We are family! I got all my metas with me!
Sing it with me now!
The importance of family was the theme surrounding The Flash Season 5 Episode 19. The Snow’s, West Allen’s, and even Graces relationship (with herself?) were used to highlight the unwavering bond of family ties.
It was an episode undoubtedly curated to pull at the heartstrings. It was meant to remind the viewer how at its core, The Flash is about family and the unwavering support and loyalty that comes with the family bond.
The message was clear: At the end of the day, a family is stronger than any evil trying to defeat it.
The episode may have been heavy-handed at times, choosing to deliver its message on a silver platter, rather than use any layered allegorist storytelling. Still, the direct approach worked wonders.
That can mostly be attributed to the West Allen storyline, which invoked more emotions than I was prepared to exude.
It’s no secret the Iris/Barry dynamic has been lacking. Patton and Gustin are still riddled with explosive chemistry; they just haven’t been given much material to work with.
Their characters have felt more like old pals than wildly in love newlyweds.
“Snow Pact” has put things back on course, allowing them to work through marital struggles in a way only a superhero royalty couple could.
I know how Barry can be, but you two are like the Megan and Harry of superhero royalty!Ralph
It seems like an oxymoron to claim WestAllen is back on the romantic track after watching them fight, but no one expects a marriage to be sunshine and rainbows all the time. Bad things do happen, and disagreements are had. The important part is how a couple chooses to face them.
Barry and Iris don’t need to be constantly kissing or loving on one another to feel real. They do need to be communicating through their issues--no matter how difficult the problem may be.
That’s exactly what "Snow Pack" had them do.
Angst is not a dynamic viewers often witness with WestAllen. They have almost always been on the same page, or at least understanding of one another.
It’s a new facet of their relationship, but it was the perfect way to bring them closer and get them back to the iconic couple fans know and adore.
Opening the episode with their argument was a punch to the gut, but a genius decision; one that stirred instant investment from the audience, and raised the emotional stakes to brand new highs.
There isn't enough praise on earth for Grant Gustin and Candice Patton. Their versatility and ability to continuously layer WestAllen is extraordinary. Even after 5 seasons, their dedication to that relationship is unparalleled.
The argument could have lacked heart; this is a superhero show after all. Character moments aren't always the most delicately executed. It also could have felt completely ungrounded.
Instead, the delivery was so earnest, it felt borderline invasive to be witnessing; like peering in on the most private of moments.
Barry: Damnit Iris she lied to us for months!
Iris: Yea and she explained why.
Barry: That she was working with Thawne?! That honestly doesn't bother you?
Iris: No, it doesn’t.
Barry: Maybe if he killed your mother in front of you, you’d feel differently.
Iris: Maybe you feeling differently Barry, is why we should have made this decision together.
It was a stellar delivery from the actors, but the content of their disagreement truly made the moment believable. Barry was right in feeling betrayed by Nora, but wrong in making decisions without Iris. Iris was right to call Barry out for sending Nora away, but wrong for not caring about Thawne's involvement.
Both said hurtful things and both made valid points.
That’s what real life is. It’s not black and white; everything is a shade of grey. Sometimes we’re right, sometimes we're wrong but most of the time it's a little bit of both.
Barry and Iris were able to recognize that and realize they are better together.
Instinctively traveling to the future showed Iris why Barry acted without her. Watching Mr. Snow sacrifice himself for Caitlin reminded Barry why family never leaves. By the end of the episode, both characters were able to see a different point of view.
Watching WestAllen work through their first major disconnect was exceptionally gratifying. Getting to see them in their loft, kissing and playing around with one another was just an added bonus.
The Flash will always be a plot-driven show with tons of action. Those aspects will always come first--that’s the way it should be. But Barry and Iris are still the heart of the show, and delivering small moments of adoration between them is what keeps that heart beating.
It’s always a pleasure when the writers remember the importance of the love story they created. WestAllen are The Flash.
Addendum: Barry and Iris are a magnificent team, but it was satisfying to see Iris take agency over her feelings. Although Barry going into the speed force was inevitable, Iris never spoke up about her frustrations. Her displeasure over Barry’s past and present actions was made clear. It was a build up of past resentments she needed to unload.
Nora’s story was a doozy, with Jessica Parker Kennedy once again matching her veteran peers acting skills. As emotional as Barry and Iris’ fight was, Nora’s declaration of pain was just as hard hitting.
Nora is generally likable, and Kennedy always delivers, but her character tends to whine. That trait can easily grate at the audience, leaving it hard to empathize with.
Nora pouring her heart out, torn apart by Barry leaving her was nothing but raw pain. It was a girl who fully believed her father no longer loved her. The shift in persona was palpable as she connected to the negative speed force.
You felt a light die inside of her.
