One of The Flash‘s strongest elements has always been the bonds between beloved characters. Regardless of which villain Barry Allen is facing or what science his friends use to help him win, the team has always operated more like a family, with the West-Allen clan holding them all together when things get tough. Here’s why the introduction of Nora Allen, the birth of Jenna West, and the recent allusions to Caitlin Snow’s father will solidify family as the central theme of The Flash Season 5.
Nora Allen: The Flash Family
One of the biggest Arrowverse talking points this year has been the Mystery Girl who appeared at Iris and Barry’s wedding, and who kept popping up throughout the season. Her presence remained unexplained until the final moments of the Season 4 finale, “We Are the Flash”, when she revealed that she was their daughter from the future.
This surprise opens the door to a lot of storytelling opportunities for Season 5. There’s a lot of comedy and drama to be mined from Barry and his wife learning how to be parents without actually having Iris go through a pregnancy onscreen. But while The Flash had comedy more than handled in Season 4, it’s the drama they need to focus on now. Why did Nora come back? What was the “big, big mistake” that she made? Might her mistake explain why she was so reluctant to run into her mother, Iris?
Speaking of time periods, Nora appears to be from the year 2038, according to showrunner Todd Helbing. That’s only four years before Zari Tomaz’s time in Legends of Tomorrow. Zari’s time was dangerous for anyone who had powers because A.R.G.U.S. was enforcing strict anti-meta-human laws. If Nora does comes from a dark time like this, then her storyline is clearly echoing Dawn Allen’s story from the comics. If meta-humans are suffering in the future, how far would Barry and Iris go not only to protect their daughter but also their family at large? The Flash has dealt with fear of the future before, but combining the heightened stakes of time travel with the pain and pleasure of raising an adult child could lead to dramatic yet exciting Season 5 threat.
There’s also the question of why Nora helped Barry stop the satellite. Marlize suggested that Barry risked his life battling it alone, so it’s possible that Nora saved him to ensure her own existence. How can Iris discipline her daughter when her mistake actually kept her husband and Nora herself alive? There’s many moral dilemmas that the West-Allens can unpack by giving this story room to breathe instead of rushing through it in favor of next year’s Big Bad.
Joe West: A Gentleman and a Father
Nora isn’t the only new addition to the Flash family, as Joe and Cecile also welcomed baby Jenna Marie West in the finale. The only thing Joe West is better at than being a cop is being a dad, and hopefully Season 5 will give him a chance to do more of both. It will be fun to see him frantic over the changes in childcare over the last 20 years and it will also provide for more sorely missed family time on The Flash.
As middle-aged parents with full-time jobs, Joe and Cecile are going to need all the help they can get raising baby Jenna. This is a perfect opportunity for Barry and Iris to babysit as practice for their future kid(s), as well as for Joe to impart his famous wisdom on the rest of the team as they approach their own romances and eventual families. Considering Joe is one of the few characters with a stable relationship and a happy home life, some S.T.A.R. Labs employees could really use his advice.
Previous seasons expanded Joe’s dad role to include the entire team, allowing him to take Cisco under his wing at the CCPD and give Caitlin much-needed advice about her alter-ego. But Season 4 cut back on Joe fathering the team and even cut back from even showcasing Joe’s bonds with Barry and Iris, an issue that was only made worse by Wally’s departure. Hopefully Jenna’s presence will bring everyone together for more moments like the baby shower and the welcoming party, so that the audience can remember just why these characters love each other so much.
Defrosting Dr. Snow
Caitlin Snow has fallen victim to ever-changing backstories a few too many times, but the Season 4 finale may have hit on one that makes sense. Not only is Killer Frost officially an alternate personality, she’s also been around much longer than Flashpoint. The question of how Frost and her powers emerged is poised to not only open the door to new methods of meta-human creation, but also to reconnect Caitlin with her family.
Carla Tannhauser, Caitlin’s cold and clinical mother, was only seen once in Season 3 but she left quite an impression. While her distant attitude was connected to the death of Caitlin’s father after a prolonged battle with ALS, the introduction of Killer Frost at a young age offers a new explanation. A flashback in the penultimate episode “Think Fast” proved that her father knew about her powers, but what about her mother?
In fact, with a family full of doctors and a mother clearly prone to experimentation, there’s a strong chance Caitlin’s parents gave her powers. It would certainly change her life if she found out that the father she adored actually experimented on her as a child. This may be a chilling prospect, but it would give Caitlin a reason to an alternate persona and with blocked out her powers and memories.
Another point of interest? When Cecile read Caitlin’s mind, she said, “I found Thomas. He’s been this way all the time.” Thomas might be her father’s name, suggesting that he is also a meta-human, still alive, or both. It might also be the name of a fellow patient who underwent the same treatments as Caitlin and who Frost found in the present. Either option could lead to an interesting story for Season 5.
With a new baby on the show, a grown up West-Allen daughter, and Caitlin’s dad possibly returning to her life, we are so excited to see family remain the heart of the The Flash Season 5.
The Flash returns to the CW on Tuesdays this fall.