So you know that old saw, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”? Yeah, that phrase definitely applies to this week’s episode of The Flash. “Cause and XS” proves that mistakes can indeed be hereditary, as it takes only one mishap for Nora to follow in her father’s footsteps and go on a quest of do-overs. What sets all of this up? Mere hours before a date with Kamilla at Jitters, his first date since Cynthia and he split last season, Cisco completes the synthesis of his metahuman cure serum. The catch? Well, much to the ire of the rest of his teammates – who are, understandably, anxious to put Cicada behind them – it requires nearly a full month to complete its cycle in order to be potent enough to shut down the serial killer’s power for good. Almost another thirty days of living in fear isn’t going to fly with the rest of the team, and they frantically try to come up with a way to speed up the process – to which Sherloque Wells hypothesizes that if Barry takes the serum into the Speed Force, the resonant tachyon energies within will supercharge the cure to maximum potency within the span of an hour. Sixty minutes is something Team Flash can handle (or so they think), and with Iris offering that Orlin has been quiet for a little bit, there’s no time quite like the present. Nora is worried that something might happen without her father around, but Barry reassures his anxious daughter that she can handle things for one hour without incident, and even if there is one, she’s a speedster too and can take care of it. Oh, Barry; if only you knew.
Completely surprisingly, something goes wrong – a lot of somethings, actually. Less serious matters go awry by Ralph coercing Cisco to look over the infamous “Book of Ralph,” as well as some “research” notes that he has on Kamilla, which gets to the latter’s head. This makes for several (we’ll get to that shortly) different scenarios of Cisco dressing and acting quite unlike his usual self, and being a pretty serious turn-off for his prospective date. Carlos Valdes sells each of the various persona changes in “Cause and XS” pretty well, but again, none of them are what Kamilla is looking for (maybe try being the same guy you were when you met and got that date in the first place? I must be crazy). The date abruptly and awkwardly ends when Cisco receives a distress call on his phone. This is where things get a little muddled; as I mentioned before, Cisco tries multiple hats on his date with Kamilla, but how that comes about is all thanks to Nora and, her being her father’s daughter, her messing with time. What drives Nora to fiddle with the timeline, a huge taboo for speedsters? Well, when the initial distress signal goes out, it’s because Iris has been captured and bound on a rooftop by Cicada (so much for being quiet). Nora and Killer Frost rush to save her, but Caitlin is killed in the process by the villain’s meta dagger flying unexpectedly into her back. Now, of course, this pushes Nora into grief and panic, and thusly, she runs back in time to right before everyone left S.T.A.R. Labs and convinces her mother to stay there (bribing her with fresh coffee and a quiet and safe place to write her article – hey, I’d agree to virtually anything for coffee too). On paper, one would see this as a simple fix, but time is never such a thing.
Time and time again throughout “Cause and XS,” Nora must reset the hour, as someone different gets killed by Cicada’s dagger every time: Caitlin, Ralph, Sherloque, Cisco, Cecile, etc. No matter how many variations of Nora’s choices, someone ends up dead. Jessica Parker does a good job of showing frustration and heartache in her seeming inability to repair things 52 times (a nod to the 52 different earths in DC’s multiverse in the comic books). After breaking down and coming clean with the team (although, to be fair, they figured it out first, thanks to Cisco realizing that he’d been vibing all of these variations of the day over and over), they put their collective heads together and come up with a multifaceted plan to stop Cicada from killing anyone at least for today, using the notes that Nora took on each of the varied timelines. This makes pretty solid sense; however, something that does not make sense is when Nora is unable to enter the Speed Force for some unexplained reason (plot device), even though she’s been using the Speed Force to visit Eobard Thawne in the future throughout the season. This is a plot hole, as, at least in comic book continuity, the Speed Force gives speedsters access to the Time Stream by which they travel to different moments in time (want to learn more about the Speed Force? Check out our Friday Flash Facts articles on it!). That aside, “Cause and XS” is intentionally focused on Nora and not Barry for plot and external reasons, so it is what it is. Their plan succeeds, and Team Flash sends a wounded Orlin scurrying away into the night, choosing to live to kill another day.
“Cause and XS,” while it presents some great performances by most of the cast, is frustrating in that truly not a lot happens, and I had to watch the same bad performance by Cicada on repeat (thank God not 52 times). I feel like this is a bug that I’ve been squashing all season long, but he’s just not good at all. He’s still not intimidating, still not interesting, and his motivation for wanting to flat-out murder every metahuman in Central City, and anyone who aligns with them, is just asinine. Can he disappear already and we have Thawne turn out to be the real villain at the end? It’d be a major cop-out, but at this point, I can live with that. There’s also the matter of Gracie wanting all metas to die as well, which they’re going to have to address at some point over the next several weeks. I suppose all we can do is shrug and follow along for now. As a final note, “Cause and XS” ends with Sherloque completing the translation of Nora’s notebook on one of S.T.A.R. Labs’ computers. What does the cracked coding reveal to the detective? Will it expose Nora’s deception and her partnership with the Reverse Flash? We’ll be tuning in next week to find out!