The Flash: 5.14 Cause & XS
Cicada finally gets a chance to do something cool, exciting and impactful and it’s not only in an episode that centres around the well-used Groundhog Day concept, but it’s another occasion that has Nora at the forefront; we all know how that went down in The Flash and the Furious. Watching each member of team Flash be killed by Cicada initially had its impact, but because it was known that Nora would soon go back a few hours every time, it lost all credibility and thereby dramatic tension.
This gripe aside, there was a lot of the episode that was actually highly enjoyable. It was well-paced, had a well-balanced comedic script, bringing back the loveably charismatic Cisco, and incorporating interesting elements such as Cisco being able to vibe the previous timeline iterations. There was decent character growth between Barry and Nora, whose bond grew exponentially in a short space of time, thanks to a superb sequence in which Barry explains the damaging effects of time travel. But it was slightly disappointing that the overall series story remained more stagnant than I would’ve liked.
The entire episode was built around the completion of Cisco’s Meta cure, taking Barry out of the picture so he can speed up the cooking process in the speed force. Given that Cisco has been buried in the background for the past few episodes, it was nice to see seeds planted that could see him question his desire to take his own cure. This comes from how crucial a role his powers played in everyone surviving a timeline. Whether he chooses to take the cure, or even feels any conflict at all, the thought-provoking nature of the story was very welcome.
The effortlessness at keeping the viewer engaged was impressive. Other than Nora, the story was propelled forward by Cisco who, apart from the person being killed, offered something different every time Nora went back in time. His date, was incorporated beautifully; something as simple as meeting someone for coffee over and over again with slight variations moved this episode’s story along nicely.
The Groundhog Day element, while hardly unique, was actually tackled quite well. The Speedster twist was especially enjoyable, with the day replaying being a forced, necessary element rather than the cliché stuck in a time loop. It certainly allowed Nora’s desire to both make her father proud and keep the entire team safe, shine through perfectly. Best of all were the subtle differences made each time the sequence replayed, keeping you on your toes looking out for hidden gems and quirky changes.
And now the bad. It was a little far-fetched to believe that Nora would travel back fifty two times without thinking to ask her dad for help or attempting to explain the situation to the team…first few times, fair enough, but fifty two?! This episode also failed to further develop the Cicada arc, which has lost all its momentum. This isn’t helped by his defeat; as clever as it was to see the team use time travel to their advantage, it felt very easy, and an overly convenient way to end the episode. With Thawne’s continued tease, it might be time to bring him more into the fold and see if he can fill the ever dwindling ominous presence.
Cause and XS was by no means perfect but, more than anything, it portrayed how engaging and focused an episode can be when it’s not cluttered with countless side stories that develop into nothing. The characters interacted well together, the comedy was well executed and the emotions flew out of the screen at the right moments; aside from a few little annoyances, it was well rounded and enjoyable, and that’s a win in my book. While this is still technically a filler episode, the change-up, not having a villain of the week per se was refreshing enough to not be mundane.