The curtain comes down on the Cicada saga next week, so “The Girl With The Red Lightning” is tasked with moving all the pieces into place for the grand finale. The episode is better at delivering emotional beats than airtight storytelling, although a certain amount of confusion may have been a desired effect. Thawne is the man with a plan—even his plans have plans, as Ralph tells us—but I’ll admit to not being able to piece all the clues together quite yet.
The hour begins with Thawne’s last hour coming to an end. As the countdown hits zero, the sadistic warden tortures Thawne once last time before loading him into the 2049 equivalent of the electric chair. Thawne doesn’t appear overly concerned about this, all things considered. Back in the present day, the lives of every meta on earth are in danger as Cicada II races to finish her virus dispersing device. Team Flash is confident they can destroy the dagger with the mirror gun (which they test on the satellite core that has evidently been stowed away at STAR Labs all this time), so it’s just a matter of stopping Grace before she can finish assembling the device.
Well, they can’t do that. The hyper-conduit she needs has been invented by Sebastian Ollins, Cisco’s old college roommate, who is considered a genius in 2049, much to Cisco’s chagrin. When Barry arrives on the scene to retrieve it, however, he finds that it’s been replaced by a bomb and Cicada II already has everything she needs. Now they need to find Cicada II’s location, something Nora may be able to do thanks to her time spent in Grace’s mindscape. And here comes the family drama!
Barry and Iris don’t want Nora to pursue this lead, because when she connects with Grace, she also channels her anger, causing the red Negative Force lightning to rage. Nora predictably ignores their wishes and uses the mental enhancer that had previously allowed Caitlin to connect with Killer Frost as a way of amplifying her search for Grace. Red lightning destruction results, followed by another stern lecture from Barry. Nora makes the not entirely convincing case that she’s not the same impulsive speedster she was earlier in the season, and the more convincing case that she is an adult and shouldn’t be treated as a child by Barry and Iris just because they’ve only been her parents for a few months. The West-Allens relent, finally (we can hope) bringing some closure to the parent-child conflict that has fueled so much of this season.
While all this is going on, a plan to protect the city’s metas goes into effect. They are all encouraged to come to CCPD headquarters to be injected with the meta cure vaccine. (Given that the supercharged cryo-atomizer will spread the virus throughout the country if not globally, this is probably a drop in the bucket. But I’ll take a pro-vaccination message in pop culture wherever I can get one.) It’s amusing that the usually cool and assured Joe West melts down when put in charge of this operation, although it doesn’t ring true that Cecile can’t figure out that he’s feeling overwhelmed. (Did they come to an arrangement that she wouldn’t use her empathy powers on him at some point? Is that even something she can control?) On the face of it, gathering a bunch of people with unknown powers and varying temperaments into one room might not be the best idea, but Joe manages to summon his calming demeanor in time to keep a lid on things.
Nora uses her mental connection to determine that Grace is at CCPD, which...yeah, probably everyone should have figured that one out. Grace uses the gathering of metas as a dark matter battery for the device, and we get a good old-fashioned bomb defusing sequence as Cisco tries to connect the right wires while the rest of the team battles Cicada II. The hour ends on a cliffhanger as Barry fires the mirror gun just as Ralph realizes it’s a bad idea. Earlier in the episode, he’d figured out a paradox caused when the new timeline was created by the destruction of the satellite. Whatever it is (and I have no doubt many of you already know), it proves that Thawne is in cahoots with Cicada II. In fact, Thawne has the dagger tucked inside his shirt when he’s strapped into the execution doohickey, which...seems like someone would have noticed that, maybe?
It’s a pretty safe bet that the machine is not going to kill Thawne, but rather fling him back into the present day for another showdown with Team Flash. It makes for a bit of a lopsided season: the first Cicada as Big Bad most of the way, replaced by Grace in the last few episodes, with Thawne looming all the while like Hannibal Speedster, as Ralph so aptly put it. The presence of Barry’s oldest nemesis raises the stakes for the finale, and I wouldn’t be too surprised if more family tragedy awaits the scarlet speedster before all is said and done.
- Sherloque’s lady friend Renee Adler reveals her meta powers in timely fashion, but decides not to give them up when offered the chance at the cure. To protect her, Sherloque breaches her to his Earth, setting up his probable exit from Team Flash next week. Not my favorite Wells, but I have to say he did grow on me. I’d prefer if next season simply brought Harry back from Earth-2, but perhaps Tom Cavanagh is already experimenting with a new accent to spring on us.
- Grace is still seeing her Uncle Orlin urging her on, so we get a little more of Chris Klein doing the evil voice.
- Grace’s explanation of her motive—that she comes from a time overwhelmed by destructive metas—makes a concise and rather damning case for the fact that Team Flash is largely responsible for the creation of metas. From the particle accelerator explosion to the bus metas to the satellite shards, they’ve been involved to one degree or another all along. In that respect, coming up with a cure is the least they could do.