Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Flash Season 5, Episode 3: The Death Of Vibe

This week on The Flash, we get a peek into the future of STAR Labs, find out a bit more of Cicada's backstory and see the return of a familiar face. Oh, and despite the title, no one dies in this episode.

If you've been wondering when Team Flash would get a new Wells, then this is your lucky episode. Having a different version of Harrison Wells each season has been a tradition since the series started, but sadly the gag's starting to wear thin.

Over the past four years, Tom Cavanagh did an amazing job playing Harrison, Harry and HR Wells, giving each of them their own distinct personality.

But then there's the matter of the various lesser Wellseses he's portrayed, which seem to be nothing more than an excuse for him to dress up and do funny accents. These throwaway versions are played so broadly they're downright cartoonish they're caricatures rather than characters. 

Plus the series seems to think they're much funnier than they really are. I'm sure it's a hoot for Cavanagh to play all these different versions of the same character, but it's starting to become a bit grating for the audience. 

Based on this initial appearance, Sherloque Wells feels like one of these lesser cartoonish versions of Wells. Surely Cavanagh's not gonna talk in that unconvincing French accent all season, is he? It's too early to panic yet though, so I'll reserve my judgement of the character for now.

Like father, like daughter! This week we find out that even though Nora's only been in the present for a month or less, she's already screwed up the timeline to the point where Cicada's turned into a completely different person! Way to keep it in the family, I guess.

By the way, does it seem odd for Nora to worry that she's changed the timeline too much, but then suggest they change it even further by bringing in a new Wells to fix it? That's some twisted logic there.

We learn a little more about Cicada this week, as he has the standard "dying child fueling a hatred of metahumans" revenge motivation. Yawn.

Also, I'm puzzled by Cicada's sudden interest in Vibe. It literally came out of nowhere, and needed more time to breathe in order to work. As is, this subplot felt like it was just wedged into the episode.


The Plot:
We begin with a flashforward to 2032, as a young Nora West-Allen wanders through the Flash Museum in Central City, looking at the various displays.

In the present, Nora explains to Barry and the others that of all the Flash's many villains, Cicada was the most dangerous because no one ever found out his secret identity, and he was never caught. Even worse, she worries that by coming back in time she's already altered history, as Cicada's appeared long before he's supposed to.

Nora comes up with a plan. She says in her timeline Team Flash didn't have a version of Harrison Wells, so if they bring in one now, he might be able to help them catch Cicada. Barry agrees, and tells Cisco to contact Herr Harrison Wolfgang Wells of Earth-12. Cisco says that's a bad idea, as that particular Wells is an asshat, but calls him up anyway.

Herr Wells says he's way to busy to help, but gives them the name and Earth of a different Wells, who's the greatest detective in the Multiverse. Cisco receives the coordinates, opens a breach, and Harrison Sherloque Wells steps through.

Meanwhile, an unmasked Cicada sits in the Central City Library (!), looking through online crime reports. For some reason he's decided to target Vibe, who's possibly the least prominent superhero in Central City. Personally I'd eliminate the Flash first, but what do I know. Unfortunately for Cicada, he can't act against Vibe until he discovers his secret identity. He sees Joe West in the background of one of the photos, and squints meaningfully.

Back at STAR Labs, Sherloque demonstrates his formidable abilities by deducing highly personal truths about each member of Team Flash. Suitably impressed, they agree to take him in. He tells them he doesn't work for free though, and charges them an enormous amount for his services. Barry's forced to accept his terms.

Sherloque studies their info and says he's deduced that Cicada is a man named David Hersch, and knows where to find him. Barry and Nora head out to capture him.

Caitlin asks Ralph to go with her to pay a visit to her mom, Dr. Carla Tannhauser, to ask if she knows anything about her father's fake death certificate. Tannhauser says she has no idea what she's talking about, and assures Caitlin that her father is not only merely dead, he's really most sincerely dead. She tells to drop the notion that her father's still alive, which isn't suspicious at all.

Barry and Nora show up atDavid Hersch's secret hideout. They disable a series of booby traps at super speed and capture him.

That night, Joe's at home reading when Cicada enters his house. He demands he summon Vibe, but Joe refuses. Cicada knocks him out.

