The search for a metahuman thief going after high-tech weapons leads Team Flash to a confrontation with the mystery man they come to call Cicada.
The Flash comics of Geoff Johns (character of Cicada) and Van Jensen (character of Block)
Why don't Barry and Nora go running after Block once the block around Nora fades? Though they're some distance away, Block still has a big, obvious truck full of guns to move and they should easily be able to track her down at super-speed.
Gratifying as it is to see Iris doing actual journalism for a change, one wonders why the CCPD hadn't thought to check the body-cam footage of the injured officers to figure out what killed Gridlock.
Barry says a 10-61 is the police code for taking a coffee break. This does not correspond to any Police 10 Code System used in the United States (It could be different in the Arrowverse, or Barry is lying to keep Nora from running off half-cocked.)
If the events of the episode are happening in sequence, Barry and Iris are able to track Block using the Doppler radar BEFORE she actually uses her powers and creates a traceable pocket of compressed air.
Carlos Valdez, normally the cheerful comic relief, does a fantastic job capturing how depression can make a person numb.
Danielle Panabaker gets a nice, subtle performance here, showing Caitlin as clearly being sympathetic toward Cisco while simultaneously trying to mask her own desire to avoid dealing with the questions around why her father faked his death.
The character of Vanessa Jensen (aka Block) is based on a Flash villain who is alternatively known as The Block or The Human Block. First appearing in DC Sneak Peak #1 (May 2015), Block was one of the Acolytes of Zoom - a team formed by Eobard Thawne to hunt Barry Allen across time.
The comic book version of Block was an unnamed Maori woman living in Melbourne, Australia who was struck by lightning and acquired the ability to alter her body's density by using the Speed Force to slow the molecular motion in her own body, compacting the atoms and making them denser and stronger. She was later able to apply this ability to the air around her, creating solid forms and could even drain the Speed Force energy from other people.
The Arrowverse version of Block is a woman with the name of Vanessa Jensen. This seems to be a tribute to writer Van Jensen, who co-created the comic book version of Block. She has the power to create "blocks" of solidified air that are so dense a speedster cannot vibrate through them.
Cisco says "Holy Kafka" when he sees that one of the steps on Ralph's guide to getting over a break-up is Metamorphosis. This is a reference to a novella by Franz Kafka, which centers around a man who wakes up one day to find he has transformed into a giant cockroach.
The Arrowverse version of Cicada is shown to have the power to negate the powers of other metahumans. He also has telekinetic control over his special daggers and appears to gain enhanced strength and durability after he drains the power of another metahuman. This differs dramatically from the comic book version of Cicada, who basically drained the life in general from people (not just metahumans) and didn't gain any special abilities beyond an extended life span from doing it.
Cisco compares Cicada's command of his dagger to Thor's command of Mjolnir - the magical hammer he could summon to his hand in the Marvel Comics.
Cisco bought a new spectral tachyometer to try and get rid of Nora's negative tachyons.
Cisco and Gypsy's powers linked them together through pan-dimensional spacetime. As such, Cisco is still feeling her presence in response to everything he does and can't use his vibe powers because of his depression regarding their break-up.
Nora makes reference to a scene-wide modified bosonic frequency field - a device that somehow enables CSIs in the future to handle materials on a crime scene without risking contamination.
The flesh cube is far denser than a pound of flesh, weighing more than Barry can lift despite its small size.
Block manipulates atoms to create concentrated air molecules in cube form. These cubes are incredibly dense and the space between the molecules is so compact that there isn't enough wiggle room for a speedster to vibrate through them.
Barry says that speedsters need to know about physics, aerodynamics and trajectory formulas to truly use their powers effectively.
The key to Higgs particles isn't their mass but the effect they have on the mass of other particles.
10-61 is the police code for an officer requesting permission to go on a coffee break. (In APCO Police 10 code, 10-61 is the signal for Stopping A Suspicious Vehicle.)
Nora and Iris realize they can track Block by measuring the atmospheric pressure with a big barometer (i.e. Channel 52's Doppler radar.) and find a six block radius where the conditions are the same as an extreme atmospheric system.
Caitlin says that the levels of concentrated dark matter around the wounds left by Cicada's dagger on Cisco's hand are unlike any she's ever seen before.
(Nora has just confessed that she lied about being trapped in the past.)
