You know it’s getting on toward fall when the shows start coming back. The CW-verse returns, and, while some call it the Arrow-verse after the first of the series, Flash leads the way with the season premiers. The new girl gets the voiceover to kick things off, talking about her career as Central City’s protector thirty years from now. “Nora” picks up right about where the season ended, as the Team Flash party gets interrupted by the mysterious young woman who has been popping up all season revealing who she is, and it was a hell of a note to end on. She is the titular Nora, and is, in fact, Barry and Iris’ daughter from the future. That’s a hell of an introduction, and Cisco has the best reaction, guzzling wine and getting more. Ralph shows he hasn’t been paying attention much as he’s surprised by the whole idea of time travel. We also see that Cecile has retained her telepathy after giving birth, which wasn’t what anyone predicted.
Nora, named for Barry’s mother, goes by XS. In the show, she says it’s a nickname from Iris. In the comics, the speedster named XS is Barry Allen’s granddaughter, the same generation as Impulse. She’s from a lot more than thirty years in the books—the 30th century, in fact, and she’s a member of the Legion of Super Heroes. The team puts her through her paces in the Speed Lab while Barry and Iris worry about the timeline being damaged and volley movie quips back and forth at each other. Cisco and Caitlin attach various sensors to Nora as she does more laps, and Wally zips off to check things out with the Legends. The early DNA results indicate it’s at least possible Nora’s telling the truth. Cisco is not at the top of his game, since he was drinking to mourn the end of his relationship with Gypsy, and wasn’t expecting a time traveling “niece” to drop by.
Ending one of last season’s most annoying subplots, Barry gets his job back after meeting with Captain Singh. Since the annoying Julian disappeared a while back, and they never replaced Barry during his questionably legal “leave of absence,” there’s an impressive backlog waiting for him in the lab. Nora slips in, offering to help and revealing her career. His worries about the timeline being contaminated get interrupted as a new meta-criminal shows up. With Barry’s new suit trashed last season, Nora takes off and supplies him with his original one from storage.
The new meta has some kind of electrical powers, but Flash makes short work of him and saves the cops he was attacking. Unfortunately, XS proves to be bad at “stay” and distracts Flash, letting the meta get the drop on him and get away. A very chastened XS shrugs embarrassedly.
A very nice touch with the time traveling young woman is incorporating future slang from other DC books. She uses “grife,” a Legion stand-by, and later schway, which was big on the near-er future Batman Beyond. Nora also mentions the Flash Museum, a big piece of the DC Universe before the reboot a few years ago. Everyone in the room is surprised to hear about the museum. Ralph continues to make an idiot of himself, and Barry goes back to the CCPD, probably needing a break.
Iris and Nora go to show-favorite Jitters, and Nora mentions Lightning Lad, a founding member of the earlier referenced Legion of Super Heroes. Nora and Iris don’t exactly connect well, and Nora talks about the high price of coffee in the future. Iris finds herself being the stereotypical mother, pretending to know what her kid is talking about.
Back at STAR, Nora knows a lot about their future, and makes a few comments about things that haven’t happened yet, prompting the others to warn about spoilers. Flash and XS team up to try and send her home, and Wally comes racing back just a moment too late to warn them about what’s going to happen. The issue Nora is having also rules out the Legends just taking her back to her own time on the Waverider. The great debate on what to do next gets interrupted when the new meta, Gridlock, pops up again and the team realize how much of their early warning gear they lost in the clash with the Thinker.
Ralph, Cisco, and Caitlin work the scene of the earlier fight and make some disturbing discoveries about Gridlock’s power. Barry and Iris talk in the Cortex about the pros and cons of Nora being around. Barry has some weird concerns aside from preserving the timeline (NOW he’s worried about that?). Iris makes a lot more sense than Barry about all this. Nora and Barry have a conversation in the Time Vault, and Barry hears some things about the future he was probably happier not knowing. By the end of the conversation, Nora isn’t too happy either, coming down hard on herself.
The team figures out who Gridlock really is, and he’s very loosely based on a minor foe of Impulse’s from the comics. Cisco gets stuck in a very minor time paradox, and, as always, has the best reactions. Cisco also manages to come up with a clever way to find Gridlock without all their fancy equipment, but it’s really not good news. The team comes up with a clever plan involving all three speedsters and Vibe’s breech power. It’s a really impressive stunt. Just before they go, Nora introduces a piece of the Flash mythos the fans have been wanting to see since the first episode. This also leads to a mention of Ryan Choi, a protégé of Raymond Palmer, the Atom, and later the Atom himself.
After the fight, Barry has a surprising change of heart about Nora. He has a decent excuse, and Wally talks about the concept of soft points in time vs. fixed points, a bit like something Dr. Who has brought up in the past. There’s a joke about the previously un-mentioned lounge, which one of the team has been keeping a secret. Wally shares some of his stories with Joe about the Legends, with Nora looking on enthusiastically. Waly and Joe also have a heart to heart about Wally’s quest to find himself. Barry and Iris have come to something approaching acceptance about their future child.
We find out what Ralph was up to during the fight, and he’s dug up some interesting things about a minor mystery that was mentioned last season. Barry and Iris set up Nora’s temporary room, and there’s some mention of Happy Harbor, Rhode Island, which was the Justice League’s original headquarters, and later used by several other teams. The show ends with another voiceover by Nora, and the introduction of a new villain who makes sure Gridlock doesn’t get to Iron Heights.
What I liked: They are drawing on a lot of different parts of the huge DC Universe, and bringing them in well. I’m really intrigued by the several references to the Legion. I’m not sure about the team’s big trick, but the teamwork was great. Cisco is possibly my favorite character and has the best reactions. I was thrilled to see what Nora brought Barry. In the comics, Ralph is one of the best detectives in the DCU, and it’s nice to see him doing something besides comic relief on the show.
What I didn’t: The end villain was an odd one, and I’m not sure how I feel about his self-proclaimed mission. I sort of get why they did it, but I’m not wild about moving XS up a generation and skipping her parents (yeah, I’m that comic book guy). It’s odd seeing them with no Wells.
They are starting off strong, have hopefully left the darkness of last season behind, and I like XS. I’ll give this a 4 out of 5.