THE FLASH Season 5 Episode 4 Review: News Flash

This week the West-Allen family proved they’re as good as propelling the story forward when they’re at each others’ throats as they are they are when they’re a flawless team. That said, I really enjoyed some of the more relaxed domestic scenes we got during the opening this episode with Iris’s breakfast fails or the gang showing up to watch Barry sad attempts at playing softball. These smaller scenes go such a long way in keeping us invested in the family conflict that is to come and give us a chance to see the characters in a realistic setting instead of a fantastic one, which doesn’t happen too often. 

The laid back start didn’t stop things from quickly kicking into overdrive once Nora finally revealed the source of her beef with Iris—her choice to hide her daughter’s powers, even from Nora herself. On a practical level, this explanation makes a lot of sense since it would have been very strange for someone who grew up with speedster abilities to be as green as Nora is. It was gratifying to watch Iris stand her ground and stand by her future self, after Nora became more spiteful and snippy over the episode. 

Unfortunately, Iris is all too often held to ridiculous standards in certain sections of fandom that gripe about her being angry with Barry for lying and then will turn around and complain she forgives everyone too easily. But as was pointed out, there’s many good reasons that Iris may had for her choice (an obvious one being there was a serial killer hunting metahumans who apparently never got caught) and ultimately it’s unfair to hold her responsible for future self’s parenting choices. Having Iris ultimately decide she’s secure in her decisions and trusts her judgment was a great affirmation of her strength as a character. The fact that Barry backed Iris up without missing a beat, finally seeming to really and truly breaking the pedestal Nora put him on, was just the icing on the cake. 

As the clash of the West-Allens unfolded, Sherloque and Ralph kept up the Cicada investigation by looking into his mask. While it’s nice that Ralph got the chance to show off his competency as detective after mostly being a comedic character for the past season, the two characters have so little in the way of chemistry that their scenes feel like they mostly exist to serve as dry padding to break up the family feud. Certainly, nothing they learned about our newest masked serial killer ended up telling us anything most fans hadn’t already guessed. 

One interesting tidbit we did get was the revelation that DeVoe’s failed Enlightenment created meta-technology. Although hearing the team talk about cellphones infused with dark matter feels more than a little silly, it does give the series a new way to introduce villains, which is long overdue. We’ve seen pretty much every variation possible of disasters or mishaps creating new batches of meta- humans, and any charm the formula had is long gone. Indeed, Spin, while hardly a villain for the ages, had more meat to her character than any of metahumans of the week will typically get. Her journalistic rivalry with Iris fleshed out her motivations for using a mind controlling phone just for Internet fame, and showing Iris’s frustration with Spencer’s misleading clickbait helped to solidify her identity as a writer more. I may not be exactly sold on the meta-technology as a threat, but it’s at this point it’s just nice to see variety in the constant string of one-off baddies. 

What I find truly intriguing plot wise is the question of where or whom Nora did learn about her powers from. Barry and Iris pay little attention to this during their argument, but the more you consider the matter the more potential is has. The fact that Nora is angry and confused about why this happened suggests it wasn’t a friend or family member who would have able to explain Iris’s reasoning to her. And the barbs Nora throws at Iris suggest it was an actual confession from someone, not an accident that caused her to discover her powers. My hunch is that she came into contact with a villain who manipulated her by revealing her speed, likely predicting she would use this ability to meet her father and change history—said villain could even doubling as her previously mentioned time-traveling partner. I myself am inclined to believe this person might be the Reverse-Flash, who after all, managed to escape back into the timeline last we saw him. I certainly expect that the upcoming 100th episode will find a way include him, given his large impact on the series, and having him possibly be behind Nora’s appearance in the past would be a neat way to weave him back into the story.

Written by Kaitlin Roberts, THE FLASH Beat Writer

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