‘The Flash’ Season 5 Episode 21 Recap: “The Girl with the Red Lightning”

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The Flash Season 5 Episode 21

Jessica Parker Kennedy as Nora, Hartley Sawyer as Dibney, Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon and Grant Gustin as Barry Allen in ‘The Flash’ season 5 episode 21 (Photo: Katie Yu © 2019 The CW Network)

“Thawne’s plans have plans,” says Ralph (Hartley Sawyer) as he tries to figure out what Thawne’s plan is in 2049 and how the timeline they’re in now in 2019 doesn’t make sense in season five episode 21 of The CW’s The Flash.

The episode begins in 2049 as Thawne’s countdown clock reaches zero. The guard’s gloating to Thawne that his time is up and that it’s the very lightning that created him that will kill him. The guard asks how he feels about that and Thawne (Tom Cavanagh) smirks and replies, “Time will tell.”

In 2019, Cicada II (Sarah Carter) is working on the cryoatomizer to turn it into the weapon to kill all metas. She keeps seeing her uncle and hearing him encourage her by saying they need to finish what they started.

At S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) explains to Team Flash just how Cicada II plans on turning the cryoatomizer into the weapon she needs. She also describes the parts she’ll need to make it work. Joe (Jesse L. Martin) suggests Caitlin start making more of the metahuman cure and heads out with Cecile (Danielle Nicolet) to the CCPD to get Capt. Singh to agree to having the metas who want to take the cure show up at the station. Caitlin will administer it there.

Cisco (Carlos Valdes) tests the Mirror Gun to see if it will be able to destroy Cicada II’s dagger. It works!

Over at the CCPD, Singh (Patrick Sabongui) agrees to Joe’s idea but says he needs to talk the mayor and other political heads into it. To speed up the plan, he’s putting Joe in charge while he’s at City Hall.

Sherloque (Cavanagh) checks on Renee Adler (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) who hasn’t been replying to his texts. He reveals he knows her big secret…that she’s a meta. Cicada II flies in and her dagger lights up. She heads towards Sherloque and Renee who start running while Sherloque sends a distress message to Team Flash on his phone. The Flash (Grant Gustin) and XS (Jessica Parker Kennedy) speed off to take on Cicada II.

While running XS’s lightning turns red and she starts to connect with Cicada II’s mind. The Flash and XS arrive and throw lightning at Cicada II. She flies off, avoiding it. Sherloque tells Renee he loves her and has a way to save her from Cicada II.

At S.T.A.R. Labs, Cisco explains Cicada II stole a quantum tunnel converter which can covert dark matter energy into practical energy. This will super-charge the cryoatomizer making it deadly to metas all over the world and the multiverse. She still needs a hyper-conduit for the machine to work. Ralph asks Nora where she would find one in the future and she mentions a name that Cisco recognizes, his slacker roommate in college. Cisco searches Central City using the computers and finds his latest location. The Flash speeds over but instead of finding the hyper-conduit, he finds a bomb left by Cicada II ticking down. The Flash speeds away just missing being blown up in the explosion.

Nora admits to Barry and Iris (Candice Patton) that when she and Barry were racing over to save Sherloque, she found herself in Cicada’s mind – just like before. She believes if she uses the mind device Caitlin used to communicate with Killer Frost, she can find Cicada II’s location. Barry and Iris say no, that’s it’s too dangerous. They decide she’s benched for now.

Ralph brings up the timeline and all its changes to Barry, Iris, and Cisco. He’s concerned about what Thawne’s plan is. Barry and Iris wave it off saying they need to focus. A little later Ralph tries again, asking them to just hear him out. Ralph points out that all the time-jumping with Nora and Cicada II leaves too many unanswered questions. And, what about the dagger? Barry, who doesn’t seem to think what Ralph’s saying is important, again waves it off. He thinks they need to focus on the here and now to stop Cicada II.

Iris talks to Barry and wonders if they did the right thing benching Nora. He confirms they did, reminding her it’s their job as parents to protect her. Nora, who was vibrating so fast they couldn’t see her, hears the conversation and decides to once again go rogue and do what she wants. (When will she learn?! It’s because of her and Thawne that Team Flash is in this mess and she still acts like a bratty teenager hellbent on doing what she wants.)

The Flash Season 5 Episode 21

Tom Cavanagh as Sherloque Wells and Kimberly Williams – Paisley as Renee Adler in season 5 episode 21 (Photo: Katie Yu © 2019 The CW Network)

At the CCPD the growing crowd is growing scared and impatient. Renee shows up with Sherloque to receive the cure and the crowd starts to get out of control. Everyone looks to Joe for leadership, but he panics and says he needs a minute. Cecile talks to Joe and he admits he’s overwhelmed by being the top cop in charge. Cecile reminds him of how many times Barry, Iris, Nora, and even Ralph have come to him asking for his help and advice. She assures him that he can handle it, that he has it in him. Joe returns to the lobby and calms everyone down by taking charge and talking sense to them.

An alert goes off at S.T.A.R. Labs and Barry and Iris find Nora using the mind device to try to locate Cicada II. She’s surrounded by red lightning and her eyes are red. Barry speeds over, avoiding all the red lightning and removes the device from Nora’s head. She passes out.

