Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Flash 5x22 Review: "Legacy" (Letting Go) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

Original Airdate: May 14, 2019

As the fifth season of The Flash jutters to a slightly disoriented halt, I must say that the big finale of this meandering season is not as bad as I would have assumed. Granted, there are certain shows out there currently concluding in a way that would make even the most slapdash and silly superhero program look expertly crafted by comparison.

But, even when not held up to the lowest, dumpster fire denominator, “Legacy” makes for a pretty solid finale. It ties up loose ends. It’s got feels. It’s got action. It’s got twisty turns everyone saw coming from a mile away, and twistier turns that actually managed to surprise (me, at least).


Very little time has passed since the events of last episode. Ralph is all discombobulated after jumping in front of the blast meant to destroy Cicada’s dagger and the rest of the team is confused as to why he did it at all, until Sherloque explains it was because destroying the dagger would allow Thawne to walk free. I think the dagger in the future is being used to dampen Sherloque’s powers, but it’s unclear why the dagger is the only thing that works. Or why Iron Heights settled on such a ridiculous containment plan — they just strap the dagger to his torso. Is the dagger always strapped to his torso? What happens when he has to change shirts, do they have a different power-dampening field for that? If so, why not just use that other option instead of a jagged hunk of dark matter satellite? This is like if you had a regular prisoner and instead of standard issue handcuffs, you just decided to hold them in 17th century manacles for the aesthetic.

Regardless, this twist at least explains why Thawne was so obsessed with keeping track of Cicada and rooting for Team Flash to stop him (and later, her). When it comes down to a choice between destroying the dagger (thereby stopping Cicada II’s ongoing plan to kill all the metahumans) and making sure Thawne in the future isn’t freed, the team chooses the “save the most people” option. In 2049, the dagger strapped to Thawne disappears and he goes all blurry with speed as, finally freed from his restraints, he kills his captors.

It’s all nonsense, of course, because logically, the dagger ceased to exist thirty years before it was strapped to Thawne’s chest. So that means Iron Heights would have either needed to find a different item to keep Thawne in line, or he would have never been kept in line at all, would have escaped from prison years ago, and would not have been in the execution room on that day in 2049 to escape execution and kill his captors. Thawne could very well be unstuck from time and able to remember the existence of the dagger, but that’s no excuse for the rest of the world.

In related news: I really, really need The Flash to stop writing time travel storylines. They give me a headache every time.

Before Thawne can enact his revenge or reign of terror or whatever it is he wants to do, Barry and Nora arrive and reverse time, un-killing Thawne’s guards. Again, I have no idea what the rules of time travel and time control are in this universe anymore. Undaunted, Thawne prepares to take on Barry and Nora — then, pretty much all of Team Flash arrives in 2049 to stop him. They precede this by throwing a time machine at Thawne, which is genuinely hilarious.

The end result of everything is the start of a new timeline. Nora begins to glow and crumble away, similar to how Cicada II crumbled away earlier in the episode when Nora convinced her younger self to give up her ideas of revenge and stuff. Thawne, whether out of a genuine concern for Nora or just to mess with the West-Allen family, tells them they could save Nora by hiding her in the Negative Speed Force. Nora rejects this idea, afraid that spending too much time in Thawne’s metaphysical domain would make her like him.

Nora disappears, possibly never to be born (and don’t even get me started on the paradoxes caused by that idea). As my issues with the character have always stemmed from the show’s root problem of having not enough story and too much season to work with, removed from the context of a Nora West-Allen who ping-pongs back and forth between heroism and whining, it’s an effective end for her. The acting is great. You can especially see how heartbroken Iris is, but the pain is there for Barry and Nora as well.

Thawne escapes during the heartbreak of losing Nora, but not before dropping a line about seeing Barry in the “next crisis.” This clever little reference to Crisis on Infinite Earths also caps the episode and the season, as the famous future newspaper article about the disappearance of the Flash gets a date change from 2024 to 2019.

So, that’s it. The end of season five. Not the most brilliant season of the show by far, but at least they ended it on an... even note, I guess? Not quite high, not quite low. And it makes for a good lead-in to the Crisis event, at the very least.

Other Things:

  • The scenes with Older Grace and Orlin Dwyer is like, dueling growl-acting.
  • Holy crap the Cisco/Kamilla confession reveal scene was... perfect. Kamilla, thanks to her experience reading comic books, understands that big secret identity confessions aren’t first date (or second, or third) material. More comics/secret identity media need to take a page from this book, because it’s the most realistic reaction to an identity reveal.
  • Speaking of identity reveal: Captain Singh, while passing the job onto Joe, reveals he knows Barry is the Flash. I’m telling you people, that joke I have about everyone in the city knowing who the Flash is and just humoring Barry because he’s dumb and adorable? Looking less and less like a joke.
  • The reversing of Reverse Flash was pretty cool, I gotta say.
  • “You never would have had the means to become extraordinary.” “I don’t need powers for that.” You go, Cisco. Oh wait, that means you’re giving up your powers and leaving — nooo, put that self-confidence back, Cisco!
  • Why does the timeline include a spinning animation effect when it changes the date on the newspaper article?


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