Monday, April 22, 2019

The Flash 5x18 Review: "Godspeed" (Back to the Future!) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

Original Airdate: April 16, 2019

We’re back from hiatus and things are... not happy in the world of The Flash. This week, we’re taking a trip into the future to see what Nora was up to before ending up in the present. So, I guess it’s technically a trip into the past, but the past that we’re seeing is actually the future? Because the future events that we see via Nora’s translated journals are actually the events that led up to her taking a trip to the present, which is her past, which is the rest of Team Flash’s future.

This show feels more complicated than it needs to be sometimes.


The episode starts pretty much where we left off weeks ago: Team Flash is still reeling from the reveal that Nora’s been lying to them the whole time they’ve known her, and she’s secretly been allied with Eobard Thawne. Since Sherloque was the person who exposed Nora’s secret, the team kind of takes their frustration out on him a little bit. He had suspicions since the start but never told anyone, which the others take issue with — this, despite everyone knowing that any accusations against Nora would be ignored. But yeah. I’m okay with just writing this off as the team shooting the messenger, so to speak.

Our episode is more properly set off when the team decides to read Nora’s journal of the days leading up to her trip into the past. That means we, the audience, get to see the narrative. Hurray! Probably the best thing about this episode is the casual way it establishes what 2049 is like, although it’s a little weird to see a sunny, relatively normal Central City of 2049 when every establishing shot of the future we’ve seen so far has looked more like Gotham than Central City. I guess there’s just a permanent noir filter over Iron Heights to keep morale down for the inmates.

In 2049, Nora is a regular ol’ CSI like she thinks her father used to be. She’s a bit like Barry, too, in that she’s apparently constantly late for work, incredibly awkward, and adorable. (Related note: there are a lot of parallels to the first episode in this episode — see if you can spot them all!) Nora’s boss has no patience for her adorableness however, and tells her to get to work figuring out who stole some very specific chemicals from a truck.

With the help of her best friend and fellow CSI, Lia, Nora tracks down a chemistry professor who can tell her what the stolen chemicals could be used for. They’re interrupted by a speedster who, in the usual evil speedster style, calls himself the “god of speed” and is just overall way more dramatic than he has any right to be. Seriously speedsters: you run fast. Your powers aren’t even the coolest variety of powers we’ve seen on this show. I mean, you’re definitely better than the guy with a snake in his head, but still.

The encounter with newly-dubbed Godspeed sends Nora to the hospital, where she discovers two things: first, the paramedics found a little piece of metal inside her; and second, she has super speed now. Nora and Lia assume Nora’s new powers are because she got hit by Godspeed, but we already know that the aforementioned discoveries are more connected than either Nora or Lia know. Anyway, Nora decides she gets to be a superhero now and tries to help CCPD stop some fleeing bank robbers, but she is really not that great at being a metahuman just yet and does more damage to the cops than the criminals.

Nora realizes she’ll need more than good intentions and new powers if she wants to stop Godspeed, so to stop a villainous speedster she decides to get advice from a villainous speedster: Eobard Thawne. Eobard isn’t a whole lot of help though so Nora regroups with Lia to see if they can make it on their own. Meanwhile, Lia shares the bad news with Nora (that the audience already knew about), which is that the device the paramedics found in her was a device meant to suppress metahuman powers. Nora had always been a meta — her mother just kept it from her.

Nora’s personal crisis is interrupted by her supervillain crisis while she and Lia are looking into another chemical Godspeed will need. Sure enough, Godspeed shows up. This time, though, he doesn’t just blast Nora and run; he kills Lia in front of her, further cementing the parallels between Nora and her father. What this episode might lack in answers to the questions of the season, I guess it makes up for in clever narrative parallels. It also did a pretty good job making the Lia character charming enough that her death was genuinely sad, even though it made sense. After all, Nora’s made the trip back to 2049 several times but she never stopped to have coffee with her best friend, did she?

With the help of the info at the Flash Museum, Nora figures out Godspeed’s powers are coming from an enhanced version of the Velocity-9 chemical cocktail introduced a few seasons back. She also returns to Thawne for help, and he agrees this time. After all, he’s got a little over a day left to live so what else is he going to spend his time doing?

Thawne coached Nora through a battle with Godspeed. It’s on par with any other speedster race/battle we’ve seen on this show, just with different colored lightning streaks. Not terribly impressive, if I’m honest, but then I haven’t impressed by a speedster villain since season one so who am I to judge?

To top it all off, Nora learns a couple more things: she has access to the Time Vault and Gideon the all-knowing hologram-face, and her dad was The Flash and sent her a goodbye video before (I assume) dying during Crisis. Boy howdy, Nora has had a tough couple days!

Back in the present, Team Flash is feeling a lot more sympathetic toward Nora’s plight. Iris has made the decision to let her daughter out of her cell but Barry clears the room to have a one-on-one chat with Nora. Credit to Grant Gustin and Jessica Parker Kennedy, who spend most of their present-day time with unshed tears in their eyes. You can definitely feel the emotions naturally associated with the personal aspects of this plotline: betrayal and outrage from Barry, desperation and apology from Nora. The scene with the two of them alone is especially good, with Barry asking Nora why — even after she found out Thawne was responsible for Barry’s mother’s death — Nora kept going back to him for help when Team Flash was there for her.

Nora doesn’t have a good answer. But even if she had, I’m pretty sure Barry still would have done what he does, which is speed her back to 2049. He tells her she has to stay there, because he doesn’t trust her anymore and he can’t allow someone he doesn’t trust to remain on his team. He makes this decision, by the way, without consulting Iris at all. Sure, great move, Barry. You idiot.

During his trip to the future, Barry pays Thawne a visit just to gloat about Thawne’s impending death. Hey Barry, I’ve said this a million times: please stop gloating at villains. It literally never works out for you.

Other Things:

  • This episode was directed by Danielle Panabaker. That’s nice!
  • I assumed that Thawne was the one who told Nora about the power-suppressing chip, thus earning her trust with the truth, but no. It’s still not clear what Thawne wants from the past, why Nora trusts him beyond him just being the first person to coach her as a speedster, or what Cicada has to do with Thawne.
  • Did anyone else feel like Tom Cavanagh kept slipping into his Sherloque accent while playing Thawne?


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