THE FLASH Season 5 Episode 11 Review: Seeing Red

Cicada may not have the same gravitas as the Reverse-Flash, but he’s certainly proving to be one of the most brutally efficient villains Barry’s faced given the rate his body count keeps growing. Nora escapes that fate, she is temporarily paralyzed after her run-in with the serial killer, causing Barry to go through a pretty predictable journey of becoming reckless and employing near-lethal force in his attempts to bring down Cicada, only to be brought back from the brink by Nora herself appealing to Barry’s compassion. It’s a story the show’s done a few times over the years, usually with different characters like Iris or Leonard Snart coaching him through his moral crisis. 

Nevertheless, it’s still effective to see Nora acting as her father’s guiding North Star, both because of the wonderful chemistry between Grant Gustin and Jessica Parker Kennedy and because the more Barry relies on Nora, the more it sets us up for the inevitable heartbreak when Barry finds out his daughter is working with his greatest foe. It’s also fun getting that we keep getting to explore different sides of Barry and Iris as parents, as their overprotective instincts kicked in with teammates as well as foes. 

I also liked the role Cecile took on in this episode, walking throughout the precinct and interact with characters like Captain Singh. While the writers have awkwardly tried to paper over Joe’s sudden absence with a stilted Tibetan vacation excuse, he leaves a notable hole in the cast. Jesse L Martin of course deserves all the time in world to recover from his medical difficulties, but no other character has really stepped in to fill his role as Barry’s parental figure and Team Flash member handling the non-costumed side of meta investigations. 

Seeing as how Joe’s sabbatical has left Cecile without her usual scene partner, it was nice to see Cecile bridging the gap by taking the lead in getting the metas into protective custody and finding Cicada’s mole in the police. Her occupation as the city’s DA also meant her approach to the situation had a slightly different spin than the familiar detective angle, which helped it to feel like Cecile expanding her horizons rather than acting as anyone’s substitute. Hopefully this won’t be the last time we see her in this setting. 

Her brainchild, the meta witness protection program, is also an interesting concept I would have liked to have seen fleshed out a bit more. How would going into hiding work for a bunch of supers? Their powers are pretty distinctive and often alters their physical appearance. Federal resources or no, it doesn’t seem like someone as dedicated as Cicada would have trouble with tracking down individuals that unique. 

However, given how time was wasted establishing each of the bus metas was last season only for them to immediately die, I was glad to see they didn’t spend too much time trying to distinguish everyone’s abilities or history—with the welcome exception being Peek-A-Boo, who really seems like she should have gotten another proper spotlight episode or at least find her way into one of the Rogues lineups. 

Killer Frost and Caitlin. Her fear of Caitlin taking the cure for herself seems entirely reasonable given that is what Caitlin spent season three hoping to do, but we end up focusing on her insecurity on her place in their “sisterly” relationship rather than the practical side of what a cure would mean for Killer Frost. If the show truly does want to commit to having to two people separate characters, it does make sense to try and build a dynamic between them but their psychic back and forth seemed like something made for the page, not the screen. Using voice-over to have the two go back and forth while just showing Caitlin wandering around the lab is visually unexciting and feels like amateurish filming, even by the standards of a CW show. 

I’m also still mystified by Killer Frost pseudo-meta status. Normally, I wouldn’t nitpick an inconsistency as a label --after all, nearly everything about Killer Frost has been retconned at some point or another-- but considering that the series itself went and made this loophole significant to the plot, it feels very odd to switch back and forth about Killer Frost angst about how a meta-human cure would effectively kill her while also being immune to Cicada’s abilities because she’s not a meta. Since it doesn’t look like any of these subplots are going away, I’d hope we’ll end up with even a vague explanation of how these seeming contradictions manage to exist in harmony.

Written by Kaitlin Roberts, THE FLASH Beat Writer

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