[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Director: Sarah Boyd
Writers: Jonathan Butler and Gabriel Gaza
Starring: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Carlos Valdes, Danielle Panabaker, Jessica Parker-Kennedy, Chris Klein, Tom Cavanaugh, Reina Hardesty, Liam McIntyre, Lossen Chambers, Julianne Christie, Islie Hirvonen
While Nora grapples with the reality of Barry’s mortality, Thanksgiving proves more problematic when the Weather Wizard’s daughter comes to town for her father; Cicada’s origin is revealed.
We’ll start with the much improved family dynamic of Barry, Nora, and Iris. The chemistry between Jessica and Grant as father and daughter works perfectly in that Nora has been trying to both learn from her father and learn about her father. With his future in mind, it’s only natural that Nora would want him to consider retiring from his career as The Flash. She grew up without him and only found out about her powers by accident. His death changed her mother to the point where future Iris sounds completely opposite to present day Iris. Her monologue feels very genuine and her point is driven home by the fact that Barry had almost died before she was ready to resuscitate him.
Essentially Barry is doing both the paid job of a CSI and the pro bono work of a superhero. The problem is he’s ultimately going to die doing one of them. It’s a reality that team Flash has faced and he’s only been lucky to have come back several times. As a man who is always facing forward no matter what happens to him, he’s never really given himself pause that maybe he may come out of it until now. Her words to him did make him pause during the climax. It upset that confidence for a minute. Now he has a kid who may fail at ensuring he survives if he dies right here and now. Even this Thanksgiving he is the head of the family, as opposed to the numerous holidays in which the West House was the site of many family get-togethers.
Nora has never seen him risk his life and fail to come back while everyone already has last year. The mystique and fandom that she exhibited in the first episode this season is swiftly fading as she is growing closer to both of her parents. By doing so, the writers add depth to Nora’s character beyond being the hero in training trying to put up to her dads legend. They are truly making an effort to make Nora as deep in her motivations as Barry’s were in the first season as he tried to free his dad from prison. She is essentially the daughter of a cop, yet grew up with a mother who had a less dangerous job. The way Barry rationalizes his reasons for staying as the flash are just as grounded as any family man wanted to make the world a better place for their kids and loved ones. It’s brilliant writing and it gets the heart of the character as it always does. Grant’s delivery is as much wholesome as his Thanksgiving dinner hijinx are funny.
In this episode, we also get a chance to look at the origin of Cicada, or rather Orlin Dwyer. The flashbacks served to provide this shall we figure with a very realistic beginning. He’s not a brilliant scientist or I misguided soldier. He’s just an ordinary, very flawed guy who was left in a very impossible position raising his deceased sister’s daughter. Seeing the development of their relationship set against this present day distorted version of himself really gave Chris Klein a chance to shine beyond the facemask and the raspy voice. The doll house seen feels the most important because it shows he’s trying to clean up his act for the sake of Grace’s future. It makes the house that he was trying to remodel for them both all the more significant because, in a way, it was just a larger doll house. To paraphrase Shakespeare, a doll house within a doll house. People come into our lives and bring out either the best or the worst or possibly both in us.
For Dwyer, his niece gave him motivation to be the parental figure that she needed. The symbolism of him building both the doll house and remodeling the actual house is that he is trying to provide a foundation for this kid because he realizes his responsibility. Having the accident that turns him into cicada during one of the high points of their developing relationship as the emotional depth and motivation behind his decision to hunt down metahumans. Grace, at that point, has become his northern star, his light that gave him the drive to become more than the loser he had been. It’s a very significant irony that the very doctor that presently is warning him to stop was the one that planted that seed in his mind as to who to blame for what happened to his adopted daughter. It also makes the raspiness of his voice more than just a physical vocal disorder, but rather the anger and the pain that he feels because that light has been ripped away from him. And while his decision to see Grace against Dr. Ambres’s wishes tipped off Team Flash, having him do that post-flashbacks makes the viewer sympathize with his reasons.
Another character that showed much growth, albeit in a very brief but hilarious scene, was Killer Frost. After two years of existence, and having more than enough reason to be angry at the mental block that prevented her from resurfacing, Frosty showed a genuine heart that Caitlin presently didn’t. She genuinely feels a deeper emotional connection to Team Flash as her adopted family and it is not an act. The writers are trying to mimic the chosen path of redemption that her comic book counterpart is attempting in Justice League of America, a.k.a. Batman’s Justice League. The fact that she put both Wells and Cisco in their places was very witty and very ironic for someone naturally sardonic. Danielle does a fantastic job portraying both sides of this character to the point where one just feels and extension of the other equally.
The villain of the week, Weather Witch, is the latest spotlight of “metatech,” or rather dark matter-infected pieces of technology granting normal people their abilities. It also makes Cicada stand out because he’s the only survivor of the explosion that is biologically infected and is physically and mentally bonded with the dagger that stopped him. It also solves the issue of Mark Mardon’s daughter having similar abilities to him since she was already a teenager and nowhere near the 2014 particle accelerator explosion. The design of her costume is very akin to a wicked witch with the crow like feathery texture, right down to the scepter being her power source. It also links her to the comic book version of the weather wizard since that version pre-Flashpoint uses his weather wand to control the weather as opposed to having metahuman abilities. Her means of escape and travel was brilliant because it’s putting her on a more mystical plateau than Mark. In fact, it tops his ability to use wind currents to fly in its speed and execution. Lastly, having her be an illegitimate daughter abandoned by her criminal father makes all the sense in the world given the character we are talking about. It’s very ironic that marks words about using career or family strikes at the heart of Barry’s dilemma with Nora. This is the first time since Captain Cold that he has had any common ground with any of his regular rogues. The episode adds layers to this one-dimensional bad guy who’s original motivation to kill Joe West for his brother’s death seems to vanish in favor of the bigger storyline in season one.
With regards to the infected technology, it’s creative that, since Iron Heights is the main penitentiary for all metahuman perpetrators, the team is now using the pipeline as a storage site for all collected Metatech weapons. They have a jail for these criminals, so what are they going to do with the empty cells around the particle accelerator? I’m sure Joe isn’t using it as his new spot to catch a nap so it’s up for grabs.
The biggest complaint I have this week is Joss Mardon’s story. She seems to replace her dad and the one dimensional bad guy department. There was a lot of potential to develop the reasons why she wants to kill her father. They should’ve at least been an attempt to have Mark try and convince his little girl to join forces with him as a post to hunting down and killing him for reasons he probably did not even take seriously. They didn’t even have an actual conversation since it was Iris using a holographic projector. It seems like they shaved her story a side in favor of giving cicada a spotlight with regards to his origin. While this was important, I just feel that the character of weather which could’ve been saved for a later episode and I truly hope that they bring her back because I feel that a confrontation between whether which in whether wizard would definitely make one for the books this year. Of course since Cisco has stored the scepter in the pipeline, I’m sure she’ll pop up again.
While the family dynamic was examined from three perspectives, what really stood out was the maturity of both Barry Allen and Orlin Dwyer as parents. Everybody this week brought their best and achieved the best. The effects of Barry and Nora speeding across Central City across buildings was really cool too see and it felt like a comic panel brought to life. Again, a bit of a miss on Weather Witch’s story arc. Fingers crossed for a second chapter. Missing seeing ya, Joe. Get well soon, Jesse.