Season Three, Episode One — “Flashpoint”

© 2016 The CW Network. All rights reserved.

© 2016 The CW Network. All rights reserved.

By Jarrod Jones. Let’s straighten one thing out. Barry Allen went to college, graduated, and snagged a job as a Central City Police Department crime scene investigator, a job, I can only imagine, that pays pretty okay. Enough to afford his own apartment, I’d wager. Maybe a studio. Instead, Barry Allen lives with his adoptive father. No judgment. After all, Barry’s also The Flash, and he’s saved the world at least four different times, so hey. Big ups.

The only thing that’s tripping me up is that Barry just forced a gigantic bifurcation into the time stream by successfully stopping the Reverse-Flash from killing his mother, Nora Allen, which in turn stopped his father, Henry Allen, from also dying. (Paradox!) So instead of living with Detective Joe West, the man who raised him these past fifteen-or-so years, Barry lives with his biological parents, where he presumably watches them as they sleep with a creepily satisfied look on his face. All is right in the world. Barry has his momma and poppa.

Only things are worse than they’ve ever been. Det. Joe, his daughter Iris, and his son Wally have never truly known Barry, which means they have to endure a deep, hollow emptiness inside that’s ruining one person’s life (Joe’s a drunk now), and complicating everyone else’s (Iris and Wally are now the only two members of Team Flash, and they are in well over their heads). While Barry’s perfectly happy having his conspicuously attractive parents alive and well, his temporal tomfoolery is beginning to have dangerous side effects for The Fastest Man Alive — the more he uses his speed, the more this timeline begins to cement into place. (In short: say goodbye to your entire reason for being, Mr. Allen.)

Did I mention that Barry’s also stashing Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash, in one of Central City’s thousands of abandoned warehouses? That when he’s not busy stalking Iris, or shadowing Kid Flash (Wally West in a killer outfit), or otherwise living a life of superpowered privilege, he’s sneaking Big Belly Burgers to his greatest nemesis? Who’s trapped in a plastic prison that Barry totally stole from Zoom, The Flash‘s second season big baddie? “Who’s the villain now, Flash?” Eobard bellows to Barry, who saunters back to his cushy life with a look of shame painted all over his face. The Reverse-Flash may be the biggest bastard in the CW DC TV Universe, but he sure is starting to make a buncha sense.

After the events of last season, Barry’s living in an alternate reality where the Reverse-Flash never killed his mother. So what’s changed? Well, Wally West is The Flash now — or rather, Kid Flash (a name he objects to, which is adorable) — and he has a bonafide nemesis of his own. Rival (a Golden Age throwback thrust into the Arrowverse without a single ounce of shame) is out for blood, and only The Flash can yada yada yada. Barry’s too busy going about his day like he doesn’t have a supervillain locked away in a hate dungeon to realize that his fate is more than intertwined with Wally, Iris, and Joe — they need him in the here and now, not the there and now. (Eesh, describing alternate timelines is a messy business.)

Other members of Team Flash are making out all right — Cisco Ramon became a billionaire in this reality, and Caitlin Snow seems perfectly happy as an overachieving optimologist — though it’s not clear how Barry’s time-warping antics triggered these specific events. The episode never bothers to dig too deeply into the whys of everything in the Flashpoint reality, but before long it becomes apparent that none of it really matters. The Flash will set things right, because he’s The Flash, and a heel turn from television’s greatest hero just wouldn’t do at the height of his own show’s popularity.

Other signs that things have to go back to the way they were are evident all over the place. Barry’s own mother — the reason we’re all here — keeps hinting that she’d like Barry to move out of her house, which is what I think every sensible fan of The Flash wants for our hero. After all, you have to leave the nest at some point in order to move your own story forward, do you not? If nothing else, if Barry insists on shacking up with Det. Joe after all this is over, maybe we can at least leave the late Allen family out of all his future dilemmas. After forty-seven episodes, I think poor Nora Allen has suffered enough.

BEST LINE(s):

Det. Joe: “Am I wearing a sign that says, ‘help me’?” Barry: “Might as well be.” This is your fault, Barry.

So you’re saying there’s a timeline where I’m not rich. Boy, that’s a glitch in the universe.” – Cisco.

Caitlin: (to Wally) “Excuse me, have I been kidnapped?” Wally: “Unclear.

Iris: (to Thawne) “Barry told me not to listen to anything you say.” Thawne: “That’s just bad advice. I’m the Answer Man.

BEST MOMENT: Barry and Eobard set things straight. While I could have done without the show dwelling on Nora Allen’s final, violent moments, the moment Barry realizes that he’s selfishly screwing up everyone’s lives was pure Flash perfection. Even though he has tremendous power, Barry is as fallible and prone to mistakes as any of us. The Hero’s Journey will never truly let The Flash be as happy as he wants to be. Let your mother go, Barry. Let your father go. Let the Reverse-Flash loose. Yeesh, what a show.

EPISODE’S MVP: Eobard Thawne. That’s right, the most intriguing member of The Flash‘s meta-melodrama was none other than the Reverse-Flash himself. Cocksure, smug, and completely willing to help in any way, all Thawne had to do was pass the time while our hero came to terms with the damage he’s done. Matt Letscher’s presence reminded us all why Reverse-Flash remains the preeminent Flash Rogue. All casual charm and seething rage. “See you soon,” he tells Barry towards the episode’s end. I cannot wait to see this guy again.

© 2016 The CW Network. All rights reserved.

© 2016 The CW Network. All rights reserved.

FLASH FACTS: 

– Barry, you stole Iris’ purse just to give it back to her? That’s creepy, even for a guy who stashes criminals in secret prisons at the expense of due process.

– As goofy as his costume is, The Rival is very much a real Flash villain — originally created to torment Jay Garrick by John Broome in Flash Comics #104.

– Alex Desert, who played Julio Mendes in CBS’ The Flash series back in the Nineties, reprises his role this week as Captain Julio Mendez, of the Central City Police Department.

– “I make you a friction-proof suit so your clothes don’t explode…” Cisco tells Wally, so at least the show didn’t forget that little tidbit of information. SO WHY IS BARRY RUNNING AROUND IN HIS CIVVIES??!

– Cisco’s “vibrating hand through the chest” quip was a bit on the nose, even for this show.

– Rival’s stashed away on a street called “Williamson.” As in Joshua Williamson, current writer of The Flash for DC Comics. Legacy happens a lot faster in the 21st Century, I suppose.

– I guess Eobard stopped for a shave before he killed Barry’s mother?

7 out of 10

Next: “Paradox,” soon.

Before: “The Race of His Life,” here.

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