“Time Bomb” starts off with Nora getting some advice. Much of the episode does one of those somewhat clunky parables where the problem of the week parallels a problem one of the characters is having. Throw in some well-intentioned but misguided relationship interference, and there’s a whole lot behind this particular ticking bomb.
Once again, Nora goes to visit Thawne in his cell in the future. She’s confused about the new Cicada, and even know-it-all Thawne seems a bit taken aback. After some back and forth, and Thawne using his nickname, “Little Runner” for Nora, he gives her some surprising advice. She doesn’t look happy to hear it, and I’d bet she isn’t going to take it.
Orlin wakes up in bed and is even more confused than Nora last scene. Grace reveals herself and convinces Orlin as to who she is. Grace is every bit as driven as Orlin has been about their anti-meta crusade. Orlin looks a bit uncomfortable with her level of fanaticism, and she leaves to attend to something, after showing that her head wound is causing her some problems.
At the hospital, Detective West is trying to follow up on Dr. Ambres’ death, but no one really knew her that well. Cecile confirms via her powers that everyone has been telling the truth, so they have no further leads there. Joe suggests they go back to the CCPD to check their files for anything, and Nora looks worried. Barry is easily confident they’ll figure something out.
Back at STAR, Wells is continuing his own investigation into Nora. In the Cortex, Cisco, Caitlin, and Ralph are similarly out of leads. Their analysis of the new Cicada’s powers is disturbing. Some slapstick with Wells and a broom gets interrupted by an alarm from the “STARCHIVES.” I have to admit, on the one hand I love the name and concept, but on the other, why would you keep high-tech, potentially dangerous stuff, way out in the woods with no great way to get to it? Then again, with a speedster and a teleporter on the team, maybe that wasn’t as much of an issue. They get out there, and Ralph gets in a good line poking fun at the odd lighting, just before they make a startling discovery. Thawne’s Time Sphere (based on a similar device from the Legion of Super Heroes in the comics) is still inside… but it’s also out in the woods. Cisco has a simple test to confirm they’re the same machine, which even references another DC hero that hasn’t shown up or even been hinted at in the Arrowverse yet. While they are figuring out what all this means, Cicada II/Grace pays a visit to the CCPD, making a grand entrance and committing several crimes along the way, like theft and murder. Interestingly, the cop involved in this scene has what seems to be one of STAR’s blaster rifles instead of the regular pistols the regular cops use, including Joe.
Barry and Nora, as CSI, get called in to work the scene. One thing that echoes a recent issue on Arrow is the files not being digitized, and I could easily see that happening. Police budgets everywhere usually come up short and that’s easily something believable as being cut. Joe gets the other officers out (I guess there are still a few people in Central City who don’t know who Barry is), and Barry speed-scans the files. Why Nora didn’t help, I’m not sure, but they find out which file was missing, and Joes goes to cross-check it. At Jitters, Cisco is on a date with Kamila. They make a big decision for a modern relationship, and then Ralph wanders in. Ralph is really unclear on the secret identity concept, and irritates Cisco a lot before Kamila leaves for a photo shoot. Ralph also manages to get the barrista’s name wrong and annoy the man.
Wells studies the original plans for the Time Sphere, and Iris startles him. She seems disapproving of what he’s doing, but she doesn’t actually know what he’s doing, so I’m not sure quite what that’s about. He discovers something on the plans and leaves. Iris looks at what he was studying and sees a familiar phrase. Barry and Nora bring Cisco to where the incident was that the file was about, and he uses his power to see what happened. Going back two years to a specific event is really impressive. This gives them the clues they need to figure out what happened here, how it relates to their case, and who the new Cicada is. Grace throws a tantrum at their hideout, and passes the file to Orlin, who inadvertently provides her with a clue to track down a previously undiscovered meta. Grace continues being a fanatic about their mission. See what you’ve done, Orlin?
