By Chancellor Agard
January 22, 2019 at 10:37 PM EST
Credit: The CW
S5 E11

Watching Barry and Iris adjust to becoming parents has been one of the most interesting parts of season 5, especially given the very unique situation they’re in since their daughter is all grown. In tonight’s episode, we saw the two experience every parent’s worst nightmare: their child getting severely injured. Given the show’s past experiences with dark storylines, no one would fault you for being worried about the episode, but I was surprised by the fact that it mostly worked.

From the moment the episode began, you could tell that it was heading toward something big at the end of its act, if only because everything was moving at such a quick pace. The hour begins with Cicada’s doctor friend paying him a visit and letting him know that she’s found him an ally in his crusade against metahumans. From there, we see Cicada murder one metahuman. He eventually goes after a second one, and luckily, Team Flash arrives in time to confront him. Unfortunately, that’s when tragedy befalls. During the fight, Cicada gets a hold of Nora and “Knightfalls” her, a.k.a. breaks her back. Honestly, the shot of him hoisting her up in the air and punching her back was incredibly hard to watch, which isn’t something I’m used to saying about The Flash.

What happens to Nora is upsetting, but it hits even harder because both Grant Gustin and Candice Patton do a great job of conveying how much it pains them to see their daughter confined to a hospital bed. Director Marcus Stokes smartly lets the camera linger on Patton’s emotive face as she sits by her daughter’s bedside, which helps sell the emotion of the scene, too. Things get even more emotional once Nora regains consciousness and realizes she can’t feel her legs because Cicada’s dark matter was interfering with her powers and slowing her healing.

Normally, Joe West would be there to comfort both Barry and Iris; however, due to Jesse L. Martin’s own real-life back injury, Joe is conveniently still in Tibet with Wally. While his absence was definitely felt in the episode, it gave Barry and Cecile a chance to team-up on tracking down Cicada. With some help from the team, they realize that Cicada is targeting names from a CCPD list of former metahuman criminals, which means someone in the department is leaking the information. Barry and Cecile decide the best course of action is to move the metahumans into federal custody.

While Cecile makes arrangements with the feds, the Flash, Elongated Man, and Killer Frost pay Amunet Black’s old snake-eyed henchman a visit and ask him to put them in contact with all of the metas on the list. He obliges, but none of them really believe how dangerous Cicada is until the big bad himself goes after Peek-a-Boo. Luckily, she manages to escape because the Flash was there and used one of the breach-creator-things to flee. Which actually raises a question: Why didn’t Team Flash just breach the metas into federal custody instead of transporting them via normal means, which is more vulnerable to attack? (Spoiler alert: their transportation method ends up getting attacked).

NEXT: Iris comes to Nora’s defense

Several heart-to-hearts occur while Team Flash waits for the feds to show. Ralph uses the downtime as an opportunity to talk to Killer Frost about the fact that she’s been sabotaging Caitlin’s work on the metahuman cure. This shouldn’t be a surprise, but Killer Frost was doing so out of a sense of self-preservation because she’s scared Caitlin might wake-up one day and decide to take the cure. Ralph assures the frosty antihero that Caitlin would never do that. Caitlin and Ralph’s dynamic is one of the most underrated aspects of the show, but I really do enjoy it whenever these two actors get to spend time together.

The second heart-to-heart happens between Barry and Cecile, who could sense Barry’s rage toward Cicada and was worried that he would cross a line. Her fear definitely isn’t unwarranted either. When Cicada — who was tipped off by a police officer on the force — shows up to stop the metas from going with the feds, Barry almost lets his rage get the better of him. Killer Frost uses her powers to counteract Cicada’s dagger, which allows Barry to go full speed on Cicada. Even the folks back at. S.T.A.R. Labs are concerned about Barry’s energy spike as he starts wailing on Cicada. And even though he was covered in his super suit, Gustin did a fantastic job of physicalizing Barry’s anger too. Luckily, Nora, who manages to regain her speed, shows up in time to talk her father down before he does something he might regret. Alas, that gives Cicada the opening he needs to escape. (While all of this was going on, Elongated Man had his own superhero moment when he used his powers to help the metas board a helicopter that was still in the air).

However, there’s one loose end that needs to be tied: the cop who was working with Cicada. Earlier in the episode, Cecile felt the same anger Barry had on some cop named Officer Jones and realized that he was the one who leaked the list to Cicada. So, she and Singh confront the officer, who ends up getting arrested. Yay, for Cecile!

Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, it’s clear that Ralph’s chat with Killer Frost worked. When Caitlin returned to the Speed Lab, she found a brand new whiteboard with all of her equations waiting for her as a gift from her frosty alter-ego. I’ll be honest, Caitlin talking to herself/Killer Frost shouldn’t work, but I found their little mental chats endearing. Although, part of me wishes they could’ve done something a bit more visual with it.

As the episode ends, Barry takes a lesson away from his latest confrontation with Cicada: The way to defeat him isn’t through fists, but his heart — specifically, his daughter. In other words, Barry wants to wake up Grace in the hope that she can get through to her father. Honestly, this is the most Flash solution to a problem, and I’m surprised it took Barry this long to realize he needed to use emotions.

While the bulk of Team Flash was busy with Cicada, Sherloque continued to investigate Nora. In fact, the detective used her being bed-ridden as an opportunity to low-key interrogate her. Iris overhears him asking her to take him to the Flash Museum archives in the future, realizes what he’s up to, and pulls him aside and tells him to back off, like a good mama bear. Alas, Sherloque is like the proverbial dog with a bone and continues down this track and actually discovers something new: Nora’s journal contains two different handwriting styles, which clues him into the fact that there’s a mastermind behind the curtain. I laughed when the camera then lingered on Sherloque’s reflection in the computer screen.

Wall of Weird:

  • Jesse L. Martin wasn’t the only person absent tonight: Carlos Valdes was nowhere to be seen either. In the episode, it was explained that Cisco was up at the Tannhauser site working on the cure.
  • Is it just me or does it feel like the show is purposefully avoiding stepping on Supergirl’s toes with its metahuman storyline? The way Officer Jones and Cicada’s doctor ranted against metahumans felt very similar to how the bigots talk about aliens on Supergirl; however, The Flash seems like it’s actively trying not to do anything allegorical.
  • Tonight, Ralph mentioned Sister, Sister, which actually made me love him more.

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