The Flash: Season Five, Second Half

"Thawne's plans got plans."

Please note: This review includes spoilers!

(This review covers The Flash episodes 5.10 through 5.22. I also reviewed the first half, 5.1 through 5.8, and J.D. reviewed 5.9, "Elseworlds, Part 1.")

Nora West-Allen and her character arc dominated season five, and it was actually a pretty strong, ultimately tragic story. Unfortunately, I just never warmed to Nora, and she was the key to the entire season. Is it that the time travel rules on this show don't make sense to me? I found her existence in the first place practically inexplicable, and her vanishing from existence in the end just as puzzling.

What I did like about the Nora plot was the way it affected the West-Allen marriage. Parenting is hard enough when you start out with a baby. How could anyone deal with a grown child not even born yet showing up and demanding to be part of your life? Barry and Iris coped pretty well, actually, for unexpected parents thrown directly into the deep end. Later, they ended up fighting about Nora's connection to Eobard Thawne to the point where I began wondering if they were going to break up. I particularly liked the episode where Barry and Iris wandered through Nora's childhood memories, and when Barry took off his Flash mask and talked to Cicada, father to father.

But this season's main villain, Cicada, was a total flop. I didn't buy him as scary or sympathetic; his Darth Vader-like voice made me cringe.



Cicada II/Grace Gibbons, or as Cisco dubbed her, "She-Cada," was much scarier and much more effective, totally vicious and scary; they should have brought her in sooner. Or maybe I just still like Sarah Carter from her really terrific guest arc on Smallville a few years ago. And I did like the Nora/Grace parallel, since they were both beloved, confused daughters from the future.

But of course, both Cicadas paled next to the return of Eobard Thawne.

I'm sure I'm not alone in loving Tom Cavanagh and all of the characters he plays on this show. Cavanagh is The Flash's secret weapon in so many ways. And bringing him back as Eobard Thawne was this season's high point for me. The way Thawne was treated by the metacops during the back half of this season – the fifteen-year countdown to his execution, the torture with the red lightning – actually made me feel sorry for him. And honestly, I did start to wonder if Thawne was sincere, if he actually cared about Nora, if he was helping her save the Flash because he was genuinely repentant, trying to do something good before leaving this world.



What was I thinking? Of course he wasn't. The entire season and everything Nora did at Thawne's behest was all about Cicada's dagger, strapped to Thawne's chest, keeping him powerless. I can understand why this show wouldn't want to keep returning to its original villain, but with the infamous headline in the vault finally changing from 2024 to 2019 and the "crisis" approaching now, it made sense to bring their best villain back, and once again played by Tom Cavanagh. (I liked Matt Letscher, but I like Cavanagh more. Plus he's in the cast.)

While I'm talking about Tom Cavanagh, I honestly didn't care much for Sherloque, his new Harrison Wells, at the beginning of the season – but by the end, I loved him, and now I'll miss him. Sherloque's best moments this season were in "Time Bomb" when he confronted Nora with her deception and Barry put her in a cell, and in the end when he reconnected with Renee Adler.



Carlos Valdes makes me laugh, keeps me interested in what is happening to Cisco. But I'm really not on board with what happened to him this season. His new love interest, Kamilla, was meh, although the scene when he showed her his powers as Vibe was really terrific. But Cisco killing his own superpowers using the metahuman cure that Caitlin had created felt wrong. It's not like what future Iris did to keep Nora powerless; it's not reversible.

Do superbeings have a right to their powers, even if they use them to break the law? How does "consent" relate to using the metahuman cure on a multiple murderer? I kept thinking about having access to time travel and not killing Hitler. It's nice that Grace Gibbons now has a chance at a normal life, but as a critical member of Team Flash, why does Cisco want a normal life, too? I was going, no! no! no! when Caitlin injected Cisco.

Best episodes

While the final episodes and the conclusion of the Nora arc were good, there were two other episodes I liked better.



"Goldfaced" (episode 13), with Barry and Ralph powerless and undercover, was great fun. I so enjoyed Barry as "the chemist" and Ralph doing everything he could to protect Barry. Honestly, this was the first time I liked Ralph.

But "Cause and XS" (episode 14) was even better. An exceptional Groundhog Day episode and a deliberate takeoff of the classic Next Gen episode "Cause and Effect," Nora kept rewinding and reliving a specific hour as Cicada killed a different member of Team Flash in each iteration, and Cisco rewound version after version of his first date with Kamilla.

In the final episode, "Legacy" (episode 22), I was only sad in a lukewarm way about Nora's tragic dissolve and her long farewell message. But I loved when Singh, promoted to chief of police, revealed that he knew Barry was the Flash and that he'd known for a long time. Perfect.

Bits:

— Because of Jesse L. Martin's injury, Joe West was absent for most of the season. I didn't realize how much I missed him until he returned. He and Cecile had a nice arc in the second half of the season where they had some trouble working together because of her powers. Promoting Joe to Captain of the CCPD was a good idea.

— Witness protection for metas, and all the metas showing up at CCPD… I don't know, that felt off. How could there be so many?

— "King Shark vs. Gorilla Grodd" (episode 15). I honestly can't believe they did this one. Although I'll admit it did have its moments and I felt bad for how it turned out for King Shark.

— "Gone Rogue" (episode 20) felt like a cheat since it didn't include Wentworth Miller. (Nearly every episode with the word "rogue" in the title has featured Captain Cold.)

— In this season's hair report, Daddy Icicle returned in "Snow Pack" (episode 19) and died for Caitlin, but his new Liberace-style hairdo lessened the impact of his actions. (A bit of foreshadowing for Nora's sacrifice in the finale.)

