Todd Helbing … you are so schwaay, babaay.
After now watching two episodes of The Flash Season 5, I can’t help but wonder if this is the direction Helbing has wanted to take the show since he sat down in the writers' room during The Flash Season 1, but because he wasn't showrunner, he couldn't call the shots.
He's definitely calling them now, and I don’t think The Flash could have hoped for anyone better to do the job.
Following the season premiere, I worried The Flash Season 5 Episode 2 would fall into the infamous crux of the “second episode slump.” After the initial introduction of Nora into the group, I hoped both the story and Team Flash wouldn’t lose any of their momentum.
They definitely didn’t.
Framing wise, this may be one of the most successful episodes of The Flash I have ever seen.
As far as conflict goes, things may not be coming to a head just yet, but very rarely have I seen a show find a way to separate their main cast and successfully balance a total of four storylines in a 43-minute period while enabling all of them to have engrossing arcs that still pay off fruitfully for its audience.
And what a smart move to do it early in the season, before things get too intensely climatic.
The group split up four different ways this week, and because of it, we were able to focus on some real character development for almost everyone involved with Team Flash. Something plot-driven shows (even this one) tend to lack quite often.
Because everyone was given such an equal opportunity of screen time during their consecutive arcs, it’s a challenge for me even to declare what the “A” plot of the hour was. However, for all intents and purposes, we’ll go with Barry and Nora’s story.
He is the Flash, after all.
Jessica Parker Kennedy once again delivered an unbelievably strong performance, and I’m still having a difficult time figuring out how they were able to cast this role so perfectly.
Her portrayal of quirky, intelligent, overeager and inherently naïve Nora is nothing short of phenomenal, and her chemistry with on-screen dad Grant Gustin just flies off the screen in every single scene they share.
Beyond the enjoyment of watching Nora aim so hard at being the perfect speedster, it’s especially interesting to watch Barry figure out how to be a father. He’s so overwhelmed by her general presence and eagerness to please him; it doesn’t register to him how alike the two of them truly are.
It registers for the audience though, and that’s what makes it so fun.
It registers to Joe, too.
The scene between Joe and Barry walking down memory lane -- ultimately allowing Barry to recognize how much of a hero he is to Nora just as Joe was to him -- was lovely. Joe giving Barry advice on how to parent was such a beautiful, fresh way for them to connect.
Speaking of Joe West, that leads into the least developed, but still extremely well-executed storyline, Cecile and her struggle with losing her mind reading abilities.
While Cecile’s powers have usually been used for humor purposes in the past, mainly through Joe's disdain of them, the writers really took an opportunity to tie them in with real life motherhood and the fear one faces when they worry about not being a good enough parent for their child.
Ceciles panic about failing Jenna was all too relatable, and I can’t wait to see the superhero mother Cecile becomes for her daughter as the season progresses (even if she doesn’t have her powers anymore.)
Parenthood was a general theme that strung through the hour, and we still have yet to see Iris and Nora connect on a deeper level. If nothing else, it’s becoming clear that their disconnect has to be more than just Nora’s desire to spend time with her father before his disappearance.
And even lthough I’m highly anticipating figuring out what their history exactly is, I was glad the story hsan't gone there yet.
Because what we got form Iris was much, much better.
As I said last week, The Flash Season 5 Episode 1 let me down with the absence of journalism in Iris’ story. I was worried this meant they would drop it again completely, and that it would become yet another missed opportunity for her character.
Oh, how wrong I was.
In this new showrunner, I must have faith. Because journalist Iris is back! And she is better than ever.
I love that in order to really focus on the Barry/Nora dynamic, the writers wove in a small procedural villain for the week.
Not only did this put the focus on our heroes as opposed to whatever meta they were fighting (one so small she never even got a proper name), it placed Iris in the drivers seat for the serialized big arc of the season: the discovery of Cicada, our Season 5 Big Bad.
Iris has been an intricate member of Team Flash for a while now (although I know that’s been argued quite a bit), directing the team from the helm of Star Labs, but allowing her to get back into writing, gives her active narrative agency in moving the plot forward, and you don’t even have to give her powers to do it.
