This may have been the most entertaining episode of The Flash we have seen so far this season.
And that’s even with the absence of resident Flash funny guy, Cisco Ramon.
The Flash Season 5 Episode 4 may have taken a more talking, less action type of approach than usual, but it was still able to produce an intricate story that moved almost every important plotline along nicely.
It was also really, really funny.
In my review for The Flash Season 5 Episode 3, I discussed how both Candice Patton and Grant Gustin possess tremendously strong comedic chops. I also expressed how much I missed being able to witness those chops getting flexed.
Now I got my wish with one of the best cold opens the show has probably ever done.
Beyond the epic soundtrack, I didn’t quite realize how much I would enjoy watching the West-Allens fail miserably at things.
But boy, oh boy, was it entertaining.
Iris was an utter disaster in the kitchen, and Barrys failed attempts to lie about her cooking highlighted the natural ease and rapport Gustin and Patton have so flawlessly built into these characters.
It was also incredibly refreshing to see them in a domestic environment, doing everyday things. Audiences don’t usually get much of that in plot-driven shows, so for the writers to gift us with this kind of rare scene was an absolute treat.
It was also delightful to watch Nora fit herself into the mix. She may still be clearly distancing herself from her mother, but there were definite moments of a pure organic family bond happening.
Taking pictures of Iris’ pancakes for proof that she has always cooked lumpy food? Amazing.
Gustin's comedic skills were also in full force this episode. From Barry’s reaction to Iris’ breakfast attempt to learning his daughter is gay, to his horrible lack of talent in softball, it was all genius.
It’s quite amusing to witness The Flash being so terribly uncoordinated at something, but Gustin’s innate sense for both physical and self-deprecating humor amped the scenes up to full hilarity.
The West-Allen’s weren’t the only dynamic that shined throughout the episode.
As I predicted, the growing relationship between Sherloque and Ralph is working very well for both characters. It isn’t just because of how much I enjoy hearing Sherloque call Ralph “baby giraffe” at every given opportunity, either.
It’s more so about what the two characters can bring out in one another.
We don’t know much about Sherloque, but we do know he’s arrogant and overconfident. In contrast, Ralph’s utter lack of faith in his abilities makes the two men fantastic foils for one another.
They also stand a chance at learning quite a bit from their interactions.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; I’ve never been the biggest fan of Ralph. But when he’s not regurgitating slapstick humor that doesn’t fit the shows otherwise quick and witty tone, he becomes a whole different character.
It was a pleasure to watch Ralph step up and figure out a way to track down Cicada, despite being throttled by Sherloque at every given opportunity.
Even after he thought his hunch was a dead end, it was also a pleasure to watch Sherloque reveal Ralph’s instincts had been right; that Ralph had taken them one step closer to figuring out Cicada’s true identity.
I could be wrong, but putting these two bozos together as a team could be the key to discovering how to take Cicada down for good.
I hope I'm right because this would give Ralph’s character a real purpose, which is something he so desperately needs: purpose and complexity.
This season, unlike the last, stands a chance in actually giving it to him.
If there were something left to be desired this episode, it would have to be the meta of the week: Spencer.
Or, more accurately, the girl who was holding the meta of the week?
To be fair, the use of Spencer in revealing Nora's sexuality thrilled me. I already appreciate the number of women of color on The Flash, but to add a queer woman of color to the main cast?
That is the representation we need to see! Especially on networks like The CW.
I also felt (per usual), Jessica Parker Kennedy nailed the moment of unveiling her character’s attraction to Spencer in the most relatable and endearing way possible.
Not to mention both Iris and Barry’s reactions were perfection. Iris unphased, Barry completely oblivious.
However, beyond the “meet cute” with Nora? Spencer was an underwhelming antagonist, even if she was just a weekly one.
I understood what the writers were attempting to do with her. Making her verbiage and dialogue very much “millennial” speak, having her record everything around her, making her power a smartphone. They wanted to be kitschy and glib.
But in an otherwise amusing episode, it just came off as grating.
