Fake News Becomes Dangerous for the Flash and XS in News Flash
This week’s episode of The Flash, featuring the timely topic of Fake News, is tinged with green as our heroes deal with the little jealousies that can color relationships within and outside of the team. After a brief flashback of the night of the Enlightenment, when the Thinker tried to reboot humanity with an overdose of dark matter, and Nora helped Barry destroy the satellite and save a woman trying to catch the news on her cell phone, we are brought back to a present-day breakfast with the West-Allen family.
After preparing a disaster of a breakfast meant to impress Nora, which of course fails miserably, Iris learns that Barry bought Nora a phone without including her. Like most kids, Nora seems to be more interested in her phone than in interacting with her mother. Luckily for everyone at the table, the crunchy pancake (is it possible that Iris is a worse cook than even me? Thank you to the writers for not making her perfect) breakfast is interrupted by a text from Sherloque to come to S.T.A.R. Labs. Nora leaves, while Barry tries to console Iris with a ‘don’t worry, she’ll come around’ pep talk.
Back at the lab, Sherloque is trying to impress the team with his deductive reasoning as he begins to work on solving their Cicada problem. Ralph is not as impressed with his fellow detective as Sherloque seems to be with himself. Simply going to the heart of the problem, Ralph asks, “Why does Cicada wear a mask?” Sherloque says it is to hide his identity but Ralph thinks it is much more. Now it is a battle of wits between the two detectives and the game is afoot.
Ralph and Sherloque go to the dock where Ralph first encountered Cicada. Ralph notes that when they fought, Cicada’s breathing through the mask became more labored, and is looking for traces of a polymer that is used in industrial respirators. He finds a small flake, and tells Sherloque that when they research what kind of mask has that specific polymer, they will know where the mask came from and find Cicada. Although he is on the right track, his results are flawed. They track down the mask and the company that uses it, but find that there are thousands of workers who use the mask. Sherloque mocks poor Ralph, adding yet another blow to his already battered confidence as a member of team Flash. So, they are back to square one.
In the meantime, Barry has a charity event to go to. CCPD is playing softball against Central City’s Fire Department. Much to his disappointment, Barry is stuck in right field, and we get a comedic glimpse of Barry’s less than stellar athletic abilities while his family and coworkers lend their sympathetic support. Nora is still hooked on her new phone, explaining that she gets notifications from a new app by blogger Spencer Young (aka DC villain Spin, played by guest star Kiana Madeira). Nora throws some obvious shade Iris’s way explaining that this Spin app gives the most up to date news, and has more likes and shares than Iris’s blog.
As Nora walks away to get some food, reading her phone of course, Officer Jones, from CCPD, shows up late to the game, walking on the field with his backpack. In the stands, Cecile senses something is wrong and we see Nora in complete XS mode racing up to the teammate, grabbing the bag and throwing it, where it explodes in mid-air. The moment is captured on a cell phone by none other than Spencer and the incident instantly becomes news– new female speedster saves the day.
The headline puts Iris in mother mode, and she goes off to Jitters to ask Spencer to go easy on the Speedster headlines because there is a new meta in town, targeting other metas. Spencer thinks this is just a ploy on Iris’s part to stifle the competition, and after a bit of verbal sparring – including a shout out to Charlene Foster (Citizen) Kane – Iris lets it slip out that the new speedster’s moniker is XS. Spencer tells Iris that she will not stop writing about the female speedster who is helping to boost her blog’s popularity.
While Officer Jones is being questioned by Barry, Nora, and Joe West (in another all too brief appearance by Jesse L. Martin), we learn that there is a fire at Central City Picture News, so Barry and Nora speed off to stop the fire. Spencer is outside waiting to film XS saving the day, but with the Flash there, XS hesitates. Spencer uses her phone to change a flashing sign to read: ‘The Flash seen in Las Vegas.’ Barry reads the sign and speeds off to Vegas, leaving Nora to put out the fire on her own. Iris talks Nora through the process on her comm and XS gets another headline on Spencer’s blog, further heightening the team’s suspicions about the blogger.
Barry and Iris get Nora to meet with Spencer to surreptitiously scan her for dark matter to see if she is a meta causing the mishaps that become viral news. Nora goes to Jitters and instead of doing a quick scan and leaving, the two women end up flirting with each other. Barry is slow to pick up this new development, but Mama Iris recognizes exactly what is going on and goes to interrupt the flirtation and to get Nora to complete her task. The screen ends up showing that Spencer is not a meta. Of course, Nora is not pleased with her mom, especially when Iris says she is just trying to protect her.
This brings us finally to the confrontation we’ve been waiting for. Iris asks why Nora is so distant with her and Nora pulls down the shoulder of her shirt, revealing a scar. It seems that future Iris implanted her with a metahuman power suppressing chip so that she never found out about her powers. Nora didn’t know that she was a speedster until 6 months ago. And the worst part is that it wasn’t her mother who told her she had metahuman powers. (Once again, congrats go to Candice Patton and Jessica Parker Kennedy for making this scene so moving and so believable.)
Spencer is not done with XS yet, and sends the CCPD a message that the stadium has bombs planted inside. Flash and XS show up to start saving people, but find the stadium empty, having already been evacuated. Before they can start looking for the bombs, Spencer changes the electronic billboard to read that XS kills the Flash. Nora immediately starts attacking Barry, and it’s speedster against speedster, with the added complication of Barry not wanting to hurt Nora while defending himself. Team Flash is back in S.T.A.R. Labs monitoring everything via their computers and Sherloque helps them figure out that it was the change in the billboard that made XS attack the Flash. Iris runs in to save the day again, going to the stadium with one of Harry’s guns to stop Nora from using her hand to rip out Barry’s heart. Not to worry, Iris doesn’t kill Nora, only stuns her.
Iris explains to Nora that she never thought she could be the kind of person who would suppress her daughter’s powers but after stopping her from nearly killing Barry, she realized that if she did suppress her powers, it would have been for a very good reason. It would have been to protect her. Nora still objects, saying it wasn’t for a good reason or to protect her, but to control her. Barry supports Iris 100%. Knowing the kind of woman Iris is, and the kind of mother she will someday be, he is sure that if Iris has to stop Nora from using her meta powers, it would be for a good reason. (I loved the way he supported Iris in this – they have not been parents for long but their loving relationship nailed this parental quandary. This is not good parent vs. bad parent but perfect co-parenting) Nora is shocked that her idol – her dad – supports Iris in this and runs off to her Papa Joe’s house to stay there, while she re-thinks what it means to be part of a family that would do that to her.
And what of our dueling detectives? Sherloque, using his self-proclaimed superior powers of deduction, has a theory. Cicada was injured at the moment when Nora helped Barry destroy the satellite. Cicada and his lightning bolt daggers were created when they were infused with the dark matter. Sherloque does not take full credit for this new discovery. He explains that it was Ralph’s idea to start with the mask, and that is what led him down this path of investigation. I am very happy that this new Wells incarnation is not a complete ass-hat.
This means that not only were new metas created, but also new meta weapons. Barry, taking apart Spencer’s cell phone, sees the phone glowing with power, verifying this new Meta Tech that can now put metahuman abilities in the hands of anyone. Another worry for Team Flash.
And… just to add to our list of things to worry about: No one asked Nora the important questions. If Iris didn’t tell Nora about her speedster abilities and if she grew up not knowing about her powers, who told her? How did she find out about the metahuman suppressing chip and who removed it? Does this tie in with Nora’s caginess regarding Sherloque’s question of last week: why did she pick that precise moment to change the timeline? Do you have any theories? Let us know in your comments.