“Okay, let’s back up. My name is Nora West-Allen, the fastest woman alive. When I’m from, 30 years from now, I’m the guardian of Central City. I’m a speedster, just like my dad. People call me XS. Every day, I hope to live up to the legacy of The Flash…But I’ve still got a long way to go.”
It’s that time of year again where we, as CW fans are re-introduced into the worlds of our favorite television superheroes. One of those heroes includes that Crimson savior of Central City, the fastest man alive and probably the most earnest of heroes on the small screen today—Barry Allen or, as he’s known across print and screen media, The Flash.
Now, it’s not a stretch to say that based on the first four seasons of the CW show, that last year’s entire run was the weakest of the bunch. From the uninteresting big bad—by no means the fault of veteran actor Neil Sandilands—to the uneven and irritating direction the writers took Iris West. Yes, there were some excellent moments but, overall, Season 4 was a disappointment to many a Flash fan. It could be argued that Season 5 could be a make-or-break year for the show.
If that is the case, “Nora” could be the catalyst for a comeback.
Sure, just like a good first few games from your favorite team may be fool’s gold to that “they’re going to the playoffs this year!” hope, that doesn’t mean there aren’t nuggets of truth sprinkled within. And it’s the same for “Nora” that, while showing all the formulaic signs present in last season’s beginnings, there are still a few notes of promise delivered that could usher Season 5 back to the consistently strong Flash we’ve come to know and love.
Picking up where last season’s finale left off, Barry and the gang are formally introduced to Nora West-Allen, a very bubbly and energetic speedster (known as XS) from the future, who just happens to be his and Iris’s daughter. The smooth banter in those first few moments is classic Flash dialogue, snappy, funny, and poignant all at the same time. Nora’s problems are nothing new; she’s stuck in the past due to, as discovered later on, negative tachyons in her cells. They are preventing her from accessing the Speed Force in the way that would allow her to return to her time. Along the way, Nora gets to spend some time with the gang, though her moments with Barry are the most honest and emotional. It’s not hard to see that Nora’s hiding something and it takes Barry some time to figure it out.
Remember way back in Season 1 (also mentioned in other seasons as well), viewers got to see that big future of Flash Disappears in Crisis. Nora is from that time and had to grow up without her father. When he discovers the truth, Barry understands Nora’s reactions and pumps the brakes on his rush to send her home. Yes, he understands the dangers of contaminating the future timeline but when you have a daughter you’ll never really know standing before you, sometimes ‘responsibility’ goes out the window.
And here is where “Nora” takes us back to vintage Flash. From the beginning, this show has been about sacrifice and family. Loving those who mean the world to us. And yes, while being a hero sometimes requires the sacrifice for the greater good, no matter their powers, these heroes are, at their very core, only human. Barry knows that Nora being there could be detrimental to the future and, in that, he’s pretty dang selfish to want her to stay, just as Nora herself exhibits the same selfishness in seeing her dad.
But who wouldn’t, if given the chance to see a loving parent again, tempt fate? Yes, those who do not adhere to the past can be doomed to repeat it. But without the mistakes, these heroes, though their initial values and strength make them greater, it’s their foibles that make them relatable. And, in the end, the earnestness of Grant Gustin’s portrayal of Barry and the chemistry between the wonderful Jessica Parker Kennedy’s Nora makes this a strong opener that—hopefully—brings The Flash back to the wonder it was, relegating Season 4 to a blip in the timeline.
- In addition to the pop culture lines and future slang (schway!, grife!), we do get the hints of future storylines. Not only does Ralph get a crash course on the multiverse, he reminds us that he’s a damn good detective. Last season’s revelation that Caitlin and Killer Frost have been together since childhood was a shocker, one that will pay dividends this season. Dibney’s discovery that Caitlin’s father’s death may have been faked is the primer for that journey.
- It’s great to see Barry re-instated as CSI but, as that giveth, Wally leaving once more is a sad detraction. Yes, it was known that Keiynan Lonsdale was leaving the CW shows, it’s still a real bummer as many have loved his Wally West. It’s fair to say, however, that Nora’s XS personality will do well as a replacement.
- We get our first glimpse at this season’s Big Bad. Even in 20 seconds of screen time, this villain—brandishing a lightning dagger that seems to be infused with prickles of the Speed Force—seems more interesting that the Thinker. Whether or not he delivers remains to be seen.
- Finally, a few more points of interest:
- It was thought that Cecile would lose her telepathic powers once the baby was born. Turns out that may not be the case.
- The villain of the week, Gridlock, sounded like a combination of Sebastian Shaw and Juggernaut. It would have been interesting to see Daniel Cudmore (who funny enough, plays Colossus in the X-men films) get a bit more screen time but, alas, that is generally the fate of these Flash
- While the name on Caitlin’s father’s death cert, Cameron Mahkent , is a false name, it’s also known well enough in the world of DC. Mahkent also goes by another name…Icicle. Hmmm. May we be seeing another ice-based meta in the near future?
The Flash – “Nora”