The Flash: Season Five, First Half

We're still looking for someone to cover The Flash for us (if you're interested, here's how to apply) but until we find someone, I'm going to post season reviews.

Since season five was essentially bisected by the "Elseworlds, Part 1" crossover reviewed by J.D. when it aired, I decided to do one review of episodes 5.1 through 5.8, and another of 5.10 through 5.22.

Please note: This review includes spoilers!

The first half of season five featured a brand new member of Team Flash – Nora West-Allen – and a specific villain, Cicada. There was also a recurring father/daughter theme: Barry and Nora, Cicada and his niece Grace, Caitlin's unhappy reunion with her father.

Nora West-Allen

Nora is Barry and Iris' adult daughter from the future. Even though Team Flash and her bewildered parents took her arrival in stride, dealing with an adult who is going to be your future child isn't what you'd call an easy situation. Nora, an impetuous, error-prone speedster who refuses to listen to anyone, made it worse by treating Barry like the second coming and Iris like Mommie Dearest. I found it particularly irritating that Nora kept blaming Iris for things she hadn't done yet. Even more disturbing was the news that Nora never knew Barry because he will vanish in 2024, never to return.

It's a girl!
While Jessica Parker Kennedy was good physical casting as Nora – she absolutely looks like she could be their daughter – the character isn't resonating with me. Maybe it's because she acts like a teenager, even though she is old enough to have a future CSI job. Plus all through the first half of season five, it felt like Nora was hiding something, and in "What's Past is Prologue" (5.8), we found out what it was – when she returned to 2049 to check in with Eobard Thawne. Ruh roh.

The situation with Nora is a real test of the West-Allen marriage, and so far, they passed it. Barry specifically kept working hard to mend fences and to support Iris the best he could.

Cicada and yet another Wells

Orlin Dwyer a.k.a. Cicada, the meta killer, got a backstory – adopting his niece Gracie whose parents were killed by a meta-human, only to lose her to a coma during the Enlightenment's satellite explosion. It was probably intended to make him partially sympathetic, but honestly, like Nora, Cicada hasn't done much for me yet, either. His super accoutrement is a glowing power-dampening dagger, plus he breathes like Darth Vader. Eh. Maybe it will get better during the second half of the season, which I haven't seen yet. (It was a busy winter and spring, what can I say.)

One of my favorite things about The Flash as a series is Tom Cavanagh's multiple performances as many different versions of Harrison Wells, and so far, the best part of the Cicada story was Team Flash's recruitment of Harrison "Sherloque" Wells, the "greatest detective in all the multiverse," to bring Cicada down. I'll admit that this affected tea-drinking French version of Wells is not my favorite, although he gets points for calling Dibny "baby giraffe."



But I'm happy that Tom Cavanagh's Eobard Thawne is back. In the excellent "What's Past is Prologue" (5.8, and the 100th episode of the series), Barry and Nora time traveled to gather up pieces of the past to stop Cicada, and the audience was treated to a revisit of key scenes from past episodes of the series. The different versions of Wells were highlights.

The showdown at the end of "What's Past is Prologue" featured Cicada versus the entire Team Flash, most notably Killer Frost. I'm fond of Killer Frost, mostly because of how the relationship between Caitlin and her froster-ego has evolved – from Caitlin's lost time while body-sharing with an uncontrollable supervillain, Killer Frost's move to superhero, and Caitlin and Frost's growing fondness for each other. Killer Frost turned out to be Team Flash's secret weapon, since she isn't a meta.

Caitlin started looking for her long lost father in "Blocked" (5.2) and found him in "The Icicle Cometh" (5.6). Except, of course, it wasn't him – it was his evil froster-ego, dubbed "Icicle." We learned how Killer Frost came to be, that her father was attempting to cure his own ALS and the possibility that Caitlin would suffer from the same disease. (And I am now imagining Jeri Hogarth as Icicle.)



Like Caitlin before Killer Frost's return, Cisco struggled because of the loss of his powers. The cuts on his hands inflicted by Cicada's power-dampening dagger had Cisco wearing bandages on his hands. And he's still not over Gypsy. At least he's still aces at naming things. I loved Cisco naming the four satellites HAL, Robbie, Data and Colossus.

Bits:

— Could I lodge a complaint about the saga sell? The "I'm the Flash and I fight crime with my friends at S.T.A.R. Labs" is fine, but the contrived second part is always awkward. This season, it's "when my daughter arrived from the future" blah blah blah.

— While Cicada and Icicle got the most screen time, I also thought "Blocked" (5.2) was creepy. Flesh cube, ick. I was also really creeped out by "stretchy clown meta" Ragdoll in "All Doll'd Up" (5.5) with the mask and the body horror.


— Joe West mostly sat out these episodes because Jesse L. Martin had a back injury. He was missed.

— Ralph Dibny didn't have a story of his own this time and that was fine with me. I don't know why I dislike him so much, but really, I just wish they'd write him out of the series. Is it just me? Okay, the pear-shape thing in "Death of Vibe" (5.3) was fun and I liked his pairing with Cecile, but still.

— Cecile also didn't get much to do but I enjoyed how, in "All Doll'd Up," she told Nora a bunch of cool stories about Barry… except as it turned out, those stories were about Iris. Way to go, Cecile.

— After all of the fun stuff in "What's Past is Prologue," I also have to give special mention to Iris diving off a building after Barry to free him from metacuffs in "All Doll'd Up," which was also a turning point in how Nora saw Iris.

— I also loved the scene where Barry and Nora went back in time to see his parents on the front porch before his mother's death and his father's imprisonment.



"What's Past is Prologue" left us with a cliffhanger: Cicada and his dagger are still a threat and Nora could be a villain, while Caitlin and Killer Frost have achieved a friendly d├ętente. Again, here's a link to episode 5.9, "Elseworlds, Part 1," already reviewed. I'll be posting a review of 5.9 through 5.22 later this summer.

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

2 comments:

CoramDeo said...

I think part of why I enjoy Dibny is because of how much I love his comic counterpart. I watch him in the hopes that he will live up to that namesake, and it looks like they're heading there with him.

Billie Doux said...

CoramDeo, good point. I'm totally unfamiliar with the comics. Maybe I'd like Dibny more if I knew about his namesake.