The Flash premiere recap: Season 3, Episode 1
With great power comes great responsibility to not do irreparable damage to the timeline. Or, at least, I think that’s how the saying goes. Either way, Barry Allen has done messed up in the third season premiere of The Flash, which finds the world forever changed after he decided to stop his mother’s death.
“Flashpoint” picks up three months after Barry changed history, and he’s content with what he’s done to the world — which is one of the changes from the original comic-book story. In this timeline, Barry still has his speed, but he doesn’t use it because there’s another Flash running around saving the day. These days, Barry spends his time watching this Flash fight another speedster called The Rival (seriously, he just stands there and watches), saving drunk Joe from trouble at work, and hanging out in Jitters trying to muster the courage to speak to Iris.
In this world, his mother was never killed, which means that Barry never went to live with Joe and Iris West, which in turn means he and Iris never became friends and lost touch after elementary school. So, he has to find a way to meet her, which he does today. Their “first” meeting goes surprisingly well, and their rapport is rather charming. Once he gets over his nervous stammering, he’s able to ask her out and she says yes. So far, this alternate timeline doesn’t seem too bad…
Oh, I guess I spoke too soon. Although everything’s great with Barry and his family, the same cannot be said of the Wests. In this timeline, Detective Joe West is a drunk who can barely make it to work on time (if he manages to actually wake up). Even though they don’t know each other, Barry still tries to cover for Joe at work. Joe’s fall from grace drives home how much Barry screwed by running into the past probably more than anything else. Back in season 1’s “The Man in the Yellow Suit,” Joe told Barry adopting him injected their home with some much-needed light and love. “I need my Barry Allen,” he said. And, it’s clear from where he is now that he wasn’t being hyperbolic.
“This isn’t your home,” says Eobard. “This is a mirage that will end us both unless you let me out.”
But, Barry doesn’t heed his warning and speeds off for his date with Iris, which is going very well until he has a headache and starts forgetting things from his original timeline. He brushes it off as just a headache, but then their date is cut short when news breaks of The Flash and The Rival fighting. Both Iris and Barry have to run off.
Barry arrives on the scene just in time to save The Flash from falling several stories and dying. He catches him… and then discovers that he’s Wally West.
NEXT: What are Cisco and Caitlin up to in the Flashpoint timeline?
Wally, who seems pretty chill with the fact that Barry unmasked him without asking, takes Barry back to his lair and reveals that he’s been working with Iris to stop metahumans. In this timeline, Wally got his powers after he was struck by lightning while he was racing with an experimental form of nitro in his car.
The show, however, doesn’t explain how other metahumans were created, which suggests that metahumans were always going to happen whether or not Wells created the particle accelerator… because evolution, I guess. I would love to see the show explore that aspect a bit more because it has hinted at it in this world before, like in Arrow‘s season 3 episode “Broken Arrow.” Team Arrow encountered Deathbolt, a metahuman who wasn’t in Central City when the explosion went off.
Anyway, Barry offers to help Iris and Wally with their problem, but first he needs to figure out what’s going on with his memories, which are slowly starting to disappear. He pays a visit to Thawne, who explains that the timeline is slowly solidifying; the more he uses his speed, the more he’ll forget. If Barry doesn’t fix his mistake soon, he’ll be stuck there forever.
But, Barry decides to ignore Thawne’s warnings and instead works to find a way to beat the Rival, which means getting the band back together. Barry, kind of like Desmond in Lost‘s final season, must remind Cisco and Caitlin of who they actually are and what they’re capable of. That’s going to be kind of hard because they’ve changed quite a bit. Cisco is a billionaire who runs Ramon Industries out of the STAR Labs building and wants nothing to do with the superhero business because people always get hurt, and Caitlin is a pediatric ophthalmologist.
Cisco and Caitlin find Barry’s alternate timeline stories incredulous, but Iris believes it — she feels this attraction to him she can’t explain. It’s kind of like Barry and Iris are the doppelgängers of the Berlanti-verse. They always find their way to each other. With Iris onboard, the other two agree to help and come up with a way to track down The Rival. Now, it’s time for Kid Flash and The Flash to team up.
I’ll be honest, I was completely surprised when The Rival got the upper-hand and stabbed Kid Flash with a pipe. His costume and characterization were rather corny, so I assumed we weren’t supposed to take him seriously. But… apparently we were. He gives Barry the challenge of having to unravel two tornados on his own. With a pep talk from Iris, he’s able to do it. Thinking he’s won, Barry lets his guard down for a minute; Rival has another chance to kill him, but Joe shows up in time to shoot him (in a nice homage to the pilot).
Barry may have stopped The Rival, but things are worse than before. For some reason, Wally isn’t healing from his fight with The Rival, leaving Barry no other option but to fix the timeline. He heads home and shares a heartbreaking goodbye with his parents, who don’t realize it’s a goodbye. Unfortunately, his speed is faltering, so it’s up to Reverse Flash to be the hero and speed them back to the night of his mother’s murder to kill her. “Today, I get to be the hero,” says Thawne before they take off into the past to right Barry’s wrongs.
Once Thawne kills his mother, he returns Barry to the present and teases him he’ll have to wait to find out what’s different. Barry enters Joe’s house and finds him there with Wally sharing a beer. The three of them toast to Henry Allen, who died. Barry asks where Iris is and it angers Joe. Wally reveals that Joe and Iris had a big falling out and don’t talk anymore. Barry Allen, what have you done?
Overall, “Flashpoint” was a fun and electric season premiere that promises a return to form after an uneven season. The cast’s performances were solid, making the “Flashpoint” changes very believable, and Gustin was especially affecting as Barry realized his dream reality couldn’t last. I’m on pins and needles to see what other changes are to come. How about you?
The Wall of Weird:
- End Credits Scene: The episode ended with The Vampire Diaries‘ Todd Lassance, who played The Rival in the Flashpoint timeline, being awoken by an ominous voice. “It’s time to wake up,” says the voice as someone scrawls “Alchemy” across the bedroom mirror. Creepy! This end scene was teasing one of the season’s big bads, Doctor Alchemy.
- Thawne telling Barry that he’s the villain now reminded me of my favorite scene from Smallville.
- Barry messing with the timeline also means the Reverse Flash is alive again because the one that helped at the end of the episode is a time remnant, leftovers from an aborted timeline (…I think. I admit I definitely don’t completely understand the rules of time remnants). This means that Revenge Flash can pop back into Barry’s life at any time (or zoom over to Legends of Tomorrow to cause some trouble).
- As a fan of Flashpoint the comic-book story, I was very happy with the show’s spin on it. By focusing just on Barry and not overdoing it on the changes, it made that story feel way more intimate and moving. That being said, I am interested in seeing how this affects Arrow.