FLASH SPOILER Review: Episode 3x02 - "Paradox"

The Flash (3x02) - "Paradox"
Written by:         Aaron & Todd Helbing
Directed by:       Ralph Hemecker

Gotta give Barry credit, judging by what we saw at the end of the last episode you still can show self-awareness by starting this week with “I made a big mistake.”  Yes you did, God man you were a nerd growing up you had to have seen “City on the Edge of Forever” at least once.   

Small changes in history make bigger changes in present day and they compound on each other.

So Barry runs to Starling City, or is Star City now? I haven’t watch Arrow since early season three. And talks to Felicity, and I suppose that is the reason I smiled and thought, “Hey, it’s Felicity!” Instead of what other people were probably thinking.  Anyway Barry lays out his big dumb mistake for her and the two of them worked out that the changes have reached as far as changing the sex of Diggle’s kid but are clearly far more devastating for Team Flash.

Not only are Iris and Joe aren’t talking but Cisco has gone strangely emo and dickish and apparently Caitlin thinks it’s his fault.  Barry tries to be the bridge over troubled waters but the Wests are really not into it.  After everyone leaves them alone, Iris can definitely tell Barry’s acting weird and guilty and tries to talk about it as well as their increasingly complicated relationship.  Let’s spin the big wheel of unexpected twists from time travel and find out what’s gone wrong here…

The wheel says, “Barry has again wiped out his super-romantic first kiss with Iris!”  Jesus, someone get Jim Kirk on the phone to explain “Time Travel and Romance for Beginners.”

When Barry goes to the Police Station and gets some old-fashioned butt chewing from Joe and some good news/bad news about his time travel fallout.  “Good news” Captain Singh’s back.  Bad news: He’s got an office rival now.  Meet Julian Albert, he’s British and while I know I’m supposed to hate him I afraid if I did that his father would hear of this. (I will genuinely try to make that the only Malfoy joke I make. No Promises, though.)

Julian is the head of a Meta-human task force and he thinks Barry’s a dick, and to be fair there’s a lot of evidence to point to him being correct.  Even more so when he goes to the gym to find Cisco and instead of finding him at the squat rack he finds him in a grief support group talking about Dante.  When he tries to talk to Cisco, Cisco basically blows him off and hints that in this timeline Cisco blames Barry for not going back in time to save Dante.

So we’ve caught back up to Barry and Felicity’s scene and Felicity sends Barry off to fix his mess.  Meanwhile, Edward Clariss is not having a great time in this brave new world judging by the ranting in the back of a public bus.  He manages to find Alchemy and he offers Clariss a way to fix his problems…

Barry and Joe head out to a crime scene, and Julian is on the case already so Barry is not welcome. So Barry steals a sample and takes it to STAR Labs, Barry tries to talk to Cisco unsuccessfully so he begs her to bring Cisco to the West Home for dinner before he tricks Iris there too.  It’s time to talk this out, by God.

Did I say talk? I meant awkward silence while Barry tries to offer up ways to talk things out.  It also quickly comes out that he’s lying to everybody.  Well kids, just wait for when you find out just how much.  Unfortunately, they’re saved from this by the Rival. (Also, unfortunately he has the same suit.)

I didn’t think it was possible but Edward has managed to have an even bigger beef with Barry than Cisco, what with the remembering the Flashpoint timeline and being able to conclude that Barry changed it.  So he decides to do things the way Thawne and Zoom should have, no time travel or dimension hopping, just an ass kicking at super speed.  Sorry Edward, you just weren’t up to snuff.  Also, Barry’s being spied on.

Back at the lab for a recap and Barry can’t keep things to himself anymore.  Things are too messed up so Barry decides that third time’s the charm and heads off to fix history… Again.

Not so fast, buttercup!  Someone yanks him out of the Speed Force and that someone is Earth-3 Jay Garrick aka the Flash and he’s got some news for Barry.  The two hit a dinner, and since it’s 1998, some Soul Asylum and Dawson’s Creek and Jay explains what Barry should’ve figured out by now.  When you are able to travel through time, you can’t actually fix the timeline you only end up changing it in a new way.  Jay’s tried to fix things before and has learned the lesson through bitter experience.  Setting all that aside, Barry needs to actually learn that somethings can’t be changed, even with time travel.

