Warning: major spoilers ahead for the second episode of The Flash Season 5, called “Blocked.”
The Flash is going in a new direction with its latest supervillain, and fans had to wait until the second episode of Season 5 to get a good look at who he is and what he can do. Cicada was teased as an everyman kind of character who lost his family due to metahumans, and he was driven on a mission to exterminate all metas with his own meta abilities. Now that “Blocked” has shown what Cicada can do, it’s already clear that Cicada is the supervillain The Flash needs.
First and foremost, Cicada is not a speedster. Admittedly, we already knew heading into Season 5 that Cicada was not going to be a speedster, and we technically did go a full season with a non-speedster as the big bad, but The Flash has come to rely on speedsters a bit too much to drive the plot. While the show is indeed called The Flash and centers on the Scarlet Speedster, the show also had to mix things up and move away from superspeed somewhat in its fifth season.
By showcasing a villain who is not a speedster and probably won’t have the incredible technology of The Thinker that allowed him to do just about anything, The Flash can explore new ground. We haven’t seen a villain like Cicada and we haven’t seen Barry and Co. try to combat a villain like Cicada before. The Flash required something new for Season 5, and Cicada delivers. Score for a supervillain who’s not a speedster or anything else that has been done before!
Of course, Cicada does have powers, and The Flash has only begun to reveal what he’s capable of. What “Blocked” proved, however, is that Cicada is capable of using his lightning bolt-shaped dagger to sap the powers of other metas. That ability allowed him to brutally murder Gridlock, stab Meta of the Week Vanessa in the back, and very nearly kill Barry, Cisco, and Vibe until Nora came in with a last-minute save.
This leads to a second reason why Cicada is the villain The Flash needs in Season 5. As a supervillain with the ability to take away other meta’s powers — even if only temporarily, as Barry and his pals all had their powers back by the end of the episode — Cicada could force Team Flash to think outside of the superpowered box.
The Flash did explore what it looks like when a hero without superpowers faces off against a superpowered bad guy back in the stellar first Arrow-verse crossover. That first crossover event saw Barry turn temporarily evil and Oliver needing to use all of his training and tricks as the Arrow to subdue the speedster without killing him or getting killed. Oliver pulled it off, but Barry has never had the same kind of talents without powers.
Cicada as the new big bad could force Barry to evolve as a superhero and develop the ability to hold his own and take down a formidable foe without using any of his speed powers. His attempt to throw a punch at Cicada went about as well as you could expect from a guy who generally doesn’t have to rely on anything other than superpowers. He surely won’t become an Oliver Queen, but he could adapt.
Team Flash will hopefully need to fight differently to take down Cicada, and that is an exciting prospect for any fans who have been watching from the very beginning. Cicada’s unique abilities could give Iris more to do as well. Aside from her temporary stint as a speedster with her purple lightning, Iris has had to rely on her own wits to hold her own against the worst of the worst in Central City.
Cicada could open the door for Iris to have a larger arc. After all, Team Flash might not have connected all the dots about Cicada in “Blocked” if Iris hadn’t done her homework on Gridlock’s murder as a journalist. As somebody who hasn’t had superpowers for almost the entire run of the series, she could be a particularly helpful asset in Season 5. Maybe Cicada’s powers can give her and Nora a reason to bond!
The third big reason why Cicada is the villain The Flash needs in Season 5 is that we already know a fair amount about him, and the cliffhanger of Nora teasing that she has some info from the future on Cicada means that we should learn more about him in the next episode. The Flash already isn’t risking frustrating fans as the show did with some back in Season 3, when the Savitar reveal was dragged out for almost an entire season.
We’ve seen Cicada in a mask, wielding a dagger, emitting a creepy insect-like sound, and attempting to murder metas. We’ve also seen him unmasked at his job as a janitor, although only for a few moments. Nora clearly has some information from the future about Cicada. We’ll have to wait to find out if her info comes from her studies of The Flash or if she has some kind of experience with Cicada. Either way, her perspective as a future girl means the investigation into Cicada will have to go differently than in earlier seasons.
The fact that Nora has already noted changes to the timeline due to her presence interfering in the past also means that whatever info she shares isn’t necessarily set in stone, so the sense of suspense and mystery won’t be altogether absent. Despite my many issues with The Flash‘s handling — or mishandling — of time travel in the hands of reckless speedsters, Barry’s decision to allow Nora to hang around could make the season a little more uncertain in some fun ways.
Basically, Cicada is a factor neither we nor Team Flash has ever had to deal with over the years on The Flash, and that can only be a good thing for a show entering its fifth season on the air. Hopefully the show continues to handle him in a way that is equal parts intriguing and frightening. We’ll have to wait and see. New episodes of The Flash air Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. ET on The CW, ahead of new episodes of Legends of Tomorrow, which joins the fall TV lineup soon.