What we saw at the end of last week’s episode of The Flash was only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the after-effects of fixing the Flashpoint timeline. The Flash learns very quickly that some things can’t be fixed and others just get worse. Meet me after the super-speed time-changing jump to find out the extent of the “Paradox.”
We open on Barry coming to Green Arrow’s headquarters on the set of Arrow to see Felicity. The showrunners use their close relationship as a cheap way of retelling last episode’s event, re-establishing the connection between the two shows, and of course to promote Arrow in a sneaky way. All kidding aside, Felicity is a valuable cast member on The Flash, and God knows she’s treated much better here than on Arrow, and the bond she shares with Barry is just as strong as any of the regular cast members.
Speaking of forgotten cast members, I have to give a shout out to Alex Desert, who played Captain Julio Mendez in last week’s episode, replacing Singh in the Flashpoint universe. I apologize as I missed both him, and his character’s name – both callbacks to the role he played in the 1990s The Flash. He would be the latest in several returning actors from that series here in its newest incarnation, joining Vito D’Amabrosio, Amanda Pays, Mark Hamill, and John Wesley Shipp. I would love to see him back again.
A lot more than Iris and Joe not talking has changed in this post-Flashpoint timeline, other relationships have shifted as well. Joe and Iris are not talking because she won’t forgive him for not telling her about her mom still being alive. At first it seems like it’s small stuff, albeit negative, but really nothing more than the little things at the end of the first Back to the Future movie, but then other details come up, the least of which is John Diggle having a son rather than a daughter in the Arrowverse, and Barry and Iris never kissed.
More devastating is that Cisco has lost his brother Dante to a drunk driver, and Barry refuses to travel back in time to save him, causing a nearly irreparable rift. How can Barry even try now that he knows how such a thing can be mucked up? There is also the mysterious cold powers that Caitlin is manifesting, although it’s probably a good thing she’s keeping that to herself. And then there’s Draco Malfoy.
That Tricky Draco Malfoy
Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in all the Harry Potter movies, joins the cast this episode. He is Julian Albert, a metahuman profiler who works with (or is it against) Barry in his lab, and has been for over a year. Barry is told several times during the episode that he always says of Julian, “I hate that guy,” so there must be some history time traveling Barry isn’t aware of.
The trick is, that like Tobias Church over on Arrow, there is no comics counterpart of Julian Albert. We don’t know what to expect or theorize. The obvious plot trajectory would be Doctor Alchemy, a super-villain who does have Albert for a first name in the comics, which would be amusing because as the pseudo-evil Malfoy, he did have experience with the Philosopher’s Stone, but I think that might be too obvious. I definitely suspect him though, as metahuman profiler was also Hunter Zolomon‘s job in the comics. Too many coincidences. On the positive side, Felton’s good looks and British accent provide a sexiness needed in the show, if only momentary.
The Rival, Again
As long as we’re lining up villains, the Rival is back, because apparently this show can’t continue without some sort of evil speedster. Why? I don’t know, but I do know after the Reverse-Flash and Zoom, I’m a bit speedstered out. Sorry, Mark Waid, I love ya, but I felt the same way about the comics when you got speedster-crazy there too. Seriously, let’s take a speedster-break, because if everyone has super speed, the Flash just isn’t all that unique, ya know?
Awakened by Doctor Alchemy (thanks, Cisco), the Rival has his powers back, and all his memories of the Flashpoint timeline intact. It was interesting that he expected Kid Flash to be accompanying the Flash, and from the looks of things, either by Alchemy’s reawakening, or from the accident last season, he may be soon enough. Both Wally and Jesse apparently. And as far as non-speedster team-ups go, I loved that it took both Vibe and the Flash to take him down. I think that team-up could be a lot of fun once the tension between Barry and Cisco is alleviated.
In the comics, Doctor Alchemy was one of two identities held by multiple personality Albert Desmond, a friend of Barry Allen. First as Mister Element, who wore a metallic mask and fought the Flash with a gun that changed one element to another, then as Doctor Alchemy, with the magical Philosopher’s Stone that did much the same thing and more, Desmond was one of the more powerful and dangerous villains in Flash’ Rogues Gallery. Later others took on these two identities, but Desmond, in his various evil personalities were by far the most memorable.
Here on television, Alchemy is a bit of a mystery, a cloaked and armored individual with some sort of energy beam who remembers the Flashpoint timeline and has come to ‘prepare the world.’ Prepare the world for what, we don’t know. We do know, or at least are pretty sure, he is behind activating Klariss’ speed and memories, and perhaps Caitlin’s Killer Frost powers as well. Again, like Julian Albert, and this new Rival, this Doctor Alchemy may well be a blank slate for TV to play.
One funny bit revolved around Barry planning the disastrous dinner for his family trying to get them all back together. As amusing as it is, Barry simultaneously having a conversation with both Joe and Iris, the dinner ends badly, and he decides to go back in time and try again. Barry is pulled out of the Speed Force before it’s too late and he does something stupid by Jay Garrick, the real Jay Garrick, as played by John Wesley Shipp.
At Central City’s Motorcar Diner in 1998, to the tune of Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train,” Jay does what Jay always did best in the comics, gave Barry fatherly advice, a task given even more credence by Jay being his father’s other Earth doppelganger. They talk about paradoxes and timelines. Jay tells Barry he has to decide if he’s going to be the hero who takes a do-over every time he screws up, or be the guy who learns from his mistakes and moves forward. Either way, the metaphor of the broken coffee cup as the timeline is a frightening one.
There was a lot to like, heck, even love, about this episode. I liked the bigger role of Iris this time out. She follows Barry when he fights the Rival, then confronts him about the truth. It’s not as Lois Lane as it sounds, it’s actually quite good and empowering for her character. The Lois moment goes to Julian however when he almost seems to question Barry about what he’s doing with evidence he’s taken from crime scenes. Does he know he’s the Flash?
The scenes with Cisco are heart wrenching, and I know that water is not going to run under the bridge easily, but hopefully it heal faster rather than slowly. The show needs Cisco’s exuberance. There are still questions however. What is Julian’s connection to Team Flash? Cisco and Caitlin seem to know him. And what are those husks? Is this like an Inhuman thing left behind when someone is ‘prepared’ by Doctor Alchemy?
Next: The Return of Harrison Wells, Jesse Quick, and Magenta!