‘The Flash’ 5×01 Review: “Nora” Is The Course Correction This Show Deserves

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Second only to the Pilot, “Nora” may have been the most important episode of the series. In a sense, it was like a Pilot episode of its own. Last season, The Flash’s original show runner, Andrew Kreisberg, was fired for sexual harassment. Since then, fans wondered if and how the series would change under new direction. “Nora” gave us the first hints of what to expect, and I couldn’t be more excited about what is to come.

Of course, the fifth season premiere didn’t drastically rewrite show history. This episode wasn’t so much a reboot as a gentle course correction. But “Nora” did a solid job of putting the show’s best foot forward, and one can hope that this season will correct the mistakes of the past.

Since this seems a little like a second Pilot, it makes sense to address where we find each of the characters. And where they seem to be headed.

Barry Allen

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This season’s premiere gave me almost everything I’ve been missing from the show. Particularly with regards to the hero himself, Barry. It had tremendous heart, anchored in the West-Allen family. It had humor. We were even given hope that we might see Barry work as a CSI this season. And, oh my god, but he’s going to be such a good dad one day.

The Flash has so often had such heart. It’s what sets it apart from so many other superhero shows. They got back to basics and re-centered the show on that emotional core in the premiere. Family is the centerpiece of the Flash story and it always has been – both in the comics and in the show. The Flash isn’t just a mantle Barry wears. Heroism is a calling that is passed down from one generation to the next.

This season, with Nora, we will see the impact of that legacy – and the love that carries it through. Once again, Barry isn’t just the hero of the show. Iris, Nora, Joe, Wally, Cecille, and now Jenna are his heart. And once again, he is the heart of the show.

I could not be happier to see it.

Notable “Rip Out My Heart, Why Don’t You” Exchange: “Baby, we will still have all of those firsts. Just not in that order.” “But my whole life’s been out of order. These powers, time travel That’s the reason my mom was killed, why I grew up with my dad in prison. … I don’t know, I just thought that when it was our turn to have a kid, that life would let us have this one little thing the normal way. Just once.”

Iris West-Allen

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Girl, you are breaking my heart. Candice Patton brought all the feels today. She made us laugh when she confused Back to the Future with Terminator 2. (Is it sad I actually know people who have never seen either movie?) She warmed our hearts when she was obviously so happy to meet her daughter. And then she made us ache when her eagerness was so obviously met with reserve.

And then there was that moment when she celebrated that she and Barry get their happy ending. Right after he’d discovered they don’t.

This show, damn it. This show.

I’m glad that Nora’s “coldness” towards Iris was seemingly overstated. To me, Nora seemed less cold towards Iris than she seemed to be avoiding her. I can’t wait to discover the cause for her reserve. I hope there’s a good reason for it and it’s not waved away as “reasons” as things have been in the past. In the meantime, it’s going to be hard to watch Iris’s confusion and sorrow as Nora keeps her distance.

While it wasn’t part of the episode, show runner Todd Helbing has said that journalism will come into play this year. I hope this is a significant plotline for Iris, and not a thread that is picked up on occasion and as quickly forgotten. I enjoyed seeing Iris as team leader, and I’m thrilled that journalism is in the cards. Flash family matriarch, journalist, team leader, lightning rod – Iris really can do it all. I hope they let her.

Notable Heartbreaking Irony: “We make a person. In the end, everything works out. We get our happy ending.”

Nora West-Allen

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Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. As it turns out, Nora isn’t stuck in the past. She chose to come back to get to know her dad, and she pretended to be stuck to have more time with him. Risking the timeline for people she loves is something of a family trait.

Though questions remain. Why did she come back numerous other times, going out of her way to meet other members of the team? Was it just so she could plan a way to save him? Or is there something more to it? Now that she’s here, what else will she change? And when Helbing said that Nora made numerous mistakes, what did he mean?

But, seriously. I need to know why she’s avoiding Iris. I NEED TO KNOW. Is it just because Iris didn’t want her to come back? Does it have something to do with her twin brother, Don? She claimed that she had grown up with only Iris. However, I felt there was something significant in her tone when she did so. Or is there some other reason that we don’t yet know? I’m impatient for answers.

That aside, it was sheer joy to watch Nora in the premiere. More than anything else, she was a reminder of Barry’s more carefree days. His utter joy at discovering he had powers, and his eagerness to learn how to use them. The West-Allen family has always been the heart of the show, and with Nora, that will clearly be true for years to come.

