We have just seen the completion of a fantastic Season 5 of The Flash, one that gave us more timeline twists than even the Flashpoint story arc. What follows the jump will be HUGE spoilers for Season 5, so I’ll save all the big points for now. But, since the timeline was affected so much, and in so many ways, I began to wonder, “What if Nora had never visited the present time?” Let’s start just after the jump!
SPOILERS FOR SEASON 5 AHEAD!
To explore this further, I’m not going to include all the sneaky surprise visits Nora made prior to Season 5, like her appearance at Barry and Iris’ wedding. Instead, let’s start with the end to Season 4, when Nora suddenly rewound time and joined Barry in punching The Thinker’s satellite to pieces…stay with me, folks, it’s a wild ride.
Had Nora not interfered with Barry’s punching The Thinker’s satellite:
- Barry would have survived destroying the satellite in spite of Team Flash’s fears, as he was not slated to disappear until the 2024 Crisis (which has since been moved up, but we’ll come back to that later).
- Barry’s solo punch to the satellite would still have created the dagger, but it would NOT have gone to Orlin Dwyer. Instead, it would have gone to the person originally slated to become Cicada, the person with the same name as all the other Cicadas on all the other multiple Earths. (Keep in mind that this is how Sherloque thought he had “solved” the mystery early in Season 5).
- The person meant to be Cicada would have gone on a meta killing spree, then he would have faded into the mists of history. Team Flash would never have found Cicada – “The one case the Flash never solved”. That means the dagger that dampens meta powers would also fade from view…
- …until it was used to stop Eobard Thawne and place him in prison.
- With that timeline, Thawne would have remained powerless all the way until his execution – and yes, he would have died in that timeline. No more Reverse Flash!
- Nora would still have been born, and would have had that chip implanted by Iris to dampen her powers as well. Whether she later would have gained super speed or not, she would likely not have gone to 2019, and certainly would not have helped Barry punch the satellite (setting all of Season 5 into motion).
Here’s what we don’t know at this point:
- In that original timeline, we don’t know if Nora would have discovered her powers.
- Had she done so, we don’t know if she would have gone to Thawne for help. In any event, she would not have started the cascade of events that led to Season 5’s story arc.
- It is possible that she could have discovered her powers, become XS, and acted as the hero of 2049 without ever returning to the past…but due to all the timey-wimey nature of things, that will have to be unknown.
So, Nora DID discover her powers and DID go to Thawne for help. Here’s what happened at first:
- Thawne didn’t know at first about Cicada (that interruption to the timeline happens later in Season 5).
- BUT, he did hold on to the hope that he could somehow manipulate the timeline in a way that could free him.
- He took a chance on Nora being that agent of change.
- At this point in the story, everything is fluid…or as the journal puts it, “The Timeline is Malleable”.
How could Thawne know if his efforts worked? How could he know what to manipulate, even with Nora’s help? That’s where the journal came in!
- With Nora uploading her pages to Gideon from a journal that remained static (even with timeline changes), Thawne could monitor both Nora’s efforts and how the timeline had changed.
- He could then further direct her efforts to continue changing things in his favor.
(NOTE: Who in their right mind would have given Thawne a Gideon terminal in Iron Heights in 2049? I realize that was one of the keys to this season, but really, who would do that?)
At one point in time, Barry and Nora visit the world of Season One. They meet Thawne in the Time Vault, where Nora let slip the word “Cicada”.
- This is a BIG moment! For the first time, Thawne could latch on to a means of destroying that dagger before it could be used against him.
- His future self, the one in 2049, gains this knowledge since the timeline has shifted to include the word “Cicada”.
- His hope would be to change the past, to keep the original meant-to-be Cicada from being created…and to ensure that a different person became Cicada.
- This new Cicada, the one we saw in Season 5 (Orlin Dwyer) would be someone who could be defeated, whom the Flash would NOT lose to the mists of time.
- And, if they could defeat Cicada, then the dagger might be destroyed in our present time.
