Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-Ray/DVD I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.
The Flash’s fifth season was a mixed bag. Arrow had its strongest year in its fifth season after a pair of underwhelming efforts. The Flash couldn’t follow that pattern. This year’s big twist was the arrival of Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris’ (Candice Patton) daughter from the future, Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy). Nora has a few secrets she’s unwilling to share especially related to the arrival of a new villain Cicada (Chris Klein).
Like Arrow, The Flash started to feel cluttered with so many members of Team Flash. Even with Jesse L. Martin’s medical break and occasional missed episodes from Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Ralph (Hartley Sawyer) the series was bloated with too many characters vying for screen time. This affected the title character the most as in several episodes, The Flash made what amounted to cameo appearances.
The XS storyline felt repetitive as the last couple of seasons have devoted so many episodes to Barry training a new superhero. In so many ways, Barry treated Wally and Ralph like kid sidekicks so this dynamic with Nora didn’t feel fresh enough. The writers still don’t give Iris enough to do, but at least some progress was made in re-establishing her journalism career. Caitlin aka Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker) received a lot of screen time as she uncovered more of her origin. Killer Frost was an interesting character back in her Season 2 debut, but the writers have devoted a lot of time to making her just as important a hero as Barry or XS.
Tom Cavanagh has been a tremendous asset to the series and this year he plays a new Wells named Sherloque. Cavanagh’s French accent can disappear in a flash, but he doggedly makes the character interesting over the course of the season.
You can always count on the show to provide some tender, heartwarming and heartbreaking moments with a healthy balance of comedy and big action sequences. One area that’s been less reliable is the villains as it increasingly feels like diminishing returns since the series’ glory days of Reverse Flash and Zoom.
The series is now starting to pay for treating Flash’s Rogues as a minor league threat easily dispatched in one episode when they should have been positioned as major players.
Cicada never managed to feel like a real obstacle to the team and even after giving it a second go, the writers ultimately pushed all their season chips in on a familiar villain commodity. While not properly paying off the Cicada storyline, it did make for an impressively captivating and emotional season finale.
Here’s the breakdown of the season:
Shortly after defeating The Thinker, Barry Allen/The Flash and his wife, Iris, were stunned by the arrival of their already grown, speedster daughter from the future, Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy). However, acclimating to their lives as parents won’t be the only challenge they face, as Season Five pits Team Flash against Central City’s latest scourge – the DC Super-Villain Cicada (Chris Klein).
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Here’s the episode breakdown:
- The Death of Vibe
- News Flash
- All Doll’d Up
- The Icicle Cometh
- O Come, All Ye Thankful
- What’s Past Is Prologue
- Elseworlds: Hour One
- Elseworlds: Hour Two
- Elseworlds: Hour Three
- The Flash & The Furious
- Seeing Red
- Cause and XS
- King Shark VS Gorilla Grodd
- Failure Is an Orphan
- Time Bomb
- Snow Pack
- Gone Rogue
- The Girl with the Red Lightning
The video and audio isn’t much different from what you’d see on your standard HDTV with a decent audio setup. The Flash doesn’t have the kind of budget that the home video presentation will ever be reference quality, but it certainly isn’t a step down from the network airing and benefits from the brighter color scheme and daytime settings of the series.
If you previously picked up the Arrow: The Complete Seventh Season on Blu-Ray, a lot of the special features are the same.
The Evolution of Killer Frost (11:31)
A look at one of the series’ biggest characters and some of the differences from the character’s original presentation in the comic book.
Best of DC TV’s Comic-Con Panels San Diego 2018 (36:24 to 49:42)
The Flash panel begins at the 36:24 mark as they preview Season 5 including Jessica Parker Kennedy’s uncanny resemblance to Patton and Grant.
– Barry catches up with Singh after being reinstated. Good scene that helps explain some of the setup for the season. This was repeated through other conversations, but Singh is an underutilized character and he would have benefited from the screen time. It also hints that Singh knows Barry is The Flash, which would be important later.
-XS hijacks The Flash’s training exercise with Cisco’s help. This was an odd scene to exclude as it was pretty good despite the lack of polished special effects. I’m surprised this didn’t make the final cut.
-Ralph and Caitlin sneak around in a brief scene that was better left cut.
-An innocent bystander tries to record Flash in action and encounters XS. Useless since it involves a character we wouldn’t see again.
-Barry chats with Cecile while she watches a baseball game in a rare bonding moment between the two characters. This absolutely should have been included.
-Iris interviews Rag Doll’s mother. Not that impactful and too quick to be of much use.
Inside the Crossover: Elseworlds (45:01)
In this extensive and impressively thorough special feature, DC Daily co-host Hector Navarro chats with Arrow, Batwoman, The Flash and Supergirl executive producers about some of the challenges and logistics of the Elseworlds event as well as establishing a compelling introduction of Batwoman. One thing that stood out was the lack of diversity among the showrunners. There’s a decent ratio of men to women, but there’s a disappointing absence of POC decision makers. Navarro does a good job of keeping the conversation moving even if the showrunners are not the most enthusiastic or exciting conversationalists.
Beyond the showrunner discussion, which would typically be all you’d expect in this kind of feature, there’s also segments with DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation creators including Geoff Johns and Mike Carlin discussing the Elseworlds’ legacy from The Dark Knight Returns to Justice League: The Nail and Kingdom Come.
Villains of Persuasion (38:05)
In another well done featurette, DC talking heads delve into the mindset of villains. This one is a comprehensive look at villains beyond just the Arrowverse and includes Gotham, Krypton and DC Animation projects. These features add so much to the Blu-Ray value and they’re clearly not slapped together. The obvious effort here makes for nice diversions when you need a break from watching six episodes in a string.