THE FLASH SEASON 5 PREMIERE REVIEW
BY JUSTIN CARTER
“Nora” is a curious episode of The Flash.
In addition to being a season premiere, it also weirdly almost comes off as a series finale, or at least an episode signaling the end of Barry Allen’s tenure as the titular speedster. That’s likely not going to be the case, and it’s not really a complaint so much as an observation about a pretty fun opener that offers up a new slate of possibilities.
Picking up literally a few minutes from May’s finale, Nora West-Allen, aka XS, comes to Team Flash looking for help, enraptured by the members of her family (family to be?) and having screwed up the timeline by saving Barry from death by satellite. Stuck in the present day, she figures they can help her get back home, only she’s not actually stuck, she’s just lying because she wants to spend time with Barry. His future self missed out on her entire life growing up because he disappeared when she was a baby, and she wasn’t going to turn down her only way to get some quality daddy-daughter time. And now that she’s in the present day (until the end of the season, at least) maybe she’ll find a way to stop him from going missing, a mystery the show has left dangling since episode one.
It must be said that Jessica Parker Kennedy, who plays Nora, is very charming in the role. It’s easy to see, based on Grant Gustin and Candice Patton’s interpretations of their respective characters, where Nora in turn gets her personality and mannerisms from, and it’s hard not to smile when she starts randomly spouting off facts and future spoilers. She fits in neatly with the two of them, and it’s hard not to imagine her getting along with the other heroes and teams of the Arrowverse when they inevitably come to hang out. This is the first time that there’s actually a tangible legacy of heroes being established in the Arrowverse, and it’s easy to see why this show was chosen for that when Barry gives Nora the same pep talk he got about the Speed Force in season one to help phase a crashing plane through skyscrapers and into the water.
The Flash has always been good at the family dynamics, and there’s certainly a lot to mine from Nora connecting with her dad. It just remains to be seen if her and Iris’ tension can last longer than a few episodes. The moment where Iris tries to figure out her daughter’s life is painful to watch as we realize how much Nora takes after Barry, and the awkwardness that comes with being the Other Parent is painful to see. (They may as well have played the final verse of “Cat’s in the Cradle” during that moment.)
This season of The Flash is going to live or die based on the West-Allen family dynamic. The three of them have the chemistry and the potential, but it’ll definitely come down to the stories being told and how long it takes for Nora to settle and integrate with the other members. Those are problems the show and Nora won’t be able to run from, no matter how schway she is.
Nora brings a lot of fun easter eggs with her to the present day. Flash Ring finally arrives! Flash Museum! King Shark and Grodd face off! A mention of Lightning Lad!
Cisco’s drunken rant was very funny, along with “don’t drink and Vibe.”
STAR Labs has a lounge that no one has known about for four years except Joe, who’s been using it to nap. They need to actually study the building plans.
Caitlin’s dad isn’t really dead? Interesting…
There’s a lot that happened while the Arrowverse shows went on summer break. Keiynan Lonsdale is leaving the Arrowverse (he’s got two more episodes before his departure), Batwoman is coming (played by Ruby Rose), the Flash is getting a Year One comic next year, and DC has a streaming service!
Ralph is hilariously, finally up to date on the multiverse and time travel, so this year’s crossover “Elseworlds” should be fun to watch him go through for the first time.
Wondering how the timeline is going to sync up with the other shows and when, since right now, Team Flash is still technically in May?
Not sure what to think of Cicada, the season’s Big Bad. Mostly because he’s just a dude in black with a lightning bolt-shaped dagger.