The Flash season premiere recap: 'Nora' jumpstarts season 5
The last time we checked in with Team Flash they had just defeated the Thinker and were enjoying the birth of Joe and Cecile’s daughter when Jessica Parker Kennedy’s Mystery Girl interrupted the festivities with a bombshell: She’s actually Barry and Iris’ future daughter Nora West-Allen and she made a big, big mistake. If you watched all of the uneven third season, then you probably saw that twist coming. Still, it opens up an exciting world of possibilities for the show and presents a new challenge for the team, especially for Barry and Iris. Sure, we’re only one episode into season 5, but based on the premiere, it seems as though this season may live up to that promise. “Nora” is a fun and strong season opener that feels like it’s powered by the palpable joy and bubbliness of Kennedy’s performance, and it left me excited to see where the season goes.
“Nora” picks up exactly where we left off in the finale. Pretty much everyone at Joe’s home is speechless after Nora’s revelation — except for Cisco, who cuts the tension with his need for alcohol, and Ralph, who is just now realizing that time travel is a thing. (Ralph discovering the existence of time travel and the multiverse in this episode brought me so much joy.) Nora moves about the room with an air familiarity because she knows almost everyone there from the future, and doesn’t waste any time revealing the big mistake she made: By helping Barry save the day in the finale, she’s messed with the timeline (like father, like daughter) and can’t return to the future. Thus, she needs Team Flash’s help.
Even in her early scenes, Kennedy, who is a series regular this season, feels like a great addition to the show. She infuses almost all of Nora’s lines with an infectious sense of wonder, and it’s hard not to geek out with Nora, who is in awe of pretty much everything. Sure, Nora has read about all of Team Flash’s exploits, but now she’s here and gets to experience it first-hand — like the tachyon enhancer Barry used to meet Supergirl for the first time. And in her excitement, she also lets slip a few details about the future: There’s a Flash museum, King Shark and Grodd eventually fight, and she knows Lighting Lad.
Having Nora here presents an interesting quagmire for her parents. Barry is determined to send her back to the future because he’s (hypocritically) worried about the damage her presence does to the timeline — especially after a kinetic-absorbing meta named Gridlock manages to get away because Nora distracted him while in battle. Iris, on the other hand, is very eager to get to know her daughter. Alas, Nora doesn’t feel the same way, for reasons we’ll learn soon.
The Team tries using Thawne’s tachyon enhancer to increase Nora’s speed so she can go home, but that fails because, as the Legends discovered when they tested her blood off-screen, she has negative tachyons coursing through her body. Said negative tachyons are preventing her from entering the Speed Force (Don’t you just hate it when that happens?). Nora’s stuck here until Team Flash can find a way to balance out the negative tachyons with positive ones — or, more accurately, until Nora stops flooding her body with negative tachyons. This shouldn’t come as a complete surprise, but Nora lied.
Barry realizes that Nora isn’t being totally truthful with them and confronts her with his suspicions, which leads to yet another bombshell from the future: Although Nora has spent her entire life with Iris, this is the first time she’s met Barry, who’s been missing for 25 years after disappearing in the headline-making crisis of 2024 when she was a baby. All of this hits Barry like a brick because he had just shared with Iris his concerns that he was going to miss all of Nora’s firsts and now it turns out that he actually did.
Next: Cicada enters stage right
Barry and Nora’s father-daughter moment is interrupted by the rest of the team, who discover that Gridlock is currently on an airplane flying over Central City and plans to bring it down. The only way for Barry to save everyone is for him to phase the plane through the buildings, says Nora, who gifts him the iconic Flash ring with a new super suit from the future. But Barry can’t do it alone, so he recruits Kid Flash and Nora, a.k.a. XS, to help out. Except Nora has trouble phasing once the three speedsters breach onto the plane because, well, she’s never done it before since no one taught her. So in a beautiful and moving callback to season 1, Barry recites the speech Wells gave him the first time he phased, which is exactly what Nora needs. The heroes phase the plane through a building and a bridge. And hey, look at that, Barry was there for Nora’s first phase!
In the wake of that high-flying adventure in parenting, Barry has a change of heart and decides that they don’t need to send Nora back to the future just yet. Wally offers a hokey and clunky explanation from the Legends about fixed and soft points in time, which also supposedly allows her to hang around. So, Nora decides to bunk in S.T.A.R. Labs’ newly discovered lounge. Well, it’s not totally new because it turns out that Joe has been coming there to sleep since they started all this nonsense.
While the West family continues to bond and say their goodbyes, Ralph makes a discovery that relates to Caitlin. After hearing about the vision she had at the end of last season that involved her father and Killer Frost, he did some digging and discovered that her father’s death certificate is actually fake, which means he’s still alive (which we already knew!).
Unfortunately, there’s even more danger looming on the horizon. As the episode ends, season 5 big bad Cicada enters stage right, attacks the CCPD van carrying Gridlock, and proceeds to kill the meta with his scary-looking lighting blade.
Overall, I loved The Flash’s season 5 premiere. It felt like the show managed to re-capture the spirit of season 1, which was mostly due to Kennedy’s energetic performance. Last season, the show set out to right the ship and bring some lightness back after the dour third season; however, it still struggled to find a nice tonal balance. In “Nora,” it feels as though the show has found that balance. The humor and lightness doesn’t feel superficial and lives comfortably alongside the episode’s more emotional moments. Like Cisco’s drunkenness — which resulted from him finally having time to process his break-up with Gypsy — and Ralph’s multiple epiphanies (#manyverse) didn’t feel at odds with Barry’s concern with missing Nora’s firsts or the revelation that Nora never really met her father until now. Honestly, I’m looking forward to what this season brings.
Wall of Weird:
- At Joe’s urging, Wally decides to leave Central City, but not rejoin the Legends, in order to find himself.
- Early on in the episode, Cecile discovers that she still has her mind-reading powers, which will make figuring out what her daughter is crying about a bit easier.
- Barry gets reinstated at the CCPD, which didn’t hire a new CSI while he was gone. Is CCPD the worst? How did they go four months without a CSI? How many open cases do they have?
- Nora mentions that Ryan Choi — a.k.a. the second incarnation of the Atom from the comics — designed Barry’s fancy suit.
- I love the fact that Iris pointed out that Barry doesn’t actually care at all about protecting the timeline.
- “He might’ve created a timeline where I died in the particle accelerator explosion,” says Ralph, unaware that one of the few good things to come of Flashpoint is that actually didn’t happen to him.
- I loved how this episode had a sense of history, too; from the callback to Wells’ phasing speech, to the Flash’s past suits, and, again, all of Ralph’s epiphanies. The Flash is now in its fifth season, which means the show’s accumulated history is one of its greatest strengths it has. I’m glad it’s finding both humorous fun and poignant ways to use it as we head towards the 100th episode.