Barry and Iris scold Nora, pointing out she could have accidentally revealed their location to Cicada II. Nora won’t be talked down and she reminds Barry and Iris she’s not a kid but an adult and they need to back her up, not protect her.

Sherloque finds Renee, who left during the chaos in the lobby, and she admits she doesn’t want to lose her powers. She loves being a meta (she has the power of telekinesis) and refuses to live in fear of Cicada II. Sherloque tells her about the multiverse and says he can send her to his Earth until the threat is over, that way she’s safe. Renee asks him to come with her but he says he must stay and help defeat Cicada II because Team Flash has become a family to him. Renee and Sherloque kiss and realize just how much chemistry is between them. Sherloque sends Renee through a breach to his Earth.

Barry and Iris talk it over and inform Nora they’re going to help her. Barry and Cisco rework what they used to try to trap Thawne in season one – now called “Thawne Trap 2.0” – for Nora to use to connect with Cicada II’s mind. Nora goes in and sees Cicada II has completed the deadly device. She and Cicada II talk and Nora realizes all the rage and anger she’s feeling causes her lightning to go red while she’s connected to Grace is actually from Grace. It’s not her. Nora tells Grace she can’t let her use the device and she sees that Cicada II is in the CCPD parking lot with the device. Nora tells Team Flash Cicada II’s location.

At the CCPD, Cicada II crashes into building through the skylight with her meta-killing device. Joe tells the cops to get everyone out. He draws his gun but Cicada II knocks him out with the power of her dagger. Barry, Cisco, and Ralph head to CCPD.


Cicada II sets up her weapon, putting her dagger in it as Killer Frost hits her with a cold blast. The Flash speeds in and super power punches Cicada II, knocking her out. “Nice punch,” says Frost to The Flash. Elongated Man and Vibe breach through and Ralph asks what’s the plan.

Cisco realizes if he tries to breach the weapon to a dead Earth, it could go off because it’s already armed and primed. He tells the team he has to find a way to deactivate it and asks Nora and Iris through his comms to bring up the blueprints. The Flash tells him they’ll keep Cicada II busy and Frost makes an ice barricade to keep Cisco safe.

Cicada II gets up and Ralph asks what she plans to do since she doesn’t have her dagger. “Oh, I don’t need a dagger to kill you. I didn’t have it until I came to this time,” replies Cicada II. This surprises Ralph. The fight is on with Cicada II using most of her power to knock out The Flash. She then takes on Killer Frost and Elongated Man in a well-choreographed and exciting fight sequence. Being able to knock out all three (this was hard to believe since Killer Frost and The Flash have proven to be an almost unstoppable team earlier in the season), Cicada breaks through the ice barricade using poor, knocked out The Flash. She smiles in victory as she walks over to Cisco who has just finished deactivating her device. Enraged, she’s about to kill Cisco but he’s saved in the nick of time by The Flash speeding over and knocking out Cicada II again.

Frost prepares to throw the dagger over so The Flash can use the mirror gun and destroy it. This is when Ralph’s mind quickly starts to put the pieces of information about everything involving Cicada, Cicada II, the daggers and Thawne from 2049 together. Ralph now knows Cicada II didn’t get her uncle’s dagger until she arrived in 2019 because someone else had it in the future. Like a lightning bolt, Ralph comes to the realization the dagger is being used in the future to keep Thawne’s powers at bay. The scene switches to Thawne being wheeled, Hannibal Lecter-style, to his execution and the guards remove a metal plate from his chest which reveals the dagger. Thawne smiles.

Back to 2019 and Frost tosses the dagger while The Flash aims the mirror gun. “Don’t shoot it!” yells Ralph as Barry fires the gun. Cut to black.

The Flash Season 5 Episode 21 Review:

Intense and revealing, episode 21 titled “The Girl with the Red Lightning” has Team Flash – Flash, Killer Frost, Vibe and Elongated Man – taking on Cicada II in the field and finally reveals the real reason Thawne was helping Nora all this time. It also ends on an exciting cliffhanger with Thawne possibly escaping his fate if they did in fact destroy the dagger.

The episode still had a few scenes which slowed the momentum building up to the big showdown. All the scenes with Barry and Iris trying to protect Nora and her going rogue were unnecessary and repetitious. It’s way too late in the season to still be figuring out the parenting rules for young adult Nora, and it’s something that has already been pretty much handled in the last few episodes.

A big plus was focusing on the intellect of Cisco, which saves the day more than his powers as Vibe, as he deactivates the meta-killing device. Another strong element was finally giving Tom Cavanagh and Kimberly Williams-Paisley a few scenes together as Sherloque and Renee. The two have solid chemistry and play off each other nicely.

With Cicada II stopped and Reverse Flash possibly free and on the loose, it seems Team Flash may have just stopped one villain but just helped release the worst foe they have ever gone up against.

GRADE: B




Kevin Finnerty

Professional film critic since 2003 and a member of the San Diego Film Critics Society. Host of “The Movie Guys” radio film review show from 2007 through 2013. Film and television critic for Showbizjunkies.com and a movie buff since 1973.
Kevin Finnerty
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