If Barry’s plan to simply ask evil villain Cicada nicely to give up his powers seemed kind of half-baked, The Flash sort of addresses that this week. Unfortunately, the episode then doubles-down on it in a very unconvincing manner.
We start with Nora paying another visit to Eobard Thawne in the future. She informs him that Cisco’s meta-human cure is ready to use on Cicada. Thawne (who has some pretty advanced technology at his fingertips in his prison cell) is concerned, as he has monitored a brand new and unpredictable timeline forming. He warns her that Barry will need to defeat Cicada soon before the new timeline solidifies.
Nora returns to the present day amped up to find Cicada as quickly as possible, and grows very frustrated that he’s still off the radar. She repeatedly asks Barry what he plans to say to Cicada to convince him to take the cure, but Barry doesn’t have a clear idea yet. He acts like he’ll just wing it and figure something out in the moment.
Joe returns to work at the CCPD and digs into the Cicada case file looking for clues. He makes a connection between Cicada and Dr. Vanessa Ambres that no one else picked up on. Cecile insists on going with him to interview the woman so that she can use her telepathy powers like a lie detector. Joe is a little wary of working with Cecile.
When a random meta-human with the power to spray acid from his hands (Cisco dubs him “Acid Master”) breaks into a chemical lab, Nora recognizes burn marks he leaves on the floor. She has a photo from the future of Barry’s final confrontation with Cicada, and the same type of marks are visible on the ground near them. Nora immediately puts together that, “Today is the day you stop Cicada!”
(Who took that photo? Nowhere is this addressed later!)
Sure enough, Cicada goes hunting Acid Master as his next meta-human victim. As he gets close to his prey, however, he falls right into a trap set by Barry and Killer Frost. Rather than fight, Barry says that he just wants to talk. He tells Cicada about the meta cure and offers it to him, appealing him to think about the legacy he wants to leave. Cicada laughs in his face, punches Barry unconscious, and escapes. He doesn’t give a damn about his legacy.
Yeah, that was a pretty stupid plan, Barry. Anyone could have seen that coming. Duh.
Nora is very worried that they may have missed their window to stop Cicada and fix the timeline.
Joe and Cecile interview Dr. Ambres. Cecile can immediately tell that Ambres is lying, but Joe finds it very difficult to work with his wife. He lets Ambres go at first, but later reconciles with Cecile and asks her to try again. They bring the doctor to the CCPD for a more formal interrogation and tell her about the meta cure. When confronted with evidence that she’s been working with Cicada, Ambres tells them where Barry can find the villain. She also drops a bombshell that Cicada’s niece, Grace, is a meta-human. Cicada doesn’t know yet.
That seems to be all Joe needs. He releases Dr. Ambres, even though she just admitted to being an accessory to multiple murders and ought to be incarcerated immediately. Great policework there, Joe.
With Ambres’ information, Barry confronts Orlin Dwyer (Cicada’s real name) once again. This time, he appeals to him as a father, and even takes off his own mask to reveal his identity. Barry asks Dwyer if his quest to kill all meta-humans applies to Grace. Dwyer is shocked to learn that Grace is a meta. Feeling guilty, he agrees to come to S.T.A.R. Labs and take the cure. However, he demands that Dr. Ambress be there to stitch up his chest wound after the dark matter shard is removed. He doesn’t trust anyone on Team Flash to do it. He also keeps his magic dagger in the room and threatens to kill them all if they try to trick him.
Caitlin administers the cure, and after a minute, Cicada’s powers fade. The magic dagger stops glowing and Barry can use his speed in its presence.
Hooray! The heroes win! Right?
Nope. Suddenly, all the lights in the lab go out and the building is invaded by… another Cicada??!!
The new Cicada (who has a decidedly feminine figure that nobody notices) attacks, almost effortlessly fending off even the combined forces of the entire Team Flash. With unique powers different from the original Cicada, (s)he incapacitates everyone and smashes the lab, then wheels Dwyer out on a gurney, takes his dagger (which activates again in her hand), and murders Dr. Ambres. By the time the team recover, both Cicadas are gone.
Soon, Dwyer lies unconscious in a cabin. The newer Cicada removes her mask to reveal herself as his niece Grace, somehow all grown up. (I assume she’s from the future, like Nora.) Her words close the episode: “I’ve missed you, Uncle Orlin.”
This episode only exists to deliver the plot twist of little Grace becoming the new Cicada – which, to be frank, was hinted at a bunch of times previously and isn’t really much of a surprise.
The ease with which Dwyer relents and agrees to take the meta cure makes zero sense for the character. The way Joe lets Dr. Ambres off the hook for her crimes is also very bad writing. A subplot about Iris being clingy and fretting about Nora leaving her to return to the future as soon as Cicada is defeated is a waste of time. (What’s stopping Nora from sticking around a few extra days afterward?)
All these complaints probably make the episode sound pretty bad. It’s actually decent on the whole, but issues like these are frustrating, and could have been very easily fixed with a quick rewrite.