SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for "O Come, All Ye Thankful," the latest episode of The Flash.
The Flash just pulled the curtain back on Cicada. "O Come, All Ye Thankful," the latest episode, revealed Orlin Dwyer's backstory over a series of flashbacks. As it turns out, his transformation into Cicada had a lot to do with the Thinker, last season's major villain.
According to the flashbacks, Orlin became an involuntary guardian to his niece Grace when his sister died in a car accident. At first, the two mixed like oil and water; Orlin didn't want to be a parent, while Grace sensed that and responded in kind. However, an incident at Grace's school caused them to connect. When Orlin scolded her for not listening to him, she spat back that he wasn't a real parent and didn't like her -- or even himself.
After Grace's outburst, Orlin turned over a new leaf. He moved out of his apartment and into his cousin's fixer-upper with her, in the hopes of building her a better home. He also bought her a dollhouse that he promised to build with her. He asked her for a second chance, which she willingly gave him.
A year later, Orlin took Grace to a local fair to celebrate the anniversary of his promise. Unfortunately, that was the same night the Thinker launched his plans for the Enlightenment. What's worse, they were standing where the STAR Labs satellite ultimately crash-landed after Barry and Nora knocked it away from downtown. The piece of the satellite's core that would become Cicada's dagger pierced Orlin in the chest, while another struck Grace, rendering her unconscious.
Orlin brought Grace to the hospital with the dragger still in his chest; it appears to have pierced his lung, likely explaining his breathing issues. He met his Doctor Ambres as he put his niece down on a gurney. She led him to another so he would be helped as well, then returned to Grace. He soon blacked out from the pain.
As he recovered, Orlin spent much of his time with Grace. Ambres eventually told him the bad news: Grace may never wake up from her trauma. After she dropped this bombshell, she blamed metahumans for all of Central City's problems. As she railed against metahuman kind, he kept an eye on the news, which showed a report about Gridlock's robberies from the season premiere. Ambres' words drove Orlin into a rage; with his surge of emotion, his dagger flew into his hand and his eyes glowed with an unnatural light. The implication here is that he went and killed Gridlock shortly thereafter.
Unfortunately for Orlin, Team Flash soon discovered his true identity. They hacked into the hospital's security cameras to monitor all visitors to Grace Gibbons, who they had determined to be Cicada's relative. Archived footage, plus a Thanksgiving day visit, revealed Orlin as Grace's only visitor, thus alerting the team to his alter ego.
Speaking to CBR, Cicada actor Chris Klien said Orlin's past is "an important part of the season. It's an important part of the storyline for Cicada, because it's important that the audience understands and comes to know him as a person. You know, in order to really root for or against someone, you've got to know what they're about. The Flash always does such a great job of helping the audience and the fans be in touch with the villains and come to know their struggles. Orlin Dwyer is a human being that's going through some stuff, and he's doing what he can to sort it out in a way he thinks as right."
Airing Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW, The Flash stars Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Carlos Valdes, Danielle Panabaker, Tom Cavanaugh, Jesse L. Martin, Danielle Nicolet, Hartley Sawyer, and Jessica Parker Kennedy.