As Team Flash tries to think outside the box to stop Cicada, Nora comes up with a wild plan to take a trip through Barry’s timeline to create a device capable of shutting down his power-dampening dagger. It’s a trip.
Spoilers ahead for “What’s Past is Prologue?,” the latest episode of The Flash, which aired Tuesday, December 4, 2018.
What a ride. For real. The Flash typically revisits its history at least once a season with a nice time-travel story, but this was arguably the best. It was a dime tour of Barry’s greatest villains and hardest moments, with Nora along for the ride to see a side of her father that clearly didn’t make the cut in the Flash museum. The editing team did a fantastic job of blending old footage with new scenes, and for the most part, it really felt like Barry and Nora were peeking in on these key moments from Flash lore.
First up, the duo grab a shard from Savitar’s suit and dive back into the Speed Force before it can be erased, all while being pursued by a time wraith who is none too keen to see Barry poking around the timeline again. Then they pop by the Zoom era to grab a piece of tech — all while Barry comes face to face once again with evil Jay —and finally they have to reach out to Thawne himself for a bit of tech support to make it all work.
Not surprisingly, the standout was having Barry come face to face once again with early series Thawne, who is still just as menacing and angry as ever. Seeing him try to pinpoint and put the pieces together, all while coolly calculating his best course of action, was vintage Thawne. Nora also seems weirdly fascinated by Thawne, which makes sense once we reach the episode’s end. Turns out Sherloque is right to be keeping an eye on Nora, and she has been reporting back to some mysterious figure with entries from her journal (written in Speed Force code). She also pops back to 2049 to deliver a message in person… to whom we can only presume is future-Thawne locked up in what appears to be a prison.
The reveal leaves a whole lot more questions than answers. Is this actually Thawne? From which point in the timeline? How did he wind up in prison? Then, most importantly: Why on Earth is Nora meeting with him at all? Nora claims she created the Speed Force code -- is that true? Or did future-Thawne teach it to her? Had Nora taken to visiting Thawne as a way to learn about her missing father in the future? There’s a lot we don’t know.
Sherloque also determines a key phrase from Nora’s notebook: “The timeline is malleable.” Does that mean Nora is there to tweak the timeline? Is it to somehow benefit future-Thawne?
As for the plan itself, it actually works — at least for a minute or two. The device neutralizes Cicada’s dagger and allows Barry to get some shots in. Vibe also breaches his dagger into space, though that proves not to be nearly far enough away. Though the assault works in a few ways, it begs a few questions. Why not breach the dagger to a different world in the multiverse? There’d be no way he could bring it back. Also, why not just pop on a pair of meta-dampening cuffs as soon as they get the dagger out of play? With a bit more planning, this could’ve worked. Though, yeah, that would’ve resolved the Big Bad a bit early. But still, it’s frustrating.
We did learn there’s one metahuman that dagger can’t stop: Killer Frost, since Caitlin got her powers before the particle accelerator, so they’re not affected by Cicada’s abilities. That little tidbit saves the day, as Killer Frost manages to blast him and save the rest of Team Flash.
Next week: “Elseworlds” begins, and the event kicks off on Sunday. So be sure to set your DVR.