It also came off like no one in the writer's room has ever actually heard a millennial speak.
The disappointing part of it is that Spencer had potential. If better developed, she could have been used in a much more predominant way.
If she had been written as somewhat likable, she could have possibly developed a romance with Nora. The show is aching for a new one, and the chemistry was there between the two girls.
But after "News Flash," if her character was to return, I'm not sure I could ever root for them as a couple. Not with how generally terrible they made her.
Even with her being unlikeable, they easily could have implemented her into a plot with Iris; taken the entire "rivals" idea to the next level.
At the beginning of the episode, I genuinely thought Iris' competition with Spencer would be the jumping off point to a solo Iris storyline, one that centered around her journalism; something I’ve been hoping to see for quite some time now.
All the pieces of the puzzle were there, but there was no follow through. She came, she meddled, she failed, she disappeared.
The idea of “meta tech,” however, seems to be sticking around. And it's an interesting choice for the show.
If used correctly, it could seriously up the stakes for these characters. They would now not only have to worry about metahumans causing chaos but the potential dangers of meta-technology getting in the wrong hands.
Anyone in Central City could be a threat, and I can't wait to see how Cisco reacts to this news.
My prediction? Not well.
In a somewhat jarring juxtaposition to the otherwise lighthearted hour, the last few minutes of the episode delivered the most emotional, and best performances of the season.
It's the moment we'd all been waiting for: Nora finally reveals the reasoning for her disconnect towards her mother.
And in this scene, we are reminded why Gustin, Patton, and now Kennedy, are leading this show and making it the undeniable success that it is. The delivery by all three actors was flawless.
We may still not know Iris’ motives for hiding Nora's powers from her, but we do know it happened and it's the reason Nora has completely detached herself from her mother and held on so tightly to her father.
But in that somewhat shocking, if not gut-wrenching moment, Barry both openly and blindly supports Iris in her decision, turning his back on Nora's pain.
Or at least, in her eyes, that's what it was.
And it reminds the audience what a strong, solid team Barry and Iris are. Not just as part of Team Flash, but as a married couple. Two people who are truly partners in life, no matter what comes at them.
But, the thing is, it’s not just Barry and Iris anymore. It’s Barry, Iris, and Nora. So at what cost does Barry’s declaration come? Will the betrayal Nora feels towards her mother, now seep into her feelings for her father? And what will the repercussions of that be?
It’s one of those moments in TV where you can just feel the shift in the story happen. Where you know the dynamics you’ve become familiar with are now about to change.
Just like the addition of the meta tech, Nora’s divide from her family only increases the stakes, it adds to the ever-growing list of overlapping conflicts of the season.
And I cannot wait to see where it all takes us.
Genuinely starting to worry about Jesse L. Martin. He has barely been a part of this season, and every scene he has, he's sitting down or leaning against a wall. Is he OK?
Unfortunately, we didn’t get any more of Caitlin’s story, but it didn’t exactly feel like a letdown. The pacing this season has been phenomenal, and I feel like any more story points would have made the episode too rushed.
- I enjoyed the fact that Barry took a back seat in this episode. Not just because I love getting the chance to watch Gustin show how funny he is, but because it allowed Iris to take center stage for a change.
- I think choosing not to make Cicada the primary focal point of every episode is a brilliant move on the writers' part. It will keep his story fresh and intriguing, without giving everything away or forcing the audience into losing interest (a problem this show has had before).
- The episode may have ended on a bad note, but hearing Nora say "Thanks Mom" was such a payoff.
"I'm going to make you a banana."
- Opening the episode with "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" was such a jarringly delightful creative decision.
- Barry being a good cook and Iris being knowledgeable at sports elates me. I love inverted societal stereotypes!
- I miss you, Cisco.
Okay Flash fans, it's your turn! What did you think of the episode? Did you laugh as much as I did? Were you sobbing at the final scene between the West-Allens? Are you missing Cisco so hard right now? Leave your thoughts below!
And if you missed the episode, you can watch The Flash online, right here at TV Fanatic!
Kat Pettibone is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.