The Flash recap: Barry's reaction Nora's backstory is heartbreaking
Since we found out Nora’s secret in The Flash’s 100th episode, we’ve all wanted to know exactly how Thawne became Nora’s mentor. Well, tonight’s episode “Godspeed” finally revealed the origins of this unfortunate (and family reunion ruining) partnership, while exploring Nora’s backstory as a whole. Confidently directed by Danielle Panabaker, the episode achieved a nice mix of humor and emotion and ended with a heartbreaking West-Allen family development.
Primarily set in 2049, “Godspeed” is a pretty interesting episode for Panabaker to make her directorial debut. Not only did she have to deal with the emotional fallout of Barry, Iris, and the rest of the team learning Nora’s secret, but she also had to bring post-Crisis Central City to life. Her version of the future is very sleek and bright, but it doesn’t feel too far off from the present. I actually find it kind of funny that the show also had Tom Cavanagh make his Flash directorial debut on an episode that mostly took place in the future with season 3’s “The Once and Future Flash,” which boasted a very dark and gloomy future, the opposite of Panabaker’s Central City 2049.
The dive into Nora’s past begins with Team Flash deciding to read Nora’s journal to figure out what’s going on. I’m not sure whether to call the future scenes flash-forwards or flashbacks (guess it depends on your perspective), but when we meet Nora in 2049, she’s rushing to the scene of a chemical truck robbery because she’s very late. It’s a callback to the show’s pilot and a nice showcase for Jessica Parker Kennedy’s impressive speed talking skills.
After the crime scene visit, we’re introduced to Nora’s best friend/co-CSI Lia, played by YOU’s Kathryn Gallagher, who absolutely nails all of the humor the script throws at her and has great chemistry with Kennedy. I loved Gallagher’s palpable enthusiasm, especially in the scene where she tries to come up with Nora’s superhero alias later on. Both women realize that a speedster was responsible for the robbery, and they eventually come face-to-face with Godspeed, Central City’s first speedster since the big Crisis. Unfortunately, Godspeed zaps Nora with a bolt of lightning and escapes with whatever he was trying to steal.
Later on, Lia wakes Nora up to the sound of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” which is yet another callback to the pilot. The paramedics removed the dampener Iris put in Nora, so when she wakes up, it doesn’t take her long to discover she has speed, which then leads to running into a laundry truck. You know, like her father in the pilot. While I found the first pilot allusion cute, these next two just didn’t work for me because they felt way more contrived. But anyway…
It doesn’t take long for Nora and Lia to figure out that Iris placed that dampener in her many years ago, but Nora’s confrontation with her mother is delayed because Iris is on her way back from a business trip in Coast City. So, Nora focuses her energies on catching Godspeed. In order to do so, she reasons, she needs to start thinking like a villainous speedster, so she turns to the only remaining one left: Iron Heights resident Eobard Thawne. Unfortunately, the first visit doesn’t yield any answers.
Nora and Lia figure out the next chemical Godspeed is going after and teal it from Stagg Industries before he does. Unfortunately, Godspeed shows up and makes quick work of the little runner, and then proceeds to kill Lia with his vibrating hand. Thus, like her father, she was forced to watch a speedster kill someone she loved. The loss doesn’t end there, though.
In the wake of Lia’s death, Nora finally confronts her mother about the power dampener. Both Parker and Candice Patton, sporting old make-up, played the scene rather beautifully. Nora’s sense of betrayal was palpable (and ironic), and Patton did a good job of conveying the pained memories that Nora’s discovery is bringing to the surface and how she really thought she was protecting her daughter. Unfortunately, Iris doesn’t get a chance to defend herself that much because Nora simply speeds away…
…To the Flash Museum, where an exhibit on Zoom and his blue lightning leads to an epiphany: Godspeed is trying to create a more stable version of Velocity-9. With that realization, Nora jets off to ask for Thawne’s help yet again. At first, he says no, but he softens the moment she says that Godspeed killed her best friend right in front of her. So, Thawne coaches her through stopping Godspeed. First, he breaks out the Speed Force speech he used on Barry to help her phase, but that fails because she’s too scared (and she needed to learn how to phase from her father in the season premiere). So, they move onto Plan B, and he coaches her through running up a wall and defeating Godspeed using some satellites and the good ‘ol “Run, Nora, Run!” After saving the day, Thawne — who is on death row — gives her some instructions that lead her to his time vault, where she learns that her father was the Flash. And that works and cements this newfound partnership.
While it was interesting to see how these two found each other, doesn’t it feel like a missed opportunity? I don’t want to rewrite the episode, but wouldn’t it have been more compelling to gain more insight into what Nora and Thawne’s mentor-mentee relationship actually looks like. Up until now, we’ve gotten snippets here and there from Nora’s brief visits that imply a certain warmth, but I would’ve loved to see how these two came up with the plan to stop Cicada, how he taught her time travel, and so much more. As of right now, I feel like I don’t have a strong understanding of their dynamic beyond the fact that she trusted him because she needed someone to trust after her mother’s betrayal and Lia’s death.
Back in the present, Iris lets Nora out her of her cell so that she can tell most of this story. Even after hearing it all, though, Barry’s still pissed and speeds his daughter back to the future because he can no longer trust her. Gustin’s pained but restrained performance was so heartbreaking, as was the moment when Nora begged her father not to do this. That being said, it’s kind of messed up that Barry would send Nora back to the future without even consulting Iris. Making a unilateral decision like that is very Oliver Queen of him, but not in a good way.
Before running back to the present, though, Barry pays Thawne, who has 10 minutes left to live, a visit. I loved how Panabaker shot their scene, with Barry’s reflection clearly visible in the glass of Thawne’s cage. That one shot conveyed a lot about Thawne’s role in Nora’s life: He basically became a father figure to her in Barry’s absence.
“You always thought you were so much smarter than us, Thawne, but you lost, and now you’re finally going to get what you deserve,” Barry says angrily before returning to the present.
I’m certain this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the Reverse Flash.
Wall of Weird:
- When Nora visits the Time Vault, she discovers a video message Barry left for her during the crisis. Like everything involving Gustin in this episode, it was pretty heartbreaking (there’s that word again!)
- Godspeed looked cool, but the show didn’t make him standout at all. Like it barely even mattered who was under the mask, which is kind of a shame.
- Lia mentions that a “weird purple speedster” shows up in Crisis, which means that Nora is part of that event.
After the success of Arrow, Barry Allen (a.k.a. The Flash) gets his own CW treatment in this comic-themed spin-off.