Cisco: Are you kidding me?! Do you know how many credit card points I just blew trying to get rid of your negative tachyons? I just bought a brand new spectral tachyometer when I could have my Fiji get away. (pauses and sighs) Not that... not that I have anyone to go with. Anymore.
(Ralph opens his mouth.)
Cisco: I'm not taking you to Fiji, Ralph.
(Ralph asks Cisco to vibe Caitlin's dad's faked death certificate.)
Cisco: (depressed) Cisco is not available right now. Please leave a message.
Ralph: (without missing a beat) Oh! Uh, hey Cisco? It's Ralph. Hope you're doing well. Just, get back to me. I need you to vibe this as soon as possible. Bye-bye!
(Caitlin and Ralph discuss how to cheer Cisco up as if he weren't there.)
Cisco: Please stop caring about me.
(Nora spots the flesh cube that once was Bobby Moretti.)
Nora: What is that?!
Barry: That, I haven't gotten to yet, but it looks like somebody wanted their pound of flesh.
(Nora reaches down and touches the cube.)
Barry: Nora, wait!
Barry: What are you doing? You can't touch that! You'll contaminate the evidence!
Nora: Sorry. You mean you don't have a scene-wide modified bosonic frequency field to avoid cross-contamination?
Barry: I don't even think we have some of those words yet!
(Caitlin is trying to get Cisco's attention but he is so depressed he is totally zoned out. Ralph waves her off and leans in close to Cisco.)
Ralph: (whispers) Han shot second.
(Cisco jumps out of his chair and grabs Ralph by the shirt, suddenly furious.)
Cisco: THAT DOESN'T EVEN MAKE SENSE!
(Barry asks Joe how he can stop Nora from going over the top in trying to impress him.)
Joe: Bar, all the information that this girl has on you comes from that museum. There are literally statues of you on pedestals. How much do you think she wants to impress her hero?
Barry: So what do I do?
Joe: Well, show her it's okay not to be perfect coming out of the gate. There's no short cuts. It takes time to get things right. And that's not failure. That's life. Also, show her that, no matter what, you're always going to love her. That's what parents do.
Cisco: Why don't you want to investigate your dad's death certificate?
Caitlin: (sighs) Because. If it's true? If he has been alive this whole time? It just means he doesn't want to see me.
(There is a long pause as Caitlin stares at her cinnamon roll and Cisco tries to think of something to say. Finally, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out Ralph's list.)
Cisco: Step 27: Accept that she isn't the love of your life, because if she were, she'd still be in it.
Caitlin: Pretty deep for Ralph Dibny.
Cisco: (snorts) Yeah. Granted, it took him 26 swings before he could hit the ball.
Cisco: I don't know. I think he might of knocked it out of the park with that one. (sighs) Gypsy isn't the one. I know that. And there's no amount of new clothes or crazy makeover distractions that can change that fact. Because some truths you can only hide from for so long. And the truth is it's too late for me to change things with her. But it's not to late for you. It's not too late for you to change things with your dad.
Caitlin:(quietly) But what if he doesn't want anything to do with me?
Cisco: If he doesn't, wouldn't you rather face that truth instead of spending the rest of your life wondering?
(Caitlin bites her lip and wipes a tear away.)
Barry: Sometimes for people with our abilities, the most impressive feat is restraint.
Cicada is seen recalling his battle with Gridlock, while sitting in a locker room at some sort of factory.
Nora tells the rest of Team Flash that she lied about being stuck in the past.
Nora also shows them the 2049 newspaper article about how Barry never came back from disappearing in 2024.
Cecile's telepathic connection to Jenna is still fading.
Bobby and Bruno Moretti are the biggest arms dealers in Central City.
Vanessa Jensen was one of their former employees. She was in Iron Heights prison for four years. She was affiliated with the East Street Skulls gang.
Vanessa crushes Bobby Moretti into a small cube.
Nora poses as an intern that Barry hired to help him with his case backlog.
Captain Singh tells Iris that William "Gridlock" Lang was killed en route to Iron Heights.
Ralph has written a book, The Book of Ralph, which has one page devoted to his 27 step plan to getting over a failed romance. We don't get to see the whole list, but what we do see includes...
