The season 1 parallels continued on tonight’s episode of The Flash. In the first season, Barry Allen learned a hard lesson about time travel in “Out of Time”/”Rogue Time,” the former of which was one of the season’s best episodes. Now, it’s time for Nora to go through her own crucible with time travel, which produces mixed results but was still a pretty entertaining hour thanks to both Jessica Parker Kennedy and Carlos Valdes’ performances.
The hour begins with Cisco prepping for his date with Kamilla at the Tannhauser facility when his computer goes off and lets him know the metahuman cure is ready. However, there’s one problem: It won’t be ready for use for another 29 days because it needs time to synthesize or something. Naturally, the rest of the team is pretty bummed out about the news since, as Cisco points out, this is the earliest they’ve ever come up with a solution to beat their big bad. Thankfully, Sherloque has a plan: Barry can speed up the process by taking the cure into the Speed Force, which would reduce the wait to an hour. So Barry throws on his suit and heads into that ineffable dark matter void — which then leads to another Grant Gustin-less hour. I suspect this episode was light on our star to accommodate his honeymoon. Luckily, the rest of the cast is more than up to the task of carrying the show without him.
With Barry in the Speed Force, it falls on Nora to keep the city and the team safe for an hour. You’d be surprised by how much goes wrong in that time. First, Iris returns to her newspaper office to do some work, but then Cicada shows up and kidnaps her. Meanwhile, Cisco goes out on his date with Kamilla, which goes terribly because Ralph psyched him out with photos of Kamilla’s old boyfriends. So Cisco walks into Jitters essentially cosplaying his Flashpoint persona, which is a major turn off for Kamilla, but pretty entertaining to watch because of Valdes’ commitment to the bit. And reader, we stan people who commit to bits.
Needless to say, the date starts going downhill from the moment he arrives. Midway through, he receives an alert on his phone that something’s wrong. The team receives the same alert at S.T.A.R. Labs, and XS and Killer Frost race out to save Iris from Cicada, who has her tied up on the roof of her office building. Cicada planned for their arrival and the moment XS and Killer Frost arrives, his dagger comes flying out of the air and stabs Killer Frost in the back. Overwhelmed with emotion, Nora speeds off and ends up reversing time, which takes her back to S.T.A.R. Labs the moment after her father left.
Next: More time travel
From there, the entire scenario continues to play out again, and each time someone new dies. First, it’s Ralph, then Sherloque, then Cisco, and finally Cecile. No matter how hard Nora tries, she can’t seem to save the team. Parker effectively conveyed Nora’s anxiety and desperation to fix everything. With each reset, we also get to see Cisco’s disastrous date over and over, and each time he enters the date with a new persona: sports bro (ugh!), social media influencer (ughhh). However, because Nora is playing with time, Cisco starts to vibe every past date/aborted timeline, but it takes him a while to put together what’s happening even though he went through this in season 1 when he repeatedly vibed Thawne killing him. Luckily, the show provides an explanation for this. His break-up with Gypsy left him feeling insecure about who he is, hence he kept trying to be who he thought Kamila wanted to be, and thus he was too distracted by all of that to fully realize what was going on with the timeline.
That being said, I did find myself struggling a bit with other aspects of the script. In one of the timelines, Nora tries to enter the Speed Force to get her father’s help, but for some reason, she can’t. That doesn’t make sense since she’s been traveling back and forth between the present and future to visit Thawne all season-long, which requires her to enter the Speed Force, right? Or am I misunderstanding how the Speed Force actually works?
Anyway, after she resets the timeline 52 times, Team Flash finally realizes she’s been playing with time, and she has no other option but to come clean. At this point, Nora is heartbreakingly defeated because no matter what she does, she can’t seem to save the team, thereby failing the one job her father gave her before entering the Speed Force. However, after her heart-to-heart with Cisco about his dating woes/vibe-ja-vu, Nora gets an idea: They can use the notes she took in her journal about her 52 attempts to save them to figure exactly what she needs to do for it to work. Then, Sherloque says the key to defeating Cicada and saving everyone’s lives is for Nora to reverse time on a smaller scale, and the key to her being able to control her power is to slow. It’s at this point that Nora remembers what her dad told her before he left: “Slow down and think clearly.”
So, Team Flash heads out to confront Cicada. Iris lures him to the rooftop of the building, and then Vibe, Elongated Man, and Killer Frost breach onto the roof. From there, some timey-wimey nonsense that I don’t completely understand happens, but with the help of two breaches from Cisco and Killer Frost’s ice blast, Nora is able to slow down enough to reverse time and ensure that Cicada’s dagger comes flying right back at him. Wounded yet again, Cicada flies off before they can take him down.
With that sorted out, the team pushes Cisco to go on his date with Kamila, which ends up going pretty well because Cisco lets his nerdy passion for his current project shine through and charms her. Meanwhile, Barry returns from his trip and learns what happened while he was away. Going into full dad mode, Barry congratulates Nora but warns her about the dangers of time travel, specifically that no matter how hard you try to fix things, something is always changed when you mess with the timeline. What was changed this time? Well, watching Nora decode her journal to defeat Cicada allows Sherloque to decode the entire thing, thereby reversing all of the work she did last week to throw him off her sent.
Concerned about what her father said, Nora speeds off to the future to see Thawne. Ever arrogant, Thawne assures her that he’s the only one who knows how to change the timeline not only to defeat Cicada but save Barry. And with that, we finally realize exactly how Thawne managed to gain Nora’s trust.
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