This post contains spoilers for The Flash.
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You’re faced with a choice: you stop the greatest serial killer of all time, or you set the most diabolical mastermind in history free. As is usually the case in these instances, Team Flash believes that they do both. A lot of times, comic book properties will allow for the miracle solution to the impossible problem. The Flash didn’t, and thank Rao. It delivered its best season finale yet as a result.
We all rag on Barry Allen and his poor time travel choices. The good natured ribbing is mostly because his meddling in time has deeply effected those around him while he himself has had few real consequences. Sure, he got stuck in the Speed Force that one time, but Dig lost a daughter, and Cisco a brother. The altering of the timeline has been mostly ignored in season five, but “Legacy” stands as a reminder that no matter how fast you run, eventually the bill comes due.
Last week we learned that Thawne had some sort of connection with the dagger. At the time, I assumed he’d been manipulating Grace from the beginning, but it turns out he didn’t even know her. Instead, Iron Heights was using the Cicada dagger as a means to dampen his powers. If young Nora destroyed said dagger in the past, they’re no longer able to hold him in the future.
A young girl desperate to meet her father for the first time fell victim to the manipulation of a man who has bested the entirety of Team Flash more than once. As mentioned, she tries to right that mistake. Her miracle solution is convincing the young version of Grace to see the light and take the cure so she can’t hurt people in the future. Nora even succeeds! Unfortunately, the cure doesn’t. The dagger has too strong a hold, and Shecada’s powers remain untouched. But, because Shecada wasn’t the real big bad of the season, she goes down about halfway through the episode by way of the mirror gun. The Flash decides he doesn’t care what destroying the dagger means, so long as Nora is safe.
And here we are at those consequences. Knowing what destroying the dagger means, Team Flash heads to the future to confront the newly freed Eobard Thawne. Then they kick his ass. This isn’t the team of new heroes he trained four years ago! This is a fully operational Team Flash, and they know all the ways to take Reverse Flash down. An over zealous Nora almost gives him the old chest phase treatment, but is stopped by her terrified parents.
Their fear was unfounded; she never would’ve been able to kill him even if she had followed through. Destroying Cicada’s dagger did more than just free Thawne. It also erased Nora. A smug Thawne tells The Flash that he has to take XS into the Negative Force so she can escape the effects of the timeline shift, and that he offers up the advice because he, too, see’s Nora as a daughter. A furious Barry does as he says, but Nora throws herself out of the Negative Force before the timeline solidifies.
When she’s having her patented West Allen sulk moment in the cortex earlier in the episode, Barry tells Nora that sometimes you can’t fix your mistakes. You just have to take your licks and move forward. His daughter takes the advice to heart and decides that she’d rather die than always have the Negative Force be a part of her. Nora might have had her ups and downs throughout the season, but her decision to fade out of existence manages to be incredibly emotional. There should be consequences to time travel, but that doesn’t make watching those consequences unfold suck any less.
Nora’s passing leaves behind a devastated Team Flash, leaving the episode to close with everyone getting their own endings. Joe is now Captain of the CCPD, Singh knows Barry’s The Flash, Sherloque returns to his earth, now-adult-giraffe takes on a new case, the West Allens mourn, and Cisco makes his choice. The Flash looks to have given Cisco Ramone his farewell for the time being, but I desperately hope to be wrong about that in season six.
“Legacy” closes with the reveal that Nora’s departure and the freedom of Thawne aren’t the only negative timeline shifts. The Flash is still going to disappear, but that timeline’s now jumped from 2024 to 2019. It looks as if the Green Arrow’s sacrifice will save Barry’s life; it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll be around to save the day. Before disappearing, Thawne tells Barry that he’ll see him in their next Crisis, so look forward to that brutal meet-up as we head into next year’s crossover.
And with that, we close out The Flash for the season. It was a little rocky with that Cicada business, but the season closes out strong with plenty of stakes and enough hope to pull you forward. It also makes us 2/2 on DCTV shows that acknowledge the Crisis that’s to come. We’ll see next week if Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow follow suit.