Nora West-Allen Has Become The Flash’s Newest LGBTQ Character
The CW, despite still having its problems, has been at the forefront of LGBTQ characters on network television for the past few years. According to reporting from GLAAD, they are currently ranked number one in terms of onscreen representation for a broadcast network, which, from the channel that brought us some of the most heteronormative romances of the ’90s and 2000s, is a huge step in right direction, and they’ve just added another to their ranks on The Flash.
On this season of The Flash, Nora West-Allen has become a delightful addition to the cast of characters. Jessica Parker Kennedy looks like the perfect combination of Iris and Barry, sans the height, and her personality has added a lot of much-needed pep to the show, but in the most recent episode, “News Flash,” we got some interesting insight into both Nora and her relationship with Iris in the future.
At a charity CCPD baseball game, while Team Flash is rooting for Barry—who is very, very bad at sports, like almost pathetically bad—Nora negs her mother by praising a fellow “reporter,” Spencer Young, who has an app called Spyn Zone. Nora comments that Spencer is “cute” before taunting Iris with how much more successful the app is than Iris’ blog.
We find out in the episode that Spencer has a piece of meta tech, the result of shattered pieces from the satellite the Thinker infused with dark matter last season. It has allowed for new meta and meta-technology to have been spawned. Spencer’s phone has enabled her to hypnotize people into doing her bidding through headline suggestions, which allows her to create the news.
Nora is at first reluctant to believe that Spencer is a meta, and when she goes “undercover” to find out, the two end up flirting with each other. Iris realizes this, although Barry is a little dense about the whole thing. Bless him.
Just like with Arrow, which had Oliver’s son William say that he had a boyfriend in a flash-forward scene with Roy, I’m glad that the Arrowverse is continuing to bring in queer characters and highlight their sexuality without making it a whole issue. From Charmed to Jane the Virgin to Dynasty, they have really been, as a channel, attempting to do the right thing. Plus, we’ll have Batwoman leading her own series soon. Now all they have to do is make Supergirl’s Lena Luthor queer, and everything will be amazing.
This also allows Nora/XS to have other emotional storylines outside of her sexuality, and we got that in “News Flash” with the reveal of why Nora has avoided being around Iris all this time. Iris’ future self put a power dampener chip into Nora, and until six months ago, she didn’t even realize she had powers. That explains why she isn’t well trained and why, if Barry has been gone most of her life, she hasn’t come to him sooner. The scene itself, when Nora reveals what Iris did, is powerful, because you can tell Iris is confused as to why she would keep this secret from her daughter.
Considering that, in the first season, Iris was kept in the dark, and that caused more problems than it solved, I would assume that it must have taken something very extreme for her to choose to do that to someone else. Plus, considering she was the single mother of a powerful speedster after losing the love of her life, she probably wanted to keep her safe during childhood—not an excuse in adulthood.
After the final showdown between XS, The Flash, and Spencer, where Nora is nearly hypnotized into killing her father until Iris comes in with a power damping gun, Iris goes to Nora and says that she must have had a good reason for what she did, especially after what just happened. Nora strikes back, saying that future-Iris didn’t do this because Nora had done anything wrong. She did it to control Nora and take choices away from her.
While this scene has turned into a whole Iris vs. Nora issue with many people who already hate Iris, using this as proof that she is “the worst parent ever,” I think it’s a really complex issue that I’m excited to see play out. Nora has every right to be upset that her mother lied to her for twenty-plus years (Kennedy is 34, but I’m assuming her character is supposed to be in her early 20s) and kept this secret from her.
Yet as stated before, Iris’s desire to keep Nora safe, as a single parent, makes sense. We don’t know what fell apart after Barry died, or if another Reverse Flash situation happened—or if, like in the Legends of Tomorrow future, ARGUS is rounding up metas. It doesn’t have to be a situation where one of them is totally right and one is totally wrong.
Still, it’s an interesting personal conflict, and I’m excited to see how the show keeps working with this family dynamic. Nora West-Allen has been a great addition since the beginning, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the writers bring it all together.
(image: Katie Yu/The CW)
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