“A new variable is coming. Something big is coming…or someone.”

Just when it looked like we’d be rid of the worst of the five seasonal Big Bads in The Flash, we get the unexpected curveball. But whereas this new villain swerve shares similar traits as Cicada (as well as the name), maybe this time around, we’ll get the compelling antagonist we’ve been waiting for.

These type of family moments are good but not enough to prop up the mediocre nature of everything else going on.

Excited about the prospects of the cure, Nora returns to the future to share the news with Eobard Thawne and what it may mean regarding the struggle against Cicada. Unfortunately, another variable is working its way into the timeline, one whose origin is unknown but is about as obvious a play at foreshadowing as one could get. Still, the photo showing Barry and Cicada’s final confrontation helps Nora and the gang orchestrate a meeting where Barry attempts to get Cicada to take the cure.

His first try is an epic failure though, thanks to some good advice from Joe, Barry’s able to try again. The second go round he appeals to Orlin’s emotions as a father, along with the truth bomb that Grace herself is a meta. It’s enough to convince him to take the cure so long as they administer it to Grace afterwards. Everything goes according to plan… until it doesn’t and Eobard’s nugget of the timeline anomaly comes to pass in the form of a meta-powered and fully adult Grace.

Cisco, Caitlin, and Wells (not pictured) have been a staple of this show since the beginning. Giving them a compelling aspect to the story is vital for the show’s success.

There are a lot of questions here but this twist was hinted at way back in “Memorabilia”, where the team used the memory machine (also referenced this week) to try and pull Grace from her coma. Even then, I suggested that maybe Grace was more in charge of things than what first appeared and, while that specific detail seems to be false, the premise of her as the main villain appears to be correct. How a fully grown version of her has been brought into this timeline is a mystery for another week but I’m hoping that her appearance will be able to spice up what has been a pretty dull season as far as villains go.

Other than unveiling the new Cicada, “Failure is an Orphan” doesn’t have any other real points of interest. Sure, the Joe and Cecile partnership returns, a relationship that has been missing for most of the season. Those two work so well together and, while I’m happy with what they bring to the table, it’s not enough to bolster what is a decidedly average episode. Not even Sherloque’s investigation into Nora’s secrets carries enough weight to pull “Failure” from the doldrums of mediocrity. This is a narratively important episode, though the substance of it plays out more like filler.

In all, with only a handful of episodes left in Season Five, “Failure is an Orphan” does enough to pique my interest as we move forward, positing questions about this new Cicada without offering any moments that will stick in my mind.

Flash Facts

  • Well, at least one of my issues with this season has been rectified. No more Orlin Dwyer as Cicada! Although he’ll still be around in some capacity, now that he’s cured, let’s hope Chris Klein abandons that awful Batman gravelly voice and uses his own.
  • The more I see Nora’s interactions with Eobard Thawne, the more I just don’t know what to think. Can a monster like Thawne do a 180 where he’s more focused on looking out for someone else? Or does he have an endgame in mind, one that’s capitalizing on Nora’s naiveté? I would like to think it’s the former but the more and more I think about it, I can only expect the worst from him.
  • Another issue prevalent in this episode that has marred this season is the uneven use of the Wells/Cisco/Caitlin trio. Those three are just as vital to creating an entertaining story as Barry Allen himself. Unfortunately, they’ve either been absent for several episodes (Cisco) or used in such a perfunctory way that they might as well have not been involved. While this show is named after the Flash, it’s similar to Buffy in that it’s an ensemble piece, strongest when all the main characters are involved. And that lack of cohesion has been why, in my opinion, Season Five has failed this fanbase.