“Sometimes our powers are so extraordinary; it makes our mistakes feel amplified, especially guilt.”
The first rule in the Speedster’s Handbook has to be ‘time travel forks up the timeline’. Time and time again, we’ve seen speedsters, for one reason or another, find themselves traveling into the past and, whether they mean to or not, change things. We’ve seen it with Reverse Flash then, on several occasions, Barry. Now, it’s Nora. The ripples her jaunt into the timeline caused began early on, starting with Team Flash’s first encounter with Gridlock. As minor as that hiccup was, the team, along with Sherloque—the newest Wells—discovers the first major change Nora’s presence has had on the timeline.
In the first few minutes of the episode, Nora gives a very sparse history on Cicada. The disturbing news to the team is that, according to the Flash Museum, they “never catch him”. More than that, his appearance has somehow been expedited. Similar to it taking more than one try for Barry to catch Gridlock, on the surface, it doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal. It’s not until the greatest detective in the multiverse, Sherloque Wells (take that, Batman!) does his paint by numbers deductions that lead David Hersch where we realize there has been quite the flippity-flop in the timeline. Based on Sherloque’s experience with Cicada (tracking him down on 37 different worlds) Hersch has always been the guy. Somehow, Nora’s injection into the past has changed the man that was to become Cicada.
Speaking of the Big Bad, for some reason, his focus turns to Cisco and he pays Joe a visit in order to bait Vibe to the scene. It works and, for a brief moment, it seems as if the plan works and our precious Cisco Ramon is toast. But with some Flash Time thinking and speedster skills, they not only save Cisco but fake his death, satisfying Cicada’s urge. At least for the moment.
While it doesn’t seem like “The Death of Vibe” really takes us a long way into discovering more about Cicada, that’s not a bad thing. Considering that Team Flash coming face-to-face with the big bad this early in the season, it’s a delicate process to ration out the nuggets of information on Cicada’s backstory and purpose, lest you lose the audience’s curiosity. Thankfully, there’s still quite a bit to explore non-Cicada related. The mystery of Caitlin’s father will play a role over the next several weeks just as Nora’s development as a hero and perhaps mending the rocky perception she has of her mother. Couple that in with what will likely be several instances of meta-of-the-week, and The Flash should be able to coast through to the mid-season Elseworlds crossover with plenty left in the tank for the second half of the year.
- When it was mentioned that we’d be getting another Wells, I was both excited and perturbed. The excitement came from the fact that Tom Cavanagh would return; he’s one of my favorite actors on the show, bringing a gravitas that only Jesse Martin’s ‘Joe West’ matches. The annoyance was that we were losing Harry, the second best Wells to-date (Season One’s Thawne/Wells will be hard to remove from that top spot). This new Sherloque Wells isn’t too bad and it seems like he too will have a somewhat combative relationship with Cisco, but he’s still not the Wells I wanted. It’s early in the season though and, from what we’ve seen, this Harrison Wells offers up a line of thinking the team has never had.
- One of the things that makes a show like Daredevil so great is that the writers give the supporting characters their own stories, often separate from the main arc. This invests you more into each character’s individual struggles. The Flash has been somewhat inconsistent with this, though the chemistry of the actors involved has helped mitigate this issue. From everything they’ve shown so far, it appears they are not skimping on Caitlin’s story, offering her a storyline separate from what’s going on with Cicada and the Allen family dynamic. It’s also good to see that she has a partner-in-crime by way of Ralph and I’m still wondering if they maintain their current relationship or if sometime down the road, things will get a bit more romantic between the two.
- Two other minor story beats include Sherloque alluding to the fact that Nora’s decision to go satellite punching with her dad was not, in fact, her idea and Cicada’s (real name Orlin) mission to rid the world of metas. Though the two details may very well be totally separate from one another, what if there’s someone else behind the scenes that orchestrated Nora’s jump back into time, knowing that it would create a new Cicada? There are several ways this can end up; we’ll just have to wait and see about the direction they decide to go.