“I don’t choose being the Flash over being with my family. I’m the Flash for my family, and I don’t have to run to the future to understand why I sacrifice myself. I’d do it to save you and your mom. All the people I love.”
Past and future are lamented on in the present as this week’s The Flash highlights a pain Nora has kept buried her entire life while Cicada, the current villain, thinks back to a simpler time before metas turned his life upside down.
Generally, the best way to make a good villain is to give him or her layers. It’s fine and dandy to have a one-note baddie for a single episode or a two-week arc, but the more a writer can humanize a villain, the greater the impact on the audience. If viewers can, even for a second, think “I may not agree with this villain’s motivations, but I can understand where he’s coming from”, then that is a success. As the meta-hating Cicada, Orlin Dwyer wants revenge on those who’ve ruined his life; the super-powered freaks of Central City. It’s not until this episode though that Orlin’s pain was truly explored. Not only does the audience get the surprise that Gracie is Orlin’s niece and not his daughter, but the rocky beginnings of their relationship only made Gracie’s current condition even more heartbreaking. It’s not an excuse to go around murdering those with powers but, like Nemo in Captain America: Civil War, Orlin’s pain demands at least a sliver of sympathetic understanding.
As the episode paints Orlin’s past, Nora showcases her own pain of a future without her father. After Iris expresses a few close calls Barry had that weren’t completely captured in the Flash Museum and another near-miss where Nora has to revive him, she can no longer hide the pain of having a dad that abandoned her. It’s not fair to take her anger out on him but it’s understandable. Barry tells her that people need him; they need the Flash. “I need my dad,” is her response. Simple and heartbreaking. Ultimately, as the pair take to battling Joss Jackam aka Weather Witch (the estranged daughter to Mark Mardon, the Weather Wizard) Nora realizes that Barry putting his life on the line to save others is a noble calling but she’s not prepared for his explanation that, while he may save others, he’s the Flash because of family. It’s a reminder of just how selfless Barry can be and that, as a hero, putting one’s life on the line is never the ideal solution but, at times, still a necessity.
- Finally Team Flash has identified their Cicada. With Orlin’s identity firmly on hand, the team has every chance to hit Dwyer with a surprise attack. There’s still the problem of his Mjolnir-like dagger but they have the advantage now. Let’s see if they actually use it…or do they do the ‘hero’ thing and try talking to him first, thus ruining their advantage?
- Though Joss Jackam’s inclusion was a cool nod to the comics, we didn’t get much from her character. Sure, Joss’s tiff with her father Mark sort of paralleled Nora’s own anger issues with Barry, they didn’t give her character much in the way of depth. Her weather vane—another example of meta-tech created when the satellite fell to Earth during the Enlightenment—offers more in the way of future plot devices. Hopefully, Ian McIntyre’s Mark Mardon wasn’t wasted and his cameo was but a morsel of what they plan to do with the character in future episodes.
- Turns out, I’m late to the party. In a previous review, I mentioned Joe’s conspicuous absence from the show and, as it turns out, it was reported late last month that he’s taking a medical leave of absence from the show due to a back injury. Talk about a bad beat; Jesse T. Martin’s presence has been sorely missed and we can only wish him a speedy recovery, not just for his role on The Flash but his health in general.
- Another positive is that Caitlin’s back in contact with Killer Frost. The frosty anti-hero was sorely missed and, with Cisco on the sidelines and slightly depowered, Frost will be an asset in the fight with Cicada. Speaking of which, will the meta-villain’s dagger affect Killer Frost as it does with other metas? Considering that her powers were obtained in a slightly different way than the others, she could be immune or, at the very least, not affected to the same degree as everyone else.
The Flash – “Oh Come, All Ye Thankful”