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The Big Bad Bug Man on THE FLASH

The Flash’s second episode (“Blocked”) introduces us to Cicada, and it’s the least intimidating name I’ve heard in a while—especially for a dude who looks like a super evil Subzero, with a slight Zeus obsession. I mean, the lightning bolt of doom is an interesting weapon. And Cicada, name aside, is menacing and formidable. I did find it fascinating that he paused in attempting to stab a dazed Barry, because Nora called out for her dad. There was a spark of recognition and maybe compassion in the way he looked at her. I’m curious to see what else we learn about Evil Bug Man.

Speaking of villains, Vanessa and her blocks was interesting. She was a bit one-note, but she didn’t need to be any deeper than she was. I liked that trying to find her was what helped bring Team West-Allen together, letting Iris in on the family superhero action. I also thought it was a great vehicle for Barry to relate to Nora (the parent issue), because Nora is totally Barry: earnest, wide-eyed, wants to please. And it allowed for a nice moment between Joe and Barry, wherein he realizes that parenting is hard: “She keeps taking things on that she can’t handle yet. … She hears the opposite of what I’m saying.” When Joe’s words sunk in, Barry’s recognition was really excellently done, dawning slowly on his face. (I mean, for a speedster, he can be so slothy on the uptake.) The show’s heart is its interpersonal relationships, and the dynamic is really working so far. (Side note: I love Cecile and Joe together, and I liked her panicked vulnerability/fear around losing her powers. Every parent worries about not being a good parent, and I think that panic was well conveyed.)

Which brings us to the hilarity that is Ralph trying to help a mopey Cisco deal with his broken heart. It was surprisingly sweet, even if Cisco’s makeover ended up with him looking like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. (Someone get me a Royale with cheese.) Although Ralph hasn’t gotten in on the fighting action yet (and Cisco has only barely), it is great seeing him be a friend. He’s a really great addition to the cast, and I hope they keep him around for a long time—even if he lied about John Stamos being his cousin, clearly a cardinal sin.

All goofiness aside, the friendship squad is pretty great, and I liked that Cisco returned the favor and pressed Caitlin about her dad. Girlfriend is scared to follow the breadcrumbs via the death certificate, because she’s terrified her dad won’t want to see her. Danielle Panabaker is exquisite at conveying 10,000 feelings in a single look. It was a great moment, and I loved that Cisco was a solid friend. He didn’t tell her it would be okay. He reminded her that knowing is better than wondering. And we learned that her momma had a hand in whatever went down, so that Thanksgiving dinner is gonna be hella awkward this year.

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