CW-verse: Flash - "Paradox"
|Jay's sick of your shit, Barry!|
Since I'm a week behind and these two episodes kinda work together, let's just knock them both out at once.
At the end of season two, Flash had defeated Zoom and ostensibly saved the entire multiverse from a guy who sought to control as many Earths as he could find. But the price was high--Zoom had murdered his father, Henry Allen. Having lost so much finally drove him over the edge, and despite being warned not to by a future version of himself, he time-traveled back to the night he lost his mother to stop it all--convinced that ANY world would be better than the one he was already in.
And with the start of season three, everything DID seem better in a way. Barry kept both of his parents as well as his powers, but the world had a "new" Flash--Wally West, saving Central City as Kid Flash. But there was another speedster there as well--Edward Clariss, the Rival—two seemingly equal speedsters locked in a struggle against one another. But it wasn’t just their lives that were different—Cisco was a billionaire, Caitlin had become an optometrist, and with Barry gone Iris and Wally were close together—but Iris’ connection to her father was all but gone. Still, all seemed good until Barry found his memories of the original timeline fading away. From there, things began to spiral out of control until a climactic battle with the Rival that nearly took Wally’s life caused Barry to realize he had to “fix” things, ending in him requesting Reverse-Flash (who he’d been keeping locked away) to put things the way they were.
Seemingly, Eobard did just that, only…they weren’t quite the same. Iris and Joe had been torn apart from Joe not explaining to Iris her mother was alive, Cisco’s brother was killed by a drunk driver, and somehow Barry had a partner in the CSI unit specializing in metahuman behavior. Attempting to jump backwards and fix things again, he finds himself confronted by Jay Garrick, who explains that things would never completely return to how they were and he would have to make peace with it. Heading back to the present, Barry finds himself confronted by The Rival, who’s been mysteriously given his powers back by a being known as Alchemy (later dubbed Doctor Alchemy by Cisco)—and the duo give him quite a bit of trouble until Cisco shows up, revealing that in this version of time his vibration powers are *much* stronger and capable of taking on other metahumans. Together they defeat The Rival and Alchemy escapes, and we approach as happy an ending as things can get. Well, except for the fact that Caitlyn is seemingly developing ice powers like her Earth-2 villainous counterpart.
There’s a lot to unpack in both those two episodes, so let’s start with Jay Garrick’s timeline explanation. According to him, changing the timeline is like breaking glass—you can glue it back together, but it’ll never be exactly the way it was. But—like glass, is there a point where it can’t be put back together at all? After what’s happened, I’d guess Barry’s none too eager to find out but I’d love it if the writers were bold enough to see what would happen on their own. Speaking of Barry, his middling has done a lot of damage—fortunately he hasn’t permanently ruined Iris and Joe’s relationship, but his actions have pretty directly lead to Cisco’s brother’s death, and Diggle lost his daughter! Here’s hoping the next time he time travels it’ll be for a less selfish reason, even if I still wish we could see the timeline totally unaltered by Zoom before this series ended.
Looking at the changes to the Flash crew, I almost feel like its lazy that this is how Cisco and Caitlin got their powers. Yes Cisco’s been a metahuman since season one but his powers were much weaker—now he’s basically Vibe already. Not that I’m against that, but I thought we were doing a story of slow growth and had gotten used to that. This timeline alteration, while clever, basically skipped all that growth stuff and gave us a fully-formed Vibe. Him claiming he’s “not ready” to join Flash is a cop-out too. You’ve already brought him to the finish line, he might as well break the tape. Of course, this is all forgiven if he later says he wasn’t ready because he didn’t have a name or costume, and has both by the mid-season finale.
I’m also bummed about Caitlin, since unless she’s going to become a hero you know her powers won’t stick. It’d be neat to see the team ripped apart by Caitlin going evil and causing some havoc in Central City, but the fact that Danielle Panabaker needs to be apart of the regular cast lets me know that isn’t going to happen.
Looking forward, for once we know a speedster villain won’t be looming over the ENTIRE season—only half of it, as Alchemy will be preparing the world “for a future event” and somehow granting individuals metahuman powers, presumably for a battle against this season’s later speedster Savitar. But forget the villains, I’m far more excited for seeing Jesse Quick and Kid Flash on the screen again. Hopefully by the end of all this Flash has as big a group of superheroes as Arrow does.
Overall, while season two of the Flash had its disappointing moments (though it never sunk as low as Arrow), season three is off to a good start, and the expansion of the universe and the charming characters is more than enough to keep me entertained for now.