In the final moments of the last episode of the last season, The Flash did the unthinkable, the impossible, the only thing he thought he could/should do. He traveled backward through time and saved his mother from the murderous Reverse-Flash – he changed time. And when he returned home in the present, everything was different, and maybe not a good kind of different. Meet me after the time-bending jump for my thoughts on “Flashpoint!”
In the comics, the Flashpoint storyline is a pretty important one. It was a break in continuity between the old DC Universe and the so-called New 52 DC Universe, and blank slate for that multiverse to start fresh. The old continuity was destroyed by the Flash saving her mom from the Reverse-Flash, with repercussions like an Amazon/Atlantean War ravaging the planet, a heroic Captain Cold, Thomas Wayne becoming Batman when he son Bruce is murdered by criminals, the sea pirate Deathstroke, a Hal Jordan who never Green Lantern, and a powerless Barry Allen among other things. Together, Barry and the elder Wayne save the universe, by creating a new one, the New 52.
Anyone who’s seen Back to the Future, especially the second one, knows how this works. Tampering with the past affects the present. Nora Allen might not have been killed by the Reverse-Flash, but really, that’s the only thing that can be sure. As in It’s a Wonderful Life, one can never be sure how one single individual’s actions affect others. It’s a chain reaction effect, for good or ill…
We open on Barry at Jitters trying to get to know Iris better. You see, with Nora Allen still alive and Henry Allen not in prison, Barry was never raised by the Wests and doesn’t really know them. He’s trying to get with Iris again, which really makes me wonder why Barry pursued this avenue to begin with. After two seasons, he was finally with her, and he threw it away to save his mom. Still, it’s quaint watching the two get together, and Barry is too cute asking her out for an iced tea.
Barry seems happy, and he seems happy in this re-pursuit of Iris. If you’ve read my reviews before, or hell, just read the original comics, you know how important this relationship truly is. Theirs is a romance that goes beyond life and death, time and space. Note how it is she who motivates him, however awkwardly, in the final battle with the Rival. I don’t know about you folks, but my heart was breaking when Iris confessed that she hadn’t known love until Barry came along.
Don’t Call Me Kid Flash
Barry’s first attempts in this new reality to meet Iris are interrupted by TV new footage of the Flash fighting the Rival. Now the Rival is new to television and we’ll get to him in a moment, but this Flash is not at all who we expect – it’s Wally obviously, in a close approximation of the Kid Flash costume from the comics. So yeah, we’ve been given Kid Flash, just not the way we expected. And while it’s obviously Wally, it must be a Clark Kent glasses thing, because it takes Barry half the episode and an unmasking for Barry to figure it out.
When he reveals his origin to Barry he tells of his background in racing illegal cars, and how a lightning bolt hit him in his car, and the mixture of chemicals and electricity gave him his speed. Riiight, but it’s so Silver Age science I love it. As it turns out, Iris is his support system, and she calls him Kid Flash just like Barry does. He hates it, and I like that. I kinda hope this is something that carries over into the remade reality next week.
The Rival was the last villain the Jay Garrick Flash fought in his own comic in the Golden Age back in 1949. Sometimes referred to retroactively as the Golden Age Reverse-Flash, Dr. Edward Clariss found a way to recreate the Flash’s speed, wore a darker version of Jay’s uniform and turned to crime. Writer Geoff Johns brought him back as a much more dangerous threat in the 21st century JSA comic series.
Here on the show, the Rival is portrayed by Australian actor Todd Lasance, another casting choice from Starz’ Spartacus, and if you look close, the costume is a black and orange version of the real Jay Garrick costume from last season. At first he just seems to be a random villain of the week, but as we see at the end, in the reformed continuity, there’s much much more to him.
The Real Reverse-Flash
Speaking of baddies with more to them than we thought, there’s also Matt Letscher returning as the Eobard Thawne version of the Reverse-Flash. Since arriving in this continuity, Barry has been unheroically keeping Thawne trapped in a speed-suppressed glass cage, bringing him fast food and sometimes curly fries, just like a prisoner in the old Pipeline.
As we’ve seen in the past (always a fuzzy term when talking about time travel) the Reverse-Flash is smart, and knows his way around the time stream. He knows about time remnants, and paradoxes, and he seems to know about this place too, the new reality that he himself names Flashpoint. The Reverse-Flash knows that Barry is losing his memories, and his speed, and soon the old reality will have never existed. Most of all, he knows that sooner or later, he’s going to get to kill Barry’s mother.
Speaking of mom, the scenes with Barry’s parents were very Stepford Wives and I got the very weird vibe that he was happier to be with them than they were to be with him. Notice how happy they were that he was finally interested in a girl, finally dating… and would maybe move out of the house. I know losing his mom at such an early age probably messed him up, but it’s just weird seeing Barry be such a momma’s boy.
Also in the parent realm, Barry keeps covering for alcoholic Joe West, who doesn’t like him, and doesn’t want him with his daughter. Best line: “I have a hangover and a gun.” With both sets of parents, and yes, Tom Cavanaugh is much missed in this episode as a character and a presence, Barry is seen as ineffectual, and unlikable. Even his parents, with difficulty, tolerate him. Barry should sense the difference.
Getting the Band Back Together
In spite of, or possibly because of, Barry decides that he has to stop the Rival, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because he needs the support structure he once knew in his former reality. Yeah, he gets the band back together. We meet Cisco Ramon, an app billionaire and the richest man in America. He also made a friction-proof suit for (Kid) Flash. I loved Carlos Valdes in this role, and wished we had more time to watch him go like this. We need more fun. I especially loved when he made the unintentional Weather Wizard reference.
Disappointingly, Caitlin Snow is an optometrist in this reality. What does this mean? Is she not important to the team? Do her skills mean nothing? I suspect something may be up here. This is the second alternate reality where her scientific skills are meaningless. Although admittedly, super-villainess is much more interesting than optomentrist. It just seems wrong how useless she seems in this episode. With Barry losing his memory and his speed faster and faster, a plan is quickly put together to face the Rival.
In the battle with the Rival, we learn that the villain is one of the crazy ones, and a murderer. Even with his dwindling speed, the Flash is able to keep just out of his reach, but (Kid) Flash’s recklessness shows through when the Rival impales him through the chest. Then with Iris’ words, Barry pulls out the energy to stop him. In the end, Joe pulls himself together enough to save the Flash, and shoots the Rival as he attacks from behind. Full circle to an extent, except for one thing. It all must come to an end, by reversing this new reality.
Just as the Reverse-Flash had been saying, he’s the hero this time, and he knows that the timeline must be erased. Even though, just to show how evil he is, he makes Barry say it, he makes Barry tell him to kill his mother. Thawne does it, but not without warning Barry first that not everything is the same…
We get only a couple things before the credits roll. Joe and Iris are not on speaking terms, but something tells me there be more to that iceberg than the tip we see. And then we see Klariss in bed with his wife, awoken by a name being scratched on the mirror by unseen hands. It says, “Alchemy.” Could the Rival be Doctor Alchemy in this timeline? But doesn’t that also mean he’s Mr. Element? I’ll leave that right there, with a lesson in psychosis, magic, and science coming next week. All this, plus Felicity Smoak, Jay Garrick and Draco Malvoy…