That was an interesting way to start sweeps month.
While The Flash Season 5 Episode 20 wasn’t exactly captivating in its storytelling, it did provide some interesting and imperative character moments for the members of Team Flash.
After the explosive installment that was The Flash Season 5 Episode 19, it was slightly unnerving to watch the series dip so low in pacing and interest.
Neither Thawne nor Grace, the two big bads of the season, made an appearance (besides Grace’s 5-second cameo in the tag). Instead, Nora & her lesser threatening band of criminals substituted in their place.
The Flash has always done a large number of “weekly villain” plotlines, so the general concept wasn’t surprising--the timing was. To do such a random episode during sweeps feels like an odd narrative choice.
XS turning dark could have had high stake problems for Team Flash. If she was cast under Thawne’s spell while utilizing the negative speed force—it would have put a significant amount of added pressure going into the battle against Cicada.
Except we don’t know Thawne’s motives yet, and the writers aren’t ready to tell us.
Therefore, Nora’s “darkness” wasn’t really “darkness” at all. She may have dressed in black and worn dark lipstick, but she was still one of the good guys.
I expected Savitar!Nora. Instead, I got wears-a-leather-jacket Nora.
Where’s the fun in that?
The team up with meta criminals (who, besides RagDoll, aren’t even scary) was lackluster. Once Nora proclaimed “no killing,” it was clear she hadn’t crossed over to a true bad girl.
The criminal's innate doubt in Nora after finding out her father was The Flash made it obvious they would turn against her. After all, that’s what criminals do.
The show did give an explanation as to why Nora didn’t do the easy thing and just tell Team Flash about her plans--she was afraid Barry wouldn’t trust her.
While that reasoning is understandable, she still had six other members of the Team who would have listened to her ideas.
Iris is very clearly on Nora's side. She found a way to the future to bring Nora back and has trusted her every step of the way—even when it's caused a rift between her and Barry. There hasn’t been a moment Iris hasn’t defended (or saved) Nora.
So why can’t Nora trust her?
It’s strange how Nora has no emotional investment in Iris’ love. Barry’s betrayal was enough to tap into the negative speed force, but Iris’ unwavering faith wasn’t enough to bring her back?
It doesn’t track and reads like a filler story to fill the episode before the big showdown with Cicada.
A filler episode is fine. It can even work towards the end of the season.
But writing a scenario that undermines Iris’ dynamic with her daughter feels like a misstep. The show is called The Flash, but when it comes to Nora, both her parents should hold equal importance.
Nora going rogue also undermined her own character development.
After everything she’s learned from her year with the Team, why is she still making such naive mistakes? Jessica Parker Kennedy is a star no matter what material she’s given, but Nora acting like a petulant teenager doesn’t impress.
Not when that petulant teen is actually a full grown adult.
It’s been fun watching Nora make the same mistakes Barry once did--but only when it’s done correctly.
The Flash Season 5 Episode 18 passed that test with flying colors. “Godspeed” read as a mini-pilot for Nora.. The audience got to see Nora coming into her powers and making some of the exact same missteps her father once did.
It was a flash forward of a flashback, and the father/daughter similarities were endearing.
Barry made those mistakes in The Flash Season 1, though. The beginning of his journey. After 20 episodes, Nora should be progressing more--at least in her decision-making skills.
Dark!Nora may not have been a sailing success, but it did provide yet another outstanding moment between Iris and Barry.
The best aspect of their angst-ridden dynamic is how neither of them is completely wrong in their opinions. It’s easy to sympathize with Barry not wanting to trust Thawne. It’s understandable he would feel betrayed by his daughter and not want to participate in a plan Thawne has crafted.
Barry: It’s Thawne! it's his plan!
Iris: And maybe his plan isn’t so bad.
Barry: What? I thought we were past this. it’s not okay of her to work with Thawne. You saw him, you said he’s manipulating her.
Iris: And, I said he cares about her. He’s worried about her safety.
Barry: No iris, he needs her.
Iris: Or, he’s changed.
At the same time, Iris blindly trusting Nora is exactly how a mother should respond. Her frustration at Barry for seeing the practical point of view is relatable—anyone who watches The Flash gets annoyed with Barry’s decision-making skills.
The grey area of morality in the Thawne scenario allows West-Allen to work through an incredibly realistic difference of opinion. The subject matter heightens the emotional gravity and allows Patton and Gustin to keep showing out for their performances.
As an individual, Barry did display a sizeable yet nuanced amount of growth in “Gone Rogue.”
Eobard Thawne is Barry’s emotional trigger. There is no other person or thing (including Iris) that blinds him from rationality quite like the Reverse Flash. It’s expected—watching your mother get murdered in front of you is bound to ceate baggage.
His resistance to Nora working with Thawne, or even acknowledging Thawnes tactful plan against Cicada falls in line with who Barry is. It’s organic to his character. His knee jerk reaction of tossing Nora back to the future can be supported by plenty of canonical residual trauma.
Look, Barry, having Nora in our lives has made us better people. isn’t it's possible she did the same thing to Thawne.Iris
Despite all that, Barry stepped up. He considered how betraying Nora was wrong. He questioned himself as a parent. He may have pushed back with Iris, but he still heard her. That’s evident in his decision to ask Joe for further advice.
