash – Season 7 Episode 7 Growing Pains

She’s like our Zordon.

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Growing pains are more important than they seem. She doesn’t add much to the season’s storyline, but she leads the two main characters in the direction the series wants them to go. But while one is generally handled well, the other is hastily and briefly smothered and feels like an afterthought when it should be more central – especially since it revolves around Barry.

Kristen Kramer ends the hunt for Frost after evidence suggests the former villain’s icy powers were used in the murder. While Joe and Cecile try to protect her, Frost thinks about how best to handle her new legal problems. Barry struggles to embody the Speed-Force in his daily life.

The growing pains begin when Barry makes his usual romantic gestures to Iris, but he is thrown off balance when Speed Force reminds him that he has a new guest. This is the background of the episode, and it’s where it’s strongest, where Barry’s fear of seeing his mother in action every day is shown through gestures and looks. I love that The Flash is going in this direction, because last week Iris was sure Barry would be happy to see something like Nora every day. Maybe she’s not wrong in the long run, but it won’t be easy for him to get there, because right now he’s essentially afraid that his dead mother will do things like Mom does to him and his wife. It works not only for Barry’s development and his acceptance of his loss, but also for his marriage to Iris and the idea that even the perfect couple can make mistakes, sometimes in small ways.

The opening scene of Growing Pains also shows where the story of the season is set, at least from the perspective of the villains. The big bad guys we’ve encountered over the past three weeks – Fuerza, Psycho and Deon – are other forces that fit into the Speed Force picture. Fuerza is the power of the Force, Psycho is the power of the Sage, and Deon is always the Force. While the idea is good on paper – having Barry fight a group of villains as strong as the force that gives him his speed – the execution is weaker than a wet rag. All of these forces are ridiculous and none of them pose a threat, which should annoy the Flash. Deon looks like a normal high school student, and he’s the best of the bunch. And they don’t seem organized, even though we’re supposed to believe that they’re all targeting the Velocity Force. Fortunately, they take the week off, and when Barry calls into work, a plan A comes out.


Someone had frozen the driver of the truck – to the point of disintegrating into pieces of ice – and stolen a sophisticated computer chip. It doesn’t take long for intrepid meta-human hunter Kisten Kramer to come to the conclusion that it was Frost, and Growing Pains deviously argues that this is not only perfectly reasonable, but the only logical conclusion. This puts Barry, Joe and Chester (Cisco was fired this week, leaving Chester to do what he does without charisma or charisma) in the awkward position of having to protect someone they have no reasonable reason to believe is innocent. It’s a good setup because everyone seems smart; Barry and the others know Frost isn’t guilty, but they can’t say why or they’re guilty of harboring a fugitive, and while Kramer is against characters we like, she’s not an idiot who’s going to believe the culprit is anyone other than the only known criminal with powers on the ice.

In fact, Kramer glosses over it a bit in Growing Pains, because instead of making things too difficult for her, she likes and respects Barry for his forensic skills. It’s a small detail, but it gives so much more life to the character. She’s not bad, she’s just efficient and professional, and she appreciates those qualities in others. The fact that this happens after Cecile has seen her as a faceless government suit that will fail and disappear makes this characterization even stronger. She’s determined to be worthy of him, and that’s no surprise. When she later shows up at Caitlin’s apartment and arrests her on suspicion of being Frost, can we really say she’s wrong? A few weeks ago, Frost would have caught them in the act, and Joe had to twist and turn to explain and eventually hide behind procedure. The fact that this conflict is much more interesting than the main conflict with the Force is unfortunate, but I’ll take it.

Meanwhile, as expected, Frost pretends not to listen to anyone and goes into hiding to find the real killer. But it’s the right kind of predictability, which means it fits his character. Growing Pains is well written in the sense that it knows how to surprise and how to do what is expected – and, more importantly, with whom to do those things. Frost has no decency and no patience, searching a crime bar for clues and flirting with a handsome bartender while lacking discretion. But it’s Caitlin who gives her a hard time: when she shows up to take the other half out of custody, Caitlin asks her not to let the situation get out of hand and to trust the judicial process. That’s what convinces Frost to face the music once there’s no more killer (who turns out to be the bartender, i.e. the only other talking character in the episode; his IPA sympathy should have told me that right away). The idea that she is fighting to clear her name for a murder she is innocent of, while running away from the crimes she committed, goes against her redemption, so Frost gives in to Kramer. It reminded me of the episode of Angel where Spike suffers from killing someone he didn’t kill, and it reminds him of the people he did kill; that’s always a plus for me.

Growing pains are not without cause. The subplot about Barry’s reaction to his mother’s face is quickly taken out of the picture. Unlike Frost, this is bad predictability; we know he’s going to have a bad time, we know he’s going to decide to go through with it, and we know he’s going to do it because he’s Barry Allen. Lots to do for the host of the show. And while Frost’s obsessive bartender (named Chillblaine for unthinkable reasons) is better than the Force, he’s nothing special; I also don’t understand how Frost figured out he’s a killer, and I checked a few times just to be sure. The fight between Frost and the dark characters is poorly filmed and largely off-screen; I suspect this is at least partly because Danielle Panabaker had not fully recovered from her pregnancy when she was filmed. It’s also funny that no one understands how people know that Caitlin and Frost are the same person; I’m disappointed that no one made a joke about one of them wearing glasses. And I threw up when Frost told Chillblain: You fight like a boy. I can imagine someone doing a Z-snap in the writers room after writing this. But overall, it was pretty good.

The growing pains are a lot bigger than those of the last few weeks. It develops Frost and Kramer in surprising ways, and says some fascinating things about justice and reparations. Barry’s subplot starts well but falls apart at the end, there’s an awkwardly botched fight scene in the middle and Chester is annoying again, but it’s a decent episode.

Location – 8
Action – 8
Control/Assembly – 6
Production planning – 7
Topics – 8.5



The growing pains are a lot bigger than those of the last few weeks. It develops Frost and Kramer in surprising ways, and says some fascinating things about justice and reparations. Barry’s subplot starts well but falls apart at the end, there’s an awkwardly botched fight scene in the middle and Chester is annoying again, but it’s a decent episode.

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