CW’s The Flash has a second strong episode as season five kicks off. Following the fun introduction of Nora last week, “Blocked” sets up the new status quo. Not all of the storylines are as interesting, particularly with villain-of-the-week Block. However, there’s a lot of great character work that keeps “Blocked” afloat. While season four has been The Flash‘s strongest to date, season five is giving it a run for its money.
As mentioned above, some of the actual plot points are kind of weak. The weird new dynamics of the West-Allen Family carry over from last week, so they’re a little less fresh. Caitlin and Ralph trying to cheer up Cisco didn’t lead to nearly as much fun debauchery as expected. Aside from his wardrobe, there wasn’t a lot of fun to be had. Then there’s Block, whose weak storyline made the cutaways to her gun-running vengeance feel weak. On a surface level, most of the storytelling in “Blocked” is bland.
What makes these storylines work is the emotional subtext. The Flash finds a way to spin so-so plot lines into interesting character moments. Barry and Joe have a nice fatherly talk, which grounds the two of them as well as Nora and Cecile. Cisco’s breakup mourning feeds into Caitlin’s parental problems really well. The strongest story of the episode, Iris’ detective work, both keeps the episode moving, while also giving her some great emotional moments.
The episode also does a great job of setting up Chris Klein’s villain, Cicada. The series both fleshes out the villain, while keeping a lot hidden. The fact Cicada kicked the butt of Flash, Vibe, and Elongated Man helps to establish how frightening he can be. Then there’s the question of whether Cicada and XS share any kind of history, as the cliffhanger would suggest. Much like The Thinker, Cicada is a fresh breath of air from a show that’s often repeating its steps each season. Cicada is one of the new elements The Flash has added for an exhilarating new season.
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The Flash is on a hot streak with season five. While some of the stories could be punched up, the character development is solid. Plus, the fact that the season-long arcs are the strongest is a positive sign. The Flash has clearly plotted out where it wants to go, and it’s primary story line is working fine. This series has learned how to master momentum, and it will be exciting to see how this streak continues next week.