This The Flash review contains spoilers.
The Flash Season 5 Episode 12
I guess I can start by saying “Memorabilia” had a ton of potential. Given how the web of Nora West-Allen secrets have been the most compelling pieces of the recent, not exactly memorable, non-Elseworlds episodes of The Flash, I had pegged “Memorabilia” as a potential turning point for the season. It’s often right around the halfway mark when Flash seasons tend to show their true colors, and while I still think we’re still doing far better than we were in season four, season five hasn’t been able to get into a groove since it’s early, excellent episodes.
But still, there is such a difference in this show when it remembers what it’s supposed to be doing. Opening and closing on Nora being shady with Gideon is exactly what we need more of. I don’t care that we have to sustain another ten episodes after this, the show needs to quit screwing around with Killer Frost-related nonsense and ramp up the tension and the stakes surrounding Nora as high as they can possibly go. Because the tension and the stakes have long been drained out of the whole Cicada thing.
Flash seasons are often only as good as their villain, and like we saw with Thinker last year, you can’t outrun a less-than-compelling big bad. If any of you brilliant readers are still fully invested in the Cicada story, please speak up. I’d like to hear from you. Certainly you’re out there. I’m not one of you, but I would like to know what, if anything, viewers are hanging on to here. The show may have done its main baddie considerable harm by revealing that, one way or another, Thawne is waiting in the wings. And not just any Thawne, but Tom Cavanagh’s Thawne. Once it was revealed that’s who Nora has been talking to, it made Cicada feel less relevant. Not even those pre-recorded statements at The Flash Museum about Cicada’s victim count or how his continued existence tarnishes Barry Allen’s legacy could change that.
Between the odd, almost diversionary premise of “Memorabilia” and how it makes the whole Cicada thing even more convoluted, I can’t help but feel that the major revelations about both Nora and her relationship with Iris were somewhat blunted. These are important revelations, mind you, but something about the way they were presented here made them feel less impactful than they should have been. While I often call out all the DC shows for stretching 13-15 episodes of actual story over 23 episodes, “Memorabilia” particularly felt like 15 minutes of story stretched to a full episode length.
So despite the weighty “important episode” implications surrounding “Memorabilia,” it’s kind of amazing that the secondary (if that) story with Ralph and Cisco was so much fun. It’s been said before (probably by me), but it bears repeating that Hartley Sawyer and the writers have done a remarkable job taking Ralph from the collection of irritating quirks he was for much of last season to the genuinely delightful supporting character he has become. The way he fluctuates between “adorable square” (wearing the helmet while ice skating) to “dude with seedy roots trying to help his buddy get over his ex” in this episode in particular was a great way to show him off. Also, “Sickada” was one of the best visual gags this show has ever pulled off.
Now, if only they could fix poor Caitlin. The last two episodes were particularly grating chapters in the ongoing story of how this show has completely botched Killer Frost. Caitlin constantly referring to the “antics” of her alter ego and/or having conversations with her are really destroying all of the goodwill they built up during her early, tragic turn. Even the handful of lines devoted to “them” this week felt like far too many. Even when she isn’t dealing with Killer Frost fallout, she’s stuck with miserable dialogue like “let me conference them in” with the memory machine. Fixing Caitlin Snow needs to become this show’s top priority, because it’s a shame to see a core castmember saddled with this nonsense week in and week out.
Although, I’m willing to bet that given how many journalists at so many different outlets lost their jobs this week, that if the writers could change one line in this episode it would be Iris’ “I could turn my blog into a real newspaper.” That’s a statement so ridiculous that it would be far fetched even in a world where multiple speedsters, metahumans, and parallels universes exist.
– Sherloque got tonight’s episode idea from “Jervis Tetch himself, the mad hatter killer from Earth 221.” That is, of course, Batman villain The Mad Hatter. Has he appeared on Gotham yet? I wouldn’t know. I haven’t made it through an episode of Gotham in about three years.
– It’s cool that we got to spend time in The Flash Museum (and hear the exhibits narrated by Dexter Myles!) but…I wish they had gone a little bigger for it.
– There are some genuine Earth Prime Flash comics on display in the museum, including The Flash Rebirth special from 2016 (and seriously, if you’re not reading Joshua Williamson’s The Flash comics right now, you’re missing out on some all time greatness). You can also spot The Flash #172, one of Geoff Johns’ earliest Flash stories, and part of the “Blood Will Run” story that introduced Cicada in the comics. Of course, that’s Wally West on that cover, but shhhh…
– Barry’s incredulous “these guys get their own wing?!?” when they get to the villains wing of the museum is great, and speaks to the fact that after Batman, Flash might just have the best Rogues’ Gallery in comics. This show should start utilizing them better (hint-hint). Also note: Amunet Black does not deserve a place in the museum.
– The Flash theme ringtones are brilliant, too.