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Warning! The following contains spoilers for The Flash episode "Gone Rogue." Read at your own risk.
There was tension in the air going into The Flash's "Gone Rogue." After a Season 5 that's been loaded with surprising twists, betrayals of trust, and time travel contingencies, it all seemed to be building to something big when Barry Allen took Nora West-Allen back to the future and forbade her from returning to the past. Desperate with no other options, Nora turned to Reverse-Flash for a way to travel back to the past without her father realizing.
It was there Nora learned of the Negative Speed Force, and managed to tap into it based on the pure hatred she felt for her father after what she did. Nora arrived back in Central City present day with a red glow in her eye that set the stage for what could've been a phenomenal arc to close out Season 5. Instead, it appears The Flash bungled a once-promising storyline and wasted what could've been a cool development.
The Flash extinguished Nora's anger almost as immediately as it created it. One of the biggest moments of the season was promptly followed by Nora taking a villainous role, but deciding over the course of one evening that being a villain wasn't really something she was into.
Now I'm not necessarily surprised that Nora rushed into a brash and ill-thought decision based purely on emotion, as that's been her MO since she first appeared on the scene. If The Flash had a dollar for every time Nora made a bad decision, the King Shark vs. Gorilla Grodd CGI effects would've been even more off the chain than they already were.
What I'm more disappointed in is The Flash took a false twist as big as teasing Nora as a villain, and decided to play that out over the course of an episode with the penultimate episode happening next week. Had they followed through and bled it into the season finale, it could've made for a really satisfying arc, even if it did end with Nora ultimately coming to her senses.
Instead, we got an episode where Nora experienced the equivalent of a teenage rebellious phase, and enlisted three returning Rogues in a plot that only loosely had anything to do with the over-arching plot. It all tied together at the end when Nora revealed her true intention for the heist into McCullough Labs, which was to steal a mirror gun that's capable of destroying Cicada's dagger.
So wait, Nora wasn't coming back to exact revenge on her father? She was traveling back to get a device to stop Cicada? It seems like the Negative Speed Force would've seen right through that and denied the young speedster entry when she tried to utilize it. Even if her plans changed when she returned, it just doesn't make sense that she can tap into these dark speedster powers so easily.
The episode, as a whole, really trivialized the amount of effort it takes to summon the power of the Negative Speed Force. If Nora could tap into that power and go right back to being good without much effort, how has Barry never tapped into that power? He's been at least that mad a few times throughout The Flash, but never once got so worked up he tapped into Reverse-Flash's power supply.
Another thing this episode really undermined was Cicada II, who only came into the picture in the eleventh hour of the episode. Once Nora revealed her plan was to get a mirror gun, Cisco then explained that adult Grace stole his prototypes for the metahuman cure, and can now make a virus capable of killing every metahuman. That's a pretty big move for a character who was essentially relegated to being a B-villain!
In all seriousness, it's a pretty big development that was shoehorned into the conclusion of what was more or less a meaningless arc. In the time it took for Nora to realize her dad really isn't that mad at her and he still loves her, we could've gotten a little more Cicada II, learned about her future and what led to her becoming the successor serial killer, or maybe anything that raised the stakes ahead of the penultimate episode.
Again, had there been actual pay off to Nora's villainous twist, the Cicada II snub would've been justified. Instead, it came off to me as a cheap trick shows do to draw audiences into an episode that ultimately leads to nothing. Shows do this all the time, and perhaps if The Flash had done an episode like this a bit further back from its final stretch, it wouldn't have been as big of a deal.
Perhaps the issue was dragging out the climax, which really happened when Team Flash finally found out that Nora was working with Eobard Thawne. Everything after that should've been falling action, but it kept escalating to a level that made it seem the arc had only just begun. By the time her eyes were glowing, it was hard to be excited for anything other than Nora going to try and kill her father.
Now, there's still a chance The Flash comes back to this at some point. There's still two episodes left to go, and perhaps Nora's ease of accessing the Negative Speed Force will make her an asset to Barry in the penultimate, the big season finale, or maybe even at the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover next season. That's the hope anyway, as so much of Season 5 has been on point, it'd be disappointing to see it stumble now.
Did The Flash bungle Nora's 24 hours as a villain? Make your voice heard in the comments and tune into the final Season 5 episodes on The CW Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET. Also, stick with CinemaBlend for more updates on the Arrow-verse as well as other big news in television, movies, and pop culture.