The Flash: 5.21 The Girl with the Red Lightning
*sigh*. No matter how hard I try to be positive, this season of The Flash makes it increasingly difficult, with its lackluster plots, poor writing and concentration of a five year old. Much like the previous episode, this one failed to incorporate any kind of urgency, and when you consider that this is the penultimate episode, it’s simply not acceptable. Cicada has proved to be the most poorly executed villain thus far, the character development has been clunky and convoluted, and the surrounding stories haven’t been much different.
Nora was the most disappointing element this episode, with her character’s integrity called into question. For starters, her prior run in with villainy was an interesting concept, one that played on her frustrations, opening new avenues which introduced the negative speed force. Rather than further the idea, this episode squashed it with the reveal that her connection with Grace (Cicada-2) is where her rage manifested from. Had that connection been better emphasized in the past this may have worked, instead it just undercut all her emotional resentment towards her parents.
Furthermore, her relationship with Thawne is thrown away quicker than a flash (pin intended). He was her mentor, she clearly had a bond with him, feeling as though he was a changed person, but daddy says no and she abandons him in his hour of need, and we’re still supposed to believe that she is a compassionate person? The fact that her future family is never mentioned is equally bizarre; current Barry and Iris are treated like her real parents, when in fact they’ve technically yet to have kids. If you went back in time, met your parents, would you still do as you were told?
Cicada, who is supposed to be this season’s main antagonist, has been sidelined for much of it and has yet to be executed in a satisfying way, with this installment being no exception. The character’s motivations and performance is little more than the cliché: kill all meta-humans. I’m half expecting her to claw her hands and cackle to the thunders of a storm. The only intriguing element that’s equally puzzling is Ralph’s revelation that, in the future, she never had a dagger, bringing more time travel lore into place, but the entire team, for no apparent reason, dismisses his findings.
The main premise of this episode brings back the meta cure concept as the team, in an attempt to save as many as possible, set up a makeshift lab at CCPD and put out a bulletin. The execution was poor; it simply saw a barrage of metas riot within a police department (poor choice of venue) and flee once Cicada showed up. This was a real shame as, not only was the general concept thrown away in haste, but the scene played out as many have in the past. It could’ve been an invigorating way to show Cicada’s real power in front of random metas, willing to fight alongside team Flash.
The subplots focusing on Joe’s leadership skills, and Sherloque’s relationship, were simply unbelievable. Firstly, we’ve seen Joe handle worse situations, so him being stressed just felt like forced drama to give his character more purpose. It felt the same with Sherloque; his fling hasn’t been addressed for several episodes, so it too felt like forced drama, and sending her to his Earth was clearly a foreshadowing of his departure to make room for the next iteration of Wells.
Thawne’s master plan, and the disclosure that he has the original dagger from the future Cicada was a satisfying reveal, if somewhat of a head-scratcher. It’s bemusing how bizarrely Thawne has been treated. As fantastic as his character is, the constant teases of his return are just lessening the impact of Cicada, who is equally being sidelined in order to show more Thawne…bizarre! Overall, the penultimate episode was a huge failure. This season has been on a downward spiral for a while and is showing no signs of being able to provide an epic conclusion. While I hope the finale will be explosive, it’s doubtful.