Hartley Sawyer, Carlos Valdes
Photo: Katie Yu (The CW)

Kid Flash has left town and the show (at least as a series regular), so why not tell his story all over again? That’s what happens in “Block,” in which Barry once again finds himself mentoring a headstrong, over-eager young speedster who is also a member of the family. The episode hits some familiar beats along the way, but it goes down easily enough thanks to cast chemistry and some laughs along the way.

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Dare we hope that the Big Bad arc that kicked off at the end of last episode will be an accelerated one rather than a season-long slog? I’ve been advocating for half-season arcs in these reviews for a long time—and I say that not because I think anyone ever should or would listen to me, but simply to note that I’m encouraged by the pacing of the Cicada story so far. Normally we’d be getting little glimpses of him for the first half-dozen episodes or so, and his identity would be shrouded in mystery, but evidently the powers that be want everyone to know Chris Klein is aboard. We see the result of the battle between Cicada and Gridlock last week, which is that our new villain uses a lightning-bolt shaped dagger to sap Gridlock’s powers and kill him, while leaving the guards on the prison convoy alive.

Iris investigates, because once a season we need a reminder that she still has a blog. (It’s a popular blog, though! Everyone likes it.) She discovers body-cam footage that reveals a strange breathing noise later heard when Team Flash battles Cicada for the first time and he drains their powers. It all has to do with that Bane mask he’s wearing, which makes him sound like, yes, a cicada. Nora knows of him, presumably from the Flash Museum, but whatever information she has to share will wait.

Chris Klein
Photo: Katie Yu (The CW)

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The villain of the week is Block, and she’s about as inspired as that sounds. An escapee from Iron Heights, she’s developed the meta ability to compress air molecules into golden blocks of Jello she can use to crush her enemies into dense little cubes of meat. Her story goes nowhere in particular, aside from her role in Nora’s coming out party as Central City’s latest speedster. First Nora figures out how to track her by using Doppler weather radar, and then she saves the day by wearing Block out before Barry can be crushed into a meat-cube.

Before that happens, though, we are treated to Nora the impulsive speedster, who poses as Barry’s CSI intern and nearly contaminates a crime scene, accidentally knocks Barry through the glass board with her lightning, and gets the Jello shot treatment from Block. Barry needs a pep talk, which Joe provides (and gets a two-for-one deal as Cecile overhears and realizes she’s allowed to make mistakes as a parent now that she can no longer hear her daughter’s thoughts). Nora worships the museum-bound flawless hero version of Flash, but we all know Barry is far from that—and so does she once he shows her some training footage from his early days. It’s to Jessica Parker Kennedy’s credit that Nora remains charming despite her annoying missteps.

The supporting players on Team Flash have the most fun this week. Cisco is experiencing vibe dysfunction as he’s still mooning over Gypsy, so Ralph has his hairdresser give him a Slicksco makeover. Ralph, to no one’s surprise, has plenty of experience trying to get over women, and has put together an entire book of rules, almost all of which should be ignored. Caitlin is ambivalent about having Cisco vibe her father’s death certificate, which she learned last week is a fake. These three work particularly well together, and I’m all for them having their own adventures together outside the orbit of Allen family drama. It beats sitting through reruns of the Wally West story, anyway.

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Stray observations

  • There’s no sign of any sort of Harrison Wells yet, but the word is that we’ll have a new iteration aboard before too long.
  • Among Ralph’s steps for getting over the love of your life: shark cage diving, affirmations, and watching Beaches while painting your toenails.
  • When Cisco is in a particularly deep funk, Ralph snaps him out of it by shouting “Han shot second!”
  • For a horrible moment, I thought Cisco was about to confess his love for Caitlin at Jitters, but instead he simply assures her that it’s not too late to set things straight with her father. Since the only thing Caitlin sees during Cisco’s brief vibe of the death certificate is her own mother, she may have more family problems than she imagined.

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