1. Shark cage diving (Make sure you have no paper cuts)
2. Positive Affirmations.
3. Watch "Beaches" and paint your toe-nails. (Pastels look best.)
4. Rearrange your record collection autobiographically. (After 3 months, arrange by color.)
5. Give your best bud $20 every time you think of your ex. (Go to ATM first.)
6. Attend a Corgi beach festival (bring treats!)
7. Take a hot air balloon ride to Star City.
8. Hit the gym - twice a day!
9. Eat an entire pizza.
10. Goat yoga.
11. Rent a Vespa. (Try to look cool on it.)
12. Metamorphosis. (not like The Fly)
13. Storm out of wherever you are. (Slam doors if possible.)
14. Go "find yourself" in Thailand. (First, find Thailand)
15. Fly a kite in a lightning storm.
27. Realize she isn't the love of your life. If she were, she'd still be in your life.
Officer Matthews was one of the officers guarding Gridlock. He is a fan of Iris' blog. He tells her about Cicada's attack on the convoy delivering Gridlock to Iron Heights. He says he was beaten up but Lang seemed to be the only target as he was beaten and stabbed.
Cecile wants to use Harry Wells' Mental Activity Dampener 2.0 so that she can keep reading Jenna's thoughts. Joe is against the idea.
Nora didn't know that Barry spent some time in prison during his battle with The Thinker. She says there was nothing about that in The Flash Museum and apparently Iris didn't tell her about that. (This suggests that Barry Allen's secret identity is not public knowledge in the future.)
The East Street Skulls are involved in drug-trafficking, gun-running and armed robbery. Barry says they make The Hell's Angels look like a knitting club and that he ran into a few of them while he was in prison.
Cisco has not relaunched Sally, The STAR Labs satellite yet.
Vanessa Jensen is dubbed Block by Cisco.
Ralph says his 27 step process doesn't start really kicking into effect until Step 17.
Ralph has a personal stylist named Bruce.
Cisco's cousin is not John Stamos.
Cisco eventually asks why they just don't ask Joe to look into the falsified death certificate instead of depending on his Vibe powers. This causes Caitlin to tell Ralph and Cisco to forget about the certificate.
Nora asks Barry how to do a super-sonic punch like in 106.
Nora says the high-school textbooks of her time cover physics that haven't even been discovered in 2018.
Nora refers to the events of 115 (when Barry stopped a tsunami) and 202 (throwing lightning at a sand demon).
Nora attempts to throw lightning and throws Barry through a blackboard by accident.
Barry set the gym on fire with his fourth grade science fair project. He built a robot with wheels instead of making a baking soda volcano like everyone else.
Caitlin admits that she's trying to avoid investigating her dad's faked death because she's afraid he wants nothing to do with her.
Barry shows Nora some video footage of his failures to show that he screwed up as The Flash quite often.
Nora and Iris realize they can track Block by using the local news station's radar to find pockets of compressed air.
Block is tracked to the corner of Pacific and Davies.
Nora realizes that Block can't use her powers when she is tired. This allows her to dodge her blocks and wear her out.
Nora runs Block to the hospital after she is stabbed by Cicada.
Cisco is unable to pull Cicaca's dagger from the ground and burns his hands on it when Cicada summons it back to his hand.
Cicada is about to kill The Flash when Nora returns and shouts out "Dad!" For some reason, this (or the sight of Nora) causes Cicada to stop in mid-strike and he walks off before anyone can stop him.
Cisco tries to vibe the fake death certificate for Caitlin one more time. She has a vision of her mother standing there as it was filled out.
Iris identifies the weird noise of Cicada's breathing as the same noise she heard on the video of Gridlock's murder.
Nora recognizes the name of Cicada.
The Bottom Line
A typical villain-of-the-week episode with a largely forgettable villain. Thankfully, the focus on Team Flash and the comedy trio of Caitlin, Cisco and Ralph more than make-up for it. The only unfortunate thing is that virtually all of the cast is sidelined so that Iris can be the one to uncover Cicada's existence, which undercuts the fact that the show is finally allowing Iris to act like a real journalist instead of the "team leader" who is calling the shots at STAR Labs. Still... baby steps.
Despite that one issue, this episode works quite well on every level and Nora manages to maintain the right balance between earnest and annoying. Cicada also gets one heck of an introduction, though the effort to humanize him at the start is rather strange. Still, a strong start to the season so far.