The penultimate episode of The Flash season 5, "The Girl With the Red Lightning," sets up the impending finale, and we have questions. The Arrowverse's most popular show, The Flash season 5 has largely felt like setup for the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" event. Eobard Thawne has been a constant background presence, secretly working with Nora to help Team Flash defeat the threat of Cicada. Thawne was sentenced to Death Row in the future, with a clock counting down the remaining days of his life.
In The Flash season 5, episode 21, Thawne's clock finally runs to zero, and he comes to the moment of his execution. Meanwhile, in the present, Team Flash desperately attempt to prevent Cicada killing every metahuman in North America. These two plots are at last beginning to link together, explaining just why Thawne had supported Nora in her obsessive desire to defeat Cicada, and why he's carefully orchestrated the destruction of Cicada's dagger.
Time travel has always been central to The Flash, but it's not always been done well. This season is an exception, with the past and the future interwoven in a grand mystery. Now the answers are finally revealed, ready for the endgame in the season finale, here are the top questions that the show needs to deal with.
9. What Is Eobard Thawne's Plan?
Thawne's plan has been revealed; it's all an elaborate attempt to escape the Death Penalty. He actually told Nora the key to his plan in a previous episode, "Godspeed," where Thawne revealed that his experiments with the Speed Force have transformed him into a sort of "temporal constant." The timeline can be rewritten, but Thawne himself will remain unchanged. That means his masterplan is essentially a way of rewriting the world in which he's imprisoned.
It seems that, in the future, Cicada's dagger will be found and confiscated by the police. They've used it to hold Thawne prisoner, by strapping it to his chest and therefore nullifying Thawne's powers. The only way Thawne can escape is if history is rewritten and the dagger is destroyed. Thus he sent Nora back to the past, convincing her to rewrite history so Cicada emerged decades earlier, and then orchestrated a plan to destroy the dagger. Thawne's plans almost failed when Cicada II traveled back to the past as well - explaining why the Reverse-Flash was so upset at there being a new variable in play - but by now he's adapted.
8. Will Cicada's Dagger Be Destroyed?
"The Girl with the Red Lightning" ends on a cliffhanger, with Ralph Dibny successfully working out Thawne's plan. Ralph is the one member of Team Flash who never met Thawne, and he's become increasingly concerned with everything he hears; unlike Iris and Barry, he's unwilling to assume Thawne is seeking redemption, and instead assumes there must be another reason why Reverse-Flash wants Cicada's dagger destroyed. For Ralph, the key is when Cicada makes a throwaway reference to not needing her dagger in the future; that tells him that the dagger must be somewhere else, somewhere inconvenient to Thawne, and he swiftly deduces the truth. Unfortunately, it looks as though he's too late; Barry has already opened fire on the dagger with the Mirror Gun.
7. How Will Nora Take To Learning She's Been Used?
The truth about Thawne will be devastating to Nora. Naive and trusting, she'd come to believe Thawne was someone she could go to as a confidant; but in The Flash season 5 finale, Nora is going to be forced to face the truth that she has been manipulated. This will hit even harder given she'd just persuaded her parents to listen to her and act in accordance with Thawne's plan to destroy the dagger. Hopefully, it means there'll be an emotional confrontation between Thawne and Nora at some point.
6. Does Thawne Really Care About Nora?
It's crucial to remember, though, that Thawne has increasingly seemed to genuinely care about Nora. While that could have been an act, the truth is that Nora is one of only two people to visit Eobard Thawne in 15 years of imprisonment, and even a psychopath needs some sort of connection to other human beings. There's a sense in which Nora has become Thawne's daughter as much as Barry's, accepting his guidance and even tapping into his Negative Speed Force. All this may leave Thawne very conflicted going forward.
5. Will Cicada Be Powerless Without Her Dagger?
The Flash season 5, episode 21 sees Cicada demonstrate the extent of her powers - and prove that she doesn't need the dagger to be a formidable threat. For all that's the case, though, there is still clearly some sort of connection between Cicada and the dagger. That means its destruction may well have an effect on her powers, either removing them or lessening them. Team Flash may find Grace a lot easier to handle if that dagger is destroyed.
4. How Will Cisco Leave The Flash?
Carlos Valdez is confirmed to be leaving The Flash at the end of season 5, and "The Girl with the Red Lightning" takes full advantage of the fact this is public knowledge. The episode places Cisco in a number of near-fatal situations, in which he demonstrates his heroism by working to deprogram the cryo-atomizer even when Cicada is literally leaping at his back. At this stage, it's unclear whether Cisco will be forced to pay the ultimate price to defeat Cicada, or whether - as suggested by Sherloque in "Gone Rogue" - he'll choose to quit the superhero lifestyle when all this is over.
3. Will Sherloque Return To His Reality?
Every season of The Flash seems to have a different incarnation of Harrison Wells, and Sherloque has been one of the most entertaining yet. But it really does look as though Sherloque's time with Team Flash is coming to an end; he's even sent his beloved Renee Adler over to his own reality for safety. No doubt when Cicada is dealt with, Sherloque will want to join her there.
2. How Did Renee Adler Cope With The Multiverse So Easily?
Amusingly, Renee doesn't seem the slightest bit fazed by the fact Sherloque claims to have come from another dimension. As she notes, she recently saw a giant gorilla engaged in a one-on-one battle with a man-shark; living in Central City has raised the bar on weirdness to a pretty high level. Still, it's startling to note that Renee doesn't appear to mind the fact that Sherloque has been keeping his entire life a secret from her throughout their relationship. Presumably Renee figures she hasn't exactly been an open book herself, given she avoided telling Sherloque about her magnetic powers.
1. Why Does Nobody Listen To Ralph?
Ralph Dibny is swiftly becoming the most under-appreciated character in The Flash. The rest of Team Flash treat Ralph as comic relief, and the Book of Ralph has become a too-often-repeated gag. But "The Girl with the Red Lightning" really highlights what a valuable contribution Ralph could make to the team, if they'd just listen to him. Ralph is fascinated by time travel, and deeply disturbed at the idea Team Flash has been manipulated by Eobard Thawne. He's not willing to assume that Thawne has their best interests at heart, and as a result it's Ralph who figures out Thawne's motives. If Team Flash had listened to him a lot sooner, they might well have avoided falling into Thawne's trap.