As The Flash fast approaches its season finale, the show drops a plot twist that, let’s be honest, we all saw coming a long time ago.
In the future year of 2049, Eobard Thawne’s countdown timer hits zero. The abusive guard tortures him a little and then wheels in a big, clunky chair that will presumably be his method of execution. Do they really execute prisoners in their own cells at this prison, with just a couple of guards present?
In 2019, Cicada II continues work on her cryo-atomizer weapon that will disperse the meta-human plague virus across the entire city. At S.T.A.R. Labs, Cisco deduces that Cicada must be missing a vital component, or else she would have used the device already. The team formulate a plan to distribute their meta-human cure to anyone in the city who wants it. The more people cured of meta-humanism, the fewer will die if Cicada is successful. Meanwhile, Cisco tests the “mirror gun” they hope will destroy Cicada’s magical dagger. When he shoots it at the satellite core that the dagger came from, the entire satellite vanishes in a blink. Cisco isn’t sure where it went, but isn’t concerned. What’s important is that the gun works. (Something tells me that the question of what happens to things shot by this gun will come up again later, perhaps as a set-up for next season’s plot.)
While out searching for the final component to her weapon, Cicada II spots Sherloque and his girlfriend Renee (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) on the street and instinctively attacks. Renee uses her own meta power to deflect Cicada’s dagger.
Barry and Nora receive Sherloque’s emergency alert and race to the scene. En route, Nora makes a psychic connection to Cicada (a side effect of having spent time in her mind) and can see through her eyes. Cicada can sense Nora as well, and retreats to fight another day.
Worried that their daughter may be losing herself to the Negative Speed Force again, Barry and Iris turn overprotective and sideline her from further interactions with Cicada. Nora finds this enormously frustrating and insists that she can help in the fight.
Cisco later discovers that Cicada can user her magic dagger to supercharge the cryo-atomizer. If she gets the final component, she’ll be able to kill not just all the meta-humans in Central City, but all the meta-humans in the world.
Joe gets permission from Capt. Singh to distribute the meta-human cure at the CCPD station. Singh leaves him in charge while he deals with political issues at City Hall. As soon as the news of the meta virus gets out, the station is flooded with people looking for the cure. Joe is quickly overwhelmed.
The last component that Cicada needs is located at Ollins Laboratories. Barry races over there to get it first, only to find that Cicada beat him to it and left a booby trap. Barry narrowly avoids being blown up in an explosion.
As everyone else focuses on Cicada, Ralph becomes obsessed with figuring out what Eobard Thawne is up to and what he was really using Nora for. Something about the timeline just doesn’t add up. The rest of the team mostly ignore Ralph to focus on more pressing concerns.
Defying her parents, Nora uses Cisco’s psychic booster device to try to make another connection with Cicada. Doing so leads to a red lightning power surge that causes her to pass out. Nevertheless, she continues to make a case to her parents that she can help. Eventually, they relent.
Sherloque brings Renee to the CCPD station to get the meta cure, but she decides that she doesn’t want it. She likes her meta-human power. As an alternative, Sherloque proposes to send her to his home dimension on Earth-221. He can’t go with her, but he promises to visit when the current crisis is over.
In order to contain Nora’s red lightning energy, Cisco digs the trap that had captured Eobard Thawne back in Season 1 out of storage and makes some modifications to it. Nora stands inside and contacts Cicada’s mind again, which allows her to see that Cicada is on her way to the CCPD to unleash her weapon.
Cicada invades the station and arms the weapon with her dagger. Barry asks if Cisco can simply breach it to the dead planet on Earth-15, but that plan is overruled for some contrived reason about the atomizer being too unstable. Nora is too wiped out from her mind-meld to help any further, so she stays behind while the rest of the team rush to the CCPD.
Barry, Killer Frost, and Ralph fight off Cicada while Cisco works on disarming the atomizer before it goes off. He sticks some wires into it and, voila!, the device goes dead. He signals to Barry that it’s time to use the mirror gun to destroy the dagger.
Cicada II proves to be a dangerous opponent even without her dagger. In fact, she reminds Barry that she didn’t even have the dagger until she came back in time and killed the original Cicada. This gets Ralph thinking, and after a moment, he puts the pieces together and finally figures out that it was Eobard Thawne’s master plan all along to trick Team Flash into destroying dagger. He yells for Barry to stop, but it may be too late.
In 2049, the prison guard straps Thawne into the execution chair and removes the bulky vest he’s been wearing all season. Underneath, we see that Cicada’s magic dagger is strapped to Thawne’s chest, disabling his powers and preventing him from accessing the Speed Force. If Barry destroys the dagger in the past, it will alter the timeline and Thawne will get his powers back. Uh oh.
Well, it looks like Eobard Thawne didn’t really turn a new leaf and is still evil after all. Who could have possibly foreseen that? Oh, right, everybody.
This show’s continuity when it comes to time travel shenanigans is a total mess even at its best, but it’s really been nagging at me that I seem to recall Eobard Thawne being annihilated by the Black Flash on Legends of Tomorrow for what sure seemed to be a definitive death. Was it ever properly explained how he came back from that, or why he’s stuck wearing Harrison Wells’ face? If so, I guess I missed it.
This isn’t a bad episode. Honestly, it’s fine. However, the last-minute shift away from Cicada to make Thawne the ultimate Big Bad is a reminder of how disjointed this entire season has been. It feels like the writers haven’t been able to decide which direction they want to take the show, and decided to just throw everything into the pot and hope for the best.