Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Flash Season 5, Episode 1: Nora

It's the Season 5 premiere of The Flash!

Wow, five seasons already! Can you believe it? Seems like the show started just yesterday. But then I think about how long I've been writing about it, and it definitely feels like five years. Maybe even ten.

Overall I thought this was a pretty lackluster episode— especially for a season premiere. It was forty two minutes of people standing around looking worried and talking, punctuated by some occasional mild action. Now that I think about it, you could describe pretty much every episode of The Flash that way. 

Even worse, it looks like they're recycling the same plots again this year. We're getting more timeline-altering shenanigans, plus a villain who seems like slightly altered Zoom.

It wasn't all bad though, as there were several amazing parts of the episode. Number one on the list of course is Jessica Parker Kennedy as Nora West-Allen, Barry and Iris' daughter from the future. Kennedy was fun, cute and perky, and felt like a breath of fresh air on the show. Her energy was in stark contrast to the rest of the cast, who frankly seemed tired and worn out (I'm lookin' at you, Cisco and Caitlin!).

Plus this episode gives us a more comic-accurate Flash costume, although it still needs some work in my opinion. Best of all we finally get Barry's costume ring, lifted straight from the pages of the comics! Amazing!


The Plot:
Picking up right where the Season 4 finale left off (at Joe & Cecile's baby-welcoming party), Barry and Iris are stunned by Mystery Girl's claim that she's their daughter from the future. She tells them she came back in time to help Barry destroy DeVoe's falling satellite and save Central City. Unfortunately she's now stuck here, as something's wrong and she can no longer run fast enough to travel back to her own time.

Cut to STAR Labs, where Team Flash tests Nora in the Speed Lab. As she runs around the track, Barry and Iris both note how weird it is to find out they have, or rather will have, a daughter. Barry wonders if she's really who she says she is, or yet another speedster villain. Caitlin tests Nora's DNA and confirms she's their kid.

Barry warns Nora not to tell them too much about the future, to prevent altering the timeline. Yeah, that's right. Barry. Warning someone not to mess with time. That right there's the definition of irony!

In other subplot news, Cecile discovers her pregnancy-induced ESP may be permanent, and Barry's reinstated as a CSI. When he returns to his long-abandoned office, he finds a year's worth of unsolved cases stacked on his desk. As he starts to wade through them, an eager Nora shows up. She begins trying to help, saying she's a CSI as well in her own time.

Suddenly Barry receives an evil meta alert and speeds off to help. He arrives on the scene, where a villain named Gridlock is robbing an armored car. Barry punches him out and saves the two guards. 

Just then a costumed Nora appears, ready and willing to help. Unfortunately she distracts Barry long enough for Gridlock to recover and punch him clean into the next county (almost literally!).

Back at STAR, Nora whines about how she's a big screw-up. Hey, like father, like daughter! Iris takes her to Jitters for coffee to cheer her up and hopefully bond. Nora seems strangely distant toward Iris though, implying there's bad blood between them. Iris is troubled by this, as she has no idea what she might have done. Or rather will do.

Cisco comes up with a tachyon device that'll siphon Speed Force energy from Barry and channel it into Nora, recharging her so she can run back to her own time. They enter the particle accelerator and start running laps around it. The device works at first, but soon overloads and knocks them both out.

Team Flash determines that Nora has negative tachyons in her blood that are causing her to slow down. The sudden influx of positive tachyons is what caused Cisco's device to overload. Comic Book Science!

Just then the gang gets an after-the-fact alert that Gridlock's struck again. They realize that Team Flash is now deaf and blind after DeVoe destroyed their satellite. Ralph and Caitlin investigate the new Gridlock crime scene, and he asks her about Killer Frost. She tells him that DeVoe (in Ralph's body!) absorbed her, and she hasn't returned. She also tells him she suspects Killer Frost has ALWAYS been a part of her— even as a child. For no good reason other than the writers need something for him to do, Ralph decides to find Caitlin's icy alter ego.

Cisco analyzes Gridlock's powers
, and realizes he stores up kinetic energy. In other words, the more he's punched, the stronger he gets. Barry and Iris discuss their future daughter. Iris mentions how Nora seems to idolize Barry, but can barely stand to look at her. Barry realizes Nora's hiding a dark secret.

Barry takes Nora into the STAR Labs Secret Time Room, and against his better judgement, asks her what happens in the future. She pulls up the holographic future newspaper we've seen many times before, that says the Flash disappeared in 2024. Nora says he disappeared a couple years after she was born, and he never returned. From her perspective, he's been gone for twenty five years. 

