FLASH SPOILER Review: Episode 3x01 - "Flashpoint"

The Flash (3x01) - "Flashpoint"
Written by:         Andrew Kreisberg & Brooke Roberts
Directed by:       Jesse Warn

Flashpoint! Let’s go, no time to waste!

Three months after Barry played with time like my dog plays with an old sock he’s sitting in Jitters working up the nerve to talk to Iris.  But before he can lightning flashes outside and Channel 52 reports that the Flash is confronting the Rival.  Gotta hand it Channel 52 in this age of media bias and agenda reporting Channel 52 has found a niche to stand on “All the Plot-specific, perfectly-timed news Central City needs.” 

So Barry races off and catches up with the pair and we get our first glimpse of the Rival and…

Whoo boy.  Not the best costume man, might want to kidnap a fashion consultant.  Anyway, we get a pretty standard speedster vs speedster fight with Barry playing the part of the bystander for once and when the Rival pulls the throw the lightning trick Barry learned last year, this new timeline’s Flash has to save.  We get a pretty good look at him and gee, I wonder who he could be!

Anyway, Barry returns to Jitters to make a play for Iris and Barry goes for the old “Did you drop this?” routine.  Classic, Barry.  Classic.  He talks to Iris and manages to secure a date before goes to work at the Station and it seems that the Speed Force has replaced Captain Singh with Julio Mendez (played by 1990s Flash alum, Alex Désert) who has promoted from 90s Barry’s assistant to Captain.  The pair discuss the Rival, and Joe’s recent absenteeism before Barry begs off to “meet a friend.”

By "meet a friend," he means, “I have to go feed the Reverse Flash at the abandoned warehouse I’ve kept him imprisoned in.” Let me tell you, after five years of the DC-CW Universe I’ve learned that really good decisions are always hallmarked by keeping someone imprisoned in some sort of abandoned building.   

Reverse Flash is looking for curly fries, which makes me want Arby’s, but he’ll settle for reminding Barry of how "heroic" he’s being right now and giving the episode a title.  He then goes on to call Barry out for being a coward and reminding him that time doesn’t like to be screwed around with.

Barry’s not interested in reflecting on his actions so he goes home.  Barry still lives with Mom and Dad in the Flashpoint universe and while Barry and I are excited to see Michelle Harrison and John Wesley Shipp, Henry and Nora Allen would like Barry to move out of the house.  Probably should have done your own laundry more, Barry.

At the Police Station, Barry’s trying to cover for Joe because Joe’s about to drink himself out of a job.  He heads over to the West Home and finds Joe passed out so he uses his speed get Joe to work.  Joe is unimpressed and thanks to Iris’ timely arrival he thinks he's figured out Barry’s angle pretty quick and since Barry can’t tell him “Hey, I care because before I started channeling Marty McFly you were like my second dad” Barry has to let him assume that.

Barry and Iris take a walk and they’re hitting it off pretty well but things take a turn for the worse.  First, Barry has a flashback to all the time he spent with Iris before and then the Rival and the Flash start fighting again.  Oddly, Iris suddenly runs off with a lame excuse before Barry can. 

Barry arrives on the scene of the Rival and Flash’s latest fight just in time for Flash to be thrown out the window.  Barry tries to save him with the tornado arms but doesn’t quite pull it off, still Flash lands safely in a dumpster.  Barry pulls his mask and sees that it’s Wally!  *Gasp*

Wally takes Barry to his secret lair and Barry quickly has a lot of explaining to do because it sure looks like he’s stalking Iris to get to Wally to them.  Instead he deflects, and we get Wally’s Flash origin.  Wally was testing some sort of fuel mix for his drag racing when his car was struck by lightning and after a nine month coma he wakes up with super speed and he and Iris fight crime.

When they turn to the matter of stopping the Rival, Iris says that there's only one person that can help them: Cisco Ramon.  They head to STAR Labs and Barry learns that STAR Labs is under new management, namely Cisco Ramon.  Cisco apparently bought STAR Labs when he started selling his tech ideas and he’s turned into a douchebag-billionaire.  Think Mark Cuban in a suit instead of an Iron Man T-Shirt.

Cisco isn’t exactly interested in helping out any more than he already has by making Wally’s suit.  Barry has a trump card, meta-knowledge from the previous timeline.  Barry has another one of his flashbacks so he heads over to see Thawne.  Thawne tells him what he probably should’ve assumed from the start.  The new timeline is asserting itself in Barry’s brain and very soon Barry’s going to forget his old life.

