The Flash: 5.16 Failure is an Orphan
Throughout the course of this season Cicada has been a weak villain, failing to live up to the impact past antagonists like Savitar, Zoom, and most of all, the Reverse Flash have had. Although initially starting off well, Cicada has been on a steady decline for some time through lack of character depth, limp writing and simply being left out of events. Failure is an Orphan, while being mildly entertaining, attempted to reinvigorate the villain by mixing it up the gender, but simply, it’s too little too late.
The episode began by once again showing Nora in the future (2049), discussing the ever changing timeline with Thawne. Their short interaction generated excitement at the prospect of the Reverse Flash coming back in a more prominent role, leaving one wondering throughout, if he would again appear on screen (spoiler, he didn’t). Their dialogue, citing the Flash’s final encounter with Cicada, brought some emotion and drama as the team, after being informed by Nora, now believe this to be the day of Cicada’s defeat, and subsequently the day Nora and Sherloque return to their time/Earth.
While the outcome of their departure was more than obvious, the lead-up delivered some decent, thought provoking writing. Developing Nora and Iris’ relationship further, potentially for the last time, was a nice touch, given their bumpy mother/daughter bond so far. The different perspectives on Nora leaving were excellent. With Iris feeling sad that she would have to wait decades to see this version of her daughter again (although the way The Flash works, chances are they will have a boy instead), and Nora being un-phased knowing her mother would be waiting for her upon her return.
Sherloque is perhaps one of the more irritating incarnations of Harrison Wells, but over the course of sixteen episodes I’ve grown accustomed to his obnoxious French accent and witless charm, so the thought of him leaving added some nice but bizarre emotional feelings. His performance emphasised this beautifully during his conversation on the matter with Cisco and Caitlin. Also, it would be extremely annoying if he were to leave before finishing his investigation into Nora’s true intentions that are simply being dragged out too long.
Joe and Cecil’s side-arc was very dull. I love that Jessie L Martin’s Joe is back, but Cecile’s mind reading abilities haven’t offered anything new or exciting. It’s used to force the narrative , which is just lazy and uninventive, much like the manipulation of the doctor who has been helping Cicada - very reminiscent of the Marlize situation last season. Cicada simply giving himself up through fear of being a hypocrite was also mediocre. I didn’t see why other avenues like him joining team Flash weren’t at least explored. Barry’s speech that convinced Cicada to take the cure was very clichéd although I liked the play on it, with Nora reciting his past speeches to other villains.
The twist of the female Cicada joining the fold was another overly obvious turn of events, as it was previously teased. While the action was far superior with the mysterious female, I find it hard to believe that she would be able to deflect a lightning bolt, stopping the Flash in his tracks. In terms of story and lore, the possibilities her character could bring are endless and the idea is actually exiting, but the thought of more Cicada and possibly less Thawne leaves me a little disappointed.
In terms of success, Failure is an Orphan is conflicting; on one hand it was exciting to finally have the villain situation addressed, regardless of its effectiveness but, on the other it did very little to inject confidence that the remainder of the season would have a compelling story. Thankfully, the final battle was well executed and the performances, aside from Kline continuing with the hilarious gravelly voice, were decent. The overall story was okay, nothing mind blowing but equally nothing rage inducing. I look forward to seeing how things turn out next week while still holding reservations.