“Nora, sometimes we fail because all we worry about is not failing.”
It’s Groundhog Day for Team Flash as, with Barry catalyzing the meta-human cure in the Speed Force, Cicada makes his move and Nora’s tasked with saving members of the team. Again. And again. And again.
To make a compelling time loop story like “Cause and XS”, it’s vital to change up the details of each timeline iteration just enough to keep the audience off balance and guessing but, at the same time, remain true to the story’s structure. Not only does “Cause and XS” excel in this but also uses the additional bonus of Cisco’s vibe to continually peel away the mysteries of ‘Death Day’ for Team Flash.
As Barry’s saddled with the meta-human cure assignment, XS becomes the protector of the city. As it’s only an hour, what could possibly go wrong, eh? Yeah, famous last words…though in this case, it’s 52 runbacks of Nora trying to save Team Flash members who, no matter what she does, end up dying at the hands of Cicada. It’s not until the team—thanks to Cisco’s vibes—gets wind of Nora’s predicament and they all work together that, at least for the moment, they win the day. Yes, once again a Team Flash member unnecessarily keeps secrets that affect everyone else just so they can play the hero or not look like a failure. If it didn’t happen so often in reality, I’d say it was bad writing but it’s just a major flaw in many people and one that Nora should understand at a core level. She’s not alone; she has an entire team of meta-humans and scientists who would go to bat for her at any moment. Of course, there’s also the guilt she’s feeling from keeping her work with Thawne from the team that may also be clouding her judgment. Still, with the help from the team (a very cool sequence of events that allows Nora to give Cicada a taste of his own dagger) everything comes up aces in the end.
One of the big issues this season (the biggest issue, IMO) has been that, for two years in a row, The Flash’s big bad has been lacking a sense of cool. Though DeVoe/The Thinker had a few captivating moments, Cicada’s run has been a struggle to find interesting. Whether it’s the writing or Chris Klein’s performance, the character is a dull, uninspiring, cringe-worthy mess who can’t even be saved by the touching moments he’s shared with Gracie that have been sprinkled through the season. Add to that only a handful of decent one-shot villains, and season 5, more than any other, has been relegated on Team Flash to carry the load. And with Jesse L Martin being out for so long, The Flash has lacked some of the magic that made it my favorite Tuesday hour. “Cause and XS” taps into the fun of past seasons and does it without much of an assist from the titular character.
“Cause and XS” wasn’t a great episode but it was a good one that touched on some of the missing ingredients from the past few weeks. Sure, some of the same mistakes they’ve made in the past they’re still making but sometimes it takes more than one bloodied nose to learn your lesson.
- Despite being nothing more than a supporting character in his own show, Barry offers Nora some sage advice. Using the same metaphor Jay Garrick did with him (the broken mug), Barry explains to his daughter the complexities of time travel and how, despite what she may think, the fragments of time can never go back to the way they were prior to being altered. It’s a lesson Barry knows quite well and is a big, fat foreshadowing towards Nora’s own attempts to correct things with Thawne and save her father.
- Though we only get to see her in the same moment over and over, Kamilla Hwang seems to be a good addition to the narrative. The personal lives of Team Flash haven’t really been examined outside of their relationships with one another so it’s good to have a bit of a change in that regard. Last week hinted at a similar path for Sherloque (one we’re sure to revisit soon) and to see even a smidgen of downtime for the team—especially Cisco—can only be a good thing.
- Now that Sherloque has deciphered Nora’s ‘speedster language’, it’s only a matter of time before the team discovers her secret. We know that’s not going to go over well. Just how much the strife will interfere with the team’s goal to take down Cicada remains to be seen.