The first three episodes of this season’s The Flash have been great, but the latest episode, “News Flash,” was not exactly brimming with excitement.
We start off with a peek at the night of The Enlightenment. A young woman is documenting everything on her cell phone, including the moment Barry and Nora destroy the satellite. She appears to be hit by a piece of debris that knocks her phone from her hand. Nora then appears and saves her from a much larger piece. When the girl picks her phone back up, she notices something odd about it.
Back to the present, Iris is trying way too hard to win over her daughter. It’s kind of sad. Her attempt at breakfast leads to the smoke alarm going off and produces barely edible food. Nora gets a text from Sherloque asking the team to meet at S.T.A.R. Labs. She seems thankful for the opportunity to escape.
The fact that Cisco is not there (nor in this episode at all) is immediately written off as him staying at his parents’ house while he heals. Sherloque goes on to explain that he is working on finding out who Cicada is. But Ralph thinks explaining what is going on with the mask would make more sense. Sherloque decides reluctantly to humor Ralph and work with him.
The team, minus Ralph, Sherloque, and Cisco, heads to the softball field for the annual CCPD match against the Central City Fire Department. What is important here is something I pointed out before: without his powers, Barry has no athletic ability to speak of. There’s also an apparent lack of hand-eye coordination. They have him stuck in right field for a reason.
In the stands, Nora talks about this app she downloaded called Spyn Zone, run by Spencer Young (the girl we saw at the beginning of the episode) that keeps the user updated on the goings on in the city. Cecile asks if the app is like Iris’ website, to which Nora somewhat agrees. But she says that it is more up-to-date. After some thinly veiled sniping between Nora and Iris, Nora leaves to get some food. Shortly after walking away, she gets another notification from Spyn Zone and then her eyes flash purple.
A man walks onto the field, and Cecile can tell that something is weird. She yells at someone to stop him. Nora comes running up in time to grab the man’s backpack and throw it up into the air where it explodes. Both her eyes and those of the man (a CCPD officer) flash purple and neither person has any idea what happened. We see Spencer Young at the scene, videoing everything before walking away with a smug smile. The team is surprised to see that Spyn Zone had already covered the story within minutes of it happening. Iris and Caitlin worry that Cicada may see it and come after Nora.
This leads Iris to talk to Spencer since they are acquaintances. She tells her about the new person killing metas and asks her to stop writing about XS. After assuming she is called XS because she is “extra small,” Spencer refuses to stop writing about what she wants and assumes Iris is jealous, since her work is so much more popular.
When a fire breaks out at Central City Picture News, Barry and Nora race over to put it out. Barry walks Nora through the steps, because she has never done this before. Unfortunately, Spencer had been waiting for them and, with Barry taking a long time talking to Nora, she types a headline into her phone and swipes it up. The message appears on an electronic billboard, reading, “The Flash Spotted In Las Vegas.” Immediately, Barry’s eyes flash purple and he takes off for Sin City. This leaves Nora to put out the fire on her own with her mother talking her through what to do.
When they regroup, Iris points out that Spencer admitted wanting to get famous by making XS famous. Nora seems really upset about her mom talking to Spencer. Having already referred to Spencer as cute, it seems that Nora may have a bit of a crush. That is verified when they fit Nora with a watch that will tell whether or not Spencer is a meta once she pushes a button. When she meets Spencer though, she doesn’t push the button as mutual flirting ensues. (As an aside, I like that both Barry and Oliver have kids that are part of the LGBTQ+ community. I wonder if they will bond over that someday…assuming Barry doesn’t go missing and Oliver gets out of prison.) When Iris intervenes, she finally pushes the button and they find out that Spencer is not a meta.
Iris tries to tell Nora that she needs to avoid Spencer even if she is a super cute, non-meta. When she says that she is trying to protect her, Nora flies off the handle and we finally learn why she is so cold to her mom. In the future, Iris put a meta-dampening chip in Nora to block her powers. Until a few months prior, Nora didn’t even know she had powers.
Ralph sciences his way to finding out the type of mask that Cicada wears and then goes to a local factory where they are used. He figures that whoever was wearing it would be their man, but as it turns out, every worker at the factory uses those masks. The workers at two nearby facilities and the fourteen total in the midwest area also wear masks. So, thousands of employees wear the masks and they aren’t the only company that uses them. Little do they know, they are actually at the right plant, and Cicada takes notice.
Sherloque gets curious about the mask and decides to test a theory. He takes one of the masks back to the lab and asks Caitlin to punch him in the chest as hard as she can while he wears the mask. The resulting injury causes him to sound just like Cicada when he breathes through the mask.
A bomb sighting at Central City Stadium leads to the place getting evacuated, and Nora and Barry head over to find the bomb. Neither one finds anything though. Iris points out the timestamp on Spencer’s post about the bomb, which was five minutes before the first call even came into the police station. Somehow, they figure out that the app’s headlines are hypnotizing people. Unfortunately, they realize this moment too late: Spencer is there and swipes a headline onto the jumbotron that reads “XS Kills Flash!”
Nora proceeds to try to do just that. They start a high-speed chase through the stadium that ends when Barry is inexplicably stopped and drawn backwards until he and Nora run into each other. The crash gives Nora the upper hand as she sits atop Barry, phasing through his chest to presumably grab his heart. Iris shows up just in time to shoot her with a tranquilizer dart. From there, it’s only a quick look around the stadium to find Spencer, which kind of makes me wonder why they didn’t see her when they were looking for a bomb. They must not have looked that hard.
Sherloque finally reveals what he learned from being punched in the chest. The man they are looking for sounds like he does when he breathes through the mask because his lungs are injured. When Nora helped punch the satellite, the pieces had a different trajectory that turned someon other than David Hersch into Cicada. Since the satellite was flooded with dark matter because of Devoe, the pieces were capable of transferring power to whatever they hit. In this case, that includes new Cicada and his dagger.
In a sweet gesture, Sherloque gives all the credit to Ralph for following his instincts about the mask. Wondering if dark matter could be applied to non-living things, they check Spencer’s phone and realize that instead of making more metas, they managed to make meta-tech, putting meta abilities into the hands of anyone holding the item. As much as I didn’t care for the Spencer storyline, I did enjoy this turn of events.
Once everything had calmed down, Iris apologized to Nora for suppressing her powers in the future, but thinks it was the right thing to do. She does not know why she did it, but she assumes that it was for a good reason. This leaves Nora furious and when Barry asks what’s going on, she tattles like the child she is. To her dismay, Barry sides with Iris and says that the reason, whatever it was, was a good one and that he would stand by her. In angsty teen fashion, she runs off, probably slamming a door behind her. She goes to her grandparents’ place, and Joe and Cecile welcome her with open arms.
The last thing we get to see is Orin and he is not looking too good. He is in so much pain that he can barely stand. He does realize he can crush some sort of metal with his bare hand though. However, even that realization is not enough to distract him for long from the searing pain of the gaping wound in his chest. Judging from the size of it, I have to assume his own dagger was what caused that wound, pushing the dark matter inside him.
I’m not sure if we will get to see more of that next week, but we will get to see Troy James take on the role of Peter Merkel, aka Rag Doll. For those that don’t know, Troy was a contortionist on the last season of America’s Got Talent. He didn’t make it into the finals, but it looks like he landed a pretty sweet gig all the same. Check out next week’s promo to see what he can do.