— It's interesting that season seven of Arrow had flashforwards throughout to 2040.

To conclude... I kind of let The Flash wash over me. and don't think I'm good at analyzing it. But I think the show is aging. It doesn't intrigue me like it used to. And I wish I'd liked Nora more. Season five was not a favorite.

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 will continue to post seasonette reviews. We'll also do individual reviews of the major crossover episodes.

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

7 comments:

Red Pearl said...

Episode 13

I liked Barry and Ralph going undercover and taking down Goldface, especially the part Barry making up the Chemist on the spot. It's the first time I liked Ralph as well.

Nora continues to be selfish and betraying her father by working with Thawne behind his back. I like her less the more I watch her.

Cicada really shouldn't be that much a problem for Team Flash if even Iris could stab him in a struggle. They could have just called Oliver and takedown Cicada flat. Barry's fighting skills go up and down depends on the episode, but I'd thought he could have taken down Cicada too.

Red Pearl said...

Episode 17

The new Cicada makes a more menacing villain than the old Cicada. She's actually a better foe than I expected.

Nora's secret finally came out. She says she's sorry but it looks like she's more sorry for facing the consequences of her actions than for lying all this time. I'm glad Barry locked her up in the pipeline. He never should have let her stayed in the first place.

The writers are going to make Barry forgive Nora eventually. I hope it isn't soon. There are going to be more aggravating WestAllen drama ahead too. I'm not looking forward to it.

Red Pearl said...

Episode 18

Nora's origin story, which tries hard to parallel itself to Barry's origin story, but since Nora West-Allen had never been as likable as Barry Allen, the result was unexciting. I still don't like Nora. Barry was right. It was unforgivable for Nora to keep going back to Thawne after knowing Thawne killed her grandmother.

However, Iris seemed to have more sympathy for her daughter than for her husband, which was true to character. She always did put her own feelings above of his.

Red Pearl said...
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Red Pearl said...

Red Pearl said...

Episode 19

Well, if I didn't hate Iris before, this episode would have made me hate her now. The way she dismissed Barry's feelings when he asked her if she cared that it was Thawne, showed more clearly than ever before that she didn't care, not about Barry, not about Barry's pain. Say what you like about Felicity, as least she cared when Oliver was hurt, Iris only cared about Barry when it was convenient for her.

And for her attacking Barry again for 'abandoning her' to go into the Speedforce to save the world. Could she be less unreasonable? So Barry should have stayed with her and let the world go to hell? is that what she wanted? Don't tell me she loved Barry that much, because she didn't.

Perhaps Barry should have talked to her about leaving Nora in the future, but let's face it, she never would have agreed. The safety of the team wasn't more important than a daughter no longer mad at her.

And Barry made the right decision in leaving Nora in the future, one he should have made in episode 1 actually. Nora should never have been allowed to stay in the past, no matter how much she wanted to spend time with her father.

And of course, in the end, Barry apologized again, admitted he was wrong because God forbid for Iris to be wrong. When they were fighting it was so clear that Iris didn't love Barry, but in the end she pretended to care again. Of course, Barry ignored it, he lost his spine when he fell in obsession with Iris West.

As for Nora, she never learns. She was upset her father was mad at her for working with Thawne, so she went straight to Thawne for help, screw how that would make her father feel. That was so selfish, like her mother, she only cared about her own feelings.

Also for Ralph, helping Iris getting Nora back from the future? He lost all the points he gained in the Goldface episode.

Sherloque deserved to be treated better. He only had done what he was supposed to do.

Icicle's new hairstyle? What was he thinking? Did they not want us to take him seriously as a villain?

Red Pearl said...
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Red Pearl said...

Episode 22

Season 5 had ended. Nora West-Allen was erased from the timeline. I can't say I felt sorry for her leaving, I hope she doesn't come back in future seasons.

Nora was shocked that Thawne wanted to stop Cicada for his own purposes, even after being told by her parents multiple times that Thawne only worked for his own interests. She couldn't empathize when it was Barry that was hurt and betrayed, but when Thawne did the same thing to her, she finally knew what that was like.

I suppose it was understandable that Nora chose Thawne over Barry. She never stopped going back to Thawne even after she knew how much it would hurt barry if he found out, never stopped trusting Thawne.

Barry tried his best to be a father to Nira, but he was still young, and she already an adult. He couldn't provide what she sought. Thawne was the right age and had experience in mentoring young speedsters, and just knew how to manipulate Nora t gain her trust. To Nora, he must have been a better father figure than Barry.

In her video, she said she always wanted to be a hero and stop her father from disappearing. What kind of hero was she? The kind that lied to her own team? Recklessly endangered the timeline? Indirectly creating the second Cicada that was more dangerous than the first? Speeding up her father's disappearance in the Coming Crisis?

Barry was at fault for allowing her to stay in the past, but she should not have manipulated him to be allowed to stay in the first place. She should definitely not implanted herself in the past for so long when she didn't know what repercussions it would have on the future timeline.

Barry again failed to stop Thawne. At this point, this villain really outlived his welcome. I just want to see him dead now.

I felt some sympathy for Iris though, however she felt about her husband, she did love her daughter.

Cisco taking the meta cure makes no sense at all.

So in conclusion, season 5 was a bust. The whole season was centered around a character that I grew to dislike as much as I disliked Iris. It took 4 seasons for my dislike for Iris to grew to this much! This show really outdid itself in season 5!

Now I'm glad it was Nora that time-traveled to the past instead of Bart. I'm so relieved Bart's character wasn't assassinated on live TV. Wally wasn't done well either, but at least he wasn't unlikable. His character was just superfluous to the show.

Here's hoping Nora wouldn't come back, even as a baby!