Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Flash 5x03 Review: "The Death of Vibe" (Of Course He Isn’t Dead) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"The Death of Vibe"
Original Airdate: October 23, 2018 

I really thought it’d be a while before The Flash season five delivered a meh episode, but here we are on episode three and... meh. It’s not totally clear why “The Death of Vibe” didn’t strike my fancy. Maybe it was the cheapness of the implication they were going to kill off Cisco? Or maybe it’s because it lacked the cohesion of last week’s episode, where every storyline seemed to feed into another storyline and lead to a bigger whole.

Despite putting a lot of emphasis on the villain of the season, this week’s episode felt like filler. That bad on two counts — first of all, it’s way too early to start throwing filler out there; and second, an episode all about the heroes trying to figure out the primary villain should not feel like filler regardless of where it falls in the season.


Cicada is a serial killer Nora knows from the future, and he’s also probably a dad! Yeah, that’s pretty much the gist of the A-plot this episode. Not super interesting stuff this time around, but I am a bit impressed that the show didn’t try to fake a classic story structure by giving us a metahuman of the week. It’s all Cicada, all the time for Team Flash.

When Nora tells the team that Cicada is a serial killer The Flash never manages to capture, everyone decides they need a Wells to provide some brain power. They call on the German Wells first, but German Wells sends them to Sherloque Wells, a vaguely French detective with several ex-wives and a tendency toward con-artistry. I mean, he genuinely is a detective (I guess), but he’s solved the Cicada identity issue so many times that he just fakes the investigation part and immediately names Cicada as David Hersch.

The problem? Cicada is not David Hersch this time. I don’t know how this makes any sense, but Nora’s time travel hijinks have somehow made Cicada someone else. Further muddling this whole plot: if Sherloque has caught so many Cicadas from all the other Earths, why does this Earth never catch him? Is it a time loop thing, like Nora always goes back in time and therefore always mucks up the timeline, making catching Cicada impossible?

Cicada is after Cisco. Not sure what the deal is exactly, but it seems like once Cicada targets a meta, he feels compelled to finish the job, and Cisco escaped last time he confronted him. Again, questions: Barry and Ralph also escaped from a Cicada fight, but Cicada is specifically targeting Cisco/Vibe. Why?

Joe West shows up in a lot of photos with Team Flash fighting bad guys, so Cicada hunts down Joe and tries torturing him into calling Vibe. Joe holds up pretty well, but when Cicada implies he’s going to kill baby Jenna, Cecile panics and hits the button for calling Team Flash. Vibe breaches in and Cicada immediately throws him back into a breach that spits him out in the woods.

Using a breaching device and an explosion, Nora helps Cisco fake Vibe’s death to get Cicada off his trail. I guess that means Cisco won’t be able to help during fights anymore?

Later on, Joe surmises that Cicada is a father, which I guess explains his response to Nora saying “dad” in the last episode. Also, he’s right. The next scene shows Cicada visiting his comatose daughter in the hospital. The doctor caring for the little girl is apparently used to this weird guy looming in the shadows, and she asks him to show her a glowing slash-wound on his chest. Again, the doctor is unfazed by this level of weirdness.

Sherloque, in debt to Team Flash for faking the Cicada investigation, has to stay on Earth-1 until he pays them back. Nora is invited to stay with Barry and Iris, and while she’s leaving the STAR Labs lounge she’d been staying in, Sherloque asks her a couple questions about her motivations for traveling back in time. Her shifty avoidance implies it hadn’t been solely her idea.


Whether it’s the writers sidelining the character or her story just not factoring into the grander scheme of things, Caitlin’s mostly been relegated to the Other Things section of my reviews. I do love Caitlin as a character, but her storylines always seem... periphery. Not important enough to get their own review sections, but not locked into the A-plot enough to warrant mention in the main sections. Now, I’m not saying that Caitlin’s story this episode is particularly engaging compared to her plots in the past, but the dullness of this week’s A-plot made it feel a lot more even.

It’s just weird that I’m starting to think so positively about storylines heavily involving Ralph Dibny. Side question: who is responsible for rewriting the Dibny character into someone way more likable than he was all last season? And is this person capable of performing other miracles?

This week, Ralph and Caitlin are still working on a holdover plot from the previous two episodes: it appears that Caitlin’s father faked his death, since the ME who signed off on his death warrant doesn’t exist. Not sure why a person faking their death wouldn’t just forge the signature of an actual ME, rather than inventing an easily debunkable phantom doctor, but there you go. Caitlin’s just getting over the emotional issues she was having last episode about whether or not her father would even want to see her again, and whether it would break her heart if she sought out answers.

Caitlin and Ralph go visit Caitlin’s mother, who is still incredibly unpleasant to her daughter, but Mrs. Caitlin’s Mom only says that Mr. Caitlin’s Dad is definitely dead. And to stop investigating, because she’s totally telling the truth. Yeah, that level of avoidance and insistence that someone ignore obvious discrepancies during an investigation is never suspicious. Understandably, Caitlin and Ralph choose to go another route: breaking and entering! Yaaaay, crime!

After the Caitlin’s mom’s office is closed up for the night, Caitlin and Ralph break in. Ralph uses his stretchy powers to reach under the door, but everything inside is guarded by lasers. Caitlin has to guess her mom’s passcode, which turns out to be Caitlin’s birth date. I’m sure we’re supposed to assume this implies Caitlin’s mom does truly love her daughter, but I’m just thinking about what terrible security that is. Your daughter’s birth date is easily discoverable by anyone, lady! You protected your files with lasers, but used the numerical equivalent of making your password “password”?

Caitlin discovered old papers from her dad’s research and a periodic table game they used to play together when she was a little girl. Neeeerds! After reading through the papers, Caitlin doubts her father was in his right mind — none of his notes make sense. It takes her until the end of the episode to figure out the periodic table game was a key to a message from Caitlin’s father: “CAITLIN, COME FIND ME.”

Other Things:

  • I don’t know if I like having a comedic Wells character as our primary Wells, especially one faking a silly accent. Any drama of this season will be severely undercut or turn from pathos to bathos.
  • I did, however, love German Wells’s love for the West-Allen/Flash family. And Cisco’s anger over it.
  • Nora says that Cicada’s dagger even renders Supergirl powerless? How does that make any sense? Supergirl isn’t a metahuman; she’s an alien from another universe.
  • "I'll sidekick your face." Good one, Cisco.
  • Next week: I might get my wish for insight on the Nora/Future Iris dynamic!


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