Last season we left off with Barry’s dad having just been killed by Zoom. Barry was grief-stricken, so he blew Iris off – the girl he’d been chasing for two seasons – to travel back in time and save his mom.
Not only did Barry turn down the chance to accomplish this very task once before, he did it as a result of an entire season’s emotional growth, and knowing full well that if he did go back in time and save his mother, it would probably have disastrous consequences for his present. Not doing it before was a sign of Barry’s healing from the death of his mother and accepting his role and responsibilities as a hero.
Barry’s choosing to save his mother now is a symptom of grievous emotional damage and incredible selfishness.
Barry returns to the past, stops the Reverse Flash, saves Nora Allen, and comes back to the present. He spends the next three months living in an idyllic utopia with both his parents alive.
He retains his speed somehow (when it comes to The Flash and time travel, it’s best not to think too hard about these things), but doesn’t resume superheroing. This new timeline has a Flash (Wally West), so Barry doesn’t need to do that job. Nor does he check up on his friends, Cisco and Caitlyn, or his foster father, Joe. He does engage in a bit of light stalking for Iris’ sake, though.
As the episode continues, we discover that Barry has basically just been chilling with his folks. He’s working his CSI job, but he hasn’t made new friends, carried on with his life, or anything. And his parents are worried about him. They’re mentioning apartments and stuff. Girls. Barry’s what, 25, 26? And he’s swooning around his parents like a 5-year-old.
Barry also has the Reverse Flash held prisoner in a warehouse. He’s brought Reverse Flash forward in time with him and imprisoned him in an abandoned warehouse. What was Barry’s end game here? How did he think holding Reverse Flash prisoner was going to pan out? That wasn’t going to last forever. Someone was eventually going to stumble into that warehouse. Then what?
Guys, Barry had a psychotic break due to grief, and nobody noticed.
No one was really in a position to notice, so I’m not blaming anyone, but I think going forward this season, somebody needs to get Barry into therapy. This kid has serious issues.
Anyway, Barry’s utopia falls apart, as they do. It turns out that rending the fabric of time to serve your own selfish ends is not without consequences, and eventually, Barry has to face up to what he’s done and try to fix it. To do so, he has to turn the Reverse Flash loose and allow him to kill Nora Allen.
Entirely aside from the emotional scars, when Barry finally returns to his “proper” timeline at the end of the episode, we discover that things still aren’t right. It looks like the first victim was Joe and Iris’ relationship, which is now strained, at best. Also, Reverse Flash is back and free to raise hell again, and judging by the season trailer, Cisco isn’t doing so hot, either.
The original Flashpoint storyline was emotional, but was largely driven by the world-ending consequences of Barry Allen’s choice. In this version, we get a much more personal and painful story of emotional devastation. The end of season one saw Berry making a mature and intelligent choice driven by character growth and acceptance, and the end of season two offered Barry the same choice in the wake of misery and loss. This time, he makes a choice driven by pain and selfishness, and has to a pay a price for it.
A lot of people are complaining online that this was retreading old ground, or Barry making the same mistakes over and over again, but I don’t think that was the case. Season one and two tell a story arc about hope, friendship, and the healing of old wounds, as well as loss, betrayal, and old scars torn open again. “Flashpoint” is the inevitable result of putting someone through that much misery.
To really sell it, though, we’re going to need to see some emotional growth and maturity out of Barry Allen this season. He’s going to need to confront his damage and deal with it. Otherwise, the story arc really will be pointless.
The main part of Flashpoint happened in this first episode, but the consequences will probably continue to play out through the season, and I must admit, I’m interested in seeing where this goes.
- So, wait, does this mean that Reverse Flash was never Harrison Wells, then? Because the Reverse Flash that became Wells was stopped by Flash, and then disappeared at the end of the episode, so you have to assume that guy didn’t go on to be Wells. If so… where’s actual Harrison Wells?
- Flashpoint Cisco has a sort of throw-away line about “That’s how you get vibed in the chest,” while discussing The Rival. One could assume that the Rival was also vibrating his hand through people’s chests to kill them, but we never saw that happen. It kind of looked like he was going to do it to Flash before Joe killed him, but… no one else mentioned it, or people being killed that way. Was Flashpoint Cisco also vibing alternate timelines?
- Reverse Flash demanding Barry ask him to kill his mother… Jesus Christ, writers. Y’all kick puppies on your way to work, too?
Line of the Night Award
Caitlyn: Have I been kidnapped?
- AV Club: The Flash season premiere is a mad dash through an alternate timeline
- Den of Geek: The Flash Season 3 Premiere Review: Flashpoint (Also: The Flash Season 3: Who is The Rival?)
- IGN: The Flash: “Flashpoint” Review
- io9: When Will Barry Finally Learn From His Mistakes on The Flash?
- Collider: ‘The Flash’ Season 3 Premiere Recap: “Flashpoint” — Fast and Furious