IS EVERYONE OKAY? ARE WE ALL STILL BREATHING?
I’m barely catching my breath after almost going into full cardiac arrest watching The Flash Season 5 Episode 3 and thinking Cisco was dead meta meat.
I did find it suspicious that the episode was titled “The Death of Vibe,” and assumed that even if the writers have teased there would be deaths this season, they wouldn’t be so obvious as to title their episode that way. I mean, that’s a huge reveal.
Plus, getting rid of Cisco? That’s not a poetic character death to advance your plot. That’s just shooting yourself in the foot.
Still, all rational thoughts aside, when I heard the words “Cisco’s dead” come out of Barry’s mouth, I seriously think I flatlined for a full minute.
Luckily, it was just a brilliant rouse orchestrated to outsmart Cicada, so Cisco/Vibe would be safe.
But writers? Please don’t do that to me again. I’m too fragile for these things.
But even with their attack on my life, the writers delivered yet another incredible episode of The Flash with “The Death of Vibe.”
The writing is just flawless this season -- from the clean storytelling to the pacing in the episodes to the balance of the character development and plot advancement -- it continues to deliver in ways we haven’t seen since The Flash Season 1.
I know I sound like a broken record, but the way this show can balance humor and intense, dramatic storylines is unlike any other superhero show on television. It makes me wonder why they ever tried to break away from that balance in the first place.
Tom Cavanaugh was finally back with the team, bringing us the joy of not one, but two Wells visiting Star Labs.
I may not love how many times the writers have switched up Wells on us lately, but I’m always here for a cameo or two. The way he can portray so many different versions of one character is ingenious, and I am always impressed at how every version has a unique, but equally as enjoyable dynamic with the group.
Sherlock Wells was no different, bringing a fresh new perspective of comedy to Team Flash (Although who wouldn’t love to see German Wells stick around for a while if only to fangirl over the West Allen family a little more while giving Cisco some side eye?)
As usual, his rapport with Cisco seems to be something to look forward to, as Cavanaugh and Valdes have effortless chemistry. But what also impressed me was the dynamic (and possible connection) Sherlock may have with Ralph, a fellow investigator.
Do I sense a father/son type relationship blooming? That may be asking too much, but Sherlock’s confidence in his ability to do his job well may give Ralph some of the development he needs. His character is lacking the motive to grow and expand, and Sherlock Wells may be the catalyst to change that.
Speaking of Ralph, I’m still hesitant about his involvement with Caitlin. I am enjoying his small journey of self-discovery through her storyline, and the idea that he’s better at investigating then he thinks he is. I also enjoy their budding friendship.
I am always here for two people lovingly supporting each other when it’s needed.
However, I still think they would be a terrible romantic pairing, so here’s hoping that the writers have learned their lesson and can write an exciting male/female camaraderie without forcing it into romantic territory.
One thing the writers have kept their promise on is developing Caitlin’s backstory.
Three episodes in, and they have given her substantial screen time to discover a myriad of things about her past. And they’ve made it all very intriguing, to boot. I’m genuinely curious as to where her father is, and loved that he hid a message for her in a science game. That’s so in character for Caitlin.
I’m hopeful this doesn’t just lead to finding her father, but also continues to delve into her complicated relationship with her mother. Is Mrs. Snow hiding something? Or was she protecting Caitlin from her father’s suicide? Does she genuinely believe he’s dead? And can they move past whatever baggage lies between them?
I want answers to all of these questions.
I also want more answers about our seasons big bad, Cicada. The more information revealed about this character, the more captivated I am with him as an antagonist.
He’s terrifying; that much is obvious. He’s called a “metahuman Jack the Ripper” and one of the most dangerous serial killers of all time. But beyond that, there’s something else unique to him: he’s someone who has never been beaten.
Not by the Legends of Tomorrow, not by the Green Arrow, not even by Supergirl.
If the writers are using that kind of expositional dialogue to make a point about how threatening Cicada is, he’s already surpassed the previous two seasons' villains.
Their message is loud and clear: This guy is no joke.
Nora’s decision to travel into the past has altered the timeline in a way that makes it impossible for Team Flash to understand Cicada’s motives. He’s also a completely different individual then he was destined to be.
Add that to the fact that his power lies in his ability to weaken theirs, and you’ve officially got a challenge we’ve never seen this team face before.
You also have a type of complex villain the show has never tackled before.
Cicada is not just a ruthless serial killer, but a family man. A father of a sick, dying girl. Something we find out through his meeting with Joe, in one of the episode’s most potent scenes.
Using Joe as a foil is a smart way to allow the audience to gain insight into Cicada’s psyche, and it works effectively and chillingly. He is torn between torturing Joe to get the information he needs and protecting the sanctity of family after discovering Joe is a father.
Watching Cicada in full serial killer garb, pick up and un-ironically coddle an infants blanket in his hands, is a striking juxtaposition, one that spawns both feelings of empathy and fear for the audience. It also gives Joe his first hint that there may be more to this man than his desire to kill all metahumans.
By the end of the episode, we are watching Cicada kiss the forehead of his sick daughter. When has The Flash ever gone for an antagonist like this? One with so many complexities and layers? We don’t just want to see Team Flash beat Cicada; we want to understand the motives and reasons for who he has become.
It’s new territory that works well for the show, just as is the new West Allen family dynamic, a dynamic that continues to grow in organic and compelling ways.
With each episode, we see Barry struggle to step into the fatherly role with Nora, but we’ve also seen the two grow undeniably closer. “The Death of Vibe,” however, is the first episode where we rightly see Barry become a father in his own volition.
In the climax of the episode, we see Nora remember the words Barry had spoken to her earlier in the episode. These are words that help her ultimately save the day.
Barry has gone from needing the words of wisdom from Wells and Joe, to being the one who hands down his own words of wisdom to his daughter, allowing her to take the lead and solve conflicts, the right way.
Surprisingly, we also got a subtle, yet poignant moment of growth for mother and daughter.
Nora: I got it. I can fix this. I've thought this through. I won't mess it up this time. I promise.
Iris: I trust you. Go.
It’s not much, but it’s a start. And with Nora moving into the loft, I can only assume we will begin to understand the details behind their continuous disconnect. Iris seems already to understand her daughter so well, so one can only hope Nora finds a way to open up to her mother.
While I am enjoying Ralphs character more this season and the robbery scene was quite funny, I’m not sure I enjoyed the subtle fat shaming meme that followed.
Nora continues to be a perfect balance of Iris and Barry, and that has to be accredited to how well Jessica Parker Kennedy is doing in the role.
- Watching Joe be so unflinchingly unafraid of Cicada was a true power move. He is the undeniable patriarch of this show.
Can someone talk to Caitlin’s wardrobe stylist? The doctor on Team Flash does not need to be wearing stilettos in every single scene. Like, ouch.
- I love the wit of the whole cast this season, but I miss funny Barry. He’s great as a dad and a leader, but Gustin is such a good comedian! I miss his silly moments.
- Is it just me, or is a frightened baby giraffe the perfect way to describe Ralph?
I have so many questions! What did you think of the episode?
Who was watching Caitlin? And do you think Sherlock’s right? Is someone helping Nora (and could it be future Iris?) How do you think the team will beat Cicada if they can’t use their powers?
Leave your thoughts and comments below! And if you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch The Flash online, right here at TV Fanatic!
Kat Pettibone is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.