Spoilers ahead for the fourth episode of The Flash Season 5, called “News Flash.”
The Flash has delivered some of the biggest threats to the Arrow-verse over the years, but the Scarlet Speedster has generally been pitted against other metahumans. While this is often necessary so that Team Flash can’t solve their cases and put normal, non-superpowered people behind bars in the first couple minutes of each episode, it has meant that Meta of the Week stories can get a bit stale. Well, “News Flash” found a way to create threats even greater than meta villains, and it could explain a lot about Cicada.
Instead of almost always facing metahumans as villains, Team Flash is facing something that nobody even knew existed prior to this latest episode: meta-tech. According to Sherloque, there were effects of the satellite explosion courtesy of The Thinker that present some very big problems. Sherloque believes that items absorbed dark matter from the satellite explosion, creating meta-tech.
Yes, there is now meta-tech in play, and it’s not just theory. The discovery of meta-tech was revealed at the end of the episode that saw Team Flash menaced by Spencer Young, a rival internet journalist of Iris’ who had a knack for arriving on the scene of big news events before any other press.
At first, it seemed that Spencer was somehow just better than Iris at getting scoops quickly, which wouldn’t have really reflected poorly on Iris. The woman stepped up to become leader of Team Flash and remains an essential part of the unit. Throw in her adult daughter arriving from the future, and she has her hands full without racing to every crime scene in Central City.
It was later revealed that Spencer didn’t get her scoops just because she was quick to the scene of crimes. No, she was causing the crimes by compelling people to do whatever she wanted, whether it was bringing a bomb to a CCPD softball game, sending The Flash to Las Vegas to put XS in the spotlight, or turning XS on The Flash.
The going theory at first was that Spencer was a meta using her inherent abilities to compel people to follow her wishes, but Nora managed to use a gadget to deduce that Spencer does not have the dark matter within her to mark her as a meta. Spencer was not a meta, so how was she managing to force others to do her will?
Team Flash got some answers after Barry cracked open her phone and discovered something very different than what any of us would find if we dropped our phone. They figured out that the phone was affected by the dark matter, became meta-tech, and gave its user the chance to hypnotize people with it. Spencer didn’t have any powers; she had a meta-phone, and her selfish side turned her into a villain.
The introduction of meta-tech into The Flash means that more baddies than ever could emerge from the woodwork. Only a certain subset of the people who became metas on the show so far went bad and became villains, and bad guys like those over on Arrow couldn’t just get superpowers for themselves. They had to be exposed to dark matter and be at the right place at the right time.
Meta-tech can presumably be used by anyone anywhere, and bad guys with no meta capacity can use meta powers if they get their hands on the right tech. Spencer Young wreaked havoc and almost forced XS to kill her dad, and she was just a self-serving fake journalist who wanted to get app followers. What if somebody truly twisted gets their hands on meta-tech?
Cicada may be our answer. Sherloque figured out that Cicada was injured when the satellite blew up, with the debris flying off on a different trajectory than the other 37 worlds/timelines where he had solved the Cicada mystery. The explosion and subsequent dark matter didn’t transform Cicada into a meta, according to this new theory. Instead, it resulted in the creation of the dagger Cicada used to sap the powers of metas he faces.
If this is the case, it comes as good news and bad news for Team Flash. The good news is that a Cicada separated from his dagger or with his dagger destroyed could be just a regular bad guy who hates metas. If he can’t sap the powers of meta enemies, they can easily take him down. It may be only a matter of time before something goes wrong for Cicada and he loses his dagger, although he could probably kill some more metas before that happens.
The bad news is that Team Flash doesn’t have the means to identify Cicada with any of their normal means of meta detection. They can’t just scan him for dark matter and immediately start planning how to take him and his specific powers down. He can hide in plain sight in a way other metas can’t. Team Flash will have their ways of detecting dark matter on items as well as people; still, meta-tech gives Cicada an edge that past supervillains didn’t have.
All of this said, we can’t 100% rule out Cicada as a meta, and Sherloque’s logic may not be 100% accurate since all of his experience with investigation came from other Earths. Actor Chris Klein recently teased that Cicada might not even be human, among other things. His origin story episode should deliver answers, but that may not be for a while.
We’ll have to wait and see. The Flash has a lot of twists in store this season, including the returns of Zoom and more former villains. We have a lot of big questions about Cicada (that you can see here) that need to be answered, and my fingers are crossed that Cicada remains the villain that The Flash really needed in Season 5.