NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Flash” are present in this review
The Flash set out with an initially promising hook in, “Memorabilia”, wherein Team Flash would enter the mind of the comatose Grace, in order to wake her up, and possibly get Cicada to stand down. This didn’t really end up panning out, as you probably could have guessed, because Season Five has only hit its halfway point. Since it seems like the season is still keeping Cicada in the main villain position then, what instead occurs in this episode is an exploration of some of Nora’s past memories, after Nora tries to jump into Grace’s mind ahead of her parents, ironically in an effort to prevent Barry from seeing the memories of her past.
It initially seems like we’re going to get a great push forward on the ongoing Nora mystery in this episode, but unfortunately, “Memorabilia” ends up squandering a big chunk of its potential. The Nora storyline doesn’t actually end up moving forward in any worthwhile way, and any other forward story movement is incremental, and not all that satisfying or surprising. This makes, “Memorabilia” very quickly feel like a filler episode, which is disappointing, since The Flash usually utilizes these ‘mind jump’ episodes for some significant character exploration and drama, or it at least tries to. In this case though, the trip into Grace’s sub-conscious mind doesn’t tell the viewer much that they don’t already know, nor does it provide any worthwhile addition to the ongoing conflict of trying to stop Cicada, especially since Team Flash ultimately fails to awaken Grace from her coma by the end.
Regardless, there are some decent scenes here and there, and I will say that Nora’s latest bout of reckless stupidity at least makes some degree of sense this time, since she’d logically have good reason to hide her involvement with Eobard Thawne from her parents. This would have been a great opportunity to have Barry and Iris discover the brutal truth within Nora’s mind, but the show seems to be falling back into the trap of taking too long to reveal its grand twist, a problem that plagued Savitar in particular during Season Three. Instead, when Barry and Iris try to chase after Nora, upon Nora rushing into Grace’s mind by herself to try and resolve the situation before her own mind could be probed (apparently, mind jumping partners’ memories can meld), they merely discover the future Flash Museum in Nora’s memories, and confront Iris having to be a mean parent in the future. Except, apparently that was a false memory because Nora was angry? The show really doesn’t seem to know how to sustain the Iris/Nora drama well, and frankly, it really just needs to drop it at this point, as I’ve no doubt said before. At least the look at the future Flash Museum is fun though, complete with dorky merchandise and lots of tongue-in-cheek nods to Flash presentation in real-world DC comic books.
Nora, meanwhile, has to try and resolve Grace’s anger, which is apparently very, very similar to that of Cicada. Grace has apparently been overhearing all of Cicada’s conversations with her doctor, and having it turn out that Grace is just as eager to exact revenge on metahumans, and has the same distrust and fear of them as her adopted father, was actually a pretty good twist. Even better is the show revealing that Cicada somehow resurfaces after Barry disappears in 2024, which is why he was never truly caught. After a sub-conscious manifestation of Grace in Cicada’s suit attacks Nora however, it does feel like the show tips its hand too much to an obvious explanation for Cicada’s return; Team Flash does successfully stop Cicada in 2019, at least, the Orlin Dwyer Cicada, but it appears that Grace ends up taking up Cicada’s mantle in the future, and becomes even more deadly than Orlin ever was! Again, this would be a good twist, but it seems like the show got a little over-excited with the hints, since it now feels like the viewer will figure this out before the show actually presents the truth about Grace’s potential future.
It’s too bad that this latest mind machine that Sherloque apparently pulled from Earth-221 (there’s over two-hundred Earth’s in The CW’s DC Multiverse now?), doesn’t establish much in the way of clear rules either, since it feels like every turn is just made up as the episode goes along. I get that these are mental worlds, but even then, they can’t be completely devoid of consistent rules and logic. The fact that the memory worlds seem to be too extensively without logic in this case means that it’s tough to get truly invested in apparitions chasing the heroes, or memories unfolding before them, because these scenes don’t operate with any reasonable degree of consistency. Portals open and shut whenever they see fit, mental images appear whenever they see fit, and whether Barry, Iris or Nora can properly move around or not seems to change depending on what the script demands. The payoff with Grace is at least worth it (outside of her not waking up), as is Nora reporting to Gideon that she’s very willing to lie to her parents to protect them after the mind jump is done, but it feels like every scene before this just ends up being mere filler. The only other payoff of note is that Iris is finally inspired to properly start her Central City Citizen newspaper, after a tenant near Ralph’s building finally dies and vacates the office, and worrying that she can’t change the name and thus affect the future. Yeah, Iris, something tells me that the name of your future newspaper is quite irrelevant, so this is a bit of a silly non-conflict.
There’s also a subplot outside of the mind jump in this episode, but it similarly feels disappointingly underdeveloped. After Team Flash declares a night off (Huh? Aren’t they doing the Grace thing?), Ralph decides to take Cisco away from his work on the metahuman cure to try and get some intel from an informant about Cicada. After the informant turns out to be a dud though (admittedly, the guy talking about a band called, “Sickada” was very funny), Ralph decides to keep Cisco around, because it just so happens to be Singles’ Night at the bar they went to. Cisco blows up at Ralph however, and says that Ralph is being immature. Um, how? It’s supposed to be your night off, Cisco! This subplot was more or less an excuse to give Cisco a potential new love interest, as the bartender, Kamilla ends up slipping Cisco her number when he blabs about metahuman genes in a fit of excitement, but Cisco’s annoyance with Ralph was painfully forced. Ralph even says that he didn’t have friends before joining Team Flash, and just wants to hang out with Cisco because he considers him a friend, so Cisco just ends up looking like a massive asshole for no reason here. Frankly, I would have preferred if Ralph was the one to gain a new love interest at the bar, since he’s the one actually being the most sensitive and mature lately, especially considering that he similarly set Caitlin and Killer Frost straight on the metahuman cure during the previous episode.
It sucks that, “Memorabilia” feels like such a wasted opportunity in many respects, ultimately failing to move The Flash’s storylines forward in a satisfying way. The trip into Grace’s mind and Nora’s mind alike didn’t yield any noteworthy results, outside of Grace’s likely future career as a metahuman serial killer, but even then, that’s an event being set up for a part of the show’s timeline that we’ll no doubt never actually see. The trip to the bar being shared between Ralph and Cisco could have yielded a fun, light-hearted subplot that could have revitalized either of their romantic careers, but instead, it just feels like it’s filling up space in an episode that already feels like it mainly exists to fill up space. I don’t know why The Flash is still having this much trouble making the Cicada drama work, because Grace being a potential Cicada successor in the future should be a big bombshell, as should a first real look at a potentially meaner, colder Iris in the future. Instead, the show sweeps away the Iris drama especially with easy answers that avoid painting Iris as an actual complex character. It’s almost like The Flash is somehow too afraid to truly go all that dark and heartbreaking anymore, and when you’re dealing with a mass murderer of metahumans, this approach just isn’t going to add any real impact to Team Flash’s latest villain challenge.
- Some decently emotional scenes in Grace's and Nora's memories
- Fun showcase of the Flash Museum
- Promising hint that Grace will become another Cicada in the future
- Nothing is ultimately achieved from the mind jump
- Too much distracting inconsistency in both Grace's and Nora's minds
- Bar night with Ralph and Cisco is too uneventful