Meanwhile, Ralph tells Caitlin that her mom is obviously lying about the death certificate, so they somehow sneak into Tannhauser Industries after hours. They rifle through Dr; Tannhauser's papers, and Caitlin finds a periodic table containing fanciful elements that she made with her dad. She also finds a suicide note from him.

At STAR Labs, the Gang discovers that David Hersch isn't Cicada after all, and they all turn to Sherloque for an explanation. He admits that he's identified Cicada on thirty seven other Earths in the Multiverse, and each time he was David Hersch. Nora says her actions must have somehow changed who Cicada is on this Earth (?).

Barry's upset that Sherloque didn't even try to figure out Cicada's identity here, and just "copied his own work." He demands he refund their money, but Sherloque conveniently says it's already been spent (?). Team Flash then says Sherloque's going to stay on Earth 1 until he works off the money he owes them, thus setting up his reason for being on the show this season.

Joe wakes up and sees he's tied to a chair. Cicada demands to know Vibe's identity again, and shocks Joe with his lightning bolt dagger. Joe still refuses to tell. Cicada picks up a photo of Barry & Iris and says he has a lovely family, implying he'll harm them if Joe doesn't cooperate.

Ralph apologizes to Caitlin for pushing her to investigate her dad's death, which caused her to find out he committed suicide. She says she's not upset, as at least now she has closure. And thus the writers set up a Caitlin/Ralph romance. Hey, they gotta give Ralph some reason for being on the show, now that they just brought in a second detective.

Back at STAR, Nora discovers Sherloque's hat sitting on top of a pile of ash, and says he was apparently vaporized when a faulty fuel cell in the pipeline exploded next to him. Cisco examines the remains and says the ash is actually tea leaves, and Sherloque is trying to fake his death to get out of paying them back. Barry searches the building at superspeed and returns with Sherloque, who sheepishly admits he was trying to skip out on them. Don't worry, this scene actually has a point that'll become apparent later.

Cecile wakes up and realizes her powers haven't completely faded, as she "hears" Joe's distress in her mind. She sneaks downstairs and sees him being menaced by Cicada. She pushes the Flash Alert app on her phone. Cicada hears her and moves to grab her.

Cisco sees the alert and grabs his Vibe gear. Just as Cicada's about to kill Cecile, Cisco breaches to the scene. Cicada tackles him and the two fly through the breach just before it closes. Barry arrives a split second later, and Cecile tells him he's too late.

Cisco radios the Gang and says he came out of the breach into a forest, but isn't sure where it is. He tries to open another breach, but his powers have been negated. Just then Cicada throws his metal bolt at him. It narrowly misses him and Cisco takes off running. Sherloque asks him to describe the forest, and narrows it down to Kolins Woods. Barry speeds off.

Cicada throws his bolt and it lodges in Cisco's back (!). Cicada recalls the bolt, and it pulls Cisco to him. He hurls him against a tree. Just then Barry arrives, but Cicada cancels out his powers as well. Barry tries punching Cicada the normal way, but he's no match for him.

Nora revs up and begins thinking at superspeed, and actually comes up with a way to defeat Cicada and save the others. She grabs a fuel cell from the pipeline (told you it'd become important later) and speeds to Kolins woods. She tosses the fuel cell to Cisco, who throws it at Cicada. Unfortunately he bats it away with his bolt.

The cell flies toward Cisco and explodes in a huge blast of blue energy. Cicada somehow forms a forcefield to protect himself. In the aftermath of the blast, he sees Cisco's been obliterated, as the only thing left of him are his glasses and gauntlets. He crushes them beneath his boot.

Cicada then turns to Barry, intending to kill him. Cicada stops when he realizes he's bleeding. He makes a hasty exit by flying straight up into the air (?).

Barry looks forlornly at Cisco's gear, lying broken at the bottom of a crater. Suddenly a breach opens, and Cisco steps out of it. Barry's puzzled (as is the audience), so Cisco explains that when Nora arrived in the forest, she slipped him a handheld breaching device at superspeed. Since Cicada can't nullify mechanical devices, Cisco used the breacher to escape a second before the fuel cell exploded. Nora says they seemingly gave Cicada just what he wanted the death of Vibe.