Barry doesn’t want to admit to believing him so he leaves and uses his speed to gather the team together and reveal himself to them so they can help each other defeat the Rival.  They don’t buy it so Barry pulls from Back to the Future II to explain what he’s done. 

He also realizes that there’s still a member missing from Team Flash.  So he kidnaps- recruits Caitlin and we learn that she’s a pediatric ophthalmologist here.

Iris pulls him aside and explains that she’s been getting some pretty serious soulmate vibes since Barry talked to her in the coffee shop but before they can get with the making babies Cisco pops out in to the hall to tell they’ve found the Rival with Caitlin’s help.

Barry and Wally head to the Rival’s abandoned sawmill and try to work out a flanking strategy.  The Rival, or should we call him Edward Clariss, is not impressed and after some posturing goads Wally into abandoning the plan.  Which doesn’t work out well for him and he gets a broomstick through the chest.  Barry and Edward go after each other and while it seems Barry has him outclassed another flashback give Clariss the opportunity to create a tornado.

Excuse me, I wasn’t thinking big enough.  Why create one tornado when you can create two?  So Barry has to unwind two F3 Tornadoes before taking out the Rival.  But Barry still hasn’t learned to see a fake surrender yet.  Fortunately, Captain Mendez dispatched the police and Joe was on the scene to make the same.

Back at the Lab, Wally’s in a coma and Barry finally realizes that Thawne has been right all along but he doesn’t think he can do what he has to without Iris’ help.  So he takes her to see his parents one last time before he sets Thawne free.  Unfortunately, Barry’s essentially coming apart at the seams at this point so it’s up to Thawne to save the timeline.

After “fixing” things, Thawne deposits Barry on Joe’s doorstep and takes a little time to gloat.  Not only did Barry help him win but he knows that even after correcting the timeline there will be surprises for Barry.  So with a victorious smirk, Thawne leaves.

Barry goes inside and catches up with Joe and Wally but when Barry brings up Iris Joe gets pretty upset and storms off.  Wally explains that Joe and Iris don’t talk and Barry and I agree on the only question left: What did you do, Barry?

Meanwhile, somewhere in another part of Central City, Edward Clariss is awakened by an ominous disembodied voice.  It’s time to tease this season’s big bad: “Alchemy!”

Back in the saddle again.  So if you read my review of the Season 2 finale you’ll remember I liked the emotional turmoil Barry went through and that it lead to him rolling the dice on time travel.  Considering that the writers were between a rock and a hard place here, this was a good follow up.  Barry’s actions to close out season two needed to be explored deeply but as viewers of the defunct series Eureka can tell you, messing around with changing the show’s core elements can kill a show faster than Fonzy on waterskies.

I think they found a way to eat their cake and have it too.  Barry and friends are back to a place that is close enough to normal that the audience can roll with it but we still get to explore why Barry should have never done what he did in the first place.

Moving along, I might be alone here but I think I like Matt Letscher’s Thawne better than Tom Cavanaugh’s at this point.  I really love that Thawne has been able to justify his actions, even if only to himself, which makes him as capable of help Barry as he is of destroying him.

It was fun to see new versions of our cast but much like the Earth 2 versions last year I don’t feel too much desire to see more of them.  They also did a good job teasing Barry and Wally’s mentor/student relationship once Wally’s powers start to manifest.

As for the Rival… Seriously, that’s a bad suit.  I get that there’s only so many ways to do the look but they might want to go back to the drawing board on this one.  Ideally, they need to give the evil speedster gimmick a rest for a while.  It's becoming as big a crutch to Flash as the Kryptonite-gave-me-powers-and-turned-me-crazy gimmick was to Smallville.  I'm not telling you to stop, I'm asking for restraint.

All said and done, this was a much better season premiere than we had last year and I hope that’s a good omen going forward.

Three Things We Learned This Week:

1)      Eobard Thawne has righted the timeline. Mostly.
2)      This timeline’s Joe and Iris have had a major falling out.
3)      Someone named Alchemy is making moves on Central City.

Three Questions:

1)      Does Thawne know what has changed for Barry?
2)      For that matter, did Thawne have a hand in those changes?
3)      Who is Alchemy and what is his plan?

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