REVIEW: The Flash, S5E18 – Godspeed

The Flash gave us pilot parallels galore while exploring Nora’s (Jessica Parker Kennedy) backstory and explaining just what led to her unholy alliance with Eobard Thawne (Tom Cavanagh) in “Godspeed.” The West-Allen family dynamic was turned on its head in 2049 – a far cry from Barry’s (Grant Gustin) life without Iris (Candice Patton) the last time this show visited the future, but still just as lonely and heartbreaking.

Iris loves her daughter in any timeline.

Speaking of future visits, it’s ironic that Cavanagh’s directorial debut came in 2024 and Danielle Panabaker’s took place in 2049, with both Arrowverse actors being given the chance to put their spin on an alternate timeline. The atmosphere of Nora’s past was competently put together by Panabaker, though it perhaps doesn’t have as many defining traits as the dark and dreary Savitar-haunted tie or one of the other Earths The Flash has presented. The most important element of “Godspeed” was showcasing how Nora lived before she met Eobard and justifying why she made the choices she did, and on that front the writing as well as Parker Kennedy’s performance were incredibly successful.

Despite her bubbly nature, supportive best friend Lia (a vibrant and memorable turn by guest star Kathryn Gallagher) and loving yet overprotective mother Iris (still Candice Patton, just with silver streaks in her hair, because her beauty is ageless) – it was clear that Nora was missing a vital part of her identity. Not just the knowledge of and use of her speedster powers, granted to her after a run-in with the new villain Godspeed, but also the connection to her deceased father. While her confrontation of Iris after learning she had speed was more abrupt and less dramatic than expected, it still laid the groundwork for Nora’s actions and exposed just how isolated both women felt in a world where their family was ripped away from them too soon. Add in Lia’s murder on top of that, and it made total sense why Nora would go on to create her own Flashpoint.

Her team-up with Thawne also made sense for the first time in “Godspeed,” seeing as how the Flash Museum contained no information about his personal misdeeds against Barry (since no one knew Barry was The Flash) and there were no other speedsters around to ask for help with the latest villain. Seeing Cavanagh pull out his mentor persona from Season 1 helped remind me why he was such a terrifying villain back then; because you could never tell what he really wanted or whose side he was on. His slow indoctrination of Nora as he alienated her from her identity and her mother was painful to watch, but it worked really well, and I’m sure there will still be even more layers to peel in future episodes. When he begged Barry at the end not to hold this friendship against his daughter, he almost seemed sincere even though he most certainly orchestrated the entire thing so that Barry would lose said daughter. That’s the kind of villain The Flash has been in desperate need of these last two seasons.

Figuring things out as a “family.”

That being said, Godspeed was very much not the kind of villain anyone needed. For once, he had the correct comic book identity – and outfit! – from the start, but nothing else about August Heart came from the source material or even contained any semblance of a developed character. His origin story was beyond flimsy, and the only reason he posed a credible threat was because Nora had no idea how to use her powers. Mercifully, the time spent with him was short and he merely served as a catalyst for the meeting between Nora and Eobard. But it still would have been nice if he had been woven into the larger tapestry of the show more effectively, or if we had gotten to see how Iris and the remaining members of Team Flash felt about the renewed presence of speedsters after 25 years.

The rest of Team Flash didn’t feature much in the episode at all, except for to stand around while Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris decided what to do with their daughter like they had tickets to a private show. Perhaps that was the least effective part of “Godspeed,” but it’s been an issue all season as The Flash has essentially forgotten what one-on-one moments look like – especially between Barry and Iris. Barry and Nora, however, get a pretty powerful one that count as Barry’s most rash decision since his own Flashpoint. It’s a good thing the fallout wasn’t cleaned up in one episode, because the emotional scars for all three West-Allens are sure to last longer than the usual drama on this show.

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on the CW.