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‘The Flash’ recap: 5×16 “Failure is an Orphan”

The timeline just got a lot more complicated.

The Flash episode “Failure is an Orphan” aired 12 March 2019.

Howdy. Going into this week, you knew things were going to go wrong. We still have about a third of the season left after all. Still, I didn’t consider that “going wrong” would entail…that. Well, at least until it was happening.

The timeline is malleable

In 2049, Eobard Thawne shows Nora a newspaper article on the last battle between the Flash and Cicada. However, the image keeps flickering. Thawne says a new timeline is breaking through and they must act quickly.

Back in the present, the team encounter a new meta-human that can spray acid. Nora recognizes the acid burns from the new articles’ main photo, and realises today is the day the Flash supposedly stops Cicada. At least until ‘The Flash missing in crisis’ happens and Cicada returns to continue his killing spree.

Barry and Iris let Nora lead a team meeting in the cortex. Nora’s facilitation style is basically yelling exasperatedly, to everyone else’s chagrin. “You two did this,” Cisco grunts. “You made her. You’re responsible.”

How to make friends and talk to people

The team asks Barry how he plans to talk Cicada into taking the cure. He has no clue. He’s just winging it. I’m sure we can relate.

Obviously, when it comes to the alleyfight pictured on the future newspaper, Cicada isn’t interested in talking. He knocks the Flash out and flies off before Killer Frost can hit him.

the flash cicada
the CW

Meanwhile, Joe returns to work and promptly identifies the doctor as someone they should question. He accepts Cecile’s offer to team up and offer he met-intuition, but ignores her signals during the initial questioning.

Later, Joe and Barry exchange advice. Joe tells Barry to approach Cicada as Barry the human, not Flash the metahuman. Barry pulls a Joe of his own, getting the older man to confess that he felt his gut was displaced by Cecile’s powers.

the flash joe west barry allen
the CW

Elsewhere, Iris worries that her time with Nora is running out, and tries to pry her away from the Cicada hunt to do random activities. Nora, as usual, isn’t receptive, creating a wedge between the two women. Sherloque, Cisco and Caitlin also briefly reminisce about how their time work together may be coming to a close.

the flash tom cavanagh sherloque wells
the CW

Oh my god, I can’t even

Joe apologises to Cecile and recruits her for another round of questioning with Dr Ambres. They crack her this time around. Dr Ambres tells them her husband was killed by a meta during Zoom’s time. She also reveals that Grace is a meta, as dark matter has started replicating in the girl’s head wound, and tells them where to find Dwyer.

This time, Barry offer the cure not for Dwyer but for Grace. He also takes his cowl off so he and Cicada can have some father-to-father time… Good lord, it’s as if Cicada knowing XS is the Flash’s daughter wasn’t bad enough.

Anyway, Dwyer returns to Star Labs with Barry to test the cure before it’s given to Grace. It works, but while Dr Ambres stitches him up, Star Labs is attacked by…another Cicada?! I bet it’s Grace.

This Cicada has better control and stronger powers. They wreck Star Labs and kill Ambres with Dwyer’s lightning dagger before taking both Dwyer and the dagger.

The new timeline surfaces

At Dwyer’s hideaway house, the new Cicada takes their hood off… Yep, it is Grace, from the future! Which means future Grace pulled a Nora as well. The question is, what happened to Dwyer’s Cicada, and who is her Thawne? I wouldn’t be surprised if Thawne was on both sides of this.


  • “Congratulations, you raised a menace.” – Cisco to Barry and Iris
  • Nora discovers the new XS coffee at Jitters and immediately squeals “I got my own drink!” in the middle of the café. *facepalm*
  • “I will miss you both very much……but you will miss me more! Allez!” – Sherloque to Cisco and Caitlin
  • Joe: That sounds like something the Flash would say.
    Barry: Well I am the Flash.

What are your theories about this new development? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

Missed an episode? Catch up on The Flash with our recaps!

(featured image: the CW)


Ellen Ng

Ellen is a exhibition planner by day and TV fanatic by night. Currently brewing lots of matcha and managing a team in Fantasy Premier League.

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