The long-anticipated 100th Episode of The Flash has finally arrived! And it was … not what I expected.
The Flash Season 5 Episode 8 paid tribute to all the seasons of Flash Past, and while the performances were extraordinary and certain sentiments were genuinely touching, the story itself? Well, it seemed to fall a little short.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m well aware it wasn’t about the epic storyline structure. It was bound to be filled with flashbacks and pieces of reference nostalgia meant to make our hearts sing with the remembrance of former Flash love.
In that regard, it did quite well. As loyal viewers we got to stroll (or speed) down memory lane with Barry, revisiting all his most significant moments while facing off against various arch-nemeses over the past five years.
We also got to do that with the added fresh perspective of Nora, who was seeing all of it with fresh eyes; learning things she never could know about her father from a Flash Museum.
And while that was a fun ride to be on, one has to ask the question: was there a little too much focus on the villains?
The Flash has been about so much more than its seasonal Big Bad. It’s about the comraderies and loyalty of Team Flash. It’s also about the epic love story that is WestAllen.
While we got to see past Cisco fawn over “Wells” for a quick scene and even got a throwaway line to past Caitlin about Ronnie, we didn’t get much else to remember them by. Plus, what about Eddie? Joe? Jessie? Kid Flash? Any of the other characters that helped make the show what it is today?
Another thing we didn’t get much of was the WestAllens long winding romance.
What we did see of Iris and Barry’s story was done creatively, and I give major credit to Tom Cavanaugh (for many reasons on this episode, but we’ll get to those later). How he framed their narrative was terrifically unique. We didn’t just get old Iris/Barry moments on replay.
Instead, we saw them through new eyes -- Nora’s eyes.
In every time period they landed, Nora witnessed a moment that both solidified and illuminated the bond Barry and Iris have for each other. The dialogue was almost never heard between the two, but through body language alone the couple’s connection was undeniable.
It was elegant and understated, but with both Team Flash and WestAllen being such integral parts of The Flash series, it didn’t seem to be enough. Even in present time, the episode severely lacked any meaty scenes for Iris, Cisco, or Caitlin.
I mean, Iris got what? Maybe five lines?
It’s not to say Nora was overused, but as the leading lady of The Flash, Mrs. Iris West Allen deserved a little bit more focus.
As for other off-kilter aspects, the storyline of Cicada has officially fallen short.
I am pleased The Flash Season 5 has effectively developed characters as opposed to solely focusing on “villain” plotlines. It’s working, but this new way of approaching things does leave those villainous storylines with something to be desired.
Cicada’s presence has been scarce at best. And maybe it’s just me, but has he really done all that much damage? Has he done more damage than any other past villain in Flash history?
I don’t think so.
That's why Barry and Nora traveling back in time, willing to face every single other villain The Flash has gone up against (and almost lost everything to) seems extremely unbalanced.
The stakes just aren’t there for Barry to deem going back in time necessary. First, it risked potentially altering the timeline. Second, it forced him to face his worst enemies all over again.
Not only was it an incredibly dangerous idea, but it was also an incredibly painful thing for Barry to relive.
I suppose the underlying point may be that Cicada isn’t the genuine Big Bad after all. That may once again be Thawne. That could be why Cicada is getting painted as a somewhat sympathetic (if not tragic) antagonist, which is unusual for The Flash’s formula.
Regardless, it’s forcing the narrative a bit, and I wonder if the 100th episode didn’t come just a bit too early in the season for the story to pan out the way the writers hoped.
Fortunately, there were also quite a few highlights to “What’s Past Is Prologue,” and they mainly came in the form of performances.
As usual, the chemistry that innately exists between Gustin and Kennedy is spectacular. There is not one emotional scene between the two of them that doesn’t soar off-screen. Their authenticity as father and daughter is outstanding.
Kennedy spent the entire episode on the brink of tears, with an expression that perfectly encapsulated both the pain and wonder of experiencing her father’s hardest life moments.
Gustin’s emotional delivery was explosive when necessary -- the fear of Barry facing Zoom, the heartbreak of losing his speed, the anger towards Thawne for murdering his mother. Gustin played it all to perfection, and there are times I feel his acting ability is severely underrated.
The champion of the night, however, was seasoned professional Tom Cavanaugh. Not only did Cavanaugh do an excellent job with directional choices for the episode, he managed to play 96 different characters and nail them all impeccably (Okay, it was four characters, but that’s still a lot!).
Directing an episode, being in almost every scene, while also having to juggle four different personalities in each one of those scenes? That is a feat that deserves real recognition.
Cavanaugh’s delivery of Thawne in particular, combined with Gustin’s visceral reaction upon the two reuniting, created one of the best scenes this show has given us in seasons.
Thawne meeting Nora for the first time was truly chilling, and the anguish both he and Barry have for one another only solidifies that Reverse Flash will always be Barry Allen’s number one arch nemesis.
There hasn’t been a villain quite like him yet, so I am happy about his long-awaited return.
- I think we saw Nora working with Thawne coming, but is her excuse that she didn’t know he killed Barry’s mother? And how didn’t she know that? It seems unlikely.
- I know some people will hate it, but I like that Killer Frost seems to be a key to defeating Cicada.
- .There was not enough Zoom!
- Speaking of Zoom, what happened to him in the speed force? Where was he taken? Was he also let out at a random point in time? Was seeing Nora an unknown variable? Did it change the timeline? Should I let this go because I’m overthinking time travel again?
- I found it funny that Thawne is in his prison cell but still wearing the Reverse Flash suit. Is that not uncomfortable for you buddy? You may want to change.
- I'm forever thankful they didn’t return to any of the The Flash Season 4 nonsense and kept The Flash Season 3 at a minimum.
- Nora and Barry watching Mr. and Mrs. Allen happy and in love was a blissful moment, and I’m so glad it was something they chose to keep in the episode.
- Isn’t Cisco supposed to refrain from vibing? That seriously makes me nervous. PROTECT HIM AT ALL COSTS. If he dies, I die.
Flash Fanatics, it's time to tell me your thoughts!
Did the big Episode 100 live up to all your expectations? Were you excited to see Zoom, Savitar and Reverse Flash again? What do you think about Nora working with Thawne? And how excited are you for the crossover event?!
Sound off 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.