Last year ended on the shocking reveal that the long-simmering Mystery Girl is actually Barry and Iris’ future daughter Nora — and the Season 5 premiere wasted no time in dropping some major reveals and setting some fresh stakes for the future of the Scarlet Speedster.
Spoilers ahead for “Nora,” the season premiere of The CW’s Flash, which aired Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018.
“I guess things don’t always go the way you plan them.” - Nora
It’s no secret the Arrowverse has gone all-in on time travel, the multiverse and everything in-between over the past few years. It’s one of the most comic book-y things you can find on the small screen, by a long shot. In kicking off its fifth season, The Flash has decided to literally bring a time travel into the core cast, a character who has studied every D-list rogue and team member ad nauseam at the Flash Museum (a comic book staple, which present day Barry and gang now know will eventually exist at some point in Central City’s future).
Let’s start with the biggest reveal: The pre-season plot logline that Nora is “trapped” in the past turned out to be a red herring, as Nora has seemingly chosen to return to the past and is using future-tech to make it seem like she can’t leave. The reason she’d pull such a ruse is the real bombshell, though, and ties all the way back into a plot point that was laid out in the pilot episode all those years ago. Talk about some foreshadowing, right?
We’ve known for years thanks to Wells’ future newspaper that, eventually, The Flash would vanish in a “Crisis” in 2024 (which gets closer every year, it’s worth noting). Turns out Barry doesn’t just vanish in 2024 — he never actually comes back. Nora takes the air out of the room by showing Barry another newspaper, from 25 years after the 2024 edition, that notes The Flash is still missing, all this time later. At least in Nora’s lifetime to that point, Barry never returns. Nora came back to see her father, to meet him. Barry figures it out because he sees so much of himself in Nora, as she’s modeled her life trying to live up to the expectations of a father, a hero, she never really knew. That event also clearly caused a rift between Nora and her mother Iris, though we don’t exactly know how that relationship faltered after Barry disappeared.
Telling this type of story is a bold move for a show that has occasionally fallen into the ruts of superhero storytelling, and telling it right in the heart of Barry and Iris’ recent marriage is all the more exciting. There’s a reason The Flash has arguably become the flagship series of the Arrowverse, and its storytelling decisions like this. Seeing Barry piece together his future absence, wiping away tears, finding himself in this daughter he’ll never know as an adult is heart wrenching stuff. It’s why he decides to let Nora stay, even though it makes no logical sense to keep a living, breathing threat to the timeline in STAR Labs. It’s not a decision made with his head, it’s a decision made with his heart.
Barry and Iris might just be starting their family, but they’re getting a peek at the amazing, broken thing it might become. It’s hard to think of a story more worthy to anchor a season, and bring some nuance and purpose to all those baddies of the week to come.
*With a girl literally from the future running around, the Easter eggs came fast and furious. Nora lets loose that Grodd will eventually fight King Shark (“Spoilers!” as Cisco quickly chides); she reveals Barry will eventually fight the evil supergroup Mob Rule; she also name drops Ryan Choi (a different incarnation of the hero The Atom) as the one who designs Barry’s future suit.
*Speaking of that new suit — Barry is finally sporting a comic book staple, his iconic Flash ring suit. Nora apparently snagged it from the Flash museum before heading to the past, and gifts it to her father after his other suits are damaged. The funniest part is that its not even Cisco who designs it. Logistically, this also gives the Flash a brand new look, and seemingly, this might be the “final” Flash suit in continuity.
*In case you forgot, Cisco and Gypsy broke up, and he’s a semi-drunken mess over the whole thing.
*One more Easter egg you might’ve missed, at least if you never watched the DC animated series Batman Beyond. Nora uses the phrase “schway” to describe something as cool. As Batman Beyond fans are well aware, that’s a common phrase in Neo Gotham, and a hilariously little cool Easter egg that digs deep into a corner of the DC animated universe. Also, does this mean there could be a Terry McGinnis flying around in the future where Nora comes from? Here’s hoping.
*Wally is back for what will likely be one of his last appearances. Actor Keiynan Lonsdale has decided to take a break from the Arrowverse, and Wally seemed to be preparing for another journey of self-discovery that will likely keep him off camera indefinitely. That said, he does get to take advantage of his Legends of Tomorrow connections to check in with the old team on this time travel dilemma. Here’s hoping it’s not the last we ever see of Wally.
*The fallout of last season’s battle with DeVoe lingers, as the team is now lacking in all those fancy satellites they used to monitor the meta human situation. Look for that to likely remain an issue, at least for a while.
*It’s great to have Dibny back. He served as the straight man for all this time travel and multiverse action, having missed a good bit of the back half of Season 4 being possessed by DeVoe and all. His detective skills also come in handy, as he figures out that Caitlin’s father’s death certificate is faked. Could he still be alive out there?
*The season’s big bad makes his debut in the post-credit scene, intercepting the truck carrying Gridlock and seemingly killing him. That baddie is Cicada, played by Chris Klein. We don’t get to see much of him, but he seems pretty keen on killing metahumans, at least from what we see here. Look for more from Cicada next week.
Next week: Barry trains his long lost daughter, and it seems we’ll get a crash course on Flash fails.