The Flash’s 16th episode (“Failure is an Orphan”) is full of hits and misses. Iris tries to spend every last minute with Nora, while Nora is single-mindedly focused on saving her dad. Nora is absolutely frenetic about it, getting more and more wound up as the episode goes on (it was worth it to get Sherloque and Cisco’s quip exchange: “You two did this.” “You made her.” “You’re responsible.” SNORT). (Side note: I love the Jitters scene, when her folks reveal her drink namesake. It was adorable.) I also love that Sherloque is sharp as he is, honing in on Nora’s weirdness.
Sherloque, too, was rather charming in this episode, even when faced with the prospect of going home. I just about died when Cisco started waxing poetic about holo cubes. But I thought there was a quiet sadness to Sherloque, a melancholy that’s borne of facing down an impeding loss: “I am going to miss you both very much. But you will miss me more.” The lines were tinged with humor, but how often do we make a joke to conceal real feelings? Often. So often.
The initial confrontation scene with Cicada was great. Seeing Killer Frost in action is always a win. But there’s something refreshing about Barry not getting something right the first time, about the team having to scramble—together—to figure things out. Time and again, the central message of the show is “stronger together.” It was also Cecille and Joe’s lesson for this outing. It was fascinating to see Joe and Cecille team up, but it was more fascinating to see them have a squabble—and to see how they handled it. Joe getting a pep talk from Barry was stellar.
The first confrontation was just a gateway for the second, leaving Barry to appeal to Cicada’s humanity, not as a superhero, but as himself. It’s a reminder that a person doesn’t have to be the fastest man alive to make a difference. This also meant that Barry had to touch on Cicada’s humanity, in the ironic form of Grace: “She didn’t choose to be a meta. … Does that mean she deserves to die?” It was effective. (But also: sweet fancy Moses, Allen, please stop revealing your identity every third episode.)
Still, I intrigued by the reveal of Grace at the end. Obviously, there’s a lot to unpack there (how, why, how), which will unfold. It’s already been established that Grace harbors a great deal of animosity, but why kill the doctor? Why not kill Team Flash when she had the chance? Why dress like a low-rent Strider from Lord of the Rings? Seriously, all that was missing was a halfling and a ring wraith. But I digress.
That said, the moment in the beginning between Nora and Thawne was exquisite. It’s clear, if not startling, that Thawne has some real affection for her. He stops her from berating herself, shows her kindness. And the glimpse of their relationship aside, I thought the Wizard of Oz-esque line was great: “is it a good timeline or is it a bad timeline?”
That’s the thing with change, with not having a crystal ball. The answer to that question is never certain. Time will reveal that truth, as it always does.