Flashpoint Blues: The Flash S03E01 Review

This review contains spoilers. 

The Flash is back, zooming into season 3 by dropping us into an alternate timeline that Barry created when he saved his mother from dying back at the end of season 2.

With a title like "Flashpoint," comic fans (and animation fans, too!) might be excused for their summer-long excitement over one of the Flash's most famous storylines. To be clear, fellow "Flashpoint" fanatics, you should have expected that it would not follow the comic book story exactly.

In this brave new world, Barry’s biggest villain seems to be his own nerves at asking out a certain Iris West who, in this reality, doesn’t know who he is. And even though he still has his speed, Barry doesn't use it, because this world already has a Flash. Looking good, Kid Flash!

Talk about dodging a bullet...
Kid Flash (who prefers to be called the Flash, thank you!) is facing off with a new villain called the Rival, a dude who insists, like every speedster in any existence ever, that he is the fastest man alive.

I thought it an odd change for Barry that he doesn't concern himself with being a hero. He literally stands around while the Flash is busy failing. After moaning for a good chunk of season 2 about his lost powers and his inability to help people, I found it vaguely distasteful that Barry would just shrug off heroics. I guess the giddiness of having his parents back is just too distracting?

Well maybe Barry isn't totally against heroics. He does make a Herculean effort to save Joe West's job, as we come to find out that Joe is a drunk and loser (which I thought was a really nice callback to season 1, where Joe tells Barry that adopting him brought much-needed love and light into the West household. Joe wasn't lying).

I really, really need this service in my life, so I can sleep in every day. How much you going for, Barry? 
During another fight with the Rival, Kid Flash gets defeated yet again, and Barry ends up finding out he is Wally West. Did it strike anyone else as odd that Wally was totes cool with Barry ripping off his mask? And did anyone notice how quick Wally was to trust him?

Anyway, in order to defeat the Rival, Iris decides they need to pay a visit to a "friend." Cisco Ramon turns out to be a too-cool-for-school billionaire who has cashed in on his intelligence to become the richest man in America.

Ohhh... man, wow, a sexy lamp at your side... how cliche of you, Cisco...
Cisco created Wally's friction suit, but beyond that he doesn't want anything to do with heroics. While getting another of those crazy memory-erasing headaches, Barry has to explain to them all who he is and how he ended up there. Barry also makes the executive decision to bring the band back together by rushing off to kidnap Caitlyn, who, it turns out, is a pediatric eye doctor in this reality. (Okay but why Caitlyn and not Harry?)

Easily the best and cutest exchange of dialogue in the whole episode.
The episode wraps with Wally and Barry facing off against the Rival once again, only to have Wally badly hurt in the process. Barry defeats the Rival, but realizes that despite his happiness in this reality, Reverse Flash is right: he needs to change the timeline back to the way it was because it's hurting other people. So he ends up asking Reverse Flash to kill his mom, and back they zoom to the correct timeline once again! I mean it is the same old timeline from season 2... right? Well, we'll find out just how badly Barry screwed things up next week!

This being Critical Writ, let's talk about the womenz.

I am not overly pleased. I mean, it's only the first of like 20+ episodes, so I am not writing off the entire season. But "Flashpoint" didn't do justice to a single female character: hell, it was so rushed to compress a complex time travel story into a 45-minute show that it didn't do justice to any character. Caitlyn had the best moments and the best dialogue, but poor Iris once again gets relegated to being Barry's cheerleader—and she ends up giving this atrocious speech about how empty her life has felt until the moment she met him, that this is why she totes believes him about his time travel story. I’m an Iris/Barry shipper, butuggh.

I was underwhelmed, but I admit that I was coming in as a very excited fan of the comic book and animated versions of "Flashpoint." I do really wish they hadn't tried to compress it into a single 45 minute story, but then again, I suppose drawing out “Flashpoint” would have made writing for the other shows more complicated. Which brings us to:

Everything I know about time travel I learned from Doc Brown...
Okay, so it’s been confirmed (link warning: potential spoilers for Arrow about a returning character) that Barry’s idiocy is rather like throwing a rock into a still pond: there will be rippling effects throughout the Berlantiverse. To that end, we will attempt to make sense of things and track the changes in this segment, on every Berlantiverse show going forward.

In the first edition of CW Time Travel Science, let’s review:

  • At the end of Season 1, Reverse Flash/Eobard Thawne is erased from existence by the self-sacrifice of Eddie Thawne, RF’s ancestor, who kills himself. Eddie Thawne, if you recall, was Iris’ beau at the time.

  • At the end of season 2, Barry goes back in time to save his mother. While there, he knocks out, but doesn’t kill, Reverse Flash’s time remnant, and takes that remnant with him into the new alternate timeline he’s created. 

  • At the end of “Flashpoint,” Reverse Flash and Barry return to that pivotal moment in time, kill his mother, and then jump forward in time again to what should be the healed timeline, right? Wrong. Because suddenly Eobard Thawne exists again. That is already a huge change! What does this mean for Eddie and his sacrifice? He must be back, because how can Eobard exist if Eddie doesn’t? And what does this mean for the real Harrison Wells that RF killed back in season 1 to take his place? Is he alive? We already know that this timeline is different, because we find out that Joe and Iris are estranged. 
Does Wally West keep his speedster powers? I sure hope so! He looked dope in that great costume and he needs to stay in it! He also needs a chance to prove himself, because he totally failed against the Rival!

Will the Legends of Tomorrow notice someone’s been mucking around with time? If they don’t, can they be fired for incompetence?

And what, if anything, does “Flashpoint” have to do with bringing Supergirl into this world?

I guess we’ll find out in the coming weeks!

What did you think of the season 3 premiere? Sound off in the comments below!

Ivonne Martin is a writer, gamer, and avid consumer of all things geek—and is probably entirely too verbose for her own good.