Team Flash Encounters this Season’s Big Bad: Chris Klein’s Cicada
There are many things that I love about The Flash. This week’s episode, “Blocked,” highlights two of the show’s outstanding qualities. First, there is always an interplay of light and dark in each episode and second, at its heart, the show is ultimately about relationships and family.
This week started out on the dark side. The show opens with Cicada, (a very buff Chris Klein, American Pie) remembering the struggle between himself and Gridlock that took place at the end of last week’s episode. He used his lightning bolt dagger to absorb Gridlock’s metahuman powers and beat him down before stabbing him in the heart with the dagger. But that fight wasn’t without a cost to Cicada – we see his scarred body and hear his pain as he readies himself for what appears to be his job as a janitor. So, we know he’s human, and seems to be just a regular guy who just happens to kill metas on the side.
On the West-Allen home front, Nora confesses to the team that she lied about why she was there and shows everyone the newspaper headline about Flash being missing in the future. (I’m glad that Barry did not try to keep this a secret from Iris – our boy has matured over the years!) Iris seems unfazed by this news, saying, “So what?” This is not the first dire headline they’ve encountered. They’ve been able to change the future before and will change it again so Barry doesn’t go missing for 25 years. At least now she knows why Nora clings to Barry and not her. Joe advises Iris to wait; Nora will reach out to her in time, but for now she should just keep busy.
In one of the two side stories of the episode, Cecile is starting to lose her power to hear little Jenna’s thoughts. This may be a relief to Joe, but it is causing Cecile to have the worst kind of post-partum blues. In a moving confession to Joe, Cecile admits that she thought her powers would make her a perfect parent and without them she is afraid she will not live up to caring for a newborn. She is facing all of the fears that can sometimes overwhelm a new mom. Kudos to actress Danielle Nicolet for making this scene feel so achingly genuine.
On the lighter, more amusing side, Cisco is really having a hard time getting over his breakup with Gypsy. He can’t vibe; she is literally inside his head – their vibe powers still connecting them somehow. Caitlin enlists Ralph’s expertise in helping Cisco get over his broken heart. Ralph has a step-by-step guide for getting over a breakup. The list is long and with encouragement from Caitlin, Cisco skips around the steps – from saying Positive Affirmations (smarter than the average bear!), to Metamorphosis (Holy Kafka!) where Cisco gets a makeover from Ralph’s stylist. It is only until they reach the final step: accepting that she was not the love of his life because if she was, she’d still be in his life, that Cisco is finally able to snap out of it and focus on anything other than his own misery.
Specifically, Cisco talks Caitlin into investigating her father’s forged death certificate that Ralph has unearthed. Caitlin was reluctant, because if her father is still alive, that means that maybe he doesn’t want to see her. Cisco points out that it would be better for her to know the truth. And this brings us closer to finding out the truth about the origins of Killer Frost.
The villain of the week is Vanessa Jensen, aka Block. She is a meta who just got out of Iron Heights prison and wants a piece of the arms deals action. She meets up with a known arms dealer and steals his stuff by encasing him in an air square. She then compresses him into a block of what looks like human meat. (I will think twice before eating hamburger again!)
When Barry goes to investigate this crime scene, Nora, in her XS-ively enthusiastic manner, tags along, pretending to be his CSI intern. While the two of them are collecting evidence, Iris also shows up, going back to reporter mode to keep busy. Iris overhears Captain Singh make a remark about keeping this murder quiet along with Gridlock’s murder and gets him to give her an off-the-record statement about Lang/Gridlock’s untimely end. She is intrigued and investigates further.
Nora is unrelenting in her desire to be near Barry, seeing this new meta as her opportunity to train with the Flash. Unfortunately, her first encounter with Block does not end well, with Block encasing her in a cube and throwing her across the city. Barry has to save her from crash landing by using his arms to create a cyclone to break her fall. Luckily the cube dissolves and Nora is not harmed.
This puts Barry into full-on parent/teacher mode – trying to train Nora in the fundamentals of being a speedster and keep her safe. Nora has no patience for the science of it; she just wants to get to the fun/hero stuff which frustrates Barry enough to turn to Papa Joe for advice. (I’m guessing Joe is on paternity leave and spends the episode at home doling out pearls of wisdom. I hope to see him back in action as a cop soon.)
Joe points out that Nora is just trying to impress Barry, the same way that Barry tried to impress Joe as a kid. Joe was Barry’s hero, and now Barry is Nora’s hero. Barry just needs to reassure Nora that he will love her no matter what, because that’s what parents do. Cecile, who is in the other room crying (because that is what new mothers do,) overhears and takes comfort in Joe’s advice to Barry, ready to face parenthood without special powers.
This episode is so full of relationship stuff that our villain feels like an afterthought. The team finally realizes that they can track Block with weather satellites. Flash confronts her and finds himself encased in a cube. Nora has the idea to just tire Block out. Elongated Man and Vibe show up just as Block gets captured. However, the team’s victory is short lived. Cicada sneaks up and uses his lightning bolt dagger to stab Block in the neck.
Cicada drops a dagger to the ground, absorbing all of the team’s powers and then starts fighting with them mano y mano. Vibe crawls over to pull the dagger out of the ground, cutting his hand in the process and Nora speeds in shouting, “Dad.” This seems to stop Cicada from beating Flash to death. He stares at Nora and then disappears.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Iris shows the team the footage of Cicada killing Gridlock that was taken with the body cam of one of the police officers who was at the scene. They all recognize the sound the killer makes as that of an insect, and Nora identifies him as Cicada. The episode ends the same way it begins – with an ominous feeling – as Barry asks Nora, “Who’s Cicada?”