The Flash returns to our screens with huge changes this season as the show picks up directly where the last season ended, with the daughter of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and Iris West-Allen (Candice Patton), Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy), having travelled back in time and becoming trapped.
Having seen Nora appear a number of times throughout Season 4 the show managed to build an air of mystery around the character, though many fans managed to figure out who she was long before the on screen reveal. Despite many of her mysteries having been revealed in this first episode, though not all of them, the character hasn’t completely lost that sense of mystery, but manages to become a bright, wonderfully fun new addition to the cast.
The majority of the episode centres on Nora, even the opening and closing narration is done by her instead of her father, with the villain of the week being elegated to a minor annoyance. Nora even points out that Gridlock (Daniel Cudmore) was a ‘one and done’ villain according to the Flash Museum records. Sometimes the meta-human of the week routine can get quite dull, especially when it’s done so often at the beginning of a new season, but it’s easy to overlook that here as the story of Nora, and her time with Barry, is so much more important.
As many fans had theorised over the break between seasons, Nora had travelled back in time to see her dad because he isn’t around in her time. This isn’t really a surprise as the show pretty much gave us this information way back in the very first episode with the newspaper from the future telling us the the Flash ‘disappears in crisis’. This episode builds on that, with Nora showing another future headline stating that the Flash has been gone for 25 years. Eagle-eyed viewers can also spot a few additional hints in the text of these papers, but it’s quite hard to do without pausing the screen and getting very close.
The news that Barry disappears for what could be forever in this upcoming crisis is a big moment for him, as it tells him that this is probably one ‘death’ that he can’t cheat, and most importantly, that he’ll never get to have a life with his daughter. This becomes the emotional heart of the episode, and could go on for most of the season. Barry loves his family dearly, and the knowledge that he won’t be there for his daughter visually tears him apart. His decision to keep Nora around rather than sending her back to the future might not be the smartest choice, but it’s the one that makes sense emotionally. Barry wants to be a father now because he knows he can’t be later.
Whilst the new dynamics and emotional story that Nora brings to the season are great, one of the other side effects of having a character from the future in the show now is that she gets to hint at so many things that could happen in the Arrowverse one day. She mentions King Shark fighting Gorilla Grodd (please god let us see this on scree!), name drops heroes such as Ryan Choi’s Atom and Lightning Lad from the Legion of Superheroes, and brings up the Flash Museum. The best thing she brings with her, however, is the new costume.
The episode also managed to add some additional developments outside of the Barry/Nora plot, exploring further into the Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) plot to bring back killer frost, with Ralph (Hartley Sawyer) managing to discover that Caitlin’s father appears to have faked his death. The episode also highlights the fact that Ralph wasn’t around much in the previous season, poking fun at this with his lack of knowledge of time travel and the multi-verse in some really fun scenes. Hopefully this is the production team acknowledging that he wasn’t full used last year and that they intend to correct that.
Overall Nora proved to be an incredibly strong opening episode for Season 5, possibly one of the best season openers that the series has had for quite a while. The character dynamics are great, the new costume is fun and interesting, and Nora is a brilliant addition to the cast filled with energy and a sense of joy.
The Flash Season 5 airs on Sky One every Thursday from October 18th.