Barry realizes the truth— Nora isn't stuck here, and could go back any time she wants. She came back in order to spend time with the father she never knew. Nora admits it's true, and hands him a device she used to fake her negative tachyon condition.

Iris calls Barry and says they've identified Gridlock as William Lang, a Central City career criminal. Cisco tracks him and says he's currently on a plane— most likely so he can crash it, absorb its energy and take whatever's onboard.

Cut to the plane, where Gridlock sits next to a man with a briefcase full of jewels handcuffed to his wrist. He shoots a blast of energy at the man the man, which accidentally shoots through the fuselage and into one of the engines, causing it to explode. The plane begins losing altitude, and of course heads for downtown Central City. A few seconds later, Gridlock takes out the other engine.

Team Flash tries to think of ways to save the plane. Cisco says he could vibe Barry into it, and he could phase the plane so it passed harmlessly through the downtown skyscrapers. Barry says he's not strong enough to phase an entire 747. He says he might be able to do it with the help of Wally and Nora.

Nora says she's never been able to figure out how to phase, but Barry says he believes in her (oy). She then gives him a ring she pilfered from the Flash Museum in her future. Barry puts the ring on, and a brand new, high tech Flash suit squirts out of it! Just like in the comics!

Cisco says the plane's still climbing (even though we clearly saw it angled downward a few scenes ago) but will soon reach maximum height and then dive. When it's at the peak of its arc, the plane will be in freefall for a few seconds, meaning Gridlock will be momentarily powerless. I guess that makes sense?

Barry, Wally and Nora run through the streets, as Cisco watches them from atop a tall building. He opens a breach and they all zoom through it, exiting on the plane. Not sure what all the running was about. Couldn't they all have stood on the roof or ground and accomplished the same thing?

Anyway, they enter the plane just as it reaches freefall, and see the passengers floating around the cabin. Barry punches Gridlock and cuffs him, ending his threat somewhat anticlimactically. They then attempt to phase the plane. Barry and Wally do just fine, but Nora of course can't seem to phase properly. Barry gives her a Patented The CW Pep Talk
well, no, that's not quite right. He gives her the same speech Eobard Thawne (posing as Harrison Wells) gave him way back in Season 1.

His inspirational speech does the trick, and Nora's miraculously able to phase. The plane then passes harmlessly through the buildings and lands safely in the river.

Back at STAR, Cisco gives Nora a piece of tech to help her get home, not knowing she isn't really stuck here. Barry doesn't tell him or any of the others about this (of course), and says maybe she should stick around a while, until her powers are back up to er, speed.

Barry says Nora can stay with them, but she says she'll be fine bunking in the STAR Labs Lounge. Yes, a goddamned lounge. After four years the cast just now discovers there's a huge, previously undiscovered hangout space in the building. Apparently the only one who knew about it was Joe. COUGH-retcon-COUGH!

Ralph appears, and apparently in the half hour since he and Caitlin spoke, found out that her father faked his death certificate, and is alive and well somewhere.

In the tag scene, Gridlock's being driven to Iron Heights Prison in a heavily armored police van. Suddenly the convoy's attacked, and the door of the van's ripped open. A masked, shadowy figure enters and tells Gridlock he wants all metahumans (except himself, I guess) to die.

• The opening narration gets changed up this week, as it's said by Nora rather than Barry. She says, "
My name is Nora West-Allen, the fastest woman alive. When I'm from, thirty years from now, I'm the guardian of Central City. I'm a speedster, just like my dad. People call me XS. Every day, I hope to live up to the legacy of The Flash But I've still got a long way to go."

By the way, about Nora's name. Do kids usually hyphenate their last names? I thought that was just something a wife did. I've never met a kid with a hyphenated name in my life. Maybe it's a matter of personal preference.

 OK, I am VERY confused about Nora's reason for visiting the past, and I'm starting to think the writers are as well.

OK, bear with me here as I recap. In the Season 4 finale We Are The Flash, DeVoe used his powers to send the STAR Labs satellite hurtling toward Central City. In order to prevent the city from "being blasted back to the Stone Age," Barry says he'll have to deliver a massive sonic punch to the satellite and break it up. Iris worries that this could kill him, and Marlize confirms it, saying, "Given the satellite's mass and its escalating descent, what prevents it from destroying him?"

Barry then zooms up the side of a building and leaps into the air, flying right toward the satellite. The instant his supercharged fist makes contact, time comes to a stop for a few seconds, then begins reversing.

When it moves forward again, Barry leaps at the satellite once more. This time he's joined by another speedster, and with their combined powers they're able to destroy the satellite without killing themselves.

