Season Three, Episode Two — “Paradox”
By Jarrod Jones. It’s not difficult to understand, Barry. I get it. If I had super-speed and the ability to tap into time itself, I’d go back and change some things too. Regardless of whether we live in the CW DC TV Universe or our own very dire and decidedly superpower-less existence, it’s a fruitless thing to desire temporal change. It doesn’t take a seasoned speedster like Jay Garrick to make us understand that (or, at least, it shouldn’t, Barry), but at least his metaphors are characteristically folksy. “Let’s say the timeline is this coffee mug...” Adorable.
Even though Barry has already bopped back in time at least a handful of times, it seems he never really grasped that sentiment. Luckily for the fabric of reality, Barry’s latest exercise in changing the past for his own personal benefit caused serious emotional damage, enough to make him think twice before ever mucking around with time again.
I’m just kidding. Of course Barry ran back into a time vortex the second he realized that he screwed everything up. Let’s see… he made Det. Joe and Iris hate each other, he turned Cisco into a colossal bummer, and to top it all off, he earned none other than Draco Malfoy as his roommate at the CCPD. (Tom Felton joins the cast of The Flash as the grumpy forensics expert, Julian Albert.) Luckily Jay showed up in the nick of time to knock Barry off his destructive path — and to knock some damn sense into him. “Always move forward,” Jay said to Barry, which means that DC just made quota for father figures telling their superhero sorta-sons to keep their eyes fixed on the future.
Meanwhile there are sinister forces at work behind the scenes of the CW’s scarlet-hued melodrama (because how could there not be), in the form of a weirdo meta-human monk known as Alchemy. Dunno how Alchemy knows about the Flashpoint paradox, but they’ve tapped into the mind of Edward Clariss, who you’ll remember as
The Ocean Master The Rival from last week. Alchemy has the means to give Clariss the speed he had in that alternate reality, which is apparently something Clariss desired more than his lovely looking home and his beautiful sleeping wife (which you gotta do what you gotta do, I guess). Clariss’ innate hostility towards the Flash may be convenient for this week’s plot, but at least it’s in keeping with everyone else’s attitudes about him.
Luckily there’s a silver lining in the form of Felicity Smoak, who helps Barry (and, by extension, us) get caught up on the current state of things. Felicity and Jay are Barry’s touchstones this week, two razor-sharp heroes in the Arrowverse who can actually get Barry to stop feeling sorry for himself long enough to get his ding-dang life back in order. Whether that means pulling the ol’ chrono-trigger on this Flashpoint reality or keeping things the way they are remains to be seen. One thing’s for certain — by episode’s end, we have The Flash back to its old, exciting, lovable self. The only paradox here is how that took so long.
“That’s impossible. Everybody likes Barry Allen. You’re like pudding. Everybody likes pudding.” – Felicity, who should always be on this show.
Jay: “Lemme show you somethin’.” Barry: (shifts in his seat) “Y’know what…” Jay: “Humor me, Kid.”
BEST MOMENT: Barry’s trying, alright? So Iris hates Joe. Cisco hates Barry. Everybody’s miserable. What’s a kind-hearted speedster to do? Why, run back and forth and manipulate everyone into a lovely dinner, that’s what! Watching Barry zip back and forth between Iris and Joe to find out what it would take to get them to sit down together was The Flash at its sweetest, even if what Barry was doing was completely underhanded. (I suppose we’re used to that though, aren’t we, Flash Fans?)
EPISODE’S MVP: Surprisingly enough, Julian Albert. I came into “Paradox” totally expecting to loathe Tom Felton — he has that effect on me — but instead I ended up getting really stoked on the idea that Draco Malfoy would be a source of consternation for The Flash this season. Here’s hoping Mr. Felton gets to hang around for the entire season; I think he’s definitely going to stir up some trouble going forward.
– So Barry’s antics gave Diggle a son? (The changes in this reality are so damn random, aren’t they.) I suppose someone’s gonna have to tell me whether that change actually occurs in this season of Arrow, because if it doesn’t I’m calling shenanigans.
– Let’s add “stealing evidence” to Barry’s long list of crimes! Yay, superheroes!
– Jay Garrick’s heart-to-heart with Barry about the dangers of running your problems away, set to Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train”. Cute.
– Ooohhhh. It’s 1998. You can tell, because the CW is called the WB, and it’s still comfortable with screening Dawson’s Creek.
– With that mask on, The Rival has a real “Pete Holmes as Batman” vibe going on.
– If Barry keeps this up, his little Flashpoint graph is gonna get a hell of a lot more complicated.
– So who is Dr. Alchemy? We have a couple of choices: There’s Albert Desmond, a chemist who suffers from multiple personality disorder; there’s Alexander Petrov, a Keystone City crime lab investigator who cribbed Desmond’s Mr. Element schtick; and then there’s Dr. Curtis Engstrom, a shifty-eyed chemist who donned Desmond’s signature creepy look and became The Alchemist. Comics!
– Whoever Dr. Alchemy turns out to be, he’s definitely voiced by Tobin Bell, aka Jigsaw from those damned Saw movies. And The Flash‘s ability to woo former horror stars onto the show continues. (Tony Todd, aka the Candyman, voiced Zoom last season.)
– Dr. Alchemy is definitely going to have something to do with giving Wally West his speed, which is about damned time.
7.5 out of 1o
Next: “Magenta,” soon.
Before: “Flashpoint,” here.