Flash, The – Season 5 Review

The Flash is Back in the Running

Main Cast: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Tom Cavanagh
Created by: Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, Geoff Johns

…when my daughter came back from the future to help, she changed the present. And now our world is more dangerous than ever, and I’m the only one fast enough to save it. I am the Flash!

Opening Narration

The Flash has been a mixed bag. The first two seasons are great, but the show fell flat in season three. Season four did its best, but it was clearly hobbled. Will season five bring back The Flash or is it time to retire? Let’s find out.

The Good

XS-ive Heroes

Nora:My name is Nora West-Allen, and I’m the fastest woman alive! When I was a child, my father disappeared in something impossible…then I grew up and became the impossible. Now I’m trying to live up to the legacy he created, so that one day, I’ll stop him from disappearing. I’m XS! How schway is that?

“Nora” (Season 5, Episode 1)

A mysterious girl played by Jessica Parker Kennedy appeared throughout The Flash’s fourth season. During the season finale, she was revealed to be a speedster and helped Flash stop a crashing satellite. After that crisis, she introduced herself as Nora West-Allen, Flash’s future daughter.

Nora was born shortly before Flash disappeared during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. She developed super speed and traveled into the past to meet the father she never knew. Nora decided to stay and help when she realized that she had accidentally changed the future. She adopts the codename XS and becomes Flash’s newest sidekick

With a new season comes a new version of Harrison Wells for Tom Cavanagh to play. This one is an arrogant French detective named Sherloque Wells (pronounced sure-loke). The team recruits Sherloque to help them catch the Big Bad, a serial killer called Cicada. The alternate Wells gag is getting old.

Sherloque isn’t Cavanagh’s only role. Eobard Thawne, The Reverse Flash, returns after being absent from season four. He has long since been imprisoned by Nora’s time and is waiting on death row. Nora began visiting him to learn how to control her speed and invariably created a relationship with her father’s greatest enemy. Their relationship reminds me of Clarice and Hannibal Lecter.

Cry of the Cicada

Barry: “Cicada.
Cicada: “Is that what you call me?
Barry: “Not all metahumans are responsible for what happened to Grace.
Cicada: “Yes, they are. The destruction they cause. The death. The pain.
Barry: “I know about pain and death. Taking it out on the world, that’s not gonna help. Think about Grace.
Cicada: “She’s all I think about, Flash. And I’m making the world safe for her. Every metahuman must go.

“What’s Past is Prologue (Season 5, Episode 8)

There’s a new Big Bad in town and he ain’t playing around. American Pie’s Chris Klein plays Cicada, a serial killer who targets metahumans. He is infamous in Nora’s time as the one villain that Flash couldn’t stop. Sherloque is recruited because he has captured alternate versions of Cicada, but Nora’s interference has changed the culprit’s identity.

Shrapnel from the exploding satellite hit Cicada, giving him superhuman strength, the ability to fly, and constant pain. Another piece hit his niece Grace, knocking her comatose. Cicada decided that metahumans were to blame for their suffering and began killing them.

Cicada’s killer app is a dagger made from the shrapnel that hit him. The dagger is infused with dark matter and can negate superhuman powers, but doesn’t affect Cicada for some reason. He even has the ability to call it to his hand a la Thor’s hammer Mjolnir.

Rogue Tech

Cisco: [being held captive with Sherloque by the Young Rogues] Well, we got a Rag Doll. A Weather Witch. And, uh… hold up, is that… Crazy Bee Girl? Hey, girl, what’s going on? What a throwback.

Gone Rogue” (Season 5, Episode 20)

The Flash has had a long-standing problem with villains. The show bends over backwards to find new ways to create villains, then abandons them after an episode or two. Season Five finds an elegant solution to both problems: Meta-Tech.

The Satellite that empowered Cicada spread shrapnel all over Central City. The shrapnel infused technology throughout the city with tech powers from its dark matter. Even if a villain is defeated in one episode, their meta-tech can easily be used by someone else to create a replacement villain.

The Meta-Tech is varied. You might find a smartphone that sends hypnotic texts. An infected car fob allows a villain to hijack a Batmobile prototype. One piece is even capable of controlling the weather. Any random piece is bound to create a dangerous villain.

Several Meta-Tech using villains create The Young Rogues, season five’s villain team. Their membership includes rebellious teenager Weather Witch, disgraced Air Force pilot Silver Ghost, mad hacker Bug-Eyed Bandit, and the creepy contortionist Rag Doll. They may be bland alone, but they make an entertaining threat together.

The Bad

Cure Conundrum

Caitlin: Rule number one. We’re not just here to make a cure, we’re here to make a choice.

“The Flash and the Furious” (Season 5, Episode 10)

During one of the first battles with Cicada, Cisco (Carlos Valdes) is wounded and forced to stop being Vibe for several episodes. As soon as his powers return, he realizes he was happier without them and begins working on a cure for metahumans that reverts them into normal humans.

The Cure is completed, but the team’s attitude constantly changes. Sometimes it is a tool to help those who don’t want powers anymore, other times it’s seen as a controversial weapon to use against their enemies.

The Cure is an interesting plot point, but we’ve seen it in countless other series. Hell, this cure subplot feels like it was ripped out of 2006’s X-Men: the Last Stand. The subplot is important, but most of it seems like an excuse for dramatic arguments about consent.

Finish Him Off, You Fools!

Barry: “What’re we gonna do?
Ralph: “Breach in, lose our powers from the dagger, stop Cicada from Supergirl-ing away, then regroup for the emotional fallout.

“The Girl With The Red Lightning” (Season 5, Episode 21)

The Flash builds up Cicada as a massive threat. He can negate any metahuman powers. He won’t stop until he’s killed every meta. History says that no one ever catches Cicada, not even the Justice League. He seems unstoppable.

Despite that, Flash and his allies kick the crap out of Cicada in most of their fights. They take their lumps, but manage to defeat him before always letting him escape. They never bother to handcuff Cicada or even knock him out. They punch him a few times, but stop to have a conversation or taunt him. Cicada then flies away, free to continue killing. Rinse and repeat.

It is infuriating to see these so-called heroes constantly let a serial killer escape because they are too lazy to actually restrain him. This undermines Cicada as a threat and makes the heroes look incompetent. I get that Cicada needs to last a whole season, but there are easier ways to explain the team not catching him.

The worst instance is in the episode “Cause and XS”. Cicada kidnaps Flash’s wife Iris as bait for an ambush. He kills one of the team and Nora travels back in time to stop the death. She has to retry that fight 52 freaking times before she gets it right. By the end, Nora has been broken down by seeing her friends and family die dozens of times. So what happens to Cicada? A punch, a pithy taunt, and he flies away again.

Seriously? The trauma of seeing everyone she loves die repeatedly wasn’t enough for Nora to at least knock him out? It sounds like the perfect time for a bit of XS-ive force. What a load.

Verdict: The Flash, Season Five

The Flash finally gets its rhythm back in season five. The cure subplot and general incompetence regarding Cicada are annoying, but never intolerable. New allies and villains help keep things fresh, as does a brighter tone than previous seasons.

Flash is back on track, but will that be enough to save him with the Crisis on Infinite Earths looming ahead in season six? We’ll find out. Want to read more Flash? Check out our review of season four here.

Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

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