Dark!Nora was not something expected. Although a heart to heart with her dad will undoubtedly solve the problem, it was a solid plot twist that will hopefully play out longer than a single episode.
Thawne’s motives have yet to be revealed, and he’s likely up to something diabolical. His adoration for Nora, however, feels authentic. It doesn’t pardon him for any of the evil he’s done in the past, but it does succeed in adding complexity to his character.
Who knew he could care about anyone other than himself? It’s true, a family isn’t always made by blood.
In Grace’s case, family is blood. Her blood, actually. It turns out Grace does care about someone-- herself.
Her past self, that is.
It’s always a pleasure to see Sarah Carter on screen. Her portrayal of Cicada 2.0 brings diabolical energy the season needed. Like Thawne, her motives are still an intriguing mystery. Hopefully, they provide a payoff worthy of a 22 episode arc.
I’m not sure how Future!Grace kidnapping herself as a child isn’t messing with the timeline somehow, but those are questions I’ve learned to blow past when it comes to The Flash.
My powers of empathy must be akin to Cecile because even Sherloque felt redeemable.
It’s no question he made a mistake keeping Nora's motives a secret, but watching Flash&Co throw him out of their “family” was difficult to watch.
After breaching over to save Flash, and figuring out how to stop Icicle, Sherloque has earned his place. Maybe not a definite spot on the team, but he can stick around and call Ralph a baby giraffe for a little while longer.
I can't believe I'm connecting with Sherloque.
One storyline I couldn’t connect with was the Snow Pack.
I desperately wanted to love the scenes between Caitlin and her mother. Typically, repairing torn dynamics is a trope that never fails, yet somehow this one did.
Their conversations felt less like bonding and more like a way to regurgitate as much exposition as possible. The writers utilized their scenes to explain what was happening in the super rushed storyline, instead of taking time to heal their broken relationship.
The audience was given their entire backstory in one single breath; there was no time to sympathize with their scenario.
Caitlin’s mother obviously has more story to be told. Fingers crossed there will be opportunities to emotionally invest in this mother/daughter relationship.
At least Caitlins scenes with her mother felt somewhat grounded. That can't be said for Icicle himself. He is potentially the worst multi-episode villain The Flash has ever done (and yes, that’s including Chris Klein’s version of Cicada).
How Killer Frost came to be has been muddled from the start. It's hard to remember which version of her backstory we're going off of sometimes, so connecting the dots gets hazy.
Plus Icicle has been gone for so many episodes, his motives have been completely forgotten.There’s also the issue of his aesthetic.
He’s unbelievably gaudy and campy. In a show whose FX are usually top notch, everything involving Icicle feels low budget. It’s as if all the money went into the rest of the episode, and spare change got thrown towards the Killer Frost/Icicle showdown.
He reminds me of a villain from Power Rangers.
Even his death felt underwhelming. It’s hard to emote grief when the characters themselves aren’t doing so and there are zero stakes to the storyline. His sacrifice was redeeming, but in the end, it was solely a plot device for Barry to remember the importance of family.
When the show dedicates storylines to Caitlin Snow, they aren’t ever actually about Caitlin Snow. Even with full episodes surrounding her character, she feels directionless--like the writers don't know what to do with her. How about a friendship with Iris? That's a good place to start.
Sherloque: The Flash is already on the scene so for all we know the problem has already been solved.
The Flash: Guys, I have a problem.
The one positive spin was Barry’s dedication to Caitlin as a friend. He was genuinely spiraling when he couldn’t find her. The Flash Season 5 has done a much better job at remembering it’s valuable friendships. It’s refreshing.
Now if they could just remember Cisco is a main character…
- I love Cecile. I love Joe. I love Joe and Cecile together. I am so happy Jesse L. Martin is back. His presence elevates every episode.
- Ralph and Iris are a dynamic I am living for. They are great together.
- Speaking of Ralph, how did he become one of my favorites? I was downright elated when he called Team Flash a family. It's HIS family now, too!
- If you are a minority and root for the non-canon romantic pairings (Ralph/Iris, Caitlin/Barry) this was an episode full of crumbs for you. I can’t say I’m part of your camps but, I hope you were well fed anyway.
- Iris confronting Thawne was chilling. She is so fierce when she needs to be.
I’m only going to say this once. You don’t get to comment on us. Do it again and you won’t even make it to the end of that timer.Iris [To Thawne]
- Can we get one artifact or object that has a normal, non-technological name? I’m calling what Grace stole “the big blue ball” from here on out. Please adjust accordingly.
Okay, Flash Fanatics! It's your turn to share thoughts on the episode.
Did you see the Evil!Nora plot twist coming?
Were you less than enthralled with Icicle's storyline?
How did you feel about the West-Allen's working through their first big fight?
What do you think will happen to Nora?!
Sound off below, and remember you can watch The Flash online, right here at TV Fanatic!
Kat Pettibone is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.