This The Flash review contains spoilers.
The Flash Season 5 Episode 2
First, a confession. I should have given last week’s episode of The Flash five stars. I don’t know why I knocked off that half. Maybe I was just tired or something. I just needed to get that off my chest. I can lie to myself about any number of things, but I cannot lie to you, the readers.
“Blocked” got immediate points out of the gate for that atmospheric, eerie opening that completes the Cicada introduction from the ending of “Nora.” It was neat seeing that Gridlock didn’t go down completely without a fight, and then immediately establishing that Cicada is also just, well, some dude, actually adds to the creepy factor a little bit. I hope they tease scenes like this out all season long. They remind me of the creepy BTK teases we got during (the awful, interminable) Mindhunter. I am so down for a supervillain version of that with Cicada, and they can run with this for half a season for all I care.
I am absolutely shocked by just how good Jessica Parker Kennedy is as Nora, though. The scenes of her tagging along with Barry as a “CSI intern” could have been really grating, and they weren’t. Nora’s earnestness is contagious, and while the whole “future fish out of water” has been done to death everywhere (including on Supergirl), it’s still fun to see this play out. I am also unlikely to get tired of hearing her say “schway,” which is amusing regardless of the context.
The Ralph/Caitlin/Cisco stuff in this episode felt like a diversion, and it’s tough for me to get invested in things like “Ralph gives relationship advice” (note that I am far from a Ralph hater) or “Cisco pines for an admittedly cool character who only made a handful of appearances on this show.” But these things got about as much screentime as they deserved (read: not very much) and lightened the mood without feeling like a complete detour from everything else that mattered in the episode. Hell, I didn’t even mind Block all that much.
It took me until the end of the episode to get the parallel between Caitlin’s search for her dad and Nora’s desire to impress hers. Caitlin is a great character, and I’ve spent so much time being annoyed with her over the last year because of the silly Killer Frost/Amunet Black stuff that was foisted on her that I may have been subconsciously holding that against her. My bad. Danielle Panabaker has been such an integral part of this cast’s unique chemistry from the very beginning, and when she has good material to work with (as she did this week) it’s a good sign for the show as a whole.
The word I used most in my reviews of last season was probably “balance.” Specifically, the show never found it. It was too light, almost like it was nervously laughing to cover for the fact that it didn’t do the homework, and it rarely ever put together two good episodes in a row. We’ve already broken that streak this week, because “Blocked” uses its humor wisely (I got my biggest laugh out of Joe nodding sagely while Barry vented about Nora’s eagerness and ambition) and uses its throwaway villain to advance the main story rather than spin narrative wheels.
But I’m especially digging the way they used Cicada to bookend the episode. I like the horror movie vibe to his music, the fact that he has hardly spoken a line of dialogue, and the creepy insect noise they’re going with. I don’t know what the context for that last part is, and he is definitely different from his comic book counterpart, but so far, so good with this season’s big bad.
Actually, wait, I just remembered why I deducted that half a star last week…it’s because of Cecile and her powers. Not because of Danielle Nicolet, who I think is brilliant. And certainly not because of Cecile herself, a character I have loved since her introduction. But because this “my powers are still here/I’m losing my powers!” stuff is grating, and feels like a hangover from season four. Hopefully this doesn’t last.
– So, we properly got to meet Chris Klein’s mysterious villain, Cicada tonight. This is a character who has only made a handful of appearances in DC Comics. He was created by Geoff Johns and Scott Kollins back in 2001 as a Wally West villain. But if you want more details, you’ll just have to read the whole long-ass article I wrote about him.
– I’ve got nothing on Block, really, but her whole “compress your enemies into a super dense cube of tissue” trick is probably the single most horrifying thing we’ve ever seen on this show. Although did anyone else get the “shields from David Lynch’s Dune” vibe from her powers?
– Any episode where Flash does the tornado arms trick to break something’s fall is a good episode. OK, that isn’t strictly true, but it IS true in this case.
– Note that Cisco knows how to pronounce Mjolnir properly. Of course he does.