Later at Joe & Cecile's party, the mystery speedster appears and announces she's Nora West-Allen, Barry and Iris' future daughter. She tells them she needs there help, and she just made a huge mistake.

OK, from all that I assumed Barry was destined to die in the season finale. He successfully destroyed the satellite, but the resulting explosion killed him. That's why Nora appeared at this exact moment and helped him out by taking half the brunt of the blast. Later after the excitement died down, she realized she'd screwed up big time by changing history for personal reasons. It all makes perfect sense.

But then this episode premiered and contradicted ALL of that. Turns out that Barry wasn't supposed to die from punching the satellite after all. Instead he's destined to disappear in 2024, and Nora came back to spend time with him before that happened. And maybe prevent his disappearance, although I don't think that's ever stated in the episode.

Fine. So that's the real reason she came back. But if Barry wasn't destined to die yet, THEN WHAT THE HELL WAS THE POINT OF HER HELPING HIM PUNCH THE SATELLITE? Did she just think it'd be fun to share a mission with her pop?

See what I mean? This is a pretty major retcon. It's almost like the writers didn't rewatch the previous episode before they wrote this one, and forgot what happened last season.

• If you're like me (and gods know, I hope you're not), you're wondering just when Nora was born. Or rather will be born. It's never actually stated in the episode, but based on the dates mentioned, we can make an educated guess.

In the Time Room, Barry and Nora stare at the holographic newspaper whose headline reads "Flash Missing— Vanishes In Crisis." It's dated April 25, 2024, which is just six years from now. Barry asks Nora how old she was when it happened, and she says, "I was born a few years before you vanished, but I don't have any memories of you."

Note that the writers are loathe to pin down an exact year, in order to give themselves some wiggle room.

Most people can't remember the first two or three years of their lives, and I assume Nora's the same. So let's say she was three when Barry disappeared. That would put her birth sometime in 2021.

• By the way, in that same scene, Nora displays a second newspaper that reads "25 Years Later Flash Still Missing." Note that this paper's dated April 25, 2049!

Apparently The Flash writers think there'll still be newspapers (albeit holographic ones) thirty one years from now! That's more unbelievable than any of the comic book science in the episode!

• Jessica Parker Kennedy, who plays Nora, is currently 34 in real life. Amazingly, that means she's older than both her TV parents! Candice Patton, aka Iris, is 30, while Grant Gustin, aka Barry, is just 28!

Kennedy must have some damned good genes, as I'd have guessed she was 25 at the absolute most.

• So Nora goes by the codename "XS." Yikes. Worst. Superhero. Name. Ever!

Actually XS is from the comics, where she was a member of the Legion Of Superheroes. They're a team of superpowered crime fighting teens who live a thousand years in the future. 

In the Legion comics, XS was the codename of Jenni Ognats, who was Barry Allen's granddaughter. I'm sure there's probably an explanation as to how Barry could have a grandkid living a thousand years from now.

Of course this TV version of XS is Barry's daughter, she's only from three decades in the future, and she doesn't seem to have anything to do with the Legion.

Or does she? 

After Nora accidentally lets Gridlock escape, she exclaims, "Oh, grife." That's a slang term from the Legion Of Superheroes comics.

Later on Iris tries to bond with her future daughter. Nora gushes about Barry's costume, saying, "Dad's lightning bolt is way cooler than Lightning Lad's." Lightning Lad was one of the founding members of the Legion in the comics.

Also in the comics, the various members of the Legion regularly time traveled back to our present, to hang out with Superboy pretty much the same way Nora does in this episode.

Are these just coincidences, or is this episode hinting that Nora's a member of the Legion Of Superheroes (one that exists thirty years from now instead of a thousand), and we'll be seeing them pop up soon on The Flash? 

Actually there's already been a version of the Legion that showed up in Season 3 of Supergirl. She lives on Earth-38 though, so unless Nora's from another dimension, that means there're two Legions out there. Confusing!

• Despite Barry's warnings, Nora drops quite a few hints about the future in this episode:

 Nora mentions the Flash Museum, which was a staple in the comics for many years. As the name implies, it was a museum dedicated primarily to the Barry Allen version of the Flash. It featured exhibits on the Jay Garrick and Wally West Flashes as well.

We've Actually seen a glimpse of the Flash Museum on the show before. Way back in Fast Enough, the Season 1 finale, Barry broke the time barrier for the first, er, time, and began seeing events from the past and future. Among them was a brief image of the Flash Museum!

By the way, so far EVERY future image Barry saw in that episode has come true. He saw a vision of Caitlin as Killer Frost, a commercial, er, I mean a look at the Legends Of Tomorrow forming their team, and a brief scene of himself incarcerated in Iron Heights prison. Pretty cool!