In the wrap up, Iris invites Nora to live in their house, hoping to connect with her future daughter. Caitlin pores through the files she took from her mom's office. She looks at the fake periodic table, and realizes there's a code embedded in it. She works out the code and it spells out, "CAITLIN COME FIND ME."

Joe tells Iris about how Cicada was staring at his family photos, and says he thinks he's a father.

Cut to an unmasked Cicada visiting a hospital, where his young daughter lies in a coma. A nurse enters and says, "Hello, Orlin." She tells him there's no change in his daughter's condition, and says he has to stop what he's doing. He says he can't until it's finished.

At STAR, Sherloque chats with Nora. He mentions how she could have come to the past at any time, but chose to appear at the moment that DeVoe's satellite was falling to Earth and help Barry punch it. He wonders if that was all her idea, or if someone else influenced her? She looks troubled and walks off.

• The episode begins with our first ever look at the Flash Museum! As you might expect, this 
scene is jam packed with items and artifacts from previous episodes. I'll list all the ones I saw, but I'm not gonna try and figure out what episodes they appeared in. I just ain't got that kind of time. Plus I can't remember!

Oddly enough, it appears the Museum's inside a converted STAR Labs! Does that mean Team Flash will find a new HQ sometime in the next fourteen years?

And amazingly, it looks like by 2032 they've FINALLY fixed the damaged pylon!

As Nora enters the Museum, she walks past two displays featuring the Reverse Flash on the left, and The Thinker on the right.

We then see a shot of several more villain exhibits. From Left to right, that's Doctor Light's suit, the Trickster's costume (the Axel Walker version), Zoom's black outfit and Amunet Black's ensemble.

Next up is a display of various helmets, suits and weapons used by the Flash's enemies. From Right to left is Savitar's suit (even though it was blown up real good in his final appearance), Captain Cold's barely visible cold gun, what appears to be Geomancer's gauntlets and the helmet General Eiling wore when he was under the mind control of Grodd. 

In the middle of the display is a silver helmet, and I can't quite tell for sure who's it is. It may be the "Man In The Iron Mask" helmet worn by Jay Garrick when he was held captive by Zoom (don't ask me how the Museum got ahold of THAT!), or it could possibly be Atom Smasher's headgear. I'm honestly not sure which.

Next are the sonic gauntlets used by Pied Piper and finally the Acid Water Pistol used by the Axel Walker Trickster.

On the table at the bottom of the frame is Captain Boomerang's, er, boomerang.

Next there's a nicely framed beauty shot of Cisco's Weather Wand, which was used by Weather Wizard. I still think that thing's based on the Eleventh Doctor's sonic screwdriver! Next to the wand, but not pictured here are the Samuroid's katanas.

• Nora tells Team Flash about Cicada, and says he was never caught. She says, "Supergirl, The Legends, even The League tried, but no one was successful.

Interesting! Obviously "The League" refers to The Justice League. Does that mean they're eventually going to make an appearance on the show? If so, let's hope it's an Arrowverse version of the team, and not the one that appeared in the incredibly mediocre 2017 movie.

So who would be in an Arrowverse version of The League? Obviously they'd fill the team with characters with their own shows, so Supergirl, the Flash and Arrow would be there. Maybe even Superman as well. Probably Martian Manhunter too. Maybe Atom? He was often a member in the comics. There's no Aquaman or Wonder Woman in the Arrowverse yet, so they're out. That'd be five members, and six if they bring in Superman. I guess that'd be enough.

It'd be nice if they brought Green Lantern to the Arrowverse at some point.

• Nora worries that she's already changed her past/our present, because Cicada's appeared much earlier than he was meant to. She also says he never killed Gridlock and Block in her timeline, as his first victim was a meta named Floyd Belkin.

Believe it or not, there was a Floyd Belkin in DC Comics. He was secretly Arm-Fall-Off Boy, a member of the Legion Of Super Heroes. And yeah, his power allowed him to detach his own limbs and use them as clubs. Because comic books are amazing.

• So Nora decides the best way to change history and capture Cicada is to bring in a new Wells. Team Flash summons Harrison Sherloque Wells, a French (I guess) version who's allegedly the Multiverse's greatest detective.

WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, THE FLASH WRITERS?!!?? You already have a detective on your show Ralph Dibney. 

