The Flash - Season 5
Final Score: 4 / 5
The one thing that The CW’s The Flash has always been able to do well since the start is bring the emotions. No, not like Arrow where everything is so overdone and melodramatic. I’m talking actually make you feel something, really feel for the characters and their struggles, their heartache. While season 4 had a few missteps and just felt off at times, season 5 manages to reign everything back in and make the show feel like it used to.
This season starts out moments after the end of season 4 in which the STAR Labs satellite is destroyed and the mystery woman seen throughout the season is revealed to be Nora West-Allen (Jessica Parker Kennedy), the daughter of Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris (Candice Patton) from the year 2049. The season begins with Barry struggling to come to terms with the appearance of his daughter and torn between wanting to be with her and not wanting to mess with the timeline. As the season progresses, a new threat begins to emerge in Central City dubbed Cicada (Chris Klein), a metahuman serial killer. The season revolves around Team Flash trying to find a way to stop Cicada while also dealing with the rise of people wielding metatechnology, technology that was imbued with dark matter from the STAR Labs satellite. This season sees the return of Cisco (Carlos Valdes), Caitlin/Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker), Joe (Jesse L Martin), Ralph (Hartley Sawyer), Cecile (Danielle Nicolet), and Harrison Wells, this time with the alter ego of Sherloque Wells, master detective (Tom Cavanagh).
Let’s get my inevitable fangirling out of the way: I still love Tom Cavanagh. This season he was able to stretch his acting chops once more by playing a cheap French knockoff of Sherlock Holmes as well as reprising some Wells from past seasons. Every season we’re treated to a brand new Harrison Wells and every season I’m excited to see what they do next because whatever the writers come up with, Tom Cavanagh is able to deliver perfectly.
Cavanagh isn’t the only actor that pulled a phenomenal performance this season. Every single character this season did such a fantastic job. That’s not to say that the writing was always the best, just that the actors were able to deliver their lines with such conviction that it really brought the characters to life. At points the writing felt a little lazy or rushed, but overall the writers this season were able to really drive home the emotion and heartache (I’ll come back to that in a bit).
One thing that really struck me this season was the focus on the average, every-day citizen of Central City. For the first bit of the season we really got to see what the existence of metahumans really meant for the general, non-meta populace. We saw how people’s lives were uprooted by a meta attack. We saw how the hospitals were packed with people injured during meta activities. We saw people that had lost loved ones because of metas. All of these actions help to develop the story in the second half of the season and makes the viewer question whether the existence of metas is really the best thing for the city and the world as a whole.
Another welcome addition to this season was the increased focus on villain character development. Unlike previous seasons, we actually got to see what Cicada’s life was like pre-metas. We got to see him thrust unwillingly into the role of parent and develop a relationship with his niece. We got to feel his pain when she slipped into a coma after the STAR Labs satellite was destroyed. And, most importantly, we got to understand why he channeled his anger into the Cicada persona and why he was doing what he was doing. Villain development is something that all of the Arrowverse shows have struggled to do at times. My hope is that the writers of the show continue down this route. They’ve shown us time and again that they do a good job with character development of the heroes, and now that they’ve shown us they can do the same with villains I hope that they don’t ignore them in the future.
One thing I notice in the last season or two was the CGI was beginning to look a bit low budget at times. There had been scenes in the past that were done completely with CGI and it looked like something that had come out of the late 90s/early 2000s. This season only had a few minor instances of this cheap graphics work thankfully. In general, the CGI was really ramped up for this season and for the most part looked very good (for a TV show; we’re not talking Doctor Strange levels or anything).
The last few things I want to talk about include spoilers so be warned. I want to come back quickly to that idea of emotional heartache this season and I have to give extra props to Jessica Parker Kennedy for her performance during these pivotal scenes. The one scene in particular that stuck out to me was towards the end of the season after it was outed that Nora had been working with Eobard Thawne to go back in time and stop Cicada. After Barry decides that he can’t trust her any more, he runs her back to the future and tells her to stay there and to not come back. While Grant Gustin did a decent job conveying his pain and betrayal in this scene, it was Jessica that stole the show. With every single word she said you could feel the pain of a young woman who grew up never knowing her father finding a way to meet and connect with him only to be tossed away because of one poor decision that she unwittingly made. After watching this emotional scene I had to pause the show for a minute to fully comprehend the severity of the moment and to appreciate the phenomenal way it was delivered.
Continuing on with the thought from earlier regarding a view on the meta impact on the every-day citizen’s life, I liked how this theme continued as an overarching plot point throughout the season. The latter season story arch regarding the finding of a metahuman cure felt like it actually felt weight and posed a crucial question as to whether this should even exist or not (even if it did give me X-Men: The Last Stand flashbacks). The writing as a whole this season felt as is if there were no throwaway lines, that everything that everyone had said was carefully and deliberately chosen so as to be referenced back later in the season.
One of the few areas this season I felt a little disappointed in was with the finale. The season ends with Nora being wiped from existence, Eobard escaping prison, and the headline alluded to the entire season where Barry disappears during Crisis changing dates from 2022 to 2019. It just felt like the season wasn’t really building to anything at that point except for Crisis. I know that Crisis on Infinite Earths is going to be a massive, Arrowverse shattering event, but the way this season ended it felt like there won’t really be anything for Team Flash to do come the start of Season 6. The season isn’t going to just start with Crisis, so what do we have to look forward to at the start of the new season?
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this season of The Flash. The writing this season I felt was the best it had been in years, despite a few hiccups here and there and the feeling of being rushed on occasion. The acting was absolutely top-notch which is surprising giving the overall campiness of the show. Other than Crisis I don’t know what’s in store for this show, but I’m sure as hell excited to find out.