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THE FLASH Review: “Paradox”

By on October 12, 2016
The Flash

Pictured (L-R): Grant Gustin as The Flash and John Wesley Shipp as Jay Garrick -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW

By Justin Carter

Hey, so you remember how last week’s episode of The Flash introduced to us a new timeline, then almost immediately walked back on it? Well, “Paradox” continues from that point, beginning with Barry straight up saying: “I made a big mistake.” In this case, the mistake won’t wipe his memory of the pre-Flashpoint timeline, but this new post-Flashpoint one isn’t without its flaws.

As it turns out, this new world has made Iris and Joe distant from each other after Joe lied about Iris’ mom being alive. Cisco hates Barry for not going back in time and saving his brother from getting hit by a drunk driver, Wally’s back to normal, and Caitlin…we’ll get to that. Oh, and Edward Clariss is having visions of the Flashpoint timeline and ends up getting his powers and memories of being the Rival given back to him by Alchemy, a guy in a monk outfit with a bird-looking mask.

Let’s get that last one out of the way first. Clariss’ shift from regular guy to hungry for a life he didn’t technically live is incredibly abrupt and out of nowhere. Our first appearance of him this week is when he begs for the visions of his fight with the Flash last week to stop, and then a few minutes later, he’s standing in front of Alchemy and his cult demanding his powers back. Next time we see him, he’s taunting Barry about a rematch, and I was wondering if something was lost in the shuffle. Even if you justify it as getting his memories back has brought back his hatred for the Flash–let’s just go with how that works–it feels like he went from 0 to 60 over the span of two seconds. He is justified in that Barry stole a life from him he came into naturally–well, okay, given to him by a freak accident he couldn’t have predicted, but still.

Alchemy, for what it’s worth–or “Dr. Alchemy,” as he’s later named by Cisco–is an interesting enough villain who seems to be something different from the last pair of primary villains for the series. I’m intrigued enough by his cryptic talks of “preparing” the world for some unnamed thing, and if he’s going around hitting up normal people to give them their Flashpoint powers back, that can make for some interesting stuff down the line, especially with Wally.

The stuff this week relating to Team Flash was more than a little grating, and not just because they were all mopey and devoid of banter. For one thing, the show explains Barry’s actions three times: once during the recap, again at the beginning with Felicity, and then near the end to the rest of the Team. It’s not exactly a brain teaser to us that he’s going to have to make things right somehow, even if it is to him.

Before he comes clean to  the others about his actions, he decides to head back in time and reset the timeline again (no clue how he planned to do that), but before he can get too far ahead, Earth-3 Flash nabs him in the middle of 1998 for a conversation about how speedsters shouldn’t change time because doing so just creates more screw-ups. (Just pretend that Legends of Tomorrow doesn’t literally deal with this exact premise, otherwise your brain will turn into swiss cheese.) One would think that “you can’t change the past, just move forward” was something that Barry learned back at the end of season one, but that clearly didn’t take, which makes his heart to heart with Cisco and the others more than a little grating. With that in mind, it looks like time travel is off the table for the foreseeable future, or at least until the plot demands it to be the only solution to Barry’s problem.

“Paradox” has two saving graces, the first of which is that we finally get to see Cisco take a more active role with his powers. When he mentions his gloves, I just thought the episode would leave things at that, but he actually puts them on to officially become Vibe for the first time, and even though it’s brief, it’s just awesome. With the four-way crossover between Flash and Arrow, plus Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, I’m desperately hoping that he gets his time to shine. Coming off the recent news that James Olsen from Supergirl will become Guardian, it makes sense for the leads of all shows to have their supporting cast branch into more heroic roles, and it looks like that’s what we’ll be seeing with Cisco and Caitlin, who has ice powers of her own thanks to the new timeline.

Second is Harry Potter alum Tom Felton as the metahuman CSI Julian Albert. He doesn’t get a lot to do besides just be snarky, but I imagine that with time, he’ll fit himself into the main cast quite nicely. It can’t hurt to have another genius on hand at the CCPD, and Barry likely won’t let Julian hate him for long. Unless, of course, Julian ends up being Alchemy, which honestly wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if that’s what ended up happening.

“Paradox” is an alright episode, and here’s hoping that with Team Flash aware of Barry’s weirdness and choosing to live with it, we get back to something fun. Much like these characters, the show is at its best when they’re all upbeat and willing to work together.

Additional Notes

  • Barry’s second round of meddling this season has affected Arrow in that Diggle’s baby daughter Sara is now a boy named John. And…that’s pretty much it.
  • No clue why Barry decided to hide the whole thing about Wally being a speedster in Flashpoint, because that’s clearly going to bite him in the ass.
  • Clariss is killed by Alchemy’s new…something. It’s got a metal hand, that’s all I know.
  • Barry and Iris are together now? The how and why is unclear, but they kiss, so just roll with it, I guess.

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