The Flash adapting the famous comic storyline, Flashpoint, has been teased since the series’ first episode. The season 1 finale even made it seem like season 2 would be all about Flashpoint but The Flash took a swift detour and instead made season 3 open on the alternate reality. Since season 2 of The Flash ended with Barry (finally) saving his mother’s life and ushering a whole new reality into existence, season 3 opened with that new existence and it barely lasted an entire episode. The season 3 premiere of The Flash, appropriately titled “Flashpoint,” was a long time coming but it barely justified its existence and feels like a huge disappointment.
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Was It Necessary?
The idea of “Flashpoint” itself is pretty flawed. One of the big problems plaguing The Flash season 2 was that unlike season 1, there was no solid through line for Barry’s emotional journey. Barry went back and forth with accepting his mother’s death and feeling he made a huge mistake in letting her die in the season 1 finale. It’s not that Barry can’t be conflicted as the main character or even have doubts about his actions. The Flash repeatedly seemed to bring closure to Barry’s grief (and to the audience) only to rip open the wounds episodes later for some cheap drama.
“Flashpoint” was never really earned despite being caused by Henry Allen’s death. The twist, more than anything else, was done for shock value and to provide a cliffhanger at the end of season 2. It’s not a great storytelling decision to use a cliffhanger as a ploy. It can be acceptable, though, if the show can deliver on the cliffhanger in the next episode. The Flash did not deliver on the cliffhanger.
Gone in a Flash
It was a smart move by The Flash to only spend a very little time in the universe of “Flashpoint.” It’s a story that works best in a very small dose, because you can’t make the audience seriously consider that you are erasing years of character development and storytelling for a trick. No fan of The Flash thought that season 3 would be all about Flashpoint and they were right. All that being said, The Flash should have spent just a tiny bit longer in the world of “Flashpoint” than a single episode.
There were some very cool aspects of the “Flashpoint” universe. Wally and Iris as a brother/sister superhero crime-fighting duo is an incredibly interesting idea that honestly would be worth a whole spin-off. The billionaire version of Cisco was a tremendous jerk initially but there should have been more exploration of how that egotistical version of Cisco compared to the original one we know and love. The alcoholic “Flashpoint” version of Joe was depressing but he deserved more than a couple scenes to let us know who he was in this universe.
Since “Flashpoint” only existed for one episode though, The Flash had to rush through these developments that should have taken a couple installments. The trip to Earth-2 was always set up as a temporary journey in The Flash season 2, yet there were multiple episodes set in that world. It’s not unprecedented for The Flash to take its time introducing a completely new universe. Yet with “Flashpoint” there was barely any time to meet the new Kid Flash version of Wally before he was stabbed in the back and was dying for unknown reasons.
There was no emotional resonance or connection to the characters and world of “Flashpoint” because as soon as they were introduced, we were saying goodbye to them. “Flashpoint” was a lot of buildup and anticipation for almost no reward. The only thing Barry learned at the end was that he should not mess with time and that’s a lesson that Barry has received multiple times before on The Flash.
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The Silver Lining in the Cloud of Crisis
As an episode of TV, “Flashpoint” is a pretty big disappointment. It’s all shock and cheap drama with very little to no emotion. As a season opener though, there is promise. The thing that “Flashpoint” does well is let us know that the repercussions of Barry’s actions will not be fading away. The universe of “Flashpoint” might be erased but it will take a very long time, if ever, for Barry to get things back to normal. Trailers for upcoming episodes can always be very misleading but there are a couple shots in the trailer for the second episode of season 3, “Paradox”, which suggest some really interesting new stories for the season as a whole.
Cisco is in grief counselling, Caitlin appears to be turning into Killer Frost and of course Iris and Joe are no longer on speaking terms. As someone who loves the characters of The Flash and their interactions, those developments are upsetting. As someone who likes good drama and conflict, however, those things are exciting. Though Barry has learned the consequences of messing with timelines before on The Flash, the consequences of “Flashpoint” appear dire enough that the message will finally sink in for him.
Most of the relationships in “Flashpoint” were annoying because there was no sense that the “new” characters Barry met were going to stick around. The episode did nail the interactions between Barry and the Reverse Flash. In “Flashpoint” the Reverse Flash told Barry that by creating this new reality Barry had become the new villain. As irritating (and even illogical) as the road to get to that role reversal was, it does create a very compelling arc for season 3. Barry is not trying to stop a villain, he is trying to make amends for his own failures and mistakes. This sounds like a way better story than Barry fighting another evil speedster.
But what do you think? Did you enjoy “Flashpoint” and like how the season started? Did you want to see more of the universe? How do you feel about season 3 after the premiere?
The Flash season 3 airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Like our The Flash Facebook page and follow our The Flash Twitter account @BTV_Flash for the latest updates!
(Images and video courtesy of The CW)