Barry Allen actually began to rationalize!
He apologized to his daughter, but even more importantly, he backed her on executing Thawne’plan, because trusting her, is more important than not trusting Eobard Thawne.
That’s growth folks. And it’s beautiful.
Nora I shouldn’t have left things the way that I did. I want you to come home. We all do. You just have to stop working with Thawne.Barry
Apologizes were plentiful in “Gone Rogue.”
Sherloque apologized for outing Nora to the rest of Team Flash--an apology I’m not entirely convinced was necessary, considering the context of the situation.
Sherloque felt like the Teams anger towards him was misplaced. I tentatively agree with that statement. Still, the sincerity with which the apology was delivered made for Sherlqoues own moment of growth.
One character who hasn’t been given a ton of focus this season is Ralph.
After how his character was written on The Flason Season 4, it’s honestly been for the best. He hasn’t been given any meaty storylines, but he has provided emotional support for the rest of the Team.
It’s exactly what his character was lacking.
Ralph needed a little more complexity and a lot more heart, but he didn’t need a huge chunk of the season dedicated his story. Giving him too much onscreen focus would just have aggravated viewers.
Experiencing Ralph in small but meaningful doses has been for the best. Utilizing him as a supporting character has given him a chance to be likable without being overwhelming. It’s been consistent and enjoyable.
Which is why his intimate scene with Caitlin was so well received.
Don’t get me wrong, their moment read romantic for a split second too long and I was full on panicking. The last thing Flash fans need is a Caitlin/Ralph romance.
I do love a good troll moment from writers, though, and shutting down any possible sparks between the two was cheekily clever.
The earnest moment we got from Ralph was heartbreaking in the best way. Caitlin is right—he gives so much of himself to others. He is so selfless and so willing to do whatever it takes for his family. Him not believing he’s made for love is devastating.
Ralph: I know I’m not built for love. And that’s okay.
Caitlin: Ralph Dibney, you are kind intelligent and compassionate. and most of all you put the needs of others before yourself. So that means you are built for love, and you deserve someone who loves you back.
Ralph: Caitlin…i’m sorry, I just don’t feel that about you...
Caitlin: What? Gross!
It does open up possibilities for his future on the show. Now that the audience has warmed up to his character, giving him a personalized arc for The Flash Season 6 might be interesting to witness.
He’s earned it.
Then again, so has Cisco.
Cisco has earned full on episodes dedicated to him alone. Instead, he’s barely part of the general storyline anymore. He’s been absent for a striking amount of The Flash Season 5.
I’ll take any Cisco I can get, but the meager storyline he has been given seems to be building towards an exit. Could his climactic moment be a realization he no longer wants to be Vibe? No longer wants to be part of Team Flash?
I won’t accept it.
Two characters are set to leave this season, and with each installment, my worry for Cisco’s safety grows. I have pushed back my anxiety over the matter, but I think it’s officially time to panic.
Cisco may not be around for The Flash Season 6.
I can’t explain how much my mind will short circuit if that happens.
Carlos Valdes is one of the wittiest, most engaging characters on the CW—especially in the DCTV universe. His energy, comedic timing and versatility help make The Flash the powerhouse it is.
Cisco: I am clearly the Samantha of this group, right?
Iris: Okay, Miranda.
The writers just don’t give him enough opportunity to show what he can do.
The Flash wouldn’t work without Barry and Iris. That’s clear. But the next person on the list of “Who Makes The Flash So Great” is Cisco!
I can’t bear to imagine what the show would become without him.
Ralph may be funny and endearing, but he’s no Cisco Ramon.
One of my biggest critiques of the season's earlier episodes was Iris’ lack of involvement.
She went from half of The Flash to Barry Allen's wife in the background.
With episodes like “Godspeed” and “Gone Rogue,” Iris is back to the strong and woman we all know and love. Seeing her have a point of view on the Nora scenario has been gratifying.
Barry went to Joe for advice, and Iris used Cecile as a sounding board.
Iris even used hand to hand combat to exact some revenge on RagDoll.
It’s always a pleasure when The Flash reminds us not all heroes wear capes (or suits). Sometimes they’re just bad-ass humans who know how to bask in their power.
- Iris taking down RagDoll with her dad and then fixing her ponytail? ICONIC.
- Why does Carlos Valdes have a perfect dynamic with every character he shares a scene with? He makes people look better.
- RagDoll is still horrifying.
- Nora’s lightning streaks turning back to yellow when Barry got hurt was a lovely touch.
- I totally forgot Caitlin’s dad died until Barry asked if she needed more time to grieve.
- So is Orlin not dead? Or is Grace just crazy pants? I’m going to vote for crazy pants.
- Was anyone else shipping Nora and Weather Witch for a second there? I like their vibe, let Nora have a girlfriend!
Your Turn, Flash Fanatics!
What were your thoughts on the episdoe? Were you bored, or did you love it?
Who do you think will be leving next season? '
Do you think Grace will suceed in her plan to wipe out meta humans?
Let me know all your thoughts in the comments, and don't forget to watch The Flash online, right here at TV Fanatic!
Kat Pettibone is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.