Someone hold my turkey leftovers, I need a tissue.
It may have come a week late, but The Flash Season 5 Episode 7, otherwise known as “The Thanksgiving Episode,” was well worth the wait.
This episode, although it did include a weekly meta-villain, was one of the most character driven and emotional episodes the show has ever done. There is just something about family dynamics that The Flash always seems to get just right.
It’s hard not to solely dedicate this review to the incredibly nuanced performance of Jessica Parker Kennedy. Although fairly sure of it before, I am now absolutely certain there is not one other actress in the world who could play Nora West Allen with the same finesse and gravitas she delivers.
In reality, Kennedy is the about the same age as her acting counterparts. Yet she is able to bring a type of innocence and fervor to the role that somehow perfectly encapsulates how a child would interact with her parents. It's as if Barry and Iris are still decades older than her, rather than her peers.
Both Kennedy and the character of Nora have brought such a fresh new perspective to The Flash universe. It seems as if Helbing and his writer's room are having the time of their lives playing with all the different dynamics and possibilities that come along with the addition to the cast.
I’ve sometimes found it hard to emotionally invest in The Flash, at least for the past few seasons. It's always fun, and if there's a major character death, I’ll feel that loss. But moments that truly connect with me on an emotional level? Those tend to be few and far between (unless Cisco is sad or West Allen is swooning).
With Nora now added into the mix, her relationship with both Iris and Barry continuously pulls at my heartstrings. Her reveal of wishing Barry would stop being The Flash, so he could be there for her instead, physically hurt me.
Kennedy also managed to play a daughter holding onto her dead father so realistically that if they weren’t in superhero suits, I would have believed it actually happened.
Not to pass over Gustin, whose line about being The Flash to keep his family safe, was one of the most moving moments of the hour.
Adding in the complexity of Nora feeling anger towards not just her mother, but her father as well, gives so much depth to the storyline and creates an even more well rounded, believable relationship between the West-Allen's.
This family has things to work through, and that’s something we can all relate to.
Nora's presence, and her navigation through unknown waters with her parents, is by far the biggest highlight of the season thus far.
“O Come All Ye Thankful” was all about family dynamics, and not just the West-Allens. Finally, we were given some backstory as to who Cicada is, and what his motives are.
I have always been, and always will be, a proponent for complex villains. One of my favorite characters to ever grace my television screen is Klaus Mikaelson for that very reason.
If you can make them scary, that’s good. If you can make them scary while also making me feel bad for them? That’s even better.
Allowing your audience to empathize with your antagonist, once again adds a depth to the story many superhero shows lack. When you give your villain a sympathetic motive, good and evil stop being black and white. Instead, things become a certain shade of grey.
Cicada’s motives stemming from wanting to save his daughter? The same season Barry meets his own? That’s not a coincidence. These writers know what they’re doing. And as I've said in every review thus far, they're doing it well.
I applaud the writers for connecting the dots and allowing Barry and Cicada to have somewhat common ground (this sets us up for quite an emotional roller coaster), but I’m a little disappointed they didn’t take more from his comic book persona.
In the comics, Cicada is a cult leader who after his wife's death, is determined to kill off every living meta. He’s struck by lightning and is able to absorb energy. He embarks on a mission to absorb every living meta’s power in order to gain enough energy to bring his wife back to life.
That's not to say that isn’t what’s happening here. Maybe Cicada is stealing powers to bring Grace out of her coma. It certainly would add up, and be much more interesting than him killing meta's because he's "mad at them."
I mean, there needs to be more to it than that. right? I trust the writers to do better than that.
But it seems as if this version of Cicada is almost a pawn in a bigger game; unable to think for himself. Making him the cult leader he's known to have been, would have upped the creep factor and added an extra something to his menacing identity.
Or maybe that’s just me being a comic book geek.
If there was one weak point to the episode (and to the season itself), it was once again the constant underutilization of Cisco. I’m glad Caitlin Snow is getting her due backstory, and without a doubt, the Nora West Allen plot should be at the forefront of the show. However, my question remains:
When will Cisco Ramon get the storyline he deserves?
It seemed as if we were getting there when he lost his powers to Vibe, but after a quick (yet emotionally poignant) talk with Caitlin, it's as if he’s come to terms with the loss. He’s a supporting player in Caitlin’s quest for her father, an active member of Team Flash, but there is nothing solely dedicated to developing his character further.
Cisco is not a Ralph, a Wells, or even a Cecile. He is a central figure of this series, and one of the shows biggest assets. He deserves more focus, and Valdes has proved he can handle the material time and time again.
In final thoughts, Thanksgiving dinner was an excellent way to wrap things up. It’s important that the Team was depicted as strong and stable before next weeks much anticipated 100th episode. Zoom, Savitar and Reverse Flash all coming for our beloved Scarlet Speedster? He’s going to need all the help he can get.
- Every time Joe’s absence is mentioned, it breaks my heart a little bit.
- I thought keeping with the theme of fathers and daughters when it came to the Weather Witch was a nice little addition to a family-themed holiday episode.
- Did anyone else catch Nora saying “Run, Dad, Run?” So now we have “Run, Barry, Run,” “Run, Iris, Run,” AND “Run, Dad, Run!” I stan an epic family dynamic.
- Will Cisco ever be given a Wells that doesn’t make him want to break expensive equipment? Remains to be seen.
- The way in which Caitlin, Sherlock, and Cisco were utilized in this episode was absolute perfection. A downward spiral on the reasons why Thanksgiving is a sham. We’ve all been there.
- Extremely interested in seeing why going back in time to face all these past speedsters is going to help defeat Cicada.
- Ever wonder who Central City thinks XS is? No development on how they city feels about her just appearing out of nowhere
- I’m loving this season, and I’m loving the character development, but there was something so unbelievably satisfying about watching The Flash do some good old “save the day” hero action, wasn’t there?
Flash Fanatics! Were you happy to see your favorite characters working on their relationships? Did Kennedy's performance wow you as much as it did me? How are you feeling about Cicada? AND HOW EXCITED ARE YOU FOR THE NEXT FEW WEEKS?! Tell me everything in the comments, and if you missed this latest episode, you can watch The Flash online, right here at TV Fanatic!
Kat Pettibone is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.