- If it is destroyed now, that means it cannot exist in 2049, freeing Thawne from prison and escaping his certain doom.
Back to a 2049, Thawne now has a more complete plan. Nora is sent back in time in hopes of finding…something that would change the person who would become Cicada to someone new.
- Thawne sends Nora back in time, nudging her just a bit so that she joins Barry in destroying the satellite. Remember, Barry punched it by himself first – then Nora “rewound” time and joined him.
- This changed the trajectory of the debris, sending key part of the satellite in new directions. The dagger was still created, but it fell into the hands of someone who was not originally intended to be Cicada. Orlin Dwyer was the perfect “new” Cicada.
Still, Thawne couldn’t anticipate everything. He certainly did not appear to anticipate an adult Grace going back in time and taking over the role of Cicada.
- It is possible that Thawne’s original plan just involved bringing in Orlin Dwyer, whether “cured” or not, and destroying the dagger.
- Grace’s entry to the timeline placed Thawne’s gambit in danger. Grace was more powerful,. Could she be stopped?
Grace did not have the dagger in the future – the timeline had not been changed enough yet. That dagger was still placed on Thawne’s chest to keep his powers dampened. Still, Thawne had a few tricks up his sleeve.
- Thawne likely knew how Barry would react to learning about Nora’s work with THE villain who had killed his mother.
- He encourages Nora to tell Barry the truth…although Sherloque Wells beats her to the punch. It has an even greater effect, and Barry strands her in 2049.
- With Nora isolated from Barry’s guidance, she was easily manipulated into connecting to the Negative Speed Force.
- Now, Thawne could send her back to 2019 without Barry’s knowledge, to find the one weapon that could destroy the dagger.
- Once that mirror gun was found, Thawne’s plan was fully in place.
Still, Thawne’s plan almost didn’t work out.
- Had they been able to keep the dagger away from Cicada 2 while giving the meta “cure” to young Grace, Cicada 2 could have been defeated while the dagger remained intact. But of course, Cicada did keep the dagger close and they did have to destroy it in 2019….
- …and Thawne’s plan worked!
There was one more element to Thawne’s plan, and I tend to think it was a feature of the plan that he didn’t particularly like.
- Thawne had grown fond of Nora in spite of his hatred for Barry.
- But, he knew that all these changes could erase Nora from the timeline.
- That would give Barry an impossible choice – let Thawne go to save Nora, or let Nora fade from the timeline to bring Thawne in.
Barry tries to save Nora, and here’s where the timeline diverges from what Thawne may have anticipated.
- If Nora had been willing to go into the Negative Speed Force, she would have survived.
- The Negative Speed Force allows a speedster to go undetected by someone like Barry, and it likely would have protected her from a timeline shift.
- But, it would have made her more like Thawne. I tend to think he would have liked that, making her his protege instead of Barry’s.
Of course, Nora realizes this and chooses to fade away rather than accept such a fate.
Now, there are still questions here that may never be answered:
- If Nora technically never existed, how did she go back in time in the first place?
- How did she have an impact on the timeline for everyone else?
- How could anyone remember her?
Still, this could be partially answered if Nora is eventually born to Barry and Iris and lives out her original timeline. But, it does become a bit of a timey-wimey mess. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved Season 5 – but the timeline has definitely been messed with here.
That of course leads to the final change in the timeline, moving the Crisis up to 2019. And, it could mean that Nora did accomplish the goals she set when she came back in time. Her goals?
- Help her dad find and stop Cicada.
- Stop her dad from disappearing in the Crisis.
So, the “Girl Who Never Was” (to paraphrase a Doctor Who trope) could in fact be the key to Season 6 as well.
SUMMARY: I doubt that I have covered all the ins and outs of timeline changes from Season 5. This was meant simply for your entertainment, and if you have corrections or additions please add them in the comments below. Hope you enjoyed Season 5 as much as I did – can’t wait for Season 6!