The Flash season 2 was an interesting experience. “Interesting” here being a kind substitute of a word for “wildly disappointing.” The Flash season 2 wasn’t without its highs but it was also full of some weird story decisions, a bland villain and very annoying season finale cliffhanger. It is because of that cliffhanger that season 3 is a a source of trepidation. Unfortunately the season 3 premiere didn’t sell me on the cliffhanger. In the season 3 premiere “Flashpoint” The Flash delivered on the promise of creating a whole new world but never really justified why it existed in the first place.
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Timelines Are A Changin’
In the aforementioned season 2 finale, Barry rewrote a whole new existence into beginning when he stopped the Reverse Flash from killing his mother. When we catch up to Barry in this new “Flashpoint” universe there are a few big changes:
- Iris and Barry are no longer friends, just old school acquaintances.
- Wally is the Flash in this universe and Iris is helping him solve crimes. (Sidenote: I would watch this brother/sister superhero spin-off.)
- Joe is an aggressive, smelly, alcoholic
- Cisco is a billionaire and huge jerk with a weird accent.
- The Reverse Flash is Barry’s prisoner and surly timeline guide.
- Caitlin is a boring child eye doctor and not a boring scientist whose boyfriends keep dying
Despite all those differences Barry is happy; stupidly and blissfully happy. He gets a date with the “new” Iris. He discovers Wally’s secret identity and joins the crime-fighting team. Barry even starts a new Team Flash will billionaire Cisco and eye doctor Caitlin. Everything comes crashing to a halt though when Barry gets flashes (pun intended) of the life he used to live in the previous two seasons of The Flash.
The Reverse Flash informs Barry that the flashes are Barry’s old life slipping away. Barry is losing his memories of his old world and eventually this new timeline will be set and the old world will disappear. The only way to fix things is for Barry to allow the Reverse Flash to go back in time and kill his mother.
Things should be relatively straightforward from here. There is no way The Flash is going to erase two years of storytelling but Barry remains stubborn and selfish. Barry sticks to living out this life doomed to failure. The Reverse Flash has become the voice of reason and Barry is the selfish and irrational one. I can’t decide if the change is a good or bad one, but it certainly is annoying.
Exercises in Futility
Barry, desperately clinging to this reality he has created, goes all in on helping Wally fight crime. Barry, for reasons unknown, thinks the best way to solve his memory problem is to help Wally fight his own speedster supervillain the Rival. When The Flash is in doubt, the best thing to do apparently is to punch and race an evil white guy with super speed. The Rival is basically indistinguishable from the previous speedsters that Barry has fought. He even looks like Zoom’s stunt double.
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Barry has a plan to take down the Rival and it sounds like it should work. At the showdown The Rival taunts Wally into attacking him though and Wally takes the bait. Wally might be Flash in this timeline but The Rival is apparently faster. The Rival overpowers Wally and stabs Wally near his heart. Barry goes to take Wally to safety but The Rival stops him.
The Rival says if Barry can beat him, The Rival will allow Barry to save Wally’s life. Barry isn’t going anywhere though without The Rival’s say-so. All things considered, the fight that proceeds between The Rival and Barry is pretty cool. It also pays homage to The Flash pilot as in a last ditch effort to win, The Rival creates two powerful tornadoes that Barry must stop. Barry’s life is also narrowly saved by the arrival of Joe who shows up and shoots The Rival before he can kill Barry when the latter’s back is turned. So that’s kind of cool, I guess. Really “Flashpoint” is a lot cool moments on paper but with no emotional resonance because none of the changes feel like they are sticking around.
Home Sweet Home?
Barry rushes Wally to STAR Labs but he doesn’t heal. There is never an explanation of why Wally doesn’t heal when his powers should allow him to, but whatever. Wally’s health finally (and mercifully) convinces Barry to do the right thing. Barry has to send the Reverse Flash back in time and his mother must die once again. Barry takes Iris along for emotional support and they release the Reverse Flash from his cage. The Reverse Flash is only too happy to oblige and he takes Barry back in time to his mother’s death.
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Once again, The Flash shows Nora Allen’s murder. Nora Allen is now rapidly approaching the same amount of on-screen deaths as Bruce Wayne’s parents in Batman adaptations. At least the Batman movies have the excuse of being for multiple franchises and continuities, we’ve seen Nora Allen die at least four times on just one TV series.
Anyway, with Nora dead, order is now restored to the timeline and Reverse Flash drops Barry off back at Joe’s doorstep where he ended season 2. Before he leaves, the Reverse Flash tells Barry that some things might not be the same anymore, even though Nora is now dead… again. Barry goes inside to find Joe and Wally, who apparently still live with Barry. Barry’s relationship to Wally and Joe has not changed. When Barry asks where Iris is though, Joe grows angry and leaves the room. Wally tells a confused Barry that Joe and Iris no longer talk and do not get along.
So that’s the big consequence from “Flashpoint;” a family dispute between Iris and Joe for unknown reasons. Consider me very underwhelmed and a little bit annoyed that The Flash needlessly put a wedge in one of the best father/daughter relationships on TV. Hopefully this season premiere will be the last time The Flash messes with the timeline in a big way because clearly no good can come from it. It would also nice if The Flash sorts out Joe and Iris’ problems quickly because the sooner the whole of Team Flash and Barry’s family is back together, the better. On a positive note, it is good that the “Flashpoint” universe didn’t stick around for more than one episode but maybe it should have never happened in the first place.
But what do you think of the season 3 premiere? Did you enjoy “Flashpoint” and the alternate timeline Barry created? Would you watch a spin-off of Iris and Wally as brother/sister crime fighters? Are you glad to be back in the original timeline? Why do you think Iris and Joe are not speaking?
The Flash season 3 airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Like our The Flash Facebook page for the latest updates.
(Image courtesy of The CW)