The Flash 5.03

The Flash 5.03 Recap: “I’m Not Lazy, I’m Efficient”

I was kind of digging Chris Klein playing a supervillain on The Flash when he was introduced as a silent badass. Then he opened his mouth and spoke. His dopey voice quickly broke the illusion.

I actually don’t have anything against Chris Klein in comedy roles. He’s pretty great in Election, and his performance was exactly right for the American Pie franchise. However, I just can’t buy him as an intimidating serial killer.

Anyway, this week’s episode of the show opens with a brief flash-forward to the Flash Museum in the year 2032. In voiceover, Nora explains that the scariest exhibit in the Hall of Villains was devoted to Cicada, the one antagonist that The Flash never caught. In the present day, she further explains that, over the years, just about every hero (Green Arrow, the Legends of Tomorrow, even Supergirl) hunted for Cicada and failed to capture him. The thing that disturbs her most is that he seems to have emerged earlier this time. In her original timeline, Cicada didn’t appear for several more years, and he never killed Gridlock. Nora’s presence has altered the timeline enough to bring him out ahead of schedule.

Fortunately, Nora has an idea. She says that the one person who never looked for Cicada was Harrison Wells, and suggests that they should try to enlist the help of a Wells – specifically, she recommends Herr Wells, the German dilettante from Earth-12. Cisco scoffs, warning that Herr Wells is a jackass who will refuse to help anyone. However, when they contact him by hologram, Herr Wells is exceedingly pleasant and complimentary to pretty much everyone except Cisco. Sadly, he’s too busy to help, but he refers them to the greatest detective in the multiverse, Sherloque Wells.

When he arrives, Sherloque is a pretentious jerk who immediately rubs everyone the wrong way, but he also demonstrates amazing powers of observation that convince them that he’s the real deal. They’re a bit taken aback when he charges a hefty fee for his service, but they agree to raise the money by selling some S.T.A.R. Labs stock. (Can that possibly be worth anything?)

In no time at all, Sherloque identifies Cicada as a man named David Hersh, who lives on a farm just outside Central City. Barry and Nora race over there and run into booby traps suggesting that Sherloque was right. Nevertheless, they quickly capture him. As they congratulate themselves on a job well done, we in the audience can see that they’ve got the wrong guy.

Meanwhile, the real Cicada identifies Joe as a friend and partner to the superhero Vibe (Cisco). He invades Joe’s house and holds him captive, demanding that Joe call Vibe and bring him there. When Joe refuses, Cicada tortures him while ranting about how all meta-humans are a plague and it’s his mission to wipe them out.

Although Hersh is clearly a Unabomber-style loony, Barry has his doubts that he’s really Cicada. His fears are confirmed by forensic evidence. Nora refuses to believe it, and Sherloque insists that he cannot be mistaken. It turns out that identifying Cicada was so easy because he’s already done it 37 previous times on other Earths, and Cicada has always been David Hersh. Nora’s presence must have created another timeline variance that resulted in someone else being Cicada here.

Cisco demands that Sherloque refund the money they paid him, but he claims that it’s all already been used to pay alimony to his multiple ex-wives and other debts. Sherloque tries to skip out by faking his death, pretending to have been vaporized by an accident involving power cells in the reactor core, but Cisco sees through it.

Cecile witnesses Joe being tortured by Cicada. Although Joe tries to warn her not to, she hits the panic button to call Team Flash. Cisco sees the alert first and immediately opens a breach to Joe’s house. Unbeknownst to him, this is exactly what Cicada wants. Upon seeing him, the villain launches himself at Cisco and the both of them tumble back into the breach.

Cisco is next seen running through a forest. His powers have been neutralized by Cicada’s dagger weapon. Although he can talk to the team on his comms, he doesn’t know where he is. Luckily, Sherloque proves himself useful by identifying the specific forest merely by listening to the sounds of insects. Barry races right there, only to have his powers taken away as well. Cicada then proceeds to beat the crap out of him.

Nora’s instinct is to immediately run to her father’s side, but heeding advice he gave her earlier, she takes a moment to think through the situation first. Announcing that she knows what to do, she runs to the forest and blasts Cicada with a lightning bolt, then tosses Cisco a power cell from the reactor. Cisco throws it at Cicada, who bats it right back to him. The cell explodes seemingly right at Cisco’s feet. The rest of the team are shocked that his vital signs readout goes flat. Is Cisco dead?

Cicada finds a pile of ashes where Cisco stood, and crushes his Vibe glasses under his boot. Then, realizing that he was also injured in the explosion, Cicada leaps up into the air and flies away, revealing himself to be a meta-human.

Before Barry can react to the death of his friend, another breach opens and Cisco returns. He explains that Nora saved him by giving him a portable breach opener device. They faked his death the same way Sherloque had earlier. Iris later runs a fake obit for Vibe in her blog to sell the story.

Remembering the way Cicada reacted to photos of his family, Joe suspects that he may be a parent. Indeed, we see Cicada out of costume, visiting a comatose child in a hospital. The doctor knows exactly who he is and what he’s up to. She calls him “Orlin” and doesn’t flinch at all when he opens his shirt and exposes a glowing wound.

Cisco insists that Sherloque will have to stay with them to pay off his debt. The detective pulls Nora aside and asks if she decided to alter history by punching the satellite all on her own, or if someone put the idea in her head. She denies anyone else’s involvement.

The Side Story

After an attempt at playing hero as Elongated Man leaves him publicly ridiculed, and after Sherloque rudely disdains his skills as a detective, Ralph once again feels useless. Caitlin boosts his spirits by enlisting him to help investigate the mystery of her father’s fake death certificate.

They visit Caitlin’s mother, who does not seem at all surprised that the death cert is phony, but nonetheless insists that he’s dead. Not believing her, Caitlin and Ralph break into her office that night and steal some papers from her files. One of them is a suicide note from Caitlin’s father.

At first, Caitlin claims that she feels closure and is ready to move on. However, examining the documents closer, she discovers that her father left her a coded message saying, “Cailin come find me.” As she finds this, a mysterious figure watches her through the lab’s security cameras.

Episode Verdict

Perhaps I’m overreacting, but it’s really hard for me to take Chris Klein seriously as the villain. I’m also not sure how I feel about Tom Cavanagh doing yet another goofy accent to play Sherloque Wells. Cavanagh’s attempts at comic relief are far too broad for me. I hope this character isn’t around for very long.

The episode also has some logic issues involving how Nora’s appearance in the present day could have caused Cicada to be a different person. He seems like he’s already been a nutty serial killer for years.

Having said all that, this is otherwise a pretty decent episode overall. I don’t have any issues with the concept of Cicada, just the casting.

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