With some actual, non-meta-powered detective work, Joe has figured out who the person is they are looking for, and they go meet the Bolen family at a kids’ amusement playland. The quickly find out who the meta is, and that they are keeping secrets from their family and don’t know what actually happened two years ago. The interview goes badly, partially after Barry gives some unsolicited personal advice, and the meta stomps off. Their story is a lot like what Nora is going through right now. Cicada attacks the party, and they hurry to get everyone to safety. The meta is forced to use their powers, revealing them to the family. I’ve seen comparisons made of this meta to DC’s Plastique, but to my mind it’s closer to Gambit. Cicada is driven off, but the family’s little girl is hurt. As all this goes on, Ralph hurriedly summons Cisco to his office, all proud of his newest meddling in Cisco and Kamila’s relationship. It’s an… interesting approach, and heavy on Spider-Man references. The wall crawler was also mentioned on Arrow this week, so I guess it’s a recurring theme. Cisco isn’t pleased.
Wells is poking around in the STARCHIVES, furthering his own investigation. Both this scene and the other here has all sorts of props from past episodes. Wells makes a discovery that, while clever on his part, I don’t buy for a moment Cisco has missed all this time. Nora tries to figure out how the meta-event they are investigating was kept out of the news, and Joe and Barry fill her in on former corrupt Mayor Bellows. Barry goes into some heavy-handed comments about secrets being bad for a family. Before the conflicted Nora can decide what to do about that, she gets a surprise and learns that her time in Grace’s mind a while back has a side-effect. Cecile figures out that young Grace is filled with the same raging hatred as the new Cicada, and Nora is troubled by the family having a big argument about the meta keeping secrets.
At STAR, Ralph sort of apologizes to Cisco about what he did before, and Cisco explains why he reacted so strongly. Ralph tells a story from his comically absurd background, but makes a decent point. Grace storms back to the cabin, spewing outrage and venom. Orlin has been reading the file she left behind, and tells her some things she doesn’t want to hear. Her fury partially turns on Orlin, and then she gets an idea about what to do next. In the Time Vault, which seems a lot bigger than I’ve ever noticed before, Wells gets confirmation of his theory, and learns of a potentially hugely important discovery by the show’s original Wells/Thawne.
The meta is patching things up with family by telling the truth, and Nora looks on. She resolves to tell Barry, and gets interrupted by Cicada, who has taken a hostage in the parking lot. We get some cool effects, including Barry using his Flash ring for the first time in a while. It’s a nasty attack, and to handle it, Flash goes out to talk to Cicada, while XS grabs the meta and speeds off for a high speed game of tag with the dagger. Flash’s appeal to Cicada falls on deaf, hate-filled ears, and XS gets some help from Vibe to evade the dagger. Why Elongated Man went with him, I’m not sure. They do get XS away, but the dagger somehow temporarily shuts down Cisco’s portal, keeping the two heroes from joining the others. Orlin somehow or other shows up (making great time from an isolated cabin in the woods, especially since he didn’t know where to go), and pleads with Grace to stop this. He seems to have completely shifted his view on meta-humans, much like Cisco’s bizarre change about his powers this season. Grace takes his new worldview in stride, reacting calmly and rationally. Just kidding, of course. She does something fairly dramatic and flees.
At the Cortex, the team is stunned by what happened. Caitlin has even come back from her turn in the lab up north where Cisco spent so much of the season. The meta of the week has been safely moved out of harm’s way, but they are reeling from the aftermath of the hospital fight. Ralph suggests going out for a drink, and most of them agree, before things take a turn. Cecile’s power clues her in that Nora is hiding something. Wells comes in, and has a scene very much in the style of Sherlock Holmes. The others are stunned at the revelation, and Barry takes some very direct action that I suspect will cause a lot of problems next episode.
What I liked: The special effects were great this week. I was very glad to see Flash’s ring again. Ralph did very much the wrong thing, but it was both in character and well-meant. I’m amused that this is the second CW/DC episode this week to reference Spider-Man. I really liked the STARCHIVES and all the gadgets there. Cisco’s reference to the other DC hero was an interesting touch, likely motivated by recent movies. I’m glad Wells got his proof and told everyone what he’d been working on.
What I didn’t: I don’t know what Nora thought was going to happen here, but she was foolish keeping things secret this long. Orlin’s sudden shift in his view of metas was weird. As I said above, I’m not sure the STARCHIVES is located in the best place.
It was certainly a dramatic episode. I’m glad the secret is out. I’ll give this a 4 out of 5. I suspect next episode will be very interesting.