The CW The Flash new episode “Godspeed” not only served as an origin for the eponymous villain speedster, but also served as an origin story for Nora West-Allen and her powers as XS. On top of all of that, it also revealed the heretofore unseen superpowers of series regular Danielle Panabaker – in her directorial debut. When we last left Team Flash, they’d locked up Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy) after learning she’d been working with Eobard Thawne – the Reverse Flash (Tom Cavanaugh) – but mom Iris (Candice Patton) intervenes and demands she tell everyone why.
In a flashback (flash-forward?) to the future, we see CSI Nora West-Allen and her best friend Lia working on a case, which leads them headlong into an encounter with a speedster named Godspeed. Nora is hit with a bolt of his lightning, landing her in the hospital. Thanks to the lightning bolt knocking out a metahuman power inhibitor implanted in her shoulder, she now has superpowers!
Unfortunately, this also leads her to super-conflict. First, desperate for help, she shows up to confront Eobard Thawne and ask him what he knows. In a scene that couldn’t have been more inspired by Silence of the Lambs if they tried, Thawne refuses to help her but only asks her questions, also immediately deducing she is, herself, a speedster. In perhaps the best line delivery of the episode, (the season?) he whispers, “I know that windburn. I miss that windburn.” Thanks Dr. Lecter, see you next time. We also see a literal ticking clock, counting down to what we are led to believe is his execution only days in the future.
Nora and her friend Lia end up figuring out Godspeed is being powered by the Velocity 9 serum, last seen in season 2. As they track down the last of the chemicals needed for the formula, Godspeed shows up and ends up killing Lia. This now becomes Nora’s main motivation for her herodom, sending her back to Thawne – desperate for his help.
He relents and agrees to help, training her for a final showdown with Godspeed. The most momentous thing he does is put her on the trail to discover the room in The Flash Museum/former STAR Labs with Gideon – which also contains a message to Nora from her father.
And then there’s that scene with her mother. While the episode alludes in so many places to their fractured relationship, Nora also has to confront her mom about the inhibitor she placed in her shoulder. This scene was almost painful to watch. Patton is usually the cast’s secret weapon, but I’m not sure what wasn’t working here.
Maybe it was her weird hair and makeup – in an attempt to make her look 20-30 years older, they put weird Bride of Frankenstein white streaks in her hair and some weird age makeup. For context, Danielle Nicolet is only a few years off the age Iris West Allen would be in this future scenario, and she shows her age about as much as Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer do: they don’t.
Even makeup complaints aside, this was just not a good scene. It’s rare on a show usually so good, so this was particularly noteworthy.
After a final showdown with Godspeed, we return to the present – where Barry asks to talk to Nora alone. He drops her in the future, tells her he doesn’t forgive her, and tells her never to return to his present.
And then if that wasn’t enough, in comes the final climax – where Barry confronts Thawne in prison. Thawne is so beautifully twisted here, it’s amazing to watch. Also amazing? The great camera work, use of light and reflection in this scene (hat tip again to Panabaker as director here).
As you can see, we get both Thawne behind the glass, but we also see a perfect reflection of Barry. It’s why Barry has such a blind spot about his rage trigger on all things regarding Thawne. I mean, I get it. He murdered your mom, ruined your life, pretended to be your mentor, manipulated you – he’s awful. But Barry is being super unreasonable here.
The good news? It would be the perfect character arc for Iris to be the one who turns Barry around on this. She’s gone from overbearing mom who won’t let her kid embrace her superpowers to the one who has to be her greatest defender. This is probably not the last we’ve seen of Nora.
Also, did anyone else catch the references to “Crisis”? They specifically mentioned all of the different colors of lightning that showed up from various speedsters, and specifically mentioned purple. Here’s a $100 bet that XS will show up in “Crisis”. . . along with Wally West and Jay Garrick.
But you know what is really good in this episode? It’s fun to see adult Nora hanging out in The Flash museum. Hero worship is so much a part of her character, you can really see it pay off when she learns about her own powers. This also multiplies exponentially when she gets the message from her father, learning for the first time that her dad was also her greatest hero. So when he takes her to the future and banishes her, telling her to never come back, it hurts.
It hurts bad.
Now let’s talk about Godspeed for a moment. There’s no way they can let him be just a one-off villain. They did a good job moving his backstory into the future, but where does he go from here? Let’s also gush about the casting for a moment, too. First, big props to the casting directors for getting Kindall Charters to play Godspeed’s human alter ego August Heart. There simply are not enough First Nations actors in our media, and he did a great job.
But of course, we also had the amazing tones of BD Wong providing Godspeed’s villain voice while he was in the suit (in much the same way that Tony Todd provided the voice of Zoom). What do we have to do to get more Wong on The Flash?
This was a tough episode. Lots of storylines, several timejumps, and a half dozen key scenes that have huge emotional and plot consequences. Once again, hats off to Panabaker for her work here and her eye for shot choices and her work to bring the most out of the cast.
Two things are for sure: we need more Panabaker, and we need more Wong!
So next week it looks like Barry’s rash decision is going to have major iconsequences, as Iris… heads to the future to say goodbye to their daughter? Looks like there’s more drama with Thawne to come (Barry, don’t you know you’re just pushing your daughter to go back to him!?!? You idiot!)… and we still haven’t dealt with Cicada (Chris Klein).
Here’s the preview for next week’s episode “Snow Pack,” premiering April 23 on the CW:
The Flash s05e19 “Snow Pack”: ICICLE RETURNS — When Icicle (guest star Kyle Secor) returns to enact the next phase of his devious plan, Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) and her mother, Dr. Carla Tannhauser (guest star Susan Walters), must resolve their long-combative relationship to defeat the icy monster. After Barry (Grant Gustin) makes a big decision about their family without consulting her, Iris (Candice Patton) decides to take matters into her own hands. Jeff Cassidy directed the episode written by Jonathan Butler & Gabriel Garza.