The Flash Season 5 Episode 14 Review: Cause and XS

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Not to be dramatic but, what did I just watch? 

If there’s one thing The Flash Season 5 Episode 14 taught us, it’s that sometimes people don’t learn their lesson.

In this case, I’m referring to both Nora Allen and the writers who created her character.

Killer Frost Down For The Count - The Flash Season 5 Episode 14

Before diving into this review, it’s important I make it clear that any critique on Nora West Allen is not synonymous with my thoughts on Jessica Parker Kennedy. Kennedy is a true spitfire, perfectly cast for her role, with an emotional range that consistently leaves me awestruck.

I just wish she got better material.

This was the 14th episode of The Flash Season 5. Nora has been on The Flash universe for 14 episodes now. 

I am aware superhero hero shows are not character-driven dramas, but there still need to be elements of dynamic growth within those characters. If not, you end up forcing your viewers into a constant time loop, watching them make the same mistakes over and over again.

In this case, I mean that quite literally.

XS and Killer Frost Try To Save The Day - The Flash Season 5 Episode 14

The catalyst for what exactly went wrong here may have been the absence of Barry Allen or simply the writers not having quite enough story material to fill their 22 installment quota. Anyone's guess is as good as mine. 

Regardless, there was little about this episode which could be deemed as necessary (or even helpful) to the overall plot for the season, which leaves me asking: What was the point? 

Yes, Team Flash figured out how to finish the cure. Except once again, that got done off screen as most of the cure storyline has been.

Related: The Flash Season 5 Episode 13 Review: Goldfaced

Instead of an interesting hour delving into a race against the clock on how to prepare the cure before time runs out, audiences were left watching random members of Team Flash die repeatedly, as Nora made the same mistakes she’s been making since her debut.

It would be one thing if it was just boring. But more than anything else, it just didn't make much sense. There were multiple reasons the plot didn’t work.

The first one revolving around The Flash's speedster mechanics.

Iris In The Distance - The Flash Season 5 Episode 14

We’ve been taught countless times that messing with the timeline results in disastrous effects. Barry even reminded Nora of this in the last few scenes of the episode. There hasn’t been a single attempt at a timeline change that hasn’t negatively affected a character in some way.

Except of course, when Nora does it.

Nora travels to the future on a consistent basis with no repercussions. In "Cause and XS," she absolutely massacres the timeline by running back and forth 52 times with the only conclusion being a simple shrug from Barry, stating “she got lucky this time."

I'm sorry, what?

When have they ever gotten lucky with something like this? In five seasons, I can’t think of a single occurrence where “they’ve just gotten lucky.”

Related: Arrow Season 7 Episode 12 Review: Emerald Archer

I let a lot of scientific minutia slide on this show (mostly because I wouldn't understand it anyway), but this has too many loopholes not to raise questions, even for me. For instance:  

Why is Nora the exception?

Where were the time wraiths?

Why couldn’t Nora get into the speed force herself?

Beyond just the systematic aspects of it all, there are questions regarding Nora’s character development. Nora is not a toddler, so why have the writers dumbed her down to a shell of a speedster who is incapable of doing anything on her own?

XS Worried  - The Flash Season 5 Episode 14

The entire first half of the season was almost solely dedicated to her learning from her father. It was a refreshing new dynamic brought to the show, but at this point, Nora should be smart enough to solve a conflict -- especially against a villain like Cicada, who doesn’t have much going on upstairs.

At the very least, she should be given enough credit to understand the importance of sharing the issue with Team Flash. There was no reasoning given as to why she felt she couldn’t be honest with them or warn them about being in danger.

Even after 52 times, it wasn’t Nora who finally came forward with the truth. The Team had to figure it out themselves. Worst of all, no one even faulted her for it. They treated her like a hero.

Interesting, considering that when Barry made the same mistake, he was brutally chastised for his decisions.

I guess that’s because Nora “got lucky this time,” right? Just insert my eye roll here. 

Intimidating Cicada - The Flash Season 5 Episode 14

Maybe I could have supported the decision to film this episode if it at least did something for the development of Cicada as a villain.

Unfortunately, it also failed in that regard.

Things would have been much more interesting if Cicada had somehow pivoted his plan in intelligent and diabolical ways each time the timeline got reset. This would have given him more depth beyond being portrayed as a vapid monster out to brutally kill. 