 Nora also name drops a Mr. Miles. She's obviously referring to Dexter Myles here. In the comics, he was a flamboyant actor who eventually became the curator of the Flash Museum.

Oddly enough, Dexter Myles has already been established in the Arrowverse! He appeared in Season 1 of The Flash, in Going Rogue. In that episode, we saw that Myles was curator of the Central City Museum. I guess he could be the same Dexter Miles Nora knows thirty years in the future, although he'd be pretty old by then.

 She also refers to Mob Rule, another comic villain. In The Flash comic, Mob Rule is a group made of of dozens of duplicates of Manuel Lago, a friend of Barry Allen. I can pretty much guarantee we'll see a version of him on the show at some point.

 And lastly, Nora mentions a battle between King Shark and Gorilla Grodd! WOW! That definitely needs to happen on The Flash, and soon!

• When Nora sees Gridlock appear in Central City, she says she recognizes him from the Flash Museum. According to her, it features a timeline of all the villains the Flash ever fought, in chronological order. She claims to have practically haunted the museum, studying everything in it.

Iris says that's great, as she can simply tell them Gridlock's secret identity, so they can simply pick him up. Nora says no can do, claiming, "Mr. Myles, the curator, he scrubbed all the names for legal reasons."

Whaaa...? That... that doesn't make any sense. Why would he eliminate the names of known criminals to protect them? That's not a thing. We all know the names Lee Harvey Oswald, Ted Bundy and Timothy McVeigh. Is the law different in the future? Can criminals there sue if their names are published or part of the public record?

• In this episode Ralph suddenly discovers the existence of the multiverse, and tries to explain it to Team Flash (who are all already intimately familiar with the concept). He tells them, "It sounds crazy, but think about it. There could be an Earth where we're all bad guys, or another Earth where there's no world hunger, or, or another Earth where they never made that last Indiana Jones movie!"

You know, I'd happily transfer to an Earth where no one ever heard of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

• I like Gridlock's pepakura mask, as it's quite a striking design. There's something odd about the way the light hits it, and even though I know it's real, it almost looks like a CGI effect.

Gridlock made his comic debut in Impulse #7 in 1995 (Impulse being another speedster character with a history wayyyy too complicated to get into here). There, Gridlock's real name was William Lang, and he used technology to steal kinetic energy.

By the way, Gridlock's played by Daniel Cudmore, who's no stranger to the Arrowverse. He previously played Jackhammer in Season 4 of Arrow, and did the motion capture for Gorilla Grodd in Legends Of Tomorrow. He also played Colossus in X-Men 2, X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: Days Of Future Past.

• When Barry's bonding with Nora, he mentions that his parents used to take him to the Mason Family Ice Cream Shop in Happy Harbor, Rhode Island. This is another comic book reference, as it was the original home base of the Justice League.

• For decades now, one of the cooler aspects of The Flash comic was Barry Allen's ring. The ring featured a secret button that when pressed, would shoot out a miniaturized Flash costume that expanded on contact with the air.

At long, long last, TV Barry FINALLY gets his own Flash ring and costume! Huzzah!

When I first heard rumors he'd be getting the costume ring this season, I was a little worried. It's one thing to draw a costume squirting out of a ring, growing to normal size and showing Barry suited up in the next panel. But how do you film something like that without it looking really stupid?

Looks like I needn't have worried. The Flash's FX team came through yet again, as the ring costume looked AWESOME!

• So let's talk about Barry's new costume the one that shoot out of his ring. Eh, it's kind of a mixed bag for me. I like the simplified design and the brighter, more comic accurate color.

But I hate the new cowl though. For some reason this one lacks a chin strap like all his previous costumes, and it just looks... well, goofy without it. Grant Gustin is almost impossibly thing, but somehow this new costume makes it look like he has a double chin from certain angles.

I suppose I'll eventually get used to it, but for now... meh.

By the way, Nora mentions this future version of the Flash's costume was designed by Ryan Choi. Comic fans will recognize him as the new Atom, who took up the mantle after Ray Palmer.

• At the very end of the episode, a mystery villain appears and kills Gridlock. Obviously this shadowy figure is going to be the Big Bad of Season 5, but they're saving his reveal for later.

Eh, there's no need to wait, as his identity's already been spoiled online. He's Cicada, whoever the hell that is. I'm assuming his powers are to hide underground for seventeen years, then emerge and eat your trees?

This Week's Best Lines:
Meh. Nothing really jumped out at me this week. Sorry.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Site Meter