Last season, “The Flash” managed to deliver another stunning arc that utilized the show’s incredible ability to combine action, drama, sci-fi, comedy, and even a little romance into one of the best superhero shows on television. What was also rather impressive was that they finally managed to move past having the main villain being an evil speedster, and instead gave us what could be considered an even more challenging foe, “The Thinker.” As it was at the end of season four, the question heading into the new season was whether or not they’d be able to come up with another villain just as intriguing, so as to keep the show fresh and interesting. Well, now Season Five has come and gone, so it’s time to see if its great streak continues, or if this super show is finally starting to lose some of its speed.
At the end of the previous season, Barry (Grant Gustin) and the rest of Team Flash were shocked at the sudden arrival of Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy), daughter of Barry and Iris (Candice Patton). She comes from a future where The Flash has disappeared, having never caught a particularly nasty villain known as Cicada, and now she hopes to change that very future by intervening. However, having helped stopped The Thinker’s Enlightenment from occurring by helping to destroy his satellite, the timeline has already started to change, beginning with a different person becoming Cicada (Chris Klein). Facing down a villain that wants to see every metahuman dead, it’s up to Barry and his incredible team, including Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker), Cisco (Carlos Valdes), Ralph (Hartley Sawyer), and Sherloque Wells (Tom Cavanagh), to hunt him down before he’s able to carry out his sinister plan.
As always, it has to be mentioned how amazing it is that “The Flash” has been able to keep up a mostly-high level of quality for so long. For the most part, it’s been quite a thrilling show that’s somehow managed to maintain extra-long seasons of 20+ episodes for several years now, which is extraordinary when you consider how some shows struggle with just ten. Going into season five, it’s clear from the start that they have another mega-sized season full of twists and turns ready to go, utilizing all of our favorite characters, and even throwing in a few new ones to inject the show with some new blood.
Going back to the question of the villain, we meet the sinister Cicada early on, eventually learning that his niece was hurt during the night of the Enlightenment, which in turn spurns his hatred of metahumans. Using a shard from the destroyed satellite, which dampens metahuman abilities, he sets out to kill every human with powers that he can in retaliation. But how does he stack up to the past villains we’ve seen (Reverse-Flash, Zoom, Savitar, and The Thinker)? Well, unfortunately, he’s not quite as compelling as what we’ve seen before, thanks to a rather simplified motive and somewhat bland M.O., but at least as a kind of stand-in villain, he provides a powerful enough antagonist to give our heroes a fitting challenge, even if he doesn’t prove to be as memorable as past baddies.
Still, the season manages to give us plenty of other material to focus on, particularly on the relationship between Nora and her parents, with an emphasis on her strained relationship with her mother. We even learn that Nora is keeping a rather big secret as she goes about trying to help Team Flash defeat Cicada, which provides even more compelling moments in the buildup to the final confrontation. Indeed, this has always been a character-centric show, but with the unique relationship between Barry, Iris, and their future daughter, it really ends up hitting on something pretty unique.
However, looking at the season as a whole, it seems fair to say that it wasn’t quite on the level as previous seasons, not only because of a somewhat lackluster villain, but because at this point, five seasons in, it’s starting to feel a little like it’s just more of the same. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and this season was definitely still quite good, but the pattern of having a big baddie defeated in 20-some episodes (with a few of those being side episodes) is beginning to show just a little wear. Now obviously the show is coming back for a sixth season, and it could indeed get the show firing on all cylinders once again, with a grand villain and engrossing plot, but it would be nice to shake things up a little more than usual, once again in the interest of keeping the show fresh and interesting.
That being said, season five was still a fun and entertaining journey. It’s always great to spend time with these characters, and it’s always fascinating to see what iteration of Wells the writers will come up with next. It might not have been quite as grand in the villain department, but as a character piece, it does the job well, while still providing all the action, drama, and comedy we’ve come to expect. As we look to season six, one can only imagine what perils our heroes will face next, but as usual, we’ll all look forward to it with great anticipation.
“The Flash: The Complete Fifth Season” comes to Blu-ray in a 1.78:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of excellent quality. In typical fashion, the picture is beautifully sharp and clear, highlighting the shows multitude of amazing special effects. Likewise, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is fantastic, giving you all of the dialogue, music, and sound effects in outstanding quality. Overall, fans of the show will continue to be impressed by the great treatment it has received.
The Evolution of Killer Frost (12 Minutes): A neat featurette that explores the character of Killer Frost.
Best of DC TV’s Comic-Con Panels San Diego 2018 (61 Minutes): A collection of segments from DC’s various panels at SDCC, including “Supergirl,” “Arrow,” “The Flash,” and “Legends of Tomorrow.”
Inside the Crossover: Elseworlds (45 Minutes): A featurette that takes a look at the epic crossover episodes, including interviews with the creators of the various shows.
Villains: Modes of Persuasion (38 Minutes): A fascinating featurette that delves into the villains of DC’s various shows (the same featurette included on Gotham: The Fifth and Final Season).
Gag Reel (8 Minutes): A so-so collection of outtakes.
Deleted Scenes (32 Minutes): A hefty portion of deleted sequences spread across the four discs.
“The Flash” returns with another action-packed season that, while it may not be on the level of previous seasons due to its lackluster villain and somewhat repetitive format, still manages to give fans the thrilling, character-centric show that they’ve come to know and love. Once again merging multiple genres into a fun and entertaining mix, the show continues to impress, and will surely make fans eagerly anticipate the next exciting season to come.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
This article is based on a review copy generously provided by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.