Here I am...The Flashpoint was only the beginning of Barry Allen’s problems! After fixing the timeline, effectively returning the Reverse-Flash to the night of Nora Allen’s murder, this time not interfering, but allowing the psychopath to carry out his mission, it would appear that The Flash had solved all his problems. Or did he? It would seem that the consequences from “Flashpoint” carried over into the second episode of The Flash Season 3 in “Paradox”.
Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) may have traveled back in time one too many times, as is evidenced by the alternate timeline that is created after his last “flashpoint” — the most drastic alteration yet — did not entirely set itself right, but Eobard Thawne/The Reverse-Flash (Matt Letcher) did warn him after all. When the Flash returns to the present, events aren’t exactly the way he left them. At first Barry assumes everything is just like he left it except for “Team Flash” which has fallen apart.
Most evident is the rift among the West family. Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Iris (Candice Patton) aren’t speaking to one another, not since she learned that her father had kept the secret that her mother was alive from her. At STAR Labs Cisco (Calos Valdes) is battling with his own issues over the loss of his brother Dante who dies in a car accident. Back at the CCPD Barry learns he shares his crime lab with a new workmate, the adversarial Julian Albert (first appearance of new series regular Tom Felton).
Looking to some help to figure things out Barry races to Star City to confide in close friend and confident Felicity Smoak (guest star Emily Bett Rickards). Going over the details, it isn’t long before the two discover that Barry’s “flashpoint” has also had effects as far reaching as Wednesday night on The CW. Particularly they learn that John Diggle (David Ramsey) no longer has a daughter, but a son named John.
Among some additional aberrations there is the arrival of a new threat, a villain calling himself Alchemy that haunts the memories of Edward Clariss (guest star Todd Lasance) who fought the Flash in the “flashpoint” reality as the speedster The Rival. Clariss seeks out the origins of the haunting visions that lead him to Alchemy’s underground cult. Alchemy seduces the man with power turning him that alternate reality speedster!
While Barry attempts to steady his “new” reality and bring his friends close together again, a mystery surrounds Central City as epidermal husks are appearing around the city. When Barry and Joe arrive on the latest crime scene, Barry is able to steal a sample right from under Julian’s nose to bring back to STAR Labs for investigation. Barry also corrals the group and persuades them all to come to dinner at his house.
Dinner doesn’t entirely go as well as Barry anticipates, and before he can open up to the group about all their troubles, The Flash is called into action when The Rival attacks! When the two speedsters meet, Clariss reveals he remembers the alternate timeline and holds The Flash responsible for taking everything away from him challenging him to a fight to the finish. The speedsters race all through Central City, under the watchful eye of a mystery man.
It isn’t long before Iris starts to put things together and confronts Barry, but before he has time to bring her up to speed (so to speak) The Flash makes off and runs headlong into a time-tunnel. Suddenly an arm whips up behind him and tosses him out of the time stream sending Barry tumbling onto the pavement. Catching his breath, he realizes he’s been prevented from making another change to the continuity by none other than Jay Garrick/The Flash (John Wesley Shipp).
The two speedsters, the Flashes of two Earths, find themselves visiting a diner in 1998 (in a wink to both Shipp and The Flash’s executive producer Greg Berlanti, an episode of the WB classic drama Dawson’s Creek is playing on a television in the eatery). Jay cautions Barry about altering the time-line, using the speed force so irresponsibly will undoubtedly have serious repercussions not only for Barry but for everyone in his life. He tells Barry, they are not gods, they are regular men with extraordinary powers, and have a choice about what kind of hero they are going to be.
This is certainly a moment that the television audience has been eagerly anticipating ever since the launch of the series. Seeing the two Flashes interacting guarantees the significance and importance of the “legacy” aspect of these characters. After all Barry Allen, the “Silver Age” Flash is considering responsible for inspiring the Modern Age of comics. The relationship between these heroes is a valuable story that is just beginning to get explored on The Flash and will play an important role going forward in the evolution of this series.
Series producers pulled quite a whammy on fans when they decided to cast John Wesley Shipp in the role of Jay Garrick, especially when many anticipated that when Shipp was to appear on the series when it premiered in 2014, he was going to be playing the original Scarlet Speedster.
One of the greatest achievements of The Flash is the brilliant casting that occurred right from the beginning of the show’s run; the chemistry between the actors at the center of this magnificently impossible universe, creates a narrative that fans are thrilled to tune into.
Barry decides to come clean with Team Flash, and tells them all the truth about “Flashpoint” and he is not proud of but has to live with the consequences of what he’s done, and trusts that they will forgive him. Soon The Flash finds himself confronting The Rival again, only this time the villain has brought Alchemy to the fight. He fires a blast against The Flash using a stone — the Philosopher’s Stone — of which Alchemy uses to derive his super powers.
Realizing that The Flash is in danger, Team Flash pull it together and Cisco as “Vibe” rushes to his friend side to even out the odds. With the help his friend, The Flash is able to stop The Rival, but Alchemy — Doctor Alchemy — escapes. Unfortunately for Clariss, the captured villain meets with Alchemy’s disappointment and is crushed by a powerfully packed arm of metal thus concluding the “Flashpoint / Paradox” arc introducing the third season of The Flash.
In truth it would have most probably served the producers well had The Flash Season 3 kicked things off with a 2-hour back-to-back episode that featured both the premiere “Flashpoint” paired with “Paradox”. It certainly would have given the audience their bang for the buck. Between the two, “Paradox” is the stronger part of this clear Act II to “Flashpoint”. The episode also features some of the best performances from the ensemble.
Properly concluding The Rival’s arc and more effectively introducing Alchemy as this season’s big bad, “Paradox” revs the drama for a new season, and guarantees that there will be action for sure. The appearance of the “real” Jay Garrick into The Flash world is also wonderfully gratifying especially since the “original” speedster made a quick in-and-out at the end of Season Two leaving audiences wondering if we were going to see these two Flashes teaming up.
The moments between Barry and Iris continue to inspire and reveal more about how deeply tied the destiny of these two friends turned lovers is, and watching the evolution through the performances by Gustin and Patton is truly exquisite. With all the changes expected this season, the biggest surprise may be the revelation that Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) may have developed a frosty disposition!
The Flash Episode #302 -- “Paradox” directed by Ralph Hemecker and written by Aaron Helbing and Todd Helbing (Original Airdate: October 11, 2016)