When thinking about “Blocked,” the episode title of The Flash’s second episode this season, it brings to mind many things. Cisco blocking himself off from vibing and remembering Cynthia, Caitlin blocking herself off from discovering the truth about her dad, and Iris being blocked off from spending any time with Nora and in clear denial over the future. Of course, there’s the meta-of-the-week’s powers of physically blocking people, but that isn’t as important as the challenges the characters face this week.
The Flash manages to balance many subplots this week, all of which don’t end up being connected to Cicada, but it’s progress. For one, Nora helping to destroy the STAR Labs satellite has done wonders for the show. For the first time in a very, very long while, we get to see Barry doing his job as a CSI and Iris putting her investigative reporting skills to work to figure out what may have happened with Gridlock following his capture. Even Ralph, Cisco, and Caitlin get to leave the gray basement downstairs, a truly miraculous sight to behold.
Barry and Nora waste no time in telling the team the truth about Barry’s disappearance in the future, something which is greatly appreciated. After all, we don’t need drama created by keeping secrets and lying. There’s enough drama to mine from telling the truth and working through problems. While everyone is shocked that Barry never returns, Iris is pretty much adamant that the future can go screw itself because that headline means nothing. They’ve figured out ways to change things before and they’ll do it again.
The problem here isn’t that she thinks this, it’s that no one bothers to talk to her about any of it. She keeps busy and even Barry, who should be a bit more concerned that he’s leaving behind his family, ignore the elephant in the room. The expectation, especially after all of the heartfelt moments in the premiere, is that the West-Allen family would chat about the future, air out their feelings. So it’s odd that Barry and Iris don’t get a chance to speak about the matter alone. Even Nora’s surprised that her mother takes it better than expected, so hopefully this is a sign that these feelings will be addressed in a later episode. With that said, the scene revealing the future is underwhelming and the issue is swept under the rug fairly quickly without follow-up. It’s jarring.
Nora further glues herself to Barry’s side by pretending to be a CSI intern and Barry is consistently frustrated because she doesn’t want nor cares to listen to him. Some advice from Joe helps him to realize that Nora’s just trying her best to impress him and make him proud. It’s cute and sweet that she wants to prove herself to her dad and their conversation later on is the first step toward Barry becoming more of a father and less of a mentor. The father/daughter moments are wonderful and stir the heartstrings (it’s also nice to see Barry actually mentor someone consistently), but it’s hard not to wonder why Nora insists on never even speaking to her mother. What happens in the future that Nora isn’t currently interested in spending time with the mother who single-handedly raised her? It’s off-putting and it’s clear Iris feels some type of way about it. She wants to feel included and Nora is going out of her way to make her feel the exact opposite.
Thankfully, Iris busies herself with investigating Gridlock’s death. It’s nice to see her doing her job, which we got a little bit of in the final episodes of season four. It’s even better that her blog is recognized and it’s a stepping stone into what will hopefully turn into her own newspaper. That future article isn’t going to write itself and the breadcrumbs are being laid slowly, but surely. If anything, journalism is a way to connect The Flash to the city as a whole and hopefully there’ll be more to come.
While having multiple subplots is good for the show and changes up the dynamics a bit, the one involving Caitlin, Cisco, and Ralph dragged on for a bit nearer to the end of the episode. Cutting just a few minutes of it would have given more time for other characters to flesh out their subplots while still having enough time for this one. However, the new trio’s scenes have many highlights, one of which is Ralph having found his spot as a supporting character. He’s fine in doses and when there isn’t any childish humor involved. It works so much better this way.
The other highlight is Caitlin and Cisco’s stories intersecting while the two friends figure out how to help each other. Their friendship is truly one of the most underrated aspects of the show. Cisco has always cared the most for Caitlin and she’s always been there for him. It’s often hard to remember that they’ve been friends since long before the particle accelerator explosion. Cisco is the one man in Caitlin’s life who has never wavered in his support and the depth and care that is laced into their scene at Jitters is gentle, sweet, and full of history.
Cecile losing her powers makes sense because keeping them wouldn’t have. The fact that she’s fearful of losing them, not because she loves having them, but because they connect her to Jenna, are valid. Further exploration of parenting and parenthood for both Joe and Cecile and Barry and Iris moving forward will be very interesting, especially since they’re essentially dealing with similar issues, only on the opposite side of the age spectrum. And while superhero shows have always preferred fathers over mothers, I’m hoping this season of The Flash will break this habit.
“Blocked” is a bit of a step down from the premiere as there is almost a bit too much happening in the episode. The metahuman is interesting, but there isn’t much information given about her so she’s ultimately forgettable. But while the meta is forgettable, Cicada proves to be menacing and mysterious. So far, so good. Caitlin and Cisco’s subplot does drag a bit in the end and more time could’ve been spent acknowledging Barry’s future disappearance. However, the episode provided general balance, good one-on-one moments between characters, and the opportunity to see Barry and Iris working. It’s still a step up from season four so far and hopefully the energy and characters will continue to remain at the forefront.
- I really feel like Ralph’s book was inspired by Barney’s playbook from How I Met Your Mother.
- Cisco and Caitlin’s Jitters scene was really good, can’t lie.
- Iris investigating and someone saying they read and like her blog? It’s a new show.
- Barry’s first lesson in parenting: kids, they never listen.
- Joe did not move except to change chairs. This man is stressed.
- I’m convinced Cicada knows who Nora is, or else why stop when she arrived?
- Nora making that face at her mom, her parents need to talk to her ASAP. The disrespect.
- Nora definitely changed more than even she might know. She didn’t know Barry went to jail and she came back quite a few times, so more than one thing has changed for sure.
- It’s always so good to see Captain Singh. He should be around more.
- “Go team West-Allen!” Iris is definitely in “cool mom” mode.