"Paradox" Principle - The Flash S03E02 Review

Remember how down I was on "Flashpoint," last week's season 3 premiere?

Yeah okay, The Flash is back, and in a huge way. "Paradox" was day where "Flashpoint" was night. This was the fun but emotional and touching show that roped me in way back in season one as a huge fan. In fact, I really think the CW's biggest mistake was not making the season 3 opener two hours long and just having these episodes back to back, because they truly need each other.

Hey CW, I work in Marketing for my day job. Seriously, you missed the boat on this one. Look, next time, just call me.

(big spoilers below the fold)

Last week, "Flashpoint" left us with the hanging mystery of exactly how much had changed in Barry's ill-advised trips back in time. We get an inkling of something different only in the last few seconds of the show, a sort of chill-down-the-spine moment of realization that something is different. But then Arrow's premiere seemed totally normal and business as usual, so what gives? Well, that's actually addressed, so hang in there with us!

Okay "Paradox" begins with Barry in freak-out mode because he apparently has already figured out there have been other major changes besides the iciness between Joe and Iris. So what's a speedster to do when he's screwed up time? He hauls it all the way back to Star City to talk to his old buddy Felicity, and he tells her everything. Felicity is rightly alarmed and asks if anything has changed for her and her crew. Has there?

Anyway, Felicity encourages Barry to do what he does best, and fix things (Felicity, are we talking about the same Barry here?). Barry runs back home, and we are finally shown some of the changes for Team Flash in this brave new world: Cisco's brother Dante has been killed and Cisco is angry with Barry for not going back in time to save him; Barry has a new "roomie" at work, in the form of Tom freaking Felton yes Draco freaking Malfoy, a new CSI dude who specializes in metahumans and doesn't like Barry; and of course, Iris and Joe are on the outs. I am certain other changes will become obvious as we progress.

Minus one hundred points from House Gryffindor for screwing up the timeline, Mr. Allen. 
There's a freak-of-the-week element to this episode, of course. Our buddy The Rival from the "Flashpoint" timeline remembers bits and pieces of his powered life, and he is approached by a dude in a mask who promises to return his powers to him. So The Rival is back, and apparently... he shed skin like a snake? I'm not totally clear on this, but apparently the CCPD have been investigating human--sized shed skin, and Eddie Clariss is just the fourth one to leave some kind of evidence behind. Tom Felton's character Julian is investigating these skin samples, and he isn't very forthcoming with Barry on the info. Honestly, it's nice to have someone out there who simply isn't insta-charmed by Barry.

That's totally biowaste! What kind of doctor are you, anyway, Alchemy?
The Rival isn't particularly important in the grand scheme of this season (thankfully. Raise your hand if you're tired of speedster villains). What is important is the reveal of Dr. Alchemy, who appears to have the ability to grant metahuman powers to people.

In an act of desperation to fix things, Barry tries to go back in time again, but he gets his ass knocked out of the timestream by Jay Garrick, his dad's Earth-2 doppelganger, who is all like, "Dude... stop it. Every time you go back you will only make things worse. With great power comes great res--well you know." That sound you're hearing is the multiverse cheering.

Okay but Team Flash is a mess and Barry has to fix it. So he ends up having to admit to them what he did and how things have changed. At first, Cisco is doubly-furious that Barry went back in time to save Mrs. Allen but is unwilling to go back to save Dante. And everyone is generally pretty upset with Barry, but he tells them it's their right to know what's changed if they want to. He directly apologizes to Cisco and hopes that someday he can be forgiven.

Thanks to Julian's report, Barry figures out where The Rival is hiding out, and Flash goes to confront him. Except Clariss isn't alone; Dr. Alchemy shows up, and together they proceed to kick the crap out of Barry. Cisco lets go of his anger and decides to go help out his bud in an awesome team-up between Flash and Vibe (now with fancy new gloves!). The Rival is captured but Alchemy escapes.

