This The Flash review contains spoilers.
The Flash Season 5, Episode 11
Cicada is back to buzzing around The Flash in this week’s episode after escaping before “Elseworlds.” And though the villain has worn out his welcome, “Seeing Red” was a largely enjoyable installment with solid emotional beats.
After last week’s underpopulated episode, which served to give XS her own mission (while Barry was recuperating in the Pipeline as actor Grant Gustin filmed the crossover), it’s good to have Flash back, as well as Ralph. But Joe is still in Tibet (Jesse L. Martin is still mending from his real-life injury), and Cisco is at a Tannhauser site developing a cure.
Cicada obtains a list of meta criminals from CCPD cop Officer Jones, who was previously hypnotized by a meta, and begins killing them (in order, no less, because Cicada is a slave to his “To kill” list). Team Flash suss out the plan, and intervene, but not even Flash, XS, Ralph, and Killer Frost can stop him, and they get their butts whupped.
Unfortunately, Cicada also goes all Bane on XS, and breaks the speedster’s back in a painful-to-watch scene. This leads to an emotional punch back at S.T.A.R. Labs when Barry and Iris grapple with the fact that their daughter is paralyzed, at least until her body clears itself of dark energy, and her accelerated healing kicks in. Gustin and Candice Patton deliver a performance here that resembles two parents grappling with an injured child, and parents who then must deliver that news to Nora. Jessica Parker Kennedy acts the hell out of Nora’s reaction to not being able to walk, and she gives the episode a believable weight.
In fact, Nora’s injury fires up a murderous rage in Barry, so much so that Cecile’s empath powers picks up on it (and she comments it’s the same rage she senses in Cicada). The rage even registers in an energy build-up in Flash’s suit. It is clear Flash has had it with the baddie, and there is an extra layer of ferocity in Gustin’s fighting style in the episode – even if Cicada depowers him, and wipes the floor with Flash as the hero tries to save Peek-a-Boo.
That fight occurs after Team Flash determine the best way to save the metas from being killed by Cicada is to transport them away from Central City, and get them into witness protection, with new identities.
This is a noticeable weakness with the plot. In order to save the metas on Cicada’s list, Flash has to gather them all in a manufacturing plant, and wait like sitting ducks until a helicopter can extract them – as opposed to a) using the breach device they have at their disposal to simply transport somewhere safe, or b) call on their friends at A.R.G.U.S. for a little help.
Still, the “save the meta criminals” narrative allowed for a redemption plot with Norvock (Mark Sweatman), the erstwhile hench of Amunet. In a few scenes, the guy with a snake in his eye conveys he “used to be a good guy” working at a zoo. He tried to rescue a kid, but was turned into a meta for the trouble (courtesy the S.T.A.R. Labs explosion, which maintains their record for pretty much being the worst). Norvock steps it up by the end, and assists in saving fellow metas, almost at the cost of his own life. Thankfully Elongated Man, on evac stretching duty, helps Norvock “get to da chopper.”
Speaking of Ralph, he has his heroic moment in the episode, as well as some good scenes with Killer Frost (who has a lot of screen time this week). She wants to thwart the meta-cure research, and fears Caitlin will administer the cure to herself should she ever tire of her Frost side. However, Ralph connects with “Frosty,” and explains how much she means to Caitlin, and that he understands the need for a cure.
Killer Frost also goes at it with Cicada, and holds her own in a fight, drawing blood from the villain (a blood sample, it turns out, that will be preserved for Caitlin’s research). Frosty holds off Cicada’s dagger long enough for Flash to power up, and that’s when his rage energy builds with an intent to put down the bad guy. For good.
And I wish he would have killed Cicada. He is a meta serial killer who paralyzed Barry and Iris’ daughter. At this point, Barry is justified. But a fully healed Nora runs in as XS, and prevents her father from going too far. Flash realizes the anger which nearly pushed him over the edge is the same that drives Cicada, and resolves (really quite belatedly) to save the villain’s daughter Grace
Also: I want Cicada gone. Yesterday. The villain is a drag on the season. And sadly, actor Chris Klein can’t make him anymore interesting with a performance that is largely growling in a vague Southern accent.
But Cicada escapes, and it would appear he now has his sights focused on XS (perhaps he heard her when she called Flash “dad”?).
As for Nora, it isn’t surprising she is fully healed by episode’s end, but the show missed an opportunity for an emotional arc that could play out over a few episodes had she remained paralyzed longer. It would have been compelling to force her, and her parents, to come to terms with the injury. She could have initially harbored her own death wish for Cicada. And how powerful would it be if, while still paralyzed, she still discouraged Barry from killing him? Kennedy is great to watch as Nora, and she would have sold this character evolution; it would take her much farther down the path in her hero’s journey.
One other interesting development to take place during the episode was Sherloque’s manipulation/light interrogation of Nora. Still on the case of the time language in her journal (and after discovering records of Nora were wiped from Gideon), the sleuthing Wells learns Ms. West-Allen is working with “a mastermind.” This revelation is punctuated with a lingering shot of Wells’ reflection to remind the audience Eobard Thawne is on his way.
Sherloque’s investigation also puts him right in the path of mama bear Iris, who sees him questioning her laid-up daughter. In no uncertain terms, she tells him to step off. Once again, it’s satisfying to watch Iris and Barry settle into their new-old roles as present-future parents to Nora.
Wrapping up loose ends for the episode, Caitlin and Frost come to terms with the cure, and are now able to communicate without a device.
And Cecile, who sensed Officer Jones was abetting Cicada, confronts the cop, and has him arrested – although not without escaping suspicion from Captain Singh. But will Jones’ anti-meta sentiment become widespread in Central City?
“Seeing Red” is an overall fulfilling adventure of The Flash. The emotional moments pack a punch, and we’re seeing great character interactions amongst Team Flash, but Cicada has long overstayed his time in Central City.
Aaron Sagers is a freelance contributor. Read more of his work here.