Air Date: Tuesday 4th October 2016
The Flash ambitiously starts Season 3 tackling FlashPoint Paradox arc. While this was fleshed out in a two hour animated movie, the CW series’ version unfortunately wraps this major development in one episode. There have been nods to the Flashpoint arc before, most notably in last season’s “The Runaway Dinosaur”. The Flashpoint arc here limits the events of the Berlantiverse to just The Flash and Central City. Had DCTV been as meticulous and synergistic as their Marvel counterparts, this could have been a great opportunity across all the DCTV platform shows – newly minted “Supergirl”, dire in need of repair “Arrow” and the clunky “Legends of Tomorrow”.
We find Barry three months after he saved his mother from Reverse Flash. This is where I find it a little weird. He saved Nora Allen when that Barry was 8 years old. But did he save her and then go forward back to 2016? Continuity? Whatever. Anyway, we meet Nora in present day looking very fetch with some hipster librarian classes. It’s actually quite sweet to see the Allen family reunited and normal. Barry is clearly glowing and relishing being with his departed parents. The selfishness of his actions has no real impact on him yet.
Mirroring the pilot, Barry always seeks out his true love Iris in every version of every timeline of every Earth. I have a lot of affection for the underused and underplayed Iris West (Candice Patton) so it’s always wonderful to see Iris getting more of her due screen time. WestAllen is lovely and beautiful; Grant and Patton have a playful, natural chemistry. I also love that Iris gets to play an actual role besides love interest and minor prop for Barry. She is a full-fledged reporter in this reality and gets her true screen time as a lead. WestAllen is always a great thing to see. Gustin plays Barry’s giddiness of courting Iris with great excitement and glee. I genuinely love the way Gustin portrays Barry’s absolute love for Iris.
Joe West is also an alcoholic in this reality. This is a brief part of this plotline and ultimately contributes to nothing of substance in the short time that we are in Flashpoint, I found this to be cliché and lazy in storytelling. Must the Wests be drug addicts and alcoholics? It’s a poorly played stereotype. I feel like for something with truly no payoff, the conflict between Joe West and his children could have been so much more interesting. Perhaps if Joe West was a crooked cop in this reality? It would explain a fractured relationship with father and children and make for an interesting conflict if his children were fighting crime and he was the source of it. Perhaps if in this reality Francine had also been killed as a result of his shady cop ways? To make the black father an alcoholic, and the black mother a crack head?? ICU The Flash Execs. NAGL.
In this reality, Iris and Wally (Keiyan Lionsdale) are a brother/sister crime fighting duo. The best part of this, of course, is finally seeing Kid Flash. This was teased last season when Jesse (Violett Beane) and Wally were hit with the particle accelerator. With Jesse Wells safely ensconced in the Flashpoint unaffected Earth-2, this timeline sees Wally receiving his powers in an almost nod for nod take as Barry did. Keiynan Lionsale is absolutely enthusiastic in the role and thrives with the bravado and the same childlike excitement of Season 1 Barry Allen but still unique all the same.
Barry has locked up Eobard Thawne in some random holding cell that he seems to have MacGyvered a way to depress his speed. It doesn’t really look like a realistic setup but let’s go with it; we only have 42 minutes after all. Reverse Flash (Matt Letscher) lacks all the menace of the character, which was infinitely better played in the animated comic and by Tom Cavanaugh. His hatred and steel doesn’t really bite and his portrayal of the character shows no real intrigue. Letscher was far more adapt at playing this type of character as Billy Chambers on “Scandal”. His lines come off as cartoony (no pun intended) and it all feels like filler. His taunts come off as not even schoolyard affecting. His one real input comes in naming the phenomenon of what Barry has created (Flashpoint) and deducing that the more Barry uses his powers, the weaker he becomes as the older timeline is erased and the new one is cemented. This was not a part of the animated movie. It’s a nice twist that could have been the end of episode one instead of the end of the first act.
Barry reveals himself to Iris and Wally and they all team up to defeat The Rival: one of the big bads of this season. In this new reality, Team Flash is also much different. Cisco (Carlos Valdes) is a playboy tech billionaire who I guess was supposed to be a version of Tony Stark but Valdes is too sweet to come off that way and instead it plays as a childhood nerd finally getting to be a cool kid. Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) gets minimal screen time but uses it for effective comic relief as a pediatric ophthalmologist. This is the highlight of her appearance:
“Have I been kidnapped?” “Unclear”
But before long, Cait is back to shitting out unbelievable science to push our plot along.
Its total fun watching Kid Flash and The Flash in action but its short lived as Kid Flash is unrealistically stabbed by The Rival. It makes no sense and really cuts short what could have been a real high point of the Flashpoint arc over a season instead of mere minutes in an episode. Barry is weakened as his the realities of Flashpoint on his powers overtake him as he battles The Rival. This leads us to the first BARRY ALLEN PEP TALK of the season. The debut pep talk of season three is from Iris West who reminds Barry (yet again) that he can do it, blah blah whatever. I’ve never read the comics but is this also canon there too? That Barry always needs pep talks? The portrayal of heroes as vulnerable and needing encouragement is not new but it has bordered on trope and parody at this point with Barry Allen.
There is another WestAllen scene where Iris and Barry profess their love for each other. It’s sweet but it doesn’t pack quite the punch because it’s so rushed. Barry sees the true consequences of his actions and accepts that he has to let his mother die and reset the timeline. It really aggravates me that something as huge as Flashpoint is captured in less than 40 minutes. Barry has spent his entire life wishing for a life with both of his parents and his finally had his biggest dreams come true, he is finally able to court Iris and not have the responsibilities of saving Central City to prevent their relationship, the crux of everything he has ever wanted but it is all rushed by so fast. The culmination of two seasons worth of Barry Allen’s deepest pain and angst and it’s literally gone by in a flash (pun intended). I would have loved to see a few episodes of slow burn where you can truly see the payoff of Barry’s deepest desires, to have his love Iris and his family intact, to truly make us feel the loss of losing this perfect reality for the greater good.
Nora Allen dies (yet again, why do we keep punishing this chick) and Barry returns to a Nora-less timeline. But wait, Henry is dead, Nora is dead, Wally is alive but…. Iris and her father are apparently deeply estranged. Oh Barry what has your dumb ass done?
Elsewhere, we see a sleeping dude wake up. I forget his name but this is Alchemy: the other big bad of Season 3A.
What did y’all think of the premiere?
Next Week: Caitlin gets Frosty, Jesse and Harry return and as well as Original Daddy Flash: Jay Garrick. Also Draco Malfoy makes his debut!