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 episode, “Paradox,” we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.
One of the biggest questions hanging over the heads of Flash fans this summer is answered in “Paradox.” We knew “Flashpoint” itself wouldn’t last forever, mainly because the show’s producers kept telling us it wouldn’t. But they also made sure to add that it would have repercussions on the entire DC TV Universe. And this week we find out just what was changed as a result of Barry going back in time to prevent his mother’s murder.
It turns out that the situation has given The Flash‘s writers an opportunity to make the lives of its supporting cast a little more interesting, for both good and bad. So Iris and Joe have now been at odds since she found out her mother was still alive, Cisco’s brother Dante has been killed by a drunk driver, and Caitlin is exhibiting some of her Earth-2 doppelganger Killer Frost’s powers. Meanwhile over in Star City, which Barry visits, seeking advice from Felicity, Digg now has a son instead of a baby daughter.
The biggest twist, however, is that Barry manages to solve half of the fallout from his actions without using his powers all that much, but by instead reminding his friends of what they’ve meant to each other. Yes, the power of love saves the day once more; though this time we’re spared the sight of Barry breaking down into tears while being given another pep talk. He does cry of course (because this is the CW’s Flash), but it happens while he’s explaining the mistake he’s made to the team. He also get a pep talk, though it’s the smartest, most practical, and most refreshingly superheroic one he’s yet received. It comes from Jay Garrick, whose path he crosses while trying to restore the timeline. “We’re not gods, we’re men. Who for whatever reason have been given extraordinary abilities,” Jay explains, advising his younger counterpart to leave well enough alone before he puts even more cracks in the space-time continuum. John Wesley Shipp inhabits the role with surprisingly greater presence than he did Barry’s dad. It’s almost like listening to a late-career Christopher Reeve Superman impart wisdom.
“Paradox” also introduces Tom Felton’s much talked about role as Barry’s new CSI “roomie” at CCPD. His Julian Albert, a metahuman specialist, gives the English actor ample opportunity to bring the same sneer that endeared him to Harry Potter fans as Draco Malfoy. He hates Barry Allen, he explains, because he doesn’t like people he can’t trust. To further the Superman analogy, he’s kind of like a wicked Lois Lane. Will he emerge as friend or foe as this season plays out? Could he in fact be Doctor Alchemy?
The Big Bad is finally introduced this week. Three cheers to the producers for not saddling us with yet another evil speedster, even if he reanimates and recruits the Rival for his dastardly deeds. This Zoom wannabe doesn’t last all that long in Central City, but we’re promised that Alchemy, er, I mean Doctor Alchemy (sorry, Cisco) will be restoring the powers of other foes from Flashpoint to make Barry’s life more difficult. Honestly, for the time being I’m just happy the show’s found a way to make the good doctor’s helmet/mask (one of the least threatening in all of comicdom) work in live action.
My only real complaint with “Pardox” is that, of all the little changes made to the timeline, the one character who could most stand a change in her life, Iris, has her problem with Joe resolved by episode’s end. Even while Cisco is established as able to aid the Flash in the field—though he’s now saddled with the tired twenty-first-century superhero trope of being defined by a loss—and our Caitlin turns metahuman. (Next week’s episode also promises a powered Jessie Quick, and a speedster Wally is sure to follow.) But hey, at least Iris is again portrayed as the one person besides Barry who’s capable of rallying the team. Which is why their long-in-coming union at the end of “Paradox” feels earned. And why it makes Barry more vulnerable than ever to those who would destroy him.
— “Run me through…walk me through what happened.” Even after all the ups and downs she’s suffered on Arrow, Felicity is still a warm, witty, and welcome presence.
— Nice use of “Runaway Train.” More ’80s and ’90s music on this show please.
— So why does Iris have access to the city’s security cameras? Is this typical of cops’ family members?
— Any takers on what Doctor Alchemy is “preparing” this world for?
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).
Images: The CW