The Flash: 5.01 Nora
Season four of The Flash was easily the worst to date; it was disjointed, failed to produce a consistent villain, struggled with characters and was often painful to watch. Outside of episodes such as ‘Flashtime’ and ‘Run Iris Run’, it was dull and not what had come to be expected. The finale was just as bizarre; moving away from the norm, the previous season finished with no major catastrophe. In fact it was the very opposite, with the crew celebrating the birth of Joe and Cecil’s daughter. Then entered Nora, Barry and Iris’ daughter from the future to mix things up, and leave us with a cliff-hanger (of sorts).
Rather than start several months later, as seen in previous seasons, the season five opener picks up directly where we left off, providing a proper introduction to Nora. Immediately, there’s a salty taste in the story as you mutter, “oh good, another Speedster”, although thankfully she is not terrible. Granted, there’s plenty of awkward dialogue, but at this stage it wouldn’t be a The Flash episode without it. This was always going to be a lose/lose situation, with no ideal way to move forward thanks to the season four finale.
Jessica Parker Kennedy as Nora exceeds all expectations; it’s hard to see how the character will progress in the season, but for the opener, her bubbly personality fits into the mix perfectly. The chemistry between her, Barry (dad) and Iris (mum) was electric, the idea of speaking to a child you’ve yet to even think about was quite interesting. The obvious revelation that future daddy is missing / dead, served to add another sigh: please, not another story-arc where a Speedster screws up the timeline, it’s been done so much that dialogue had to be incorporated stating that small historical changes wouldn’t be catastrophic *groan*.
The story for Nora revolves around getting her back to the future (pun intended) while dealing with the villain of the week, Gridlock. All the while the narrative surrounded Barry and Nora’s relationship, which was captivating; however, the second it moved to the villain or anything else, the atmosphere fell flat. Gridlock was a throwaway bad guy whose only purpose was to tease the season long antagonist, which was a pretty good tease. All we know is that the new contender carries weapons that look like lightning bolts but doesn’t seem to be a Speedster; it’s got me eager to find out more.
The biggest issue this episode (and much of last season) has, and one that hopefully won’t be carried over, is the characters not being properly used or becoming caricatures of themselves. Strong characters such as Ralph, Cisco and Caitlin are all taking a back seat to Barry and Iris. They don’t appear to have the same impact they used to, and dialogue for them is sparse, with Ralph and Cisco basically the show’s clowns. Caitlin’s story-arc of finding Killer Frost, who we now know was a part of her since early childhood, is being dragged out too long; it’s not pushing the character forward and certainly did no favours last season. A speedy end to this arc would be welcome. I hope the show's writers better establish Ralph’s character as a major part of team Flash; otherwise, his presence comes across as forced and unnecessary.
The season one call-backs where great. Barry’s use of Eobard’s speech to help Nora phase made for a touching moment and the future newspaper article stating Barry’s disappearance takes you back to a simpler time. Who would’ve thought The Flash would use nostalgia tactics. Regardless, it’s providing some interesting plot developments; perhaps this season will be about finding the missing Flash from the future; the execution will be the key to its success.
As brief as it may be, seeing Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) was a breath of fresh air; it’s still clear that he doesn’t have a place on this show but he’s doing just fine on Legends of Tomorrow. The scene with all three speedsters (Barry, Wally and Nora) was cheesy in the extreme, but a great visual. What wasn’t a great visual was the new and improved (?) Flash suit. It looked inferior to previous iterations with a more plastic look, additionally, the mask and body appeared disproportionate, and wasn’t aesthetically pleasing.
Overall this was a generally uplifting opener, especially when you consider what it’s following up. Outside of being another Speedster, Nora is a great addition to the team and has made an impact from the start. Plenty of story intrigue has been laid out, enough to keep audiences excited for the next instalment. The comedy was superb, the back and forth between the ensemble cast was hit and miss but good to have back on screen nevertheless. There are still problems that need ironing out with both characters and story but, fingers crossed, these will be rectified to leave an entertaining season.