Thank god, Team Flash has finally learned their lesson! “Blocked,” tonight’s episode, opens with Barry and Nora coming clean to the rest of Team Flash about Nora’s lies and, more importantly, the fact that Barry never returns after he disappears in the future. You would expect this revelation to put a damper on things, but it doesn’t, and that’s due to Iris. She tells everyone that they’ll worry about that when the time comes because they already know that they can change the future if they have to.
But that doesn’t mean Iris isn’t worrying about anything. Learning that Nora grew up without Barry explains why she doesn’t want to leave his side and doesn’t want anything to do with her mother. She talks to Joe about this, and he advises that she just focus on keeping herself busy. And that’s exactly what she does, leading to one of Iris’ most compelling episodic storylines and one of Candice Patton’s best performances.
Iris, who started writing again toward the end of last season, decides to dig into what happened to Gridlock, who never made it to Iron Heights. She drops by a crime scene to talk to Captain Singh, who only gives her the name of the officer who was part of Gridlock’s detail. While at the scene, she sees Barry and Nora bonding over CSI stuff. See, Barry was called to the scene to investigate a very Bones-y murder — a human body was compressed into a cube by a metahuman named Vanessa Jansen, who can create these blocks — and Nora decided to tag along and pretend to be Barry’s intern. Patton does a fantastic job of conveying how much it stings to see Nora and Barry bonding without her. It’s subtle at first, and throughout the rest of the episode, you get the sense that Iris is carrying those hurt feelings around in every scene.
From the crime scene, Iris decides to pay a very beaten up Officer Matthews a visit at the hospital. Unfortunately, the good cop doesn’t remember too much of what happened after the prison transport stopped. But that doesn’t stop this intrepid reporter.
While Barry decides to teach Nora the basics of being a speedster after she messed up their first encounter with Vanessa and allowed her to get away, Iris uses Barry’s lab to access the prison transport’s dashboard camera. While there isn’t much to see in the recording, there is quite a bit to hear, most notably the officer’s screams and Cicada’s heavy breathing. Honestly, one of the best things about this episode is getting to see Iris work as a journalist, which we haven’t seen much. It’s great to see her have a life outside of Team Flash.
Unfortunately, Barry’s training time with Nora isn’t going so well. Barry decides to go all the way back to basic physics, but Nora resists because she knows all that stuff already and only wants to do the big stuff. Frustrated, Barry turns to Joe for help. Of course, Joe comes through and helps Barry realize that the reason Nora is so eager to help out is because she wants to impress him. She spent all these years reading about all of the awesome things he did in the Flash Museum and now she’s met her idol. He advises Barry just show Nora that it’s okay if she’s not perfect and that he’ll still love her.
Joe’s advice helps Cecile out, too. See, earlier in the episode, she realizes that she’s losing her powers, which makes her anxious because she thought those powers would help her be a perfect mom. Hearing what Joe has to say — that not being perfect isn’t a failure — helps her get over that. What I loved about this particular storyline is that it packed an emotional punch even in limited screen time.
Next: Cisco deals with heartbreak
Meanwhile, in the episode’s comedic storyline, Caitlin and Ralph join forces to help a very bummed Cisco get over his breakup with Gypsy. Luckily, Ralph, who’s had his heart broken many times, put together a 27 step list to help with heartbreak. Of course, this doesn’t help at all. After a hilarious makeover montage, Cisco decides to give up and suggests they ask Joe to help them figure out what’s up with Caitlin’s father’s death certificate. But Caitlin flips out and tells them to drop it, revealing that she was partially going along with all of this to avoid facing a difficult truth.
Cisco finds Caitlin avoiding her feelings at Jitters, and she confesses that she’s scared of looking into her father’s mystery because if her father’s been alive this whole time, it means that he just didn’t want to see her. Cisco points out that it’s probably healthier to address that fear now rather than avoid it and spend the rest of her life wondering.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry takes a different approach to teaching and decides to show Nora old footage from his early days as a speedster to prove that he wasn’t a pro right after he got his powers. Eventually, Iris returns to the Cortex and helps Barry and Nora figure out a way to track Vanessa Jansen without their satellite. It’s a triumphant moment for Team West-Allen, except Nora gives her mother the side-eye when she calls them that because she’s still not cool with her. Clearly, there’s more going on here than just the fact that Nora spent her entire life with Iris.
Barry and Nora speed out to confront Vanessa, who manages to trap Barry in one of her blocks. Picking up on her father’s initial strategy, Nora uses her speed to tire Vanessa out until she can slap the cuffs on her. Cisco and Elongated Man arrive right after the fight but don’t worry, they didn’t miss any action because Cicada shows up, too, and throws his dagger at Vanessa. Barry orders Nora to take Vanessa to the hospital while the three of them stay behind to fight Cicada, who uses his lightning dagger to disable their powers and proceeds to kick their butts. He comes very close to killing Barry, but he stops himself when Nora speeds back and calls for her father. Something about that moves him and he simply gets up and leaves.
When the team returns to the Cortex, Iris reveals that she recognized the sound of their attacker’s breathing mask from the dashboard camera she checked out earlier. Look at those reporting skills coming in handy! Everyone realizes that it sounds like, well, cicadas — and Nora recognizes that name.
Overall, this was a strong follow-up to the excellent season premiere. Jessica Parker Kennedy continues to charm as Nora, and Iris and Cecile’s storylines helped ground the episode. Furthermore, I especially enjoyed Cicada’s introduction, which was genuinely frightening. The episode opened with an effective flashback to how Cicada managed to kill Gridlock, and it also added some mystery to the big bad, too, because we see Cicada return to some blue-collar job, raising some questions about how exactly he spends his days when he’s not fighting metahumans. Even though Chris Klein barely said a word, he managed to establish himself as a real threat to the team.
Wall of Weird:
- Cisco eventually uses his powers to vibe the death certificate and Caitlin has a vision of her mother
- For some reason, Joe barely left his living room in the entire episode.
- Watching Barry get his butt handed to him in his fight with Cicada was all the evidence we needed that he should’ve trained with Oliver a bit more.
- EW’s Fall TV comics reading guide for viewers interested in going beyond the screen
- The Flash season premiere recap: ‘Nora’ jumpstarts season 5
- Superhero Insider: Breaking down the returns of The Flash, Black Lightning
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