The Flash, Season 5, Episode 4, “News Flash”
Each of the previous three episodes of this season has featured the introduction of some piece of larger story arc setup. We’ve learned a ton about the new big bad, Cicada; we’ve been given a fair amount of Nora’s backstory; we’ve even taken delivery of another new Wells. This week was more of the same, with the introduction of a dark matter infused bombshell at the end of the hour. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest episode of The Flash:
What’s the scoop: We kick off with Iris trying win Nora’s heart through her stomach, though Iris’ culinary skills are severely lacking (even lumpy pancakes should not be crunchy). Nora isn’t having any of it, and continues her passive-aggressive battle of wills against her mother. The war takes an even more personal turn when Nora talks about how great rival, Spencer Young’s superhuman centered app is because it regularly scoops Iris’ blog, and has a way bigger audience. Iris becomes concerned when it appears that Spencer has taken a particular interest in raising XS’ profile.
Meanwhile in B-plot Land: Secondary story mainstay, Ralph teams with Sherloque this week (Cisco was glaringly MIA). Without many clues to go on, Ralph is convinced there is meaning behind the mask Cicada wears and if they can discover its origins, they can find the fiend. Wells isn’t so convinced but comes along anyway, mostly to antagonize Ralph over his shoddy detective work. The trail leads the pair to a local factory, where all the employees (and the thousands of employees at other locations) wear masks on a daily basis. While that technically boils the suspect poll down a little, it feels like a failure to Ralph. But the mask gets Wells’ wheels turning, and helps him start to build a profile of who Cicada is. Wells unveils this profile for the team, and gives Ralph all the credit, because his dogged pursuit of the mask bore a significant amount of fruit.
What about the action: We learn Spencer has some kind of power that makes people act out the headlines she writes. No one is the wiser until a few incidents happen, and Team Flash compares the timing between Spencer’s posts and the first calls for aid. The posts always predate the actual events by several minutes. It appears that Spencer wants to get famous on the coattails of XS, and manipulates people and events so that XS appears more heroic, and therefore raises her profile. We get a few scenes of XS swooping in to save the day under Spencer’s sway, and a speedster vs. speedster piece in an empty stadium. It’s all a long walk for a couple of important reveals. Firstly, Nora is perpetually angry at Future Iris because she blocked Nora powers for most of her life. Secondly, when Nora and Barry blew up the satellite DeVoe infused with dark matter, the resulting shrapnel grants meta human ability to anyone or anything it touches, like Spencer’s phone or Cicada, who clearly has a dark matter shrapnel wound and has converted a piece of the satellite into the dagger he uses.
What’s next: With all the pieces laid out … the series is taking a couple of weeks off. Womp womp.
Last impressions: This episode fits the solid but unspectacular mold. Its strength this week was the character work put in surrounding the Iris-Nora rift. Though it hurts, Iris tells Nora her future self must have had a good reason to inhibit Nora’s powers, even if it meant hiding a huge part of Nora from herself. Nora is gobsmacked when Barry backs Iris without hesitation. In the aftermath, a petulant Nora decided to crash at Papa Joe’s place for a while. The introduction of meta tech is bubbling with possibility, and means we will get a new crop of superpowered bad guys that we don’t have to trace back to the night STAR Labs blew up. Overall, The Flash has started the season on the right foot, let’s hope that positive progress continues.