The day many fans of the Arrowverse have been waiting for is finally here! The Flash season 5 premiered on Tuesday and is better than ever. This season is shaping up to be really promising from the trailers and information that the CW released of the last couple of months. I was a bit worried that having Nora would weaken the show or make this an even bigger drama show than it already is. While it does seem that there’ll be some family tension, especially with Iris and Nora, I still enjoyed the episode and am very excited to see where it goes. Major Spoilers for The Flash Season 5, Episode 1 After the Picture
The Flash Season 5 Recap:
The episode begins with Nora’s narration, which gives us an introduction of who she is. Previously it’s been Barry who gives the narration at the beginning, but it makes sense Nora does the narration this episode since she’s a new major character. From her introduction, we learn that she’s from 30 years in the future and goes by the name “XS”. The name XS was given to her as a nickname that her mom gave her. Now, she guards over Central City and refers to herself as “the fastest woman alive”.
The main story picks up immediately where we left off. Nora had come to Joe’s house to seek help from her dad, claiming that she made a huge mistake. She tells them that by helping her dad destroy the satellites, she lost a bit of her speed and cannot run fast enough to travel back to her time. I was expecting Cisco to break the tension with a funny side remark, which brings back a bit more of how his character was during season 1. Nora claimed that she knew all about Team Flash, which seemed to freak them out. Wally goes off to the Legends of Tomorrow to ask if Nora could catch a ride with them on the Waverider to her own time while they run some tests on Nora at Star Labs.
While they’re running tests in Star Labs, Barry and Iris talk about Nora and the situation that they’re now in. He’s a bit worried since he knows that they’ve been lied to before by people who claimed to be allies but were really evil. I like that Barry is a bit more self-aware that this could happen, but also I think he jumps to the conclusion way too fast. They make a few references to Back to the Future and Terminator 2 in relation to Nora coming back and disrupting the current timeline. Caitlyn and Cisco have now run all sorts of tests to see if Nora is really Barry and Iris’ daughter and they all show that Nora isn’t lying about who she is. Also, drunk Cisco might just be one of my favorite things from this episode.
It’s also revealed that Barry got his job back as a CSI at the police station. In case you don’t remember, he lost his job last season after he was falsely accused of murdering Clifford DaVoe. Captain Singh tells him that there’s been a backlog of cases since they never hired someone to replace Barry. This gives me hope that they’ll have Barry doing more work in his lab as he did in season 1. If you haven’t realized it by now, they’re trying to revert back to the season 1 vibes. I just hope that they don’t go too far with trying to be what it once was.
As he heads up to his lab, Nora rushes in to see if she can offer some help. I could tell that Barry was still hesitant to get close to her but he doesn’t really want to say anything or make it too obvious. Nora tells him that she’s a CSI too, having graduated with a 5.7 GPA from Central City University. Nora insists on helping Barry but he’s more worried about messing up the timeline. He lets her help anyways and they bond a bit more about an old story from Barry’s childhood. Their conversation is interrupted by a metahuman alert. Barry realizes he doesn’t have a suit but Nora says that she grabbed the one that was in “Cisco’s Back Closet” and that it’s a fan favorite. He puts on the original suit that he wore during the first season of the show. He tells Nora to stay behind and speeds off to deal with the metahuman.
He arrives at the crime scene to apprehend the meta-human. Before he can make a move on him, Nora arrives, having ignored her father’s orders. Barry gets distracted long enough for the meta-human to throw a punch that sends Barry flying to a pond that’s nearby. It’s implied that the meta-human escaped after he threw the punch. Any person could tell that Nora felt bad about what happened.
They travel back to Star Labs to regroup with the others. There, Nora reveals to the group that the metahuman Barry went up against was called Gridlock. She goes on to say that she found out about Gridlock from her visits to The Flash Museum, a huge easter egg for comic book fans. As the name suggests, it’s a museum that’s all about The Flash. It has exhibits from all of his battles, enemies, accomplishments, and suits. During the season 1 finale of The Flash, as Barry was running through the wormhole, he got a glimpse of the outside of the museum. I wasn’t sure they would get to establish it, but I’m glad that it’s being brought up again. Nora tells them that he was supposed to stop Gridlock the first time he encountered him, but because of Nora, he failed.
Caitlyn brings up the tachyon absorption device that Thawne used during season 1 to harvest his speed to get back home. Cisco mentions that they can use it as a form of battery to increase Nora’s speed. A big part of season 1 was the science component, which they’re bringing back. Barry sends Nora back home and makes finding Gridlock their priority.
Ralph tries to break the tension by telling the group that he had a theory about time travel, which is basically the concept of the multiverse. It’s a nice moment but ultimately unnecessary. I really do hope his character isn’t just used for comedic effect. He showed such potential by the end of season 4. The finale for that season made me care of Ralph and I hope they don’t downgrade his character.
They all disperse to deal with what’s happening, which leaves Iris and Nora alone. Iris takes Nora to Jitters for some mother/daughter bonding time. Nora brings that her dad’s lightning bolt emblem is better than Lightning Lad’s. For those of you who may not know, Lightning Lad is a member of the Legion of Superheroes, which has been established in the Arrowverse on Supergirl. Right after this, I could feel just how awkward this conversation was and how awkward it was going to get. Nora didn’t really want to share a lot of things about herself with her mom, which resulted in Iris wanting to get to know her even more. Iris asked her questions but Nora didn’t really want to give honest responses. Seeing that the conversation wasn’t going anywhere, Nora suggested to go back to Star Labs and see if Cisco or Caitlin needed any help.