So Barry goes back and tells everyone what he has done and they take as well as anyone would if they were told that someone messed around with their life behind his or her back.  Cisco’s especially hard hit, considering Barry did exactly what Cisco asked him to do for Dante for his mother.  Barry offers to tell them about the other timeline if they want but they would have to live with that knowledge and Cisco would have to live with whatever the cost of bringing Dante back would be, whether he or someone else paid it.

Barry goes to Julian for help with Clariss and thanks to Julian’s casework Barry figures out what should have been pretty obvious.  Clariss is hiding out at the sawmill again.  He goes there and finds himself in the midst of a three-person fight.  Only this time, he’s the one that’s outnumbered.  Flash meet Alchemy.

Back at the Lab, Iris has the whole group together and while everyone else is content to be mad at Barry for a good long while she’s not.  So basically points out they’ve all done things they regret tremendously when faced with losing a loved one so maybe they should at least offer Barry a shot at forgiveness.  Caitlin gets a little cryptic but is interrupted by Barry’s suit telling them that he’s dying.

Alchemy’s got Barry on the ropes, so Barry to stall by getting Alchemy to monologue a little.  However, beyond some near-meaningless words like “Helping people achieve their true potential” to “prepare this world” Barry doesn’t get much before the Rival steps in.

Unlike last time, the Rival is putting the boots to Barry but just as he’s about to kill him Cisco makes the save.  Let the healing begin so it’s back to STAR Labs for a recap and the official naming of “Doctor Alchemy.”  They ponder what Alchemy’s plan is for a while before Iris tells Barry that the group has decided to let the previous timeline go and move on.

Barry heads back to the CCPD and Julian’s got some words for Barry.  See, Barry asked for Clariss’ report by name when Julian never mentioned his name.  Julian knows Barry is lying about something and that’s why he hates Barry.

Back at the West Home, Iris and Barry have a little chat on the porch.  A very shippy chat, because yeah this is the CW, what of it?  Barry again decides third time’s the charm when it comes to first kisses too.  No time-traveling interference this time.  Just Kissing.

Meanwhile in the Meta-wing of Iron Heights, Edward’s got some trouble on his hands.  Alchemy wasn’t happy with failure, and in typical big bad fashion he kills Edward to set an example.

Good episode this week, though it really didn’t accomplish much beyond setting up the stage for the season.  Still it feels like they pushed a little hard to get some things settled.  I wouldn’t have minded (or won’t mind if they’re not done, I suppose) more of the Cisco/Barry friction because it comes from a good source.  Despite the suit, I did like the Rival so it sucks that they killed him off. Twice.  Then there’s Caitlin, it’s pretty clear she’s got a problem and judging by her cryptic words to Iris and her final scene she might feel things are spinning out of control, so I’m looking forward to more of this coming soon.

As for our guest stars, I am interested to see if Jay is going to be around going forward or if this is the last we’ll see from John Wesley Shipp for a while.  Tom Felton is good as Julian, just righteous enough to be just what he seems and with just enough of a sinister air to be a suspect in the “Who is Alchemy?” mystery.  I liked seeing Emily Bett Rickards again, like I said I don’t watch Arrow so for me it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen Felicity.

So it all adds to be rather unfortunate that this ended up being the lowest rated episode of the show ever, that “honor” should have been reserved for an episode like “All-StarTeam-Up.  But I can’t begin to speculate all the dozens of factors that lead to this or what it might mean for the show so I’ll just wrap this up by saying that while I’m not concerned the rating did raise my eyebrow a bit.

Three Things We Learned This Week:

1)      Barry’s trips through time have had major impact on many of the people in Barry’s life. Even someone he’s only acquainted with, like Diggle.
2)      Dante was killed in a car accident and Cisco blames Barry for not saving him.
3)      Barry’s accepted that he can’t keep changing the past, at least for now.

Three Questions:

1)      What’s Doctor Alchemy doing?
2)      Who was spying on Barry at the waterfront?
3)      How much have Caitlin’s powers manifested and how worried is she?

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