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.


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

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