Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of The Flash! Proceed with caution, speedsters. For reals, if you haven’t yet watched this week’s season premiere, “Flashpoint,” we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.
The world’s most popular superhero TV show is back for its third season. And I’ll admit I was worried. Not so much about what fate would befall Barry and his friends when he altered the timeline in an effort to save his mom at the end of season 2, to save his mom from the Reverse-Flash, but about season 3’s overall direction. The Flash, like most of Greg Berlanti’s productions, has never been afraid to wear its heart on its sleeve. But all too frequently in its first two seasons that emotional honesty was worn thin by one too many tears shed by its hero. With almost all of those crying sessions over the loss of Nora Allen and the resulting imprisonment of Barry’s dad. So when Henry died at the super-speed-vibrating hand of Zoom in season 2’s finale, dread washed over me like a tidal wave. Would we now be subjected to an entire season of Barry mourning his dad?
The answer which immediately followed didn’t offer a much better scenario. By saving his mom, Barry had also saved his dad, which all but guaranteed season 3 would mainly focus on Barry relationship with his parents. Forcing him to remember what they meant to him, and forcing us to endure scene after scene of maudlin anguish when they were inevitably taken from him once more. It might make me sound like a bastard, but I practically stood up and cheered when I realized this would not be the case — When the problems caused by Barry’s decision force him in the season 3 premiere to ask the Reverse-Flash to kill his mom again.
Those problems also account for all of the great character beats in “Flashpoint.” It’s an episode fleeter of foot than one would think given its premise, based on the famed Flash comic book storyline. Described as a “Reverse It’s a Wonderful Life” by the evil Eobard Thawne, Barry’s new reality sees Wally serving as Central City’s champion speedster in the iconic yellow costume of Kid Flash (even if he hates the nom de plume the media has given him). Iris, a stranger now to Barry, is her brother’s partner, which gives her a great deal more agency than we’ve seen her have throughout this series. Meanwhile, Cisco is a billionaire tech mogul running Ramon Industries and Caitlin is happily employed as a pediatric eye doctor who wears flats instead of her trademark heels. Joe, however, always the show’s most sympathetic character, hasn’t been faring all that well; and his attitude towards his kids’ crime-fighting prefigures the new status his relationship with Iris attains in this episode’s closing scene.
For even though Barry restores the timeline before its damage is irreversible, he’s opened up a whole new can of worms. And a new villain, Doctor Alchemy — one of the few remaining members of his rogues gallery who’d not yet debuted on the show — has emerged to threaten his city, allying himself with The Rival. It remains to be seen what personal stakes he’ll present for Barry, but whatever they are, I’m cool with then as long as they don’t prompt our boy to engage in another endless display of waterworks over his folks. Because, as “Flashpoint” so well illustrates, even those defined by a loss as great as Barry’s need to one day accept ther own reality.
— Edward Clariss, a.k.a. The Rival, first appeared all the way back in 1949’s Flash Comics #104, as an enemy of the original Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick. As much as I appreciate the nod to history, I kind of wish season 3’s first new baddie wasn’t yet another speedster, and a more generic one than Reverse-Flash or Zoom. Plus, his costume makes him look like a fish.
— Carlos Valdes may give his best performance yet as Cisco’s slick counterpart who dates models a foot taller than him.
— “Have I been kidnapped?” “Unclear.”
— “Flashpoint’”s final battle recalls Barry’s first super showdown, in the show’s pilot episode, with the Weather Wizard.
— Can our own Caitlin get herself a pair of sensible shoes to wear now that precedent has been established?
— “Today I get to be the hero.”
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).
Images: The CW