Once they back at Star Labs, Nora geeks out over wearing the same tachyon device that her dad wore when he met Supergirl for the first time. Barry arrives to help Nora gather up speed. The group says bye to Nora as she and Barry run into the particle accelerator vortex to generate enough speed to send her home.
Wally comes running trying to stop them but they’ve already started running. However, their attempt fails when Barry and Nora get stuck down by what seems to be a form of energy. After they recuperate, Wally tells them that Nora has been exposed to negative tachyon particles, which are taking away her speed and slowing her down. Cisco says that he can come up with a way to get rid of those tachyon particles, but he needs time. They’re interrupted by a news report of Gridlock robbing a jewelry store. With all the satellites being offline from the battle against DeVoe, Caitlyn, Cisco, and Ralph go to see what they can find out from the crime scene.
While they’re at the crime scene, Caitlin catches Ralph up to speed on what happened after The Thinker took over his body, which includes her situation of Killer Frost being gone and the time that Cisco vibed her to her childhood and saw herself with her powers. Cisco interrupts them and informs them about Gridlock’s power. It’s based on momentum – meaning the more he moves, the more power he gains. As he gains more power, he’s closer to becoming unstoppable.
Back at Star Labs, Iris asks Barry about why it bothers him that Nora is here. He confesses that his whole life has been out-of-order, and he hoped that having a child would be the one thing life would let him do normally. She assures him that they will still get to do all those things. But then Barry remembers that Nora said that it was just “her and her mom”. He goes to confront Nora about what this means.
When he finds her, Nora’s looking at an old picture of Team Flash. He asks her about what happened to him in the future. They make their way into the Time Vault, where Barry shows her the newspaper written by Iris in the future. That’s been a running component of the show that started out as an easter egg for Crisis on Infinite Earths. However, she shows him the newspaper that’s from 2043, which says that he’s been missing for 25 years.
We get an explanation for why Nora came back to the past. She grew up without her dad and wanted to meet him. She was born when he was still alive but has no memories with him. She’s been lying about the negative particles. She has a device which sends negative tachyon particles to her body. She didn’t make any mistake, nor was she stuck there. Barry is in complete disbelief at this revelation. He now knows that he really won’t be there to see his daughter grow up.
Their conversation is interrupted by a message from Caitlin in regards to Gridlock. They inform Barry about him and Cisco finds out he gave Gridlock his name. He also finds him via cellphone and figures out that he’s on a plane that’s leaving Central City. They figure out his plan to have the plane crash, since he has enough power to do it.
Team Flash comes up with the idea to have Cisco vibe Barry, Nora, and Wally so that they can phase the plane. Phasing it through the buildings so that the plane could land safely. Barry needs another costume since all his other ones have been destroyed. Nora gives him his ring from the future, The Flash Ring, which has his suit inside. I screamed when I saw him put the suit on. That’s definitely my favorite moment from the episode. Nora tells them that the ring was made by Ryan Choi, who is the second person to pick up the mantle of The Atom after Ray Palmer’s disappearance in the comics. Cisco, Caitlin, Nora, and Barry develop a theory to take Gridlock down. Once the plane reaches its highest point, the brief zero-G conditions leave Gridlock powerless, which is when they plan to attack.
Once they reach the plane, Wally is able to knock Gridlock out with one punch. All three speedsters now just have to vibrate the descending plane through buildings. Nora doesn’t know how to phase herself, let alone anyone or anything else. She starts to panic but Barry tells her to calm down. He repeats the speech that Wells, who was Eobard Thawne in disguise, gave him the first time that he phased through something. That scene gave me chills. They even used the footage of Wells giving the speech, which made the scene that much more impactful. Nora gains the confidence to phase and they manage to get the plane to land safely on the water. That scene reminded me of The Flash #3 from The New 52 series where Barry does something similar.
After their encounter with Gridlock, Barry suggests to the team that Nora should stay with them a bit longer. Of course, they have to worry about the timeline, but Wally tells them about the theory that the Legends of Tomorrow have on changing events in history. They say that some of those events are soft, meaning that there would be no major side effects from changing them, and there are fixed events, which cannot be changed without the risk of repercussions. However, I do think there will be repercussions from Nora staying with her parents.
Nora decides to stay in the secret lounge in Star Labs that apparently Joe has known about the entire time. Wally decides it’s time to continue his quest to find himself and leaves Central City. The actor will make two more appearances this season, but it’s unclear when he will return. Most likely one of the episodes he’ll be coming back in is the 100th episode. Also, from the discussion that Ralph and Caitlin had earlier, he did some detective work and found out that her father’s death certificate is fake.
Following the tradition of season premieres of this show, we get a glimpse of who the main villain is. We’ve known for months that the villain of this season is Cicada. The scene shows him attacking the police truck that’s carrying Gridlock to prison. Cicada opens the door to find Gridlock detained. Gridlock asks him” What do you want”, to which Cicada replied, “For all of you do die”. We’re led to believe that he kills him off-screen.
This was definitely a huge improvement from the last season. I had a bit of faith that having a non-speedster villain would be a good thing for the show but The Thinker was a letdown. Cicada shows promise and reminds me of Arrow’s season 5 villain Prometheus. I would have wished the side characters had a bit more screen time, but we have 23 more episodes so I’m hoping they’ll have their time to shine. I’m hoping they don’t overdo it with Nora’s enthusiasm. More than anything, I want the season to not be all drama. I’d want it to find its balance. I’m excited to see where things go.