You guys pull this same trick every goddamned season. It's obvious you're already having trouble finding things for your large cast to do every week, and now you just made Ralph's job redundant. How long before you end up writing him off the show the way you did poor Wally? 

• After Sherloque lists his credentials, Team Flash agrees to take him on. They're shocked though when he mentions he expects to be paid for his services, and even more stunned when they see his asking price. 

When Iris wonders how they're going to come up with that much cash, Barry says, "I mean, we could sell off some of STAR Labs stock."

Wha...? What... what stock? How the hell would STAR Labs have any stock to sell? Are we really supposed to believe it's a publicly traded company? Do they really have a board of directors and regular shareholder meetings?

Doesn't a company generally need to manufacture a product, sell it and generate a profit before it can be listed on the stock exchange? Does STAR Labs do any of that? As far as I can see they produce nothing. Heck, the place only has two actual employees that we know of Cisco and Caitlin. Everyone else that hangs out there already has another job.

I'm pretty sure the writers are having some fun with the audience here. For years now, fans have wondered just how what STAR Labs does and how they manage to keep the lights on. The "selling stock" line was obviously meant to lampshade all that.

• For many decades, movies and TV shows would often feature the main character physically trudging to the library to research a plot point. These scenes would usually show them poring through a large stack or books, or scrolling through endless microfiche files.

Thanks to the internet, those forms of data storage are now obsolete. Today we all carry around a hand-held device that can access the knowledge of the entire world! But for some reason, characters STILL insist on going to the library for research. 

Which brings us to this episode. At one point we see Cicada sitting in the Central City Library, searching for info on Vibe. Why? Why can't he just look it up on his phone? Why's he have to leave his house and do his research in a goddamned library, like it's 1965?

I suppose we could be generous and say Cicada's trying to keep a low profile, and the public library computers are fairly anonymous. I suppose we could say that, but it still doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

• Sherloque tells us that all through the Multiverse, Cicada's secret identity is that of David Hersch. But thanks to Nora and her altering of the timeline, Cicada is now a completely different person named Orlin.

I'm struggling to understand just how that works. So Nora changes the past and a completely different person decides to adopt the exact same Cicada costume and MO that David Hersch was meant to. 

See what I mean? It doesn't make any sense. It'd be like someone stepping on a butterfly in 1970, and causing me to become the Son Of Sam instead of David Berkowitz.

• So in this episode, Sherloque incorrectly deduces that Cicada is a man named David Hersch, because that's his secret identity on thirty seven other worlds in the Multiverse.

Turns out that in the comics, Cicada actually is David Hersch. It would take 50,000 words to adequately explain his origin, so I'll try and boil it down as much as possible.

David Hersch was an architect and preacher who was born in 1890. During a violent outburst he murdered his wife, and was so distraught he tried to kill himself as well. Suddenly he was struck by a bolt of lightning (!) and found he could absorb the life force of others, extending his own life span.

He spent the next century trying to resurrect his wife. He also believed that he and the Flash were linked, because they both got their powers from a bolt of lightning. He formed a cult, and for some reason they decided to murder everyone the Flash ever saved, killing them with lightning bolt-shaped daggers. There's a lot more, but that's good enough for now.

It looks like the TV version of Cicada is trying to revive his comatose daughter, instead of bringing a wife back from the dead. Does this mean he caused his daughter's coma?

• When Elongated Man accidentally becomes an internet meme, Ralph worries that no one in Central City takes him seriously. Caitlin says, "Oh, there's 14 million people in this city. Only 500,000 have reposted this."

WOW! Are there really 14 MILLION people in Central City? Jesus Christ! That's more than the populations of New York City and Los Angeles combined! It's bigger than Tokyo, and the 
SEVENTH most populous city in the world! Somehow I don't think that's true.

I was gonna say the 14 million amount was probably just a figure of speech, like when a person says they have a "zillion" things to do. But Caitlin's the one who utters this line. You know, Caitlin— the no-nonsense, highly precise doctor/scientist of the group, who's not really prone to exaggeration and hyperbole.

Somebody on the writing staff needs to look at the latest census data, and fast!

• For the past three weeks now, Jesse L. Martin, who plays Joe West, has spent every episode sitting in a chair. He looks tired and weary as well, lacking that old spark he used to have. And this week his speech even sounded slurred. Something's definitely going on with him. It's not just me imagining things, as I've seen others around the internet noticing his condition as well.

