Flash and company have to deal with a new kind of meta who is, in some ways, a perfect embodiment of the modern age. They have a lot to deal with in “News Flash.” They open on the Night of the Enlightenment, when Flash and XS take out the Thinker’s satellite, and end up inadvertently causing themselves some wholly different problems.
With musical accompaniment from Cyndi Lauper, Iris proves that her talents do not lie in the kitchen. It’s an awkward attempt at a family breakfast which is Iris’ latest attempt to bond with Nora. It doesn’t go as planned. Barry tries to roll with it, but even he can’t mask how bad it is. To her credit, Iris realizes she’s not good at it either. Nora makes a few harsh comments about Iris’ cooking in both eras, and Iris feels left out when she learns Nora has a new phone that Iris didn’t know about.
At STAR, we learn Cisco is hiding out at his parents’ place as he heals from his injuries (have we ever seen them? I know we met his brother…). Sherloque Wells makes various cutting comments as he gives a presentation on how to catch Cicada. He and Ralph clash over the best approach to take in figuring out who the metahuman serial killer is. Nora babbles on about Spin Zone, a site she likes and follows, and makes some unkind comments about Iris’ site. Iris knows Spenser Young, the woman who runs the site. Iris doesn’t like her, which seems to make Nora dig in and defend her even more. They break up the discussion to go to softball game. Wells proves he knows even less about sports than I do. The game goes badly, with Barry weirdly suddenly a total klutz. It’s almost a mercy when a mysterious bomber shows up to derail the game. Nora disappears, only to pop back up as XS and save the day… with no memory of doing it.
In the aftermath of the blast, Nora and Barry have to work. Iris gets worried that Spin Zone’s coverage of XS might make the young speedster a target of Cicada. Ralph goes to the scene of their big fight with Cicada while Wells snarks. Ralph actually finds a useful clue and shows some skill as a detective (in the comics, he’s the League’s second best investigator, second only to Batman). Wells looks displeased at Ralph’s progress, or maybe just that Wells was wrong.
Iris goes to Jitters, where Spenser hangs out, and tries to get her to stop covering XS. This goes about as well as you’d think with someone telling a glory-hound to ease off on the media presence. Barry and Nora examine the bomber, who is a big surprise and also doesn’t remember what happened, much like XS. They get called away when there’s a report that the Central City Picture News, where Iris used to work, is on fire. Flash and XS show up to fight the fire, but something weird happens and Flash suddenly takes off, leaving XS behind to get talked through speedster firefighting by Iris. They actually seem to be able to work together briefly.
The team regroups at STAR, trying to puzzle out what’s going on. Iris floats a vague suspicion about Spenser, which annoys Nora more. Ralph and Wells follow up on Ralph’s lead, which seems to hit a dead end. He does get to meet a fan, though, which is nice. Barry and Iris send Nora in on an undercover job at Jitters to try and see if Spenser is a meta. Nothing goes as expected, resulting in a surprise for Barry. We also learn the source of Nora’s distance and reserve to Iris, and I have to say, Nora has a good reason. Iris subsequently tries to use the STAR computers to override Nora blocking her on the phone. Barry tries to talk Iris out of feeling so bad, and shows some utterly blind faith in his wife that I’m not sure I agree with.
Caitlin and Wells have an entertaining scene where he shows how far he’ll go for a lead, and she shows she’s more than just a smart, pretty face. The team gets an alert from the soccer stadium about a bomb threat. The police have somehow managed to get everyone out, so the two speedsters have nothing to do but search for the bomb. They find nothing, and Iris figures out what’s going on just a moment too late. Iris takes some definitive action, grabbing up a few STAR toys before going to the stadium to prevent a family tragedy.
Between them, Flash and Iris (showing up in public without a mask in a building with tons of cameras, good call) manage to get things under control. Ralph makes a good observation from back at STAR, and Flash manages to capture the villain and get the meta-damper cuffs on them. Later on at STAR, the team hears the relatively new mayor is resigning. She managed to do a few good things on the way out, but I don’t get why she’s retiring. Nothing that’s happened in Central City recently has been her fault.
The team theorizes about what the new villain means for their world. Wells updates their news about Cicada, and, surprisingly, gives Ralph full credit for his contributions. Wells seems to have learned some humility. Nora and Iris have a very tense conversation that I really have to say I think Iris took the wrong tack on. Barry didn’t really help matters. To end the show, Nora changes her living arrangements, and Cicada goes home and discovers a new talent.
What I liked: I’m glad they are giving Ralph something positive to do, and not just using him for comic relief. It’s nice to see his detective skills acknowledged. Wells pleasantly surprised me by giving Ralph credit. It was interesting to see Cecile get a small flash (no pun intended) of her fading power. The villain was interesting, and opens up new realms of problems for the team.
What I didn’t: I don’t get how Barry loses all physical coordination when playing sports. I think Iris and Barry to a lesser extent handled Nora horribly. Future Iris has a lot of explaining to do. I don’t like Cisco being shunted off screen. I really hope he’s back soon. When Flash got sent away, he seemed awful winded for a trip that shouldn’t have been that bad for him. I mentioned Iris acting in public with no mask above.
I thought there were a lot of flaws with this episode. I’ll give it a low 3 out of 5. C’mon guys. You can do better than this. I’ve seen you do it.