“Secrets are like walls and you can’t really know someone with walls between you.”
Just when it looked as if Cicada would be a distant memory as Orlin Dwyer accepted the meta cure, the appearance of the future Cicada, that of Grace Gibbons, has completely upset the balance of the timeline to-be. Now, Team Flash must face a more powerful, less predictable villain as their own familial bonds are tested in ways they were never expecting.
The moment Orlin took the cure in last week’s episode, it was a welcome change. As series villains go, Cicada was even worse than the Thinker. Sure, they both had their moments but there was just something missing from the pair. Though it’s been less than two full episodes, it seems that the newest Cicada—the future version of Grace—shares the same weaknesses.
Driven by the same desires as her uncle—the eradication of meta-humans—future Grace also carries the memories of a meta killing her parents. So it should come as no surprise that she attempts to track down this individual to exact revenge on what we clearly see was an accident, one that the meta responsible, Vickie Bolen, did not even realize occurred.
It’s this rage that drives nearly every aspect of humanity from Grace; she doesn’t care who she hurts in order to get her way. She even kills Orlin and, considering what he meant to her, is one of the more senseless moves designed to make her a frightening adversary that can’t be reasoned with. Instead, it disconnects us even more from her character and, adding to that fact, is that there really isn’t time to delve into who she is or the real reasons of why she turned out this way. Without that connection to the antagonist—either from our viewing perspective or that of the protagonist’s—there is nothing about this new Cicada that I care one whit about.
But as much as this newer, badder Cicada is showcased, “Time Bomb” is not about her. Instead, it’s about how secrets between people can mar relationships. The first perspective on this is when Cisco and Kamilla’s (social media official!) relationship is explored. Thinking he’s doing his friend a solid, Ralph gets Kamilla a photography gig with Iris. Cisco really likes his new chica but wants to keep the world-saving aspects of his life from her. Ralph cautions him; if he keeps such a big part of his life away from her, “you’re always gonna be turning off a part of yourself”. It’s a slippery slope that, just as it was for Vickie, the meta Grace blames for her parents’ death. Though we don’t get how long she’s had her abilities, we do get that Vickie’s kept the truth from her family and that secret nearly tears them apart. Though they eventually come to terms with it, it’s going to take time rebuilding that trust, even realizing the ‘why’ behind her actions.
And that brings us to Nora. As viewers, we’ve known for some time that she’s working with Eobard Thawne and that this would eventually get out. The devastation on Barry’s face when Sherloque reveals Nora’s secrets is crushing and he does the only thing he can think of; locking her up in the Pipeline. Some may think it harsh but realizing your daughter has been working on the man who killed your mother is a truth that would cause anyone to crack. Add to that, Barry’s knowledge of Thawne’s duplicity and neutralizing Nora as they work through this news is the safest bet. Not until they can be sure of Nora’s allegiance will Barry be able to trust her…and even then, it will be a long, difficult road to reforge the bonds they had prior to the truth being revealed. What it means for Team Flash is that at the worst possible time — with a newer, stronger, crazier Cicada on the loose — they are at their most vulnerable. To paraphrase Zemo, an empire (or, in this case, a team) toppled from the inside, will never be the same.
- If there is one weakness that all heroes share, it’s the need to protect others from the truth. How often has a character discovered their friend or significant other is a crime fighter only to be told “I wanted to protect you”? While that is a noble goal—and sometimes a necessary truth—it doesn’t change the fact that even the necessary secrets can destroy what you’re trying to protect. Nora’s secret went further than that; it was an outright lie, one she knew was wrong. How it will affect her future remains to be seen…
- Though, that little nugget of Nora being connected to this future version of Grace will play a major role moving forward. She may be the key to taking down this new Cicada. The tidbit about the younger Grace not being strong enough to be given the meta-cure is important as it dismisses the possibility of injecting her with the cure and effectively wiping away the Cicada threat. Of course it couldn’t be that easy, right?