'The Flash' Just Made Cicada the Most Sympathetic Supervillain Ever

Just like two weeks ago when The Flash aired a creepy episode after Halloween, the latest Thanksgiving episode comes almost a week late, and it’s chock full of dramatic family dynamics. Father-daughter relationships are everywhere, whether it’s a rift forming between Barry and Nora over him risking his life or the arrival of the Weather Wizard’s daughter. Even last week’s Killer Frost story between Caitlin and her father lingers on our mind.

But the most poignant and revealing father-daughter dynamic comes as The Flash finally fleshes out Cicada’s full backstory and explains the nature of his relationship to his surrogate daughter.

Full spoilers follow for The Flash Season 5, Episode 7, “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”

Tuesday night’s episode of The Flash delivered Cicada’s backstory, just like how it was right around this time last year when we finally learned what drove Clifford DeVoe to become The Thinker.

Some kind of meta-human attack (circa early Season 3) led to the death of Orlin Dwyer’s sister, so he had to spend the next year taking care of her daughter. That’s Grace, the girl everyone thinks is Cicada’s daughter.

'The Flash' Cicada and Grace
Cicada turns out to be a great father to his niece until it's all ruined on the day of the Enlightenment.

The miserably Orlin is initially terrible at raising his niece, hating his dead-end jobs and swearing around the house, but he eventually makes an earnest promise to be a better father figure. Things are going swimmingly well until the night of the Enlightenment when he’s hit in the chest by super-shrapnel and Grace is knocked to the ground so hard her brain hemorrhages, putting into a potentially permanent coma.

All it takes is some gentle encouragement from a bitter doctor months later — and a weird connection that develops between the wound on his chest and his shrapnel-dagger — and Orlin vows to kill every meta-human he can find.

It makes Cicada the most sympathetic Flash villain we’ve ever seen, and maybe the most sympathetic villain in the entire Arrowverse. Sure, we all saw this aspect of his backstory coming. But actor Chris Klein does a superb job selling the character’s earnestness. Or maybe I’m just nostalgic seeing Chris “Oz” Ostreicher from the American Pie movies?

'The Flash' Joss
Joss is one of the most overpowered adversaries ever thanks to an insane piece of meta-tech.

After teasing the Weather Wizard’s return two weeks ago, The Flash followed through by bringing the character back for what basically turned out as a glorified cameo. After a weather anomaly threatens the city, Barry and Nora visit Mark Mardon at Iron Heights where they’re confronted by his daughter Joslyn, or “Joss.”

She was a storm chaser when the Enlightenment happened, and a shard of the satellite hit her lightning rod. So now she can use it to teleport and control all aspects of the weather.

While Joss spends her time and powers trying to kill her father, Barry and Nora navigate much more wholesome issues, like Nora finally realizing she resented Barry for not being around her whole childhood. This is pretty standard stuff that makes for a logical place for the show to go.

To unite all of these seemingly disparate storylines under the banner of father-daughter relationships could’ve been a difficult task, but The Flash managed it in excellent fashion, juxtaposing these various dynamics and making each feel more important than it otherwise would’ve.

When we reach the end of Season 5, how will Team Flash handle a sympathetic villain like Cicada? Even though he’s a serial killer, his reasons for pursuing metas feel more relatable than most other villains they’ve faced before, especially when he really has Team Flash to blame for all of his problems.


The Flash airs Tuesday nights on The CW at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Check out this teaser for the upcoming Arrowverse crossover in which Barry fights Diggle as the Green Arrow.

Barry becomes the Green Arrow
Media via The CW