“Flashpoint. It’s a side effect,” and a whole new season begins for Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) after rewriting his mother’s death during the Season Two finale. Now where were we…Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) is a rich mogul who doesn’t believe in crime fighting. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) is an pediatric opthamologist not a scientist; or even her comic book alter ego Killer Frost. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) is nowhere to be found; I knew something was missing from this episode. Instead Barry is begrudgingly holding his arch nemesis, Eobard Thawne (Matt Metscher) hostage in an abandoned warehouse, for old time’s sake. Plus Thawne knows his way around time and throws around sagely sarcastic lines and advice throughout the episode , “And here I thought you’d forgotten all about me.” Seems the other way around with both Team Flash and the West-Allen household never being assembled in this timeline; Barry Allen is the forgotten hero. Now he must race to not forget himself, it’s quite the paradox.
“So, I can tell from the I don’t believe you looks on your faces that you don’t believe me,” quips an annoyed Barry Allen after his first attempt at trying to convince the West siblings of his ill-fated story. In Season Two, we witnessed Dr. Stein explaining the multiverse theory to our heroes, and now it’s Barry’s turn to pick up the pen to draw his way through the consequences of messing with time. The best comedic moments are found during this exposition scene, as Barry begins to resemble Team Flash, and come up with a way to defeat The Rival. Throughout the first two seasons we have seen other characters disrupt the present day story as “characters out of time,” but this concept didn’t seem overused and was actually refreshing to see this time around. There’s a balance between familiarity and foreignness between Barry Allen and his former family members. Worth noting, all the episode plot beats are reminiscent to those found in the pilot episode. This is best illustrated in terms of his relationship with Iris West throughout the season premiere, “We mean something different to each other from where you come from.” I never really bought into their chemistry as unrequited love interests until this episode, partly because of the almost sibling relationship developed during Season One. However, in this new world Iris and Barry didn’t grow up together, and suddenly I believe that they are each other’s constants…in any timeline.
The emotional bond between Iris and Barry succeeds in establishing the stakes for our hero. The biggest dynamic shift shown in “Flashpoint” is between Barry’s relationship with all the West family members. He finds himself presently surprised to see Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) as Kid Flash in this universe and they fall easily into a brotherly relationship. Meanwhile, his relationship with Joe West (Jesse L Martin) is nonexistent and we are shown how much Barry impacted our upstanding Central City Detective’s life. Then, after a face off against The Rival leaves Wally fighting for his life, Barry realizes that the entire West family continues to pay for his own happiness. Barry sadly bids goodbye to his happy living parents and a myriad of emotions is displayed on his face. He shares a few moments with Iris. “It seems weird to wish you good luck,” says Iris to Barry before he leaves to reset the timeline. The pair have a bittersweet farewell as Barry races off again to make things right, unbenounced to him it’s not that simple. He returns to the West household with both Wally and Joe acting as if nothing’s changed. But, the “Where’s Iris?” question causes a shift in joy to tension within the house. We, along with Barry, are left confused in a brand new timeline where Iris and Joe have a fractured relationship; leaving Barry feeling like he’s still missing everything he left behind in the Season Two finale.
“And I hate you, but I sometimes wonder which of us is right,” suggests Thawne (Matt Letscher) before taking Barry back in time to the pinnacle moment of their rivalry. Every episode featuring the Reverse Flash is better, due to all the hints at their speedster war spanning centuries. I don’t usually like loose ends that span seasons, but the mystery behind Eobard Thawne’s hatred for Barry Allen is the exception to my own rule. Every time these two are forced to team up against their common enemy, time, Thawne always alludes to the possibility that our hero may not be so innocent in the whole ordeal. Granted, in this episode we see the reverse happen when Eobard finally gets the opportunity to play hero and for a brief moment contemplates his own villainy. The Flash writers have found the perfect formula between their shared hatred for one another and reliance on each other to survive. Hopefully the Berlantiverse doesn’t put an end to the magic, since Eobard Thawne will be appearing on this season’s Legends of Tomorrow as a Legion of Doom member. I am not opposed to the idea that he tempts the Legends to go up against our own scarlet speedster after creating the Flashpoint paradox, “Now who’s the villain Flash, now who’s the villain?”
Doctor Alchemy is certainly teased to be the big Season Three threat, whom Barry Allen must defeat in the midst of navigating the Flashpoint paradox consequences. “Clariss…time to wake up,” shouts a distorted voice from an unknown location as alchemy is violently scratched across a mirror. According to an Empire interview with executive producer Aaron Helbing, “This guy Edward Clariss remembers everything that happened in Flashpoint.” After only watching the season premiere episode it’s still unclear if Clariss will resume his Rival persona, or assume the Savitar cowl this time around. Both threats are unimaginable Flashpoint bi-products who will use their timeline knowledge against Team Flash this season. Is time really the enemy, or is karma the penalty one must pay for messing with fate? “I’ll see you soon Flash,” the season has only just begun.