The latest episode of The Flash teased a major twist; it's possible Orlin Dwyer isn't the future Cicada after all. The Flash's future appears to increasingly be overshadowed by the threat of Cicada, a murderous being who's set on killing all metahumans. According to Barry Allen's daughter Nora, aka XS, Cicada will be hunted down by the world's greatest heroes - ranging from the Flash to Supergirl, from the Legends of Tomorrow to even the Arrowverse's Justice League.
"Memorabilia" revealed that Cicada is the one threat the world has never been able to beat, and that his killing spree continues even in Nora's time. By the time Nora was a child, Cicada had killed no less than 152 victims, and rumors were beginning to circulate that perhaps he was immortal - explaining why he'd been able to survive such powerful enemies. Presumably Cisco's meta cure gave some people the option of returning to normal life, rather than risking being hunted down by Cicada.
But "Memorabilia" also hinted at the real reason Cicada seems immortal; there are actually two Cicadas. In the present day, Cicada is Orlin Dwyer, a bitter man who blames metas for putting his niece Grace Gibbons in a coma. Team Flash figured a good way to beat him would be to appeal to his heart by helping Grace recover, and XS entered Grace's mind in an attempt to wake her up. There, she learned that Grace hated metas every bit as much as her uncle; she even knew what her uncle was doing, able to eavesdrop on the real world from inside her coma.
Disturbingly, when Grace's natural psychic defenses triggered, they initially took the form of Cicada. Towards the end of The Flash season 5 episode 12, that defense shifted, becoming female rather than male, clearly indicating that Grace sees herself as sharing the same purpose as Orlin. And to cap it all off, Team Flash realized the reason they'd struggled to get out of her mind; like Orlin himself, she'd been affected by a shard from the Thinker's destroyed satellite. It really does seem as though Grace could be the Cicada of the future, inspired to continue her uncle's mission, and sharing his powers.
If that's the case, XS should be very concerned about what just happened in "Memorabilia." Grace has seen her face; she knows Nora is Flash's daughter, and by the end of the episode she was burning with hatred for the girl she believes hurt her Uncle Orlin. Nora's presence in the past is affecting the timeline - and she seems to have made Cicada hate her on a very personal level. The super-speedster is sure to be Cicada's number one target in her own time.
In thematic terms, this would be a smart twist. The Flash season 4 has been about the relationship between Barry and his daughter Nora; Cicada's story would mirror theirs, with Orlin and Grace sharing a similar kind of bond. Just as Barry inspired Nora to become XS and act as a hero, so Orlin's hatred of metas is shared with his niece - with murderous results. This does mean Team Flash will face a difficult ethical dilemma, should they realize the truth about Grace's future identity. It's the classic "Adolf Hitler problem"; if you knew that a child was destined to grow up and become Adolf Hitler, what would you do? In this case, Flash and his friends may well learn what kind of monster Grace is destined to become - and have to decide what to do about it.
The Flash season 5 continues with episode 13, "Goldfaced," on Tuesday, February 5, on the CW.