In season 5's penultimate episode, Team Flash tries to stop Cicada II from committing mass murder and Ralph works on figuring out Thawne's plan.

By Chancellor Agard
May 07, 2019 at 10:56 PM EDT
Jeff Weddell/The CW
S5 E21
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“The Girl with the Red Lightning,” season 5’s penultimate episode, definitely sets up a jam-packed season finale. In fact, that is its primary purpose. While the table-setting was rather obvious, the hour contained some entertaining and compelling moments, especially when it came to Joe and Ralph.

We begin in the year 2049, where the countdown clock outside of Thawne’s cell has finally reached zero. This like Christmas day for Guard Kev Shinick, who starts gloating about Thawne’s impending demise when he enters his holding room. However, before they wheel Thawne out of there, Kev shocks Thawne with the Negative Speed Force one last time for the road. Ironically, the prison plans on using this very torture device to kill him. But let’s be honest: There’s no way that Eobard Thawne is going to die like this, if only because we know that he always plans within plans, as Ralph points out later on in the episode.

Back in 2019, Team Flash is preparing for what they hope will be their final confrontation with Cicada II. In case they fail to stop her from unleashing her metahuman-killing virus on the city, they decide to offer the real cure to anyone who wants it. So, Joe, Cecile, and Caitlin set up shop at CCPD and start administering it. Oh, and Joe ends up being put in charge of it all because Singh is busy at City Hall or something.

Having so many rowdy and scared metahumans in one place creates some problems, and the normally composed and level-headed Joe starts to feel overwhelmed, which is something we’ve never actually seen happen to him before and Jesse L. Martin effortlessly handles this new territory. This whole story actually leads to my favorite moment of the episode: It falls on Cecile to do her best Joe West impression. She reminds Joe that he’s the one that literally everyone turns to for advice because he has ish together. This is enough to help Joe compose himself and get the situation in the precinct back under control.

Unfortunately, simply curing Central City’s metahumans won’t be enough to save the day, because Cicada II’s plan involves the entire world. As she collects the final pieces of tech she needs, Team Flash realizes that she plans on using her dagger to supercharge the cryo-atomizer, which would not only kill the city’s metas but also every meta in the entire country. In other words, Cicada II has jumped up from super-villain mass murderer to genocidal maniac.

To make matters more complicated, Barry and Iris are also struggling with Nora. Yes, Nora is back in the fold after last week’s rebellious streak, but now she’s annoyed with her parents because they’re determined to protect her and sideline her from all of the action. Y’know, classic parental move. At one point, Nora realizes she can use her psychic connection with Grace to find out where Grace plans on activating the cryo-atomizer, but Barry and Iris forbid their grown daughter from taking a heroic risk to save the day.

In fact, Barry and Iris are so focused on Cicada II and “protecting” Nora that they ignore Ralph, who spends the entire episode thinking about the most important thing: What is Thawne up to. As the episode unfolds, Ralph uses his newfound knowledge of time travel to work through this entire situation because he realizes the Cicada II of it all doesn’t actually make sense. What started out as a joke (Ralph learns about time travel!) has suddenly become integral to the plot, which is impressive. Furthermore, I’ll take any story that reminds us that Ralph is indeed a good investigator. Unfortunately, Barry and Iris don’t feel the same way.

Of course, Nora ignores her parents’ warnings and accesses Grace’s mind again. Surprisingly, Grace’s anger reactivates the Negative Speed Force within Nora, who almost destroys S.T.A.R. Labs because red lightning starts firing off in all directions. Barry and Iris believe this initial mishap proves they were right, but Nora stands up to them and insists that they treat her like an adult. The two of them realize the error of their ways and allow Nora to give it another shot. Guess what? It works and Nora realizes that Cicada II plans on unleashing the device at the CCPD precinct.

While an exhausted Nora hangs back S.T.A.R. Labs, the Flash, Vibe, and Elongated Man rush to CCPD and rendezvous with Killer Frost to take on Cicada II, who just came crashing through the skylight. Flash, Killer Frost, and Elongated Man keep Cicada II busy while Cisco uses his first superpower, his brain, to disconnect Cicada’s dagger from the cryo-atomizer. All season-long Cisco has been unsure about himself, and I like the fact that this pivotal moment required his intelligence and not his vibing powers.

In the end, Cisco disables the device and the team gets the dagger, which they plan on destroying with the mirror gun. But in the split-second before they shoot it, all of the pieces come together in Ralph’s head and he realizes that Cicada II didn’t get her uncle’s dagger until she arrived in 2019 because someone else had it in the future: Thawne. The episode cuts to the future and reveals that the dagger is underneath the metal plate on the front of Thawne’s prison jumpsuit. I think the implication is that’s what has been keeping his powers at bay, or else why hasn’t anybody at the prison noticed it until now? Anyway, the episode cuts to black right as Ralph tries to stop the team from destroying the dagger because that’s probably precisely what Thawne wants.

Wall of Weird: 

  • While all of this was going on, Sherloque was busy trying to keep Rene Adler safe. During one of Cicada II’s earlier attacks, she reveals that she has telekinesis, which is pretty cool. In the end, though, Sherloque ends up sending her to his Earth and promises to reunite with her once Cicada II is defeated.
  • At one point in the episode, Nora confronts Grace in her mind palace, and Grace blames the entire metahuman problem on Team Flash. To be fair, she makes some valid points that will probably come up again next week and help bring the season’s concern with legacy to a close.

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After the success of Arrow, Barry Allen (a.k.a. The Flash) gets his own CW treatment in this comic-themed spin-off.
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