Most “My God, You Really Are a (West-)Allen Moment”: Girl came back into the past, knew the dangers of telling her parents about the future, and COULD NOT STOP DOING IT. I love her already.

Cisco Ramon

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I have one real disappointment regarding the premiere – and the spoilers released for the season to date. For yet another season, it appears Cisco doesn’t seem to have much of a story of his own. Of course, it’s still early days, and there could be much we don’t know about the rest of the season. However, Cisco seems to have no invidiual arc, outside of mourning his breakup with Cynthia. He will obviously be helping Caitlin, which should come as no surprise since he has always been her best friend. But there is little to indicate he will have a story of his own.

That complaint aside, he consistently brought both fun and humor to the episode. Drunk Cisco was a treat, even if it’s hard not to sympathize with his heartache. I will miss his interactions (and chemistry!) with Cynthia. However, I hope he has more going on this season than heartache and being Caitlin’s wingman. Right now, we don’t have information about what that would be.

Notable Advice: “Uh, don’t drink and vibe.”





Caitlin Snow

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Killer Frost has been a bit of a mess the last couple of seasons, as the show has waffled on what they want her to be. There was no explanation for why she was initially evil. No real explanation for why she wanted to be good. She spent a year trying to get rid of Frost – knowingly working for a human trafficker to do so. After all that, there was little explanation for why she decided she wanted Frost back. (Sorry. Post-It Note messages doesn’t cut it, given the level of her fear. Also, without cause for Frost’s change of heart, it’s hard to know why anyone would put stock into the idea it wouldn’t suddenly change again.)

At the end of last season, I had the impression they were gearing up to do a soft reboot of Frost’s character. With the revelation that her abilities predated the particle accelerator explosion, it’s clear that they are moving forward with the reboot. I have hope that this will be a benefit to the character. I also hope this is the last reboot they do with her character. It’s past time for the writers to decide what they want Frost to be and commit to it.

The theme of the season is family and legacy. Right now, it’s unclear how Caitlin’s story will tie in to the theme of legacies. However, with the revelation that her father might not be dead, after all, family will clearly be a big part of her story. Is her father responsible for giving her ice powers? Is he hero or villain? Has he been keeping tabs on her in his absence? Time will tell.

Notable Exchange: “What did you think we meant when we said Harry was from Earth-2?” “That he is from Earth also!”

Ralph Dibny

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Anyone who read my episode reviews last season would know that I have not been a fan of Ralph. Perhaps the biggest surprise of this episode was that I didn’t dislike him this week. I’m not about to rush out and get his name tattooed on my arm or anything. But I generally enjoyed his character. Then again, the things I detested about Ralph last year are very reminiscent of what caused the Kreisberg to lose his job, so maybe that shouldn’t be such a shock after all.

Ralph was both more likable and better utilized in this episode. His character prominence was a popular complaint regarding last season. At times, he seemed to take over the show, eclipsing the titular hero of the series. However, in the premiere, he contributed to the show without taking it over with juvenile humor and misogynistic behavior. It’s apparent that his story will work closest with Caitlin and Cisco as they investigate her past.

If this story continues to be handled well, this side plot will parallel and further the main theme of the season – family – without derailing or taking over Barry’s role as the hero of the show. It’s too early to know how it’ll play out, but for the first time, I’m hopeful Ralph’s presence won’t make me want to throw things at the television.

Which is good, because Hartley is clearly such a sweetheart.

Notable Quote: “You guys really need to make, like, a welcome pamphlet, or at least a PowerPoint or something.”

Joe West and Cecille Horton

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It was something of a surprise – to the audience and to Joe – that Cecile still has her powers. I can’t even speculate on where they are planning to go with that story this season. Which means, I’m more or less in the same boat as Joe. He clearly doesn’t know what this means for the future, either. Which is probably why he’s resorting to sneaking naps in a secret room.

Which brings up one glaring hole in this episode. I feel Joe’s desire to keep his nap room a secret. Deep in my soul. But the team didn’t go through Star L.A.B.S. with a fine-toothed comb once Eobard’s braille room was discovered? How did they not realize they should figure out what other secrets the building might hold?

I can’t predict where the story is going, but I’m curious to know where it leads. In a season about family and legacies, Papa Joe and Mama Cecile should have a significant role to play.

Notable New-Grandpa Moment: Joe kissing Nora’s forehead in a truly tender scene.

Check out the trailer for next week’s episode of The Flash titled “Blocked”:

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.




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