The Flash Season 2 ended with Barry Allen unable to cope with the grief from the death of his father and the burden he carries by being The Flash. Barry realizes that the only way to be happy and “fix” his emotional state is to do what he does best–alter the timeline. He does this by saving his mother from being murdered by Reverse Flash, thereby hinting that Season 3 will most likely be a spin on the comic series Flashpoint, where Barry faces the consequences of that action.
The Flash does not necessarily follow the events of Flashpoint closely, but the main elements of the comic series can be found in Episode 1. We find our protagonist content with the reality he is in with both his mother and father alive. Close friends and family no longer remember Barry, so everything is like a fresh start. Oddly enough, he still has his speedster abilities but is only using them for convenience in his everyday life. With Barry not keen on murdering his enemies, he imprisons Reverse Flash in a chamber that dampens his speed abilities, thereby preventing him from escaping.
In hopes of reuniting with Iris, Barry nervously asks her out on a date as he is now emotionally stable. Wally West gets introduced as Central City’s hero, Kid Flash, as well as a new villain, Edward Clariss as The Rival. To follow the trend of distinct change, Joe West becomes a drunken detective, Cisco is a billionaire who owns Ramon Industries (formerly Star Labs), and lastly, Caitlin is a pediatrician ophthalmologist.
As well as all of these changes, every time Barry relies on his speed for anything, he is slowly losing his memories from his actual timeline. This memory loss continues throughout the majority of the episode, compelling Barry to make a choice: continue to stay in the new timeline or return to the original timeline. So, who better to consult these issues with than Eobard Thawne?
As established in the show, Eobard Thawne always seems to know more about the speed force, time-traveling, and even facts about Barry/The Flash unbeknownst to Barry himself. So when Barry returns to Thawne, he’s told that the more he uses his speed powers the faster his memories from the original timeline will get erased. This becomes an issue when the possibility of Barry forgetting that he is The Flash or how to use his speed powers could keep him trapped in this new timeline. So obviously for Barry to get “home” he’ll have to allow Reverse Flash to murder his mother again. Having said his final goodbyes to his mother and father, Barry returns to the agonizing night his mother killed with Thawne and let history repeat itself. He then runs back to the present time to where everything seems normal based on Joe and Wally’s behavior, that is until Iris is mentioned.
Cramming most of the main elements borrowed from Flashpoint into one episode is perhaps the hardest thing to do, however, the CW found a way to make it work for their series. In the comic books, when Barry returns to the present time after saving his mother, he is without his powers. His love interest Iris is no longer dating him and his father is also not present. The longer he stays in the reality he created, the more of his memories start to disappear. Reverse Flash was not brought back to the present and held captive. With the help of Batman (Thomas Wayne), Superman, and Cyborg, The Flash is able to return to the night his mother was murdered and allow her to die. It’s obvious that trying to follow the Flashpoint comic series directly would be impossible without any rights to the use of other DC heroes. Not only is there conflict with the acquisition of the rights of certain DC heroes, but the issue with the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), which are the slew of films that have recently come out (i.e. Superman and Batman vs. Superman). There was the possibility of having Flashpoint span half of the season or even more than one episode, but honestly, Episode 1 quickly established the tone for Season 3 without any filler.
Thinking that the timeline was fixed, Barry comes to realize that his friends and family are still not themselves. Iris and Joe are not speaking to each other, Cisco is bitter towards Barry, and Caitlin is secretly harboring her cryokinetic abilities. It’s understood that the timeline from Season 1 ceases to exist at this point. Barry’s first tactic to try to reunite the gang back to how he remembered fails, so his next best option is to resort to changing the timeline…again. It’s frustrating to watch as he travels through the speed force to once again mess with the timeline. As we’re all screaming or sighing at Barry, the voice of reason, Jay Garrick (from Earth-3), finally makes Barry realize that he can’t fix issues in his timeline by altering events via time-traveling because the original timeline will continue to fracture. Garrick literally tells Barry to face his problems without running away from them since there is no way to ever return the timeline to its original state.
With a fracture in the timeline, a new CSI agent, Julian Albert, works opposite Barry in his lab. Albert focuses solely on meta incidents and doesn’t seem to trust Barry at all. Season 1 and 2 has introduced characters that posed loyal to The Flash’s cause, but in the end were the season’s respective villains (Dr. Harrison Wells and Hunter Zolomon). If we’ve learned anything from the previous seasons, it’s possible that Albert could play a key role in Doctor Alchemy’s plan or reveal.
In Flashpoint, we got a glimpse of The Rival’s potential as a villain. He’s purely an evil speedster with no real purpose besides being a “rival.” In Paradox, we learn that Clariss regains his speedster abilities and memories from the Flashpoint timeline. At this point, the Rival is Doctor Alchemy’s pawn for his plan to “prepare” Barry’s world for some future event. Originally from the Golden Age of Flash comics, the Rival is Jay Garrick’s enemy who doesn’t really pose a major threat such as Reverse Flash or Zoom. The bigger threat is definitely Doctor Alchemy, however this early in the season not much can be surmised without a name, since Doctor Alchemy has been written as different characters over the course of the Flash comics.
Overall, Flashpoint and Paradox quickly set the stage for Season 3 by introducing the ultimate consequence of altering the original timeline. Jay finally gives Barry the best advice to just keep moving forward and stop trying to fix the past. I couldn’t help but yell “Thank you!” at Jay when he said those words. Perhaps in Season 3, we can all finally stop yelling at Barry whenever he embarks on some selfish time traveling mission. As for the villains, I am desperately hoping to see Mirror Master later in the season, which is also the same villain Grant Gustin (actor who Barry Allen) would love to see on the show. I can only hope that the writers will find some way for Doctor Alchemy to give rise to Mirror Master.
It’s obvious that even though the Flash has been training and fighting foes left and right for 2 seasons, he’s always going to need help from his friends, so I’m hoping that this season Wally will don the yellow and red suit as he did in Flashpoint and work side by side with the Flash as Kid Flash. If Wally doesn’t become Kid Flash this season, I am curious to see if any more speedsters will be revealed since there are still plenty that have yet to be seen! Lastly, I enjoyed Julian’s snarky attitude and personality, but I cannot get over the fact that all I see is Draco Malfoy during Tom Felton’s performance. I’m sure that as the season progresses, Felton will make Julian a unique addition to the show and distinct from his iconic character, Malfoy.
Episode 3: Magenta will feature the return of Dr. Wells and Jesse Quick from Earth-2 seeking help from Barry to hone Jesse’s speedster abilities. The Flash airs on The CW every Tuesdays at 8/7 Central. You can also watch The Flash on the CW app or website a day after the show airs for free!