Last week on “The Flash,” Barry made the ultimate decision to let the Reverse Flash kill his mother (again) after realizing that it wasn’t worth it to live in the Flashpoint universe. While he had three beautiful months with both his mother and his father, he couldn’t live with the fact that there was no Team Flash, there was no S.T.A.R. Labs, and that Wally was nearly fatally wounded. While he thought he was making the right decision by resetting the timeline, he actually created a third timeline, which we’ll refer to as Flashpoint 2.0. On tonight’s episode, titled “Paradox,” Barry discovered that in this new timeline, his closest friends had lost loved ones, discovered new powers, and even suffered emotional pain because of Barry’s choices. A new metahuman also appeared in tonight’s episode, two actually — The Rival and Dr. Alchemy — the first of which was introduced previously in the Flashpoint universe. This episode also continued to explore the themes of absolute power, the consequences of time travel, and the importance of family — all things that Barry must learn from and about in season three.
The episode kicked off with Barry paying a visit to Felicity in Star City. Felicity has been Barry’s friend since before he was struck by lightning, so she would be the perfect person to help Barry make sense of all the changes in this Flashpoint 2.0 timeline. Barry summed up everything that he knew had changed since he got back from Flashpoint: Joe and Iris had some kind of falling out which damaged their relationship, Cisco’s brother Dante had been killed, and Barry had a new partner at the Central City Police Department — Julian Albert (played by Harry Potter alum Tom Felton.) All of these changes were shocking and left Barry feeling helpless without the ability to fix anything. Felicity’s presence in the episode also introduced Flashpoint’s influence on the other DC/CW shows like “Arrow.” One of the biggest changes in the “Arrow” timeline so far was the erasure of Sara Diggle — John and Lyla’s daughter — who has been replaced by John Diggle Jr. It’s hard to say if this will be the only change to the “Arrow”-verse or if this revelation was just the first of many.
Julian Albert made his “Flash” debut tonight as Barry’s new lab partner. According to his name placard, he is a special metahuman expert, whom the CCPD called to Central City one year earlier. Barry and Julian did not get along at all in the episode, despite being forced to share a lab together. Both in the office and in the field, Julian was rude to Barry, speaking to him as if he was a child who didn’t understand anything about metahumans — which of course is ironic because Barry is a metahuman. During the episode the dysfunctional pair investigated the skins or hides of unknown metahumans. One of these skins belonged to Flashpoint villain The Rival, whom Barry and Joe defeated in Flashpoint. The other three skins were not identified but clearly shared a connection with The Rival.
In this new timeline, The Rival did not have any powers, and yet something was causing him to remember his life in Flashpoint. Much like how Cisco remembered Harrison Wells killing him before Barry went back and reset the timeline in season one, The Rival remembered having powers and being defeated by Barry. These hallucinations — memories — were triggers by a masked metahuman named Alchemy. Alchemy brought The Rival to a cult-like worship service and then gave The Rival speedforce powers. The episode didn’t explain how Alchemy was able to do this, but I think he did it one of two ways: Either Alchemy has powers that can accelerate someone’s DNA to evolve (like in “X-Men”) or he can pull someone’s powers out of another timeline and impart them to that person in this timeline. When Alchemy confronted Barry at the end of the episode he said his passion was helping people discover their true potential, is that cellular metahuman potential? In the comics Alchemy has a stone that could change the elemental property of any matter — this could be how he can change someone’s DNA, causing them to shed their skin. Right now Dr. Alchemy’s identity is being concealed by a mask, but he is most likely our new CSI expert Julian Albert. Not only is Alchemy’s comic book name Albert Desmond but the element transformation stone is called the Philosopher’s Stone, which is the most obvious “Harry Potter” reference ever. Coincidence? I think not.
After Barry discovered all of the terrible things that had happened to his friends, he decided to do what he always does: go back in time and fix the timeline! This would have been the sixth time he had gone back in time to reset the timeline. First he went back in season one to save Central City from the tsunami and to keep Cisco from dying. He went back again in the season one finale to save his mother, but was cautioned not to by his own self in the past. Barry went back again in “The Flash”/”Arrow” crossover when Vandal Savage decimated Team Arrow. Barry went back again in the middle of season two when he was being chased by the time wraiths, he went back in the finale which created Flashpoint and now he’s going back again. Thankfully this time he had a wise, seasoned speedster looking out for him to stop him from going back again. Jay Garrick — the real Jay Garrick — pulled Barry out of the time stream mid-jump back to 1998. CBR recently spoke with Jay Garrick actor John Wesley Shipp about his role in season three and he echoed this scene, how Jay would be filling the shoes of Barry’s father as a speedster. Jay told Barry that he knew he was Henry Allen’s doppelganger and how he knew Barry would need a helping hand after losing so much to Zoom last season. Despite Barry’s desire to fix everything, Jay laid out a powerful illustration of how you can’t ever truly fix time: the shattered coffee mug. While Barry could glue the pieces back together, he could never truly fix it. This “forever broken” sentiment rings true to what a “Flash” executive producer recently said in an interview about Flashpoint’s forever effect on the new timeline. Jay then encouraged Barry to stop running backwards and to move forward. Moving forward has been a powerful theme on superhero shows recently, as both “Luke Cage” and “Arrow” addressed that theme recently.
The cracks in time that Barry had to deal with, the things that he had to leave broken were actually people — his friends — who suffered terrible tragedies at the hands of Flashpoint. Iris, upon learning that her mother was still alive, decided to hold that against Joe, which split their relationship. Cisco lost his brother, due to a car accident, and had to live with the fact that his best friend was a time traveling speedster who wouldn’t go back to save his brother. These two hurts fractured the Super Friends and Barry spent the entire episode trying to heal and reunite everyone. He was able to start to make amends when he told everyone the truth about Flashpoint and Flashpoint 2.0. While Cisco took it the hardest, he was able to forgive Barry and did so by putting on his new Vibe suit to save Barry’s life (Yeah Vibe!) Iris was able to forgive her dad for not telling her all those years about her mom, which meant the West family was back to being strong again. Everything seemed to back to normal-ish at the end of the episode — Barry and Iris even kissed — except for Caitlin, who was hiding a big secret: she had Killer Frost powers. Could she have been changed by Alchemy too? We’ll have to find out in her upcoming episode (which is being directed by Kevin Smith) season three, episode seven, which is called “Killer Frost.” Next week’s episode, which is titled “Magenta,” will also present some other Flashpoint changes, including what happened to Dr. Harrison and Jesse Wells. Let’s just say that Jesse might just have some shiny new (and quick) powers to show off next week.
Starring Grant Gustin as the Scarlet Speedster, “The Flash” airs Tuesdays at 8 pm ET/PT on The CW. The series also stars Jesse L. Martin, Tom Cavanagh, Carlos Valdes, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Keiynan Lonsdale and more.
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