This post contains spoilers for The Flash.
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If you’ve been waiting for Cicada arc to mercifully come to a close, “Failure is an Orphan” gives you your wish. Kind of. The episode revolves around Team Flash’s mission to find the serial killer and get him to agree to taking the cure. While they keep their focus on Orlin, newly returned Joe West and our favorite DA Cecile Horton work on bringing in Doctor Ambres.
Throughout it all, Nora is still working with Eobard in the future. We’ve seen Thawne as a menace since his introduction. We’ve seen him scheme, we’ve seen him apoplectic, we’ve even seen him introspective. But we’ve never seen him worried. Thawne’s rarely worried because he’s always in control, but that control starts to shift when the timeline becomes less clear. He’s not sure what’s changing things, but he knows he can’t stop it if he can’t predict it, and that clock of his is getting closer and closer to zero.
Eobard’s worry makes Nora push harder to find their guy, much to the chagrin of Team Flash. Though they do ultimately manage to corner Cicada, The Flash’s first attempt to convince him to take the meta cure is a big ‘ol bust. Turns out it’s kind of difficult to convince a bigot to stop being a bigot. It is, however, a little easier to help convince a bigot to save his bigot spawn.
I’ll level with you— “Failure is an Orphan” is not my cup of tea. There’s something great buried in Iris’ desperation to get time in with her daughter before she leaves, but there’s no reason Nora has to leave immediately after stopping Cicada. Then there’s the primary point of the episode: convincing Cicada to take the cure. It’s always great to see characters like The Flash and Supergirl flexing their compassion muscles and changing hearts, and I’m always here for a moment that sparks a Joe West dad advice session. What’s not great is just taking off your mask in front of a serial killer, and then keeping it off around said serial killer’s doctor accomplice.
And then there’s the twist. We can all celebrate the removal of Orlin Dwyer as the big bad, and young Grace will likely be infinitely more terrifying. But something about the reveal was just so meh. We’ll undoubtedly learn more about why Grace killed Doctor Ambres, and why she didn’t kill the entirety of Team Flash, but the key to convincing Orlin to take the cure was also what made a “big reveal” painfully obvious. The reveal of Grace as Cicada came with not a bang, but a whisper, concluding an episode that was just deeply “okay”.
Next week, on the other hand? Next week looks exciting as hell. Sometimes that’s the price we pay in shows with a twenty-three episode run. “Failure is an Orphan” may have walked so next week’s episode could run. At a loss for what to do next, Eobard Thawn advises young Nora to tell her father everything. Barry’s about to find out that his little girl has been helping the man who mercilessly slaughtered the woman she’s named after. Should be a grand ol’ time! In addition to that, the introduction of Grace as Cicada sets up an exciting moral conundrum for the team: world's worst serial killer lays comatose in a hospital not ten miles from you before any of it starts. What do you do?
You know what to do if you had thoughts on this week’s episode!