Iris’ power is her intelligence. It's nice to see that recognized, especially with Iris being a strong black female lead.
From interviewing all the right people involved in Gridlocks death to using Barry’s lab in order to discover security footage, to putting together the similar cicada-like sounds she heard on both the footage and during the attack on Barry, Iris was the real hero of this episode.
Who weren’t the heroes here? Vibe and The Elongated Man, that’s who. I guess they're not to blame, they got there a little too late to help beat “Block” (a depressed Cisco is an uncreative Cisco) and Cicada stole their powers before they had a chance to fight back.
However, it’s neither here nor there for me, because they may not have had a hand in the superhero action, but they were still busy with their own, delectable storyline.
The writing for Cisco Ramon has always been one of the best aspects of The Flash,. But this season? There is not one aspect of his dialogue that is not absolute iconic gold.
I don’t know whose writing his lines, but whoever it is, that dude needs a raise.
What I especially loved is that we got so many different versions of Cisco. We got our typical witty and sacrastic one liner Cisco. We got desperately in love and heartbroken Cisco. And we also got thoughtful, caring, best friend Cisco.
It was a true Cisco Ramon feast.
One of the best things about Cisco's character (besides how well Carlos Valdes portrays him) is the endearing relationships he cultiavtes with every person he comes in contact with, whether they be positive or negative one.
For instance, Ralph may not be my favorite character on this show, but I still enjoy his dynamic with Cisco. From Ralphs clueless ways to Cisco’s dry sardonic nature, it works. It really just works.
And Cisco with Caitlin?
They tore my little shipper heart straight out my chest, I swear.
Besides Iris’ “Team West Allen” comment, the scene between them at Jitters may have been the purest moment of the episode.
They play so wonderfully off one another, I can’t help but think when Cisco says Gypsy isn’t the one because if she was, she would still be around, it’s a foreshadowing moment for it finally dawning on him that the one woman who isn't going anywhere in his life is Caitlin.
Caitlin, the woman who finally is getting her due backstory. I can't wait to see where it all goes. How her mother is involved, where her powers stem from, if her father is still alive, if he’s a meta too.
The writers could take us anywhere, and I trust them to do it right.
The episode wasn’t all character bonding though. The Flash hasd his first face off with the arch nemesis of the season, while viewers got to see the face beyond the mask.
And boy, was that one scary face. Chris Klein is going to kill this role.
Again, I think the idea of slowly introducing Cicada’s presence to the story is a smart move. Not just so we can spend more time bonding with Team Flash, but so that the show doesn’t fall into the same mistakes it’s made the past few years.
In other words, we don't want them dragging the main storyline out for the full 22 episodes in a way that makes the viewers lose interest. God, Savatar was so boring.
I am genuinely intrigued by who Cicada is, what he wants, what his motivation may be, what the reason he just stood up and walked away when he saw XS was, and why he seems to be moonlighting as a janitor in his free time.
I’m also totally terrified of him, which is a feat not many network TV shows are able to achieve. I don’t know if it’s veteran Klein’s portrayal of the character, the writing, the cinematography, or a little big of everything mixed together, but so far Cicada is a truly chilling villain.
I am 100% here for it, every step of the way.
The Book Of Ralph? Priceless.
Cisco shouting out Thor's hammer just felt so...right.
I am beyond thrilled that the secret of Barrys dissapearance only stayed a secret for half an episode before the truth came out. I am so done with Team Flash having secrets.
I was so impressed with Iris' strength and confidence in believing that the Team has the power to keep Barry safe. It almost cements that the journey will be the highlight of this season, it's not about the "destination" on if they will suceeded or fail.
- A big gigantic pastry is definitley the most solid choice when avoiding your feelings.
So what did you think?
Do you agree that Season 5 is killing the superhero game, or were you disappointed by this episode? Do you agree The Flash is re-invigorated this season? Are you are as scared of (but weirdly attracted to) Cicada as I am? What do you think his history with XS could be? Are you a Cisco/Caitlin shipper?
I want to hear ALL your thoughts down below! And if you missed the episode, you can watch The Flash online, right here at TV Fanatic!
Kat Pettibone is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.