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THE FLASH Season 3 Premiere Review

By on October 5, 2016

Pictured: Grant Gustin as Barry Allen -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW

By Justin Carter

Flashpoint

The last time we left off with The Flash, Barry had decided to go back in time and save his mom from being killed by the Reverse Flash as a kid. It wasn’t a move that made a lot of character or thematic sense, at least to me, and with that ending on the table it was clear what the deck was being set for: Flashpoint.

It was a massive comics event in mid-2011 that served as a lesson for why you shouldn’t mess around with time. In the new reality Barry created, Thomas Wayne became a very murder-happy Batman (Bruce was the one who died that night), Aquaman and Wonder Woman waged a global scale war against each other, and a whole bunch of other things happened that weren’t ideal for all involved. More than anything, the event was the building bridge to create the New 52 for DC, wherein everything was reset to zero, give or take a few things. The decision to move to Flashpoint is interesting, but definitely looks weird in light of DC’s Rebirth initiative, which effectively exists to bring the pre-New 52 world into the present, with the stuff from New 52 deemed acceptable by the writers sticking around.

It’s too early to tell what this version of Flashpoint will bring to the larger DC/CW universe, but here’s the skinny of it so far: Barry’s been living with his parents for the last three months, Wally is Kid Flash–well, he’s dead set on “The” Flash, but Iris and Barry clearly aren’t having that–Joe’s a drunk who can’t get along with his kids, Caitlin’s an eye doctor, and Cisco is the “richest man in America,” thanks to his tech company. Reverse Flash, meanwhile, is played again by Matt Letscher and kept in prison by Barry, serving no other purpose than to tell Barry he’s made a big mistake in messing with time and to give this new reality the name “Flashpoint” because comics. None of this is ideal, particularly Wally’s clash with another speedster known only as “The Rival,” and also because Barry’s slowly using his memories of the original timeline.

Given that Flashpoint was a really big deal for DC, it’s weird that it was played up as a bit of a big deal for the series. There’s barely any time to really process this, and the only way that it really affects things is that Barry has a legitimate shot with Iris this time around. Even then, the show may as well have had a giant neon sign over the Barry and Iris scenes reading “THIS WILL NOT END WELL”. Sure, it wasn’t expected to last a whole lot of time, but having Barry and Reverse fix it so soon after being introduced to this new world lands with a whimper. And even with the knowledge that killing Nora didn’t reset everything back to how they were in the finale feels less like a big moment and more like a way to extend the “Barry screwed up” storyline.

As much of a dud Flashpoint ended up being, the performances are what carry it. As with the Earth-2 pair of episodes from last year, splitting off from the current timeline has given the actors a good chance to mix things up. I would have liked to see more of eye doctor Caitlin Snow and Cisco as a smug tech billionaire. If we got a full episode of Barry enjoying this new world and having to deal with the ramifications of his actions, only for the stuff to hit the fan the following week, it would make his decision to let his mom die (again again?) all the more tragic. Still, credit to Lescher for really bringing across the smug superiority perfectly when Reverse forces Barry to ask him in full to kill his mom.

Flashpoint may not be the big game changer that its title and pedigree would suggest, but it’s still a pretty good episode that gives fun performances from the main cast. And it shows Barry that time travel is bad (which you think he would’ve grokked by now), so I can’t fault it for that.

Additional Notes

  • I didn’t mention The Rival because there’s honestly nothing more to him. He’s a speedster, he’s cocky and convinced he’s the fastest, and his real name is Edward Clariss. That’s basically it, until the end, where some thing writes “Alchemy” on his mirror.
  • Barry says that he didn’t entirely kidnap Caitlin when pressed by Cisco, but considering that she asked if she was free to go, that doesn’t help his case.
  • Would you like to know what happened to Harrison Wells? Well, the show avoids answering that question, and probably will for another week or two.
  • Next week’s episode is called “Paradox,” which is clever.
  • If you’re interested in the Flashpoint comic, it’s available to buy at stores. There’s also a decent animated adaptation of it on Netflix as well, but it’s not something you may wanna show to anyone under the age of say, 7 or 8.

 

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