You saw how Arrow ended its season?
This Tuesday night, The Flash said, “Hold my beer.”
On the heels of its parent series — SPOILER ALERT! — bringing back The Monitor to collect on the debt Oliver Queen owed, The Flash ended Season 5 with its own deluge of devastating family drama, followed by a “Crisis on Infinite Earths” tease of its own.
When last we tuned in, Ralph realized that Eobard Thawne had, in fact, manipulated Nora into traveling into the past to, yes, get some quality time with the ‘rents, but also to facilitate a series of events that would lead to the destruction of the dagger which in 2049 has been suppressing his speedster powers.
Following a cold open narrated by Nora — “I always wanted to be a hero…. That’s why I came here…. to save [Barry] from disappearing in the future… I never imagined it would turn out like this” — we picked up with Ralph leaping in front of the mirror gun blast that Barry was firing at the dagger. Ralph succeeded in preventing the dagger’s destruction (though Cicada II grabbed it and flew away), but he himself was worse for the wear, his cells “inverted” and leaving him in a, well, weird shape. A shard of wood left behind by Cicada II offers Team Flash a chance to track her. Back at STAR Labs, Sherloque solves the mystery of Ralph’s intervention — that the dagger is the only thing keeping Reverse-Flash in his future prison.
Grace, meanwhile, is back at the cabin, where her uncle counsels her to repair the time sphere and use it to disseminate the bad cure the night of the particle accelerator explosion, this “destroying the metas before they destroy the world.”
As we see the 2049 prison guard “gift” Thawne with something from the Flash Museum — a chain with a Flash ring on it, oops! — back in the present, Sherloque explains that if they destroy the dagger now, Thawne will pull off a “reverse time hack” and get free. So, stop Cicada or stop Thawne? Barry votes for the former.
Puzzling with Caitlin and Cisco over Ralph’s wonky state, Sherloque suggests blasting him to wake him up, and thus activate his muscle memory. And yep, it works, except for some “language skill” issues. Cisco then tracks the Swiss ash shard to the parkland where Cicada almost killed him. Nora has an idea to make Young Grace wake up and make the right choice to take the cure, and stop Cicada II’s birth that way. But just as they approach the cabin, Cicada II swoops down onto the scene: “Now I can end your lives twice today.! But Joe bellows, “Not on my watch!” as he lobs a porta-portal in the air, sucking Cicada II into the Thawne Trap 2.0 at STAR Labs.
Nora goes inside the cabin and enters Young Grace’s mind, delivering the hard truth that the little girl is a meta. Evil Orlin is there urging Grace to not listen, but Good Orlin shows up to back up Nora’s argument. When Nora points out that a “dark part of you is out there killing innocents,” Young Grace agrees to wake up and take the cure. And yet it doesn’t kick in, because the of dagger shard lodged in her head. So yes, they must destroy the dagger after all. Back at STAR Labs, Adult Grace has busted her way out of the Thawne Trap 2.0 and flies to the cabin to zap everyone and is about to slay Nora when the Mirror Gun tumbles through a breach just in time for Barry to destroy the dagger.
As Adult Grace “dusts” away, the dagger vanishes from Thawne’s harness in the future, freeing him to power up and kill the team of guards that swarmed him. But just as he goes to “suit up,” time rewinds, and Barry and Nora arrive to stop him. Thawne takes a moment to boast of how he manipulated everyone — Barry included, when during his and Nora’s visit to the time vault of the past, Nora blurted out Cicada’s name, giving Thawne information he will need in the future.
“I am the only speedster who knows how to manipulate the timeline to get what I want,” he gloats, hinting that he also has taken measures to ensure he goes free. He then challenges Nora to prove how much her father has daughter, by splitting himself into two and ;launch dual chases through the city. When the chase takes a pause, Thawne warns, “No matter what you try, The Flash will always vanish — that is his legacy.” Just as the time sphere comes hurtling through a breach, clobbering Thawne. Following some “reunion” moments between Thawne and Team Flash, Nora launches into a victory speech and then goes to kill Thawne… until her powers begin glitching out. “A new timeline is settling in, that you created when you destroyed the dagger,” Thawne explains. “I had to be sure i could go free.”
Before speeding off to freedom (“See you in our next crisis”), Thawne tells a desperate Barry that the only way to save Nora is by taking her back into the Negative Speed Force, which they attempt to do, but Nora bails. Because if she follows through, the NSF will consume her with hate and anger, as it did with Thawne. “This is all on me, all of it. It’s my mistake and I’m not make another one,” Nora explains. “Sometimes all you can do is live with the consequences.” And during an emotional West-Allen family hug, Nora “dusts” away, erased from the timeline.
In the aftermath, Joe puts the best spin on things (“We have to believe that we’ll see her again”), while the rest of Team Flash acknowledges all the good Nora did — saving every meta in the city, giving Young Grace a new future, Sherloque meeting Renee. This mystery solved, Sherloque bids everyone adieu before returning to his Earth. Over at the SCPD, Singh announces that he has been tapped as the new chief of police, and he wants Joe to replace him as captain. And if things get hairy, as they tend to do, Joe will have plenty of help — “Isn’t that right, Flash?” Singh asks Barry.
Back at STAR Labs, Barry and Iris have a warm moment, expressing how proud they are of Nora and how she represented the best of them. While perusing the time diary she left behind, Barry finds the “key” Nora used to access Gideon. Plugging it in, he and Iris watch a video that their daughter left behind, and it’s the speech that played over the beginning of the episode. “I wouldn’t change anything about my time with you,” Nora avowed, as we watch Cisco — after taking the cure — taking a leisurely stroll with a clued-in Kamilla… Joe settling into his role as captain, with a proud Cecile at his side… Sherloque reuniting with Renee on his Earth… Ralph finding gifts left for him by Sherloque… and Caitlin discovering her “Thank you for being a friend” gift from Cisco, which we can assume it’s a tricked-out Killer Frost costume.
“I love you both and always will, no matter what the future brings,” Nora says in conclusion, as Barry and Iris hold each other in their arms.
The finale then closes with a bonus scene, in which the time vault receives an “incoming time flux,” and we see the infamous “Vanishing” newspaper dateline change… to the year 2019!