The Flash 5x01 "Nora"
“Nora”, The Season 5 premiere of The Flash, is perhaps one of the best episodes The Flash has ever produced. In fact, it might be one of the best season premieres I’ve ever had the joy of watching. It’s very rare for a show to simply tell you, with its season opener, exactly what the plan is for the season, why things are happening the way that they are, and what they plan to do about it, and that’s exactly what “Nora” did. The episode brings everything good about Season 4 right back immediately and focuses in on it, and it works! More, although The Flash is undoubtedly a superhero show, they bring the realism to the forefront, giving us the science of how and why metas have certain powers and bringing the show into the realm of science-fiction, not just fantasy.
I also really appreciate that there wasn’t a time jump to start this season. We pick up exactly where we left off, with Nora West-Allen explaining to her confused family exactly who she is and how she got there. It doesn’t help that everyone has been enjoying a bit of champagne so they’re all a little tipsy. Having all of the major players informed immediately of who Nora is was a brilliant stroke, because it eliminates the need for several drawn out scenes later on as we watch Nora being introduced to everyone again and again.
Another thing this show does well: Barry and Iris’ reactions to learning they’re parents. We see them mature in ways they hadn’t yet. In previous seasons, we watch Barry be plagued with self-doubt and recrimination, but it appears that learning that he’s responsible for creating a life served as a form of instant maturation for our title character. Not only does Barry learn that he has a daughter this episode, he also receives some pretty life-changing news, and instead of reacting impulsively (which happens often for him) Barry thinks about how this affects those around him and what he can do to make the situation less devastating for them. Barry’s care in this moment is one of the things the show does best: highlighting just how much he cares about those around him and what he’s willing to do to make their lives easier.
Moving on, let’s talk about this episode’s namesake: Nora West-Allen (portrayed by an adorable Jessica Parker Kennedy) is such a joy to have on Team Flash. She wants to spend time with her parents and is visibly excited to do so. She’s open and full of wonder, but still has an air of mystery around her. Kennedy has managed to bring pieces of both Grant’s Barry Allen and Patton’s Iris West-Allen into her performance without it feeling forced or faked, and thus is completely believable as their daughter.
The villain du jour, Gridlock, did his job perfectly. As opposed to Season 4’s frustrating trend for villains to outlive their purpose, Gridlock appears on the scene forcing Barry, Nora and Wally into what initially appears to be an impossible situation and allows Barry to do something he’s great at but the show doesn’t highlight often enough: be a leader. When the speedsters arriving on a crashing plane, knowing their only option is to phase it through buildings and bridges until it can land in the water, I was a bit tense. Nora has mentioned several times that she doesn’t know how to phase. But with Barry’s calm guidance (and using bits of remembered advice from Eobard Thawne — disguised as Harry Wells) Nora learns how to phase on a massive level. It’s a great reminder that Barry isn’t a novice anymore. He’s been in the superhero game for several years now and he wears it well.
So far Season 5 is giving me exactly what I hoped for and I am very excited to follow the West-Allen family on their latest journey.
The Flash airs on The CW on Tuesdays at 8/7c.