The Flash Season 5 Episode 16 "Failure is an Orphan" Recap and Review

The episode starts in 2049, with Nora telling Thawne about the cure. He says that there is a new timeline breaking through, which is bad because it’s unpredictable. He uses a cute pet name for her, little runner, when she asks if she did anything wrong. He says that someone is breaking through.


Iris is on the phone with an insurance agent. Attacks by psychic gorilla do not count as “acts of God.” Her and Barry walk in on Nora going full on crazy. They send her to Jitters to save everyone’s sanity, and to give her something to do.


Joe is back at work and Cecile visits him. There is a file on the doctor, Dr. Ambres, in Cicada’s file. Cecile wants to go with Joe to question her.

The other reason that Barry and Iris sent Nora to Jitters is because she now has her own drink: Excesspresso. Iris has a list of things that she wants them all to do together.

Barry then gets an actual alert from the Central City University chemistry lab. A guy is drinking hydrochloric acid and green acid comes out of his hands. Barry tries to neutralize him and fails. Nora tells him not to go after the guy. She recognizes the acid from a picture Reverse Flash showed her. Today is the day that they stop Cicada.

Not that she explains it that way. She frames it as a picture in the Flash museum. Sherloque is rightly skeptical, but she wriggles her way out of it. Cisco names him Acid Master.

Iris tries to talk to Nora, but Nora’s distracted.

Cecile and Joe talk to the doctor. It’s super awkward because Cecile is being super obvious about her powers and Joe isn’t listening. They talk after Dr. Ambres leaves and decide that working together might not have been the best idea after all.

Nora bombards Barry with his past speeches. He tells her that every one of those situations was different and that he doesn’t think that they’ll work. Dwyer doesn’t even care if he lives. Nora is sure that she’ll figure it out.

Sherloque is 71% of the way through translating Nora’s journal. Cisco and Caitlin walk in. They found Cicada but they need help with how to slow him down long enough to talk to him. If this works, Sherloque will be leaving, so Cisco offers some advice.


Killer Frost interrupts his attack on Acid Master. She blasts Cicada and they put Acid Master in the pipeline. Killer Frost then portals the dagger away and leaves, giving Barry 60 seconds. Barry talks to Cicada about his legacy. Cicada punches him, because he is a meta serial killer and is not going to respond to a kumbaya pep talk. Killer Frost blasts him once he gets the dagger back and he leaves.


Nora is now officially freaking out because Cicada is nowhere to be found. She and Barry both leave.

Barry actually goes to work. He talks to Joe about why the plan didn’t work. The plan didn’t work because serial killers are not made out of puppies and rainbows like you Barry. Joe suggests that he be a little less Flash and a little more Barry Allen with Cicada. They then talk about Cecile. Joe and Cecile are a team and have to play to each other’s strengths.


Iris tries to talk to Nora. She’ll miss her when she leaves.

Joe and Cecile talk. He brought Dr. Ambres in for questioning and they are going to interrogate her together. He fiancé was killed by Zoom and that’s why she hates metas. She could potentially set up a meet, but she won’t tell them where Dwyer is. Cecile does find out that Grace is a meta.

As we know, her meta powers are recent. Barry tells them his new plan. No powers, just talking.

Nora talks to Iris. She had a list too and she’ll try to remember that family is the most important thing. That is why she came, after all.

Barry eavesdrops and then comes in and tells them the plan. He going to talk to Cicada, father to father.


Barry talks to Dwyer. Dr. Ambres didn’t tell him about Grace and he doesn’t initially believe that Grace is a meta. Why should he believe the Flash, his enemy? Barry unmasks himself and talks about fatherhood. And it works. There is no way on any Earth that that should have worked. Barry should be dead. He brings Dwyer to S.T.A.R. Labs, where everyone is collected and unmasked. They are going to cure him first and then Grace. They will have to put him in surgery and suture his chest wound once his powers are gone. He wants Dr. Ambres to do the procedure, and if it goes wrong, he will kill them all. Dude, you just accepted a pep talk from a superhero. Your credibility is just a bit shot.

Caitlin and the doctor begin to work, with the dagger in the room. Cecile has to leave because she can’t handle Dwyer’s rage. Barry, Iris, and Joe watch. Cisco brings in the cure and they knock him out. Caitlin injects the cure and he starts to seize.

Sherloque talks to Nora. He wants to know how she knew about the burn marks. She says that she had a gut feeling. She is then saved by Cecile, who comes in to tell them that Dwyer is in surgery.

The power shuts off in the lab.

Another Cicada drops through the window where Sherloque, Nora, and Cecile are. Cicada uses hands to push and keep them against the wall. Sherloque presses the distress beacon once Cicada leaves.


Cisco sees the other Cicada on the monitor. Caitlin freezes Dwyer’s wound and tells Dr. Ambres to get out of dodge now.

Everyone suits up and Cicada walks in dramatically and uses two daggers to knock Barry against the wall, knock everyone else out, and destroy the lab.


This new Cicada uses Dwyer’s dagger to kill Dr. Ambres.


Everyone else wakes up fine.

The new Cicada is Grace from the future.


Ok. So this episode was a hot mess, raises far more questions than answers, and reminds me of the last season Arrow villain psych-out.  I am sufficiently worried. 6.5/10.