The Flash (5×14)- “Cause and XS”
Written by: Todd Helbing & Jeff Hersh
Directed by: Rachel Talalay
With new episodes coming up this week, I better take time out of my busy schedule to review the last episode.
Cause and XS! continues this strange Flash tradition of putting out holiday episodes a week after the holiday… This time they’re celebrating Groundhog’s Day not with a prognosticating rodent but with a time loop.
Of course, the time loop isn’t just a staple of Bill Murray movies. It’s a sci-fi staple going way back with shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation, Stargate SG-1 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer all throwing their hats in the ring. (It’s very likely this episode is an homage more to the Star Trek: TNG episode “Cause and Effect” than Groundhog’s Day as it more closely parallels that episode than the movie but that’s falling down a tangent hole.)
So our dominoes are set up when Cisco finally completes his meta-human cure before his first date with Kamilla but there’s a problem. The cure needs thirty days to mature before they can use it but since it’s very likely Cicada is killing people as they speak Barry doesn’t want to wait that long. Eventually, Sherloque hits on Barry taking the cure into the Speed Force to rapidly mature in about an hour.
So what are the odds that with our title character off the board that all hell will break loose again?
That shouldn’t be a surprise at this point. Iris goes to the paper to get some work done and Cicada shows up then gets the drop on her. Cisco’s date goes terribly wrong because he tries to impress Kamilla and he has to bail when Iris’ alarm goes off but it doesn’t really matter because when Nora tries to save Iris, she fails and it costs Killer Frost her life. Nora decides to hit the reset button and we begin our time loop misadventure.
Essentially the more suspicious Nora acts the more she causes events to loop, even if the person that’s kidnapped or killed changes from loop to loop which causes her to get more desperate and act more suspiciously… Until after fifty-two attempts (52! Get it!) she acts so strangely and Cisco’s déjà vu gets so overwhelming that the gang figures out what she’s done. From there they use Nora’s notes from the previous loops to out-maneuver him into stabbing himself with his dagger.
Cisco also manages to right the ship with his date with Kamilla by being himself. Later, Barry has a talk with Nora about the unintended consequences of Time Travel (with a great callback to a similar talk Jay gave Barry in season three) before we see one of those unintended consequences. Nora has given Sherloque enough examples of the time language to decipher her journal which means it’s only a matter of time until everyone knows she’s working with Thawne.
Speaking of Thawne, Nora travels to the future and we learn that she and Thawne are trying to stop Cicada because he has some part in Barry’s disappearance.
Pretty good episode, the thing about stories like this where a sequence of events repeats is the details. Every line must be delivered with subtle changes to show progress. It also relies on Jessica Parker Kennedy to carry the load and she does a good job. Carlos Valdes and Victoria Park also do a good job of playing out their first date over and over. (Though they probably have more to work with than the two baristas that have to repeat their lines each time.)
As usual with episodes that are filler or tangents the most important developments are in the final few minutes of the episode. Sherloque has the key to deciphering the diary and learning Nora’s secret and as a result she and Thawne have finally revealed to the audience what their goal is.
In the end though, this is a filler episode and they can only really be so much. I will give them bonus points for reminding me of a favorite Star Trek episode so the final score is:
Things We Learned in ‘Cause and XS’:
- The Meta-human cure is complete.
- Team Flash has further aggravated Cicada’s injuries by stabbing him with his dagger again.
- Sherloque has deciphered the Time Language.
Questions from ‘Cause and XS’:
- What exactly is Nora hiding in her journal and is it possible that Thawne’s been using those things to manipulate her into helping him?
- Further, does that mean that the things Barry was writing when he returned from the Speed Force will come into play?
- Will there be other consequences for Nora doing so much time travel?
- Where are the Time Wraiths?
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