A smart villain is a scarier villain, after all. And that's something Cicada has sorely lacked. 

Related: The Flash Season 5 Episode 12 Review: Memorabilia

Instead, Cicada simply executed the same plan with each and every reset. He just got lucky Nora was completely unable to maneuver around his one idea, even though he did it over 50 times. 

Once the rest of Team Flash was in on the truth, they were quickly able to come up with a way to beat him. A way that, once again, was underexplained to the viewer and made no sense, but I'll be kind and let that one go. 

I suppose it was all meant to hammer in the message of "Team Flash is better together." Taht would be nice, if we hadn’t already been learning that lesson from the pilot.

Helpless XS, Killer Frost and Ralph - The Flash Season 5 Episode 14

All this did was prove how one-note Cicada is as a big bad, and revert Nora to a mindless basket case who happens to run really fast.

As a Cisco and Iris fan, I shouldn’t be complaining too much; their bravery and intelligence saved the day. I always appreciate their recognition; I just don’t think other characterizations need to be sacrificed or manipulated to make that point.

It was still nice to see Cisco being useful though, especially with his vibes. It may be fruitless, but I am keeping my fingers crossed he decides to pass on taking the cure by the end of this season.

Cisco On A Date - The Flash Season 5 Episode 14

It looks unlikely, considering his newfound romance and talk of wanting a family with a normal life. The timing seems too calculated to simply be a coincidence, and at this point, I wouldn't be surprised if this is the last season we see Cisco as a series regular.

If I'm correct, unfortunate would be an understatement, considering the show would lose one of it’s biggest assets if Valdes departs. If this episode did anything successfully, it showed how entertaining Cisco can be.

For me, Valdes is the heart of the show and can make even the poorest written episode shine. 

Cisco Falls In Love - The Flash Season 5 Episode 14

Other than Cisco, the only fulfilling moment was receiving yet another moment of bravery from Iris West Allen, who stands up to Cicada with a ferocity that leaves you audibly cheering her on through the screen.

Nora has been yearning for some of Barry to rub off on her, but who she really needs to take cues from is her mother. Nora could use some of Iris’ gusto.

Overall “Cause and XS” left me with more questions than answers. After two stellar installments, the writers delivered one of the laziest episodes of The Flash Season 5.

Ralph In The Distance - The Flash Season 5 Episode 14

I’m still wondering why Nora trusts Reverse Flash more than her own family. I still want to understand why Thawne is racing against a timer. I’m curious as to why Killer Frost couldn’t help stop Cicada when she was the way to defeat him on The Flash Season 5 Episode 8.

I’m struggling to figure out why the writers refuse to let Nora grow as a character. I’m curious as to why Barry has so many absences this season and why the writers can’t find a way to give their audience good content if he’s not around.

And Cicada can fly now? When did that happen?

Sherloque In The Distance - The Flash Season 5 Episode 14

Random Thoughts:

  • Why does Jitters name its coffees after killers and psychopaths? What are they doing?
  • Social Media Influencer Cisco needs to disclose where he gets his blowouts done.
  • Cecile couldn’t have one line this episode? Not even one line?
  • Despite the failures of this episode, that small scene of Team Flash playing cards in Star Labs had me in stitches. If this cast has anything, it’s delightful chemistry.

Related: The Flash Season 5 Episode 11 Review: Seeing Red

  • Why Cisco would think he had to be anyone but himself is beyond me. He's a dreamboat, just the way he is. I'm glad Camilla agrees. 
  • I was happy Iris was the only member of Team Flash who didn't die. A true female warrior. 
Killer Frost Beauty - The Flash Season 5 Episode 14

Flash Fanatics, I'm handing it over to you!

What did you think of this episode?

Were you as frustrated with the plot holes as I was?

Are you underwhelmed by Cicada?

Are you worried about Cisco leaving the show?

What do you think of Nora as a character? 

Let me know in the comments and remember, you can catch up on episodes and watch The Flash online, right here at TV Fanatic! 

Cause and XS Review

Editor Rating: 2.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 2.3 / 5.0 (45 Votes)

Kat Pettibone is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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The Flash Season 5 Episode 14 Quotes

Nora sometimes we fail because all we can worry about is not failing.


We're not Gods, Nora. We've just been given extraordinary abilities.