“Nora” energetically introduces the fifth season of The Flash with a real sense of rhythm and tone, an ear for humour, and a renewed focus.
“Nora” picks up right where the fourth season of The Flash left off: With Nora West-Allen (Jessica Parker Kennedy) explaining to Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris (Candice Patton) that she’s their speedster daughter. From the future.
That’s one way to deliver news, I suppose. And when it’s being delivered so charmingly, how can you complain? Jessica Parker Kennedy fits snugly into Team Flash, not just looking eerily similar to her “parents”, but also subtly evoking elements of their performances. There’s a lot of naturalistic (and well-timed) humour to be wrung out her meeting her parents for the first time as an adult, and it’s a good excuse for a lot of knowing winks to those with DC comics insider knowledge; “Nora” is teeming with nods and references that likely won’t amount to much but are appreciated all the same.
But “Nora” works well as an episode mostly because of how it juxtaposes its title character’s enthusiasm over her excitingly young parents with the hesitations and anxieties of Barry and Iris (particularly the former) now that they have discovered they not only have a daughter but a daughter who is a time-travelling adult. A lot of small moments furthered this contrast; a funny one was Iris attempting to bond by pretending to be familiar with Nora’s slang, but the best was a poignant conversation in which Barry explained how he felt he was missing out on the “firsts” of parenting – first word, first steps, first tooth. In a life that has always been disordered, he naively assumed that the universe would at least allow him to be a father chronologically. No such luck.
This fifth season of The Flash has immediately introduced a more mature Barry, and while the show’s light tone and humour are still here, there’s a real sense of him becoming a hero and a leader with personal responsibilities that extend beyond simply being able to fight crime very quickly. This episode’s villain of the week was Gridlock, who didn’t really exist for any reason other than to articulate this point, although he did allow for a fist-pump sequence involving all three speedsters that got The Flash Season 5 off to an appropriately crackling start.