THE FLASH Season 5 Episode 8 Review: What’s Past Is Prologue

When a series reaches a milestone like a 100th episode, it’s typical to mark the occasion with some type of “greatest hits” collection. THE FLASH, however, has the advantage of time travel being built into the DNA of the series, meaning it can revisit some of its most iconic moments without the risk of turning into the dreaded clip show. Whether the show was successful at drawing viewers back into these standalone pseudo-vignettes will vary depending on the audience member, but the core concept is still undeniably a fun and unique way to approach a series landmark. 

Despite the crew doing a fabulous job of duplicating the actors’ hair and wardrobe from various episodes, I doubt any viewer who is so inclined would have trouble picking out the original footage from the new. The lighting, in particular, was often a dead give away as to when the editing was switching back and forth, which made it a little bit hard for the final product to feel like a cohesive whole. Overall, however, it’s a minor issue since the episode spends very little trying to properly relive show history in a shot by shot way. 

Although there are a few chases with time wraiths or Zoom, Barry and Nora’s journey is relatively quiet, with a lot of simple reflective moments between father and daughter about how these events and relationships shaped Barry’s life. In particular, I quite liked Barry choosing to spend the particle accelerator explosion, which was the inciting moment for the whole series, simply hugging with his daughter in the time bunker instead of watching the dark matter change the whole city. Their final conversation spent wistfully staring at Henry and Nora Sr. was a beautiful way to show Barry’s growth as a character while paralleling his journey with the one Nora is on now. Director Tom Cavanaugh has never been better and intimate knowledge of the cast really pays off in an episode meant to audiences be full of treats for longterm fans. 

Less satisfying is the obligatory tie-in to the Cicada plot. Even after all the flashbacks last week trying to give Cicada some pathos as a character, his conflict with Barry felt flat and utterly two-dimensional. It was a little too obvious he was just there to give Barry and Nora an excuse to run to the past, and in the end the MacGuffin the West-Allens retrieved ended up being destroyed with embarrassing ease, which feels rather anticlimactic after all the build up to Barry finally getting to go on offense against the season’s main villain. 

Of course, the “main” descriptor might not prove to be accurate for much longer now that we know, as many fans previously guessed, Nora is indeed working with a future Eobard Thawne. The two are presented in an sort of Ariel and Ursula fashion, with Nora making a deal with someone whose villainy she’s too naive to understand. 

Clearly, Nora being in the dark is meant give her and Barry an easier path towards reconciliation after the penny drops, but I worry it makes Nora an overly reckless character to gamble on Thawne without doing the 2040s equivalent of a Google search. It seems incredible that even with her complicated family life, she wouldn’t know how her grandmother died. In any case, now that their feud is more personal than ever, it seems unlikely Thawne will play second fiddle for long. Thawne’s own attempts to change the future have always been pointed to a sign of his diabolical nature, while Nora’s have basically functioned as her superhero origin; positioning the two together, even if done in a slightly awkward way, creates a dramatic friction has the potential to capitalize on the most successful elements of this season and convince fans that even after a hundred episodes tuning into THE FLASH is a worthwhile to spend their Tuesday’s to come.

Written by Kaitlin Roberts, THE FLASH Beat Writer

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