Spoilers ahead for “Flashpoint,” the Season 3 premiere of The CW’s Flash!
The short version: Barry gets to live his life in the Flashpoint universe where both his parents are alive and Kid-Flash saves the day. Then all hell breaks loose.
The Flashpoint universe, even though it didn’t last very long. The episode opens with Barry living out his fantasy life, and it seems he’s been here for three months kicking it with his parents and pining over this alternate-reality version of Iris. The differences here are really interesting and a lot of fun.
Keiynan Lonsdale’s Wally West absolutely steals the show as Kid Flash here, and his cocky attitude and naïveté really are a breath of fresh air in a TV superhero landscape that’s usually so dour. Sure, Barry has some fun being The Flash, but Wally is having the time of his life. The brother-sister crime-fighting duo was also great. Nice to see Iris get an active role early in a Flash’s career. It was also a great test run for actually turning Wally into a speedster down the line in the prime universe (remember, he was hit by the Speed Force back at the end of Season 2, along with Harry’s daughter Jesse).
The rich A-hole version of Cisco (Carlos Valdes) was also hilarious. It’s basically Cisco with no filter and an ego the size of Central City. Maybe if Cisco Prime weren’t so distracted helping save the world every day, he could finally break big and start dating those supermodels he deserves. The alt-version of Caitlin as an eye doctor was also an interesting twist, though she mostly serves as set dressing for this episode (which follows a pattern of the past few seasons, sadly). But still, having her randomly be an eye doctor was a funny twist. Barry’s semi-kidnapping, and Caitlin’s deadpan confusion to the whole thing, were also handled well. She was just happy to be along for the ride.
But the real prize this episode goes to Matt Letscher’s Eobard Thawne. In this case he almost is the voice of reason, and manages to be fantastically menacing even while locked in a cage for 90 percent of the episode (and he seemed to be channeling a nice Hannibal Lecter vibe, too). He even gets to begrudgingly save reality itself, including literally dragging Barry back home. No matter how far this series goes, it’s nice to circle back and remember Barry’s true nemesis will always be the Reverse-Flash. Timey-wimey shenanigans be darned.
The timeline just seemed off: So we’re supposed to believe Barry didn’t even bother to look up any of his old pals for three months? To the point he didn’t even realize Cisco was the equivalent of Steve Jobs in this reality? C’mon. If he’d been here for a few weeks, it’d be believable. But after three months, it’s hard to fathom Barry is still so clueless to this new reality he’s seemingly content to live with for the rest of his life. Leaving Barry that out of the loop just seemed like a contrived way to catch up the audience to this world.
Which, the way Barry was handled for much of the early episode left a lot to be desired. It’s certainly relatable that he’d want to just take a break and enjoy living a normal life here. But … doesn’t Barry enjoy being The Flash? He fought and almost killed himself last season to regain his powers. For what? So he could sit on the sidelines in this alt-reality? You could understand the sentiment, but the execution fell flat.
You knew they’d return things to some version of the status quo fairly quickly, but wrapping up the Flashpoint story in one episode felt a little rushed. There’s a ton of potential there, and with a 22-episode season, you’d think there could be at least a couple episodes of breathing room to dig into this world a bit more. If nothing else, to give us a few more team-ups with Kid Flash. This world had a lot of lingering questions that could’ve been fun to explore: Why was Joe an alcoholic? Where’s Eddie in this reality? Heck, we spent more time in Earth-2 last year than we did in the majorly hyped Flashpoint universe.
This being a season premiere, you knew it’d throw out some big questions — and “Flashpoint” didn’t disappoint. We now know the Reverse-Flash is still kicking around out there waiting in the wings, and as we saw in that closing scene, the world Barry returned to isn’t exactly the one he left behind. Why is Iris estranged from Joe (and seemingly everyone else)? Whatever happens, Iris has certainly proven to be Barry’s constant regardless of timeline (a plot point borrowed from the comic canon, and factored into this adaptation of Flashpoint), so it’ll be interesting to see how they bring her back into the fold. Here's hoping it's not just a ploy to keep them apart for another half season.
Also, what’s up with that post-credit scenes teasing Alchemy (a classic DC villain who has moonlighted as a Flash rogue in recent years)?
Line of the night: “Today, I get to be the hero.” -Reverse-Flash.