Is he recovering from some kind of accident? Is he ill? I certainly hope not. Whatever the problem is, I hope he makes a full recovery soon.

UPDATE: Right before I hit the publish button, I found out that Marin suffered a back injury during the summer hiatus, which explains why he's been sitting down all season. As for the lack of energy, I'm guessing he's probably on some heavy duty pain meds.

According to a CW rep, Martin will be taking a medical leave from the show for a few weeks until he's back to speed (no pun intended).

• When Cicada invades the West home and threatens Joe, Cecile hears him and activates the "Distress App" on her phone. Cisco gets the alert on his phone, giving us a really good look at the app. He immediately grabs his gear and breaches to her house.

Um... how does he know the alert came from Cecile? The app just says "DISTRESS BROADCAST." It doesn't display anyone's name. It could have come from anyone. Did he just assume it was from Cecile because she's not at STAR Labs at the moment?

Even if he somehow intuited that it's from Cecile, how the hell does he know to go to her house? What if she's out shopping or driving on the freeway?

 At one point Sherloque tries to fake his own death by making it look like he's been vaporized by STAR Labs tech. Cisco calls shenanigans and says, "Barry, be a dear and check the building for a weasel in a pork pie hat, about yay tall, smells vaguely of poutine."

I was all set to mock Cisco, as I was dead certain that THIS is a pork pie hat. I was sure the one Sherloque left behind was just your basic fedora.

Welp, it turns out I was wrong. Sherloque's hat is indeed called a pork pie. The one I thought was a pork pie hat is actually called a flat cap. My entire life has been a lie!

By the way, when Barry finds Sherloque and drags him back to the pipeline, he's wearing his trademark pork pie, even though there's another sitting on top of the pile of ash. So did he bring TWO hats with him from his Earth? Or does STAR Labs also contain a haberdashery we've not seen before?

• After finding out that Sherloque bamboozled them, Team Flash demands he refund their cash. Unfortunately he tells them that money's "long gone," as he's already spent it on his considerable alimony. Jesus Christ! They just paid him an hour or two ago! Did he really contact his home Earth that quickly? And how does one go about transferring funds from one parallel Earth to another? Western Union? PayPal? Bitcoin?

In addition, Sherloque says he's had seven marriages and five wives. A bit later he mentions his fourth and sixth wives were the same woman, indicating he married her twice. That would still add up to six. That means he must have married one of his other wives twice as well!

• Cisco vibes to Joe's house to save Cecile. The instant he arrives, Cicada tackles him and the two fly backwards through the breach he just opened. When Team Flash finds out what happened, Nora says, "But a breach could take them anywhere."

Maybe I just don't understand the mechanics of breaches, but... wouldn't it take them right back to STAR Labs? Stay with me here a breach is basically a portal in space which connects two distant locations, right? Cisco opened a breach that led from STAR Labs into Joe's house and stepped through it, just as if he walked through a doorway. So when he and Cicada fell backward through the breach, they should have emerged right back in STAR Labs!

It shouldn't matter which way you walk through a breach it should always connect the same two locations.

• I loved the scene in which Nora figured out how to beat Cicada by taking a moment to think at super speed. I don't think we've ever seen a speedster use their power that way before on the show, and it was awesome!

• Team Flash decides the best way to defeat Cicada is to let him think he's killed Vibe. To that end, Cisco decides to lay low for a while and let the city think he's dead. We then a shot of Iris' blog, whose latest entry is titled "A World Without Vibe." It goes on to say, "Central City has lost one of its guardians."

Has it really? Sure, the average Central Citian is well aware of the Flash, but do they even know who Vibe is? From what I've seen he tends to avoid the spotlight, operating mostly behind the scenes.

This Week's Best Lines:
(Cicada demands Joe summon Vibe to his house)

Joe: "Yes, I mean, he helps CCPD, but it's not like I have a Vibe phone so I can just call him up. He's just a masked do-gooder that shows up at crime scenes."
Cicada: (threateningly) "This could be a crime scene."

Joe: "I'm not luring Vibe into a death trap. You can threaten me all you want. I'm not afraid."

Cicada: "I believe you. But you should be."

Cisco: (to Sherloque) "You make me miss Herr Wells."

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