A face we can all love, because it's not a speedster villain...
A glimmer of the old Cisco is back, as he and everyone else decide to forgive Barry his idiocy. And they have also decided they don't want to know about the other timeline. Barry and Iris kiss again, and maybe this time Barry won't erase it. Julian tells Barry he doesn't trust him and that's why he is so grumpy around him. And we're left with a tantalizing new piece of information: Caitlin's metahuman abilities are awakening.

Speaking of a chill down the spine...
Overall, a really strong showing from The Flash writers, and the actors were phenomenal, particularly Carlos Valdes (Cisco). As much as I really didn't like Rich Asshole Cisco from "Flashpoint," I can't deny that Valdes is killing it in playing versions of Cisco from across the spectrum. We now know Cisco can be an asshole, he can be sad and angry, and he can, of course, be himself. Also, where the hell is Harry? I need my Tom Cavanagh fix!

My usual complaints about the ladies in this show applies, although this week it was nothing quite as teeth-grinding as last week. At least in this episode, it was still apparent that they don't know what the hell to do with Caitlin. It seemed obvious to me that the only road to go for the writers, since they couldn't make her an important scientist on the team, is to turn her into Killer Frost. So yeah, that's happening. I hope she's a better Killer Frost than Earth-2's version, because that chick turned out to be pretty weaksauce. I am excited about the possibilities for Caitlin here, though. Iris, as usual, does nothing but serve as relationship fodder for Barry. Someone give this woman meta powers, stat, because she needs the same pick-me-up that Pepper Potts did by the time Iron Man 3 rolled around. Or you know, maybe just write her better? Still, at least Candace Patton was given better lines in this episode, and her words did serve to finally knock Barry into realizing he had to tell the team the truth.

Okay, now we're getting into the meat of the matter of changes to the wider Berlantiverse. It's obvious now that the reason last week's Arrow premiere seemed so normal is because the timeline has only changed a little. "Paradox" gave us just a tiny taste of what's changed, again in a rather spine-chilling little tidbit of information: while in the Arrow Cave with Felicity, Barry pokes around in her computers long enough to find a picture of John Diggle and a kid he doesn't know. Felicity tells him that the child is John Jr. In other words, Barry's shenanigans have erased little Sarah Diggle from existence. (and for those of you who watched season one of Legends of Tomorrow, John Diggle Jr. grows up to become Connor Hawke/Green Arrow in Star City 2046, a bleak post-apocalyptic future that the Legends visited).

That's all we know for now, but we do know that Stephen Amell guest stars on Thursday's premiere of Legends of Tomorrow, so we might find out on Thursday that there have been more changes.

  • Reverse Flash didn't make an appearance in this episode, but let's not forget he's still kicking out there. No sign yet of Eddie Thawne. Thanks to the paradox Barry created by bringing back a time remnant of an otherwise erased man, maybe we just have to accept that Eobard can exist without Eddie. 

  • Earth-1 Dante Ramon is dead. Earth-2 Dante Ramon, aka Rupture, is also dead. RIP Dante, we hardly knew ye

  • Julian Dorn, a dude we've never seen before, is now in Barry's life. We don't know what his deal is with that yet. 

  • Sarah Diggle has been erased from the timeline, replaced by John Diggle Jr. That's all we know about changes to Arrow so far. More to come, I'm sure. 

  • Earth-2 Killer Frost is dead, but Earth-1 Caitlin Snow is now manifesting her powers. No idea what this means for Caitlin's character. Will she also become "cold" (in her heart)? 

  • Iris and Joe were originally cold to one another over Joe keeping it a secret that her mother was still around, but they made up already in this episode. Looks like the Wests are back to normal. Except that in this episode, when it's discussed that Dr. Alchemy can grant meta abilities, the camera cuts to Wally listening quietly. We require Kid Flash. Pronto. 

That's all for now. What did you think of "Paradox?"

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