The Flash S3: E1 – 'Flashpoint'

Photo Credit: Warner Brothers Television

A new season has now begun on the DC CW superhero universe, but much more than that has begun on The Flash. Thanks to the last minute of Season 2, an entire new time line is the starting point of Season 3, with the already familiar code name Flashpoint. As such, this is a premiere with virtual doppelgangers of all our favorite characters populating a world of small and big differences, Easter Egg worthy details and hidden dangers.

Of course, all of Season 2 was devoted to a similar premise, only it was in another dimension instead of a remade Earth-1. Given the eventual pitfalls that premise fell into, the idea of doing it again in the regular Earth is really less appealing than it sounds at first. But it takes Barry a bit longer to figure that out himself, although he comes to his senses just in time in some ways and too late in others.

However, whether he is just in time or too late in regards to the series as a whole is still left up in the air.


As it turns out, Flashpoint is less of a trippy time-changing romp than a romantic meet cute. Things start promisingly enough with Barry nervously trying to work up the nerve to talk to a girl he's talked to most of his life, but not in the last three months of this new universe. Yet while he and Iris still manage to hit it off when they get the chance, it is a far different matter with the older West in this universe.

Yet the other young West is something else altogether, namely the new Flash. While the Wally West in the regular timeline didn't get superpowers, at least not yet, Flashpoint Wally is already Kid Flash. Of course, since this was spoiled to us months ago, it is far less of a surprise to us than it is to Barry, even though he probably should have recognized the top of Wally's head and some of Keiynan Lonsdale's disguised voice in an initial encounter.

Barry does have better things to think about at first, or so he thinks he does. But while he's living the lap of luxury with two living parents, no responsibilities as the Flash and a chance to start all over again with Iris, this leaves the door wide open for the locked up Reverse Flash to actually be his conscience. Yet even when he starts losing memories, sees the West family isn't entirely united anymore and is warned that using his speed will soon make everything permanent, of course Barry does the exact opposite of what Eobard Thawne says and dons the old Flash suit to fight speedsters again.

Getting the old team back together isn't quite seamless, between Cisco now being the wealthiest man in the country and decidedly less gung ho about superheroics, and Caitlin being semi-kidnapped from her job in pediatric eye care. It does say something that Barry flashes through losing memories of Iris, his parents and Cisco but not Caitlin, which perhaps further shows her diminished importance these days.

This is still the very first time Caitlin isn't starting a season in mourning for a lost love, even if it is by a technicality. In contrast, The Flash writers have absolutely no qualms with repeating themselves when it comes to evil speedsters. For the millionth time, the Flash faces a rival who is obssessed with proving there is no one faster than him, only this one is literally called The Rival. Still, it goes to show that there are constants in every universe, no matter how played out and tiresome they come to be.

Other constants are more welcome, as Cisco does eventually start dropping meta human names and movie references again, even digging down to bring up The Babadook. It also seems a changed timeline with an imprisoned Reverse Flash doesn't mean Harrison Wells is alive again, beginning yet another guessing game on how they will keep Tom Cavanagh as a regular this time.

Naturally, the biggest and most important constant is Barry and Iris, down to the seemingly destined connection and slightly cornball dialogue. At its core, Flashpoint is really yet another alternate universe where Barry and Iris get better luck and a faster route towards love than the regular one. As such, this is really an early gift for Westallen shippers, perhaps to make up for how the first big Westallen kiss in our universe was erased from time. But of course, when it comes to these type of Westallen gifts, there's always a catch at the end.

Flashpoint is uplifted through much of the episode by Grant Gustin and Candice Patton, Matt Letscher's version of the Reverse Flash getting to be evil and right for once, the dynamic between the two Flashs, and the eventual heart-tugging as Barry finally sees the light. However, this episode was always going to hinge on how it ended, and how it explains what the heck Season 3 is really going to be about.

Unfortunately, the end really suggests we are right back where we started an hour earlier, which kind of makes this hour nothing more than a teaser.

Considering all the hype about Flashpoint, and the promises that it would ripple into Arrow during the season as well, it probably would have been a disappointing rip off if everything was back to normal after only one episode. Then again, to those of us who still had doubts on what this new universe would look like, whether it could really revitalize the show or have any real solid point at all, a quick reset back to normal could have been a relief.

As it turns out, there is a reset of sorts, and a decided lack of a reset in other ways. So far, it is limited to two aspects of the Flashpoint universe carrying over into the restored regular time line, but there are surely others to come. In that regard, things really are exactly where they were before the premiere started, with a brand new universe now set in stone and little clue as to what changes are still ahead.

In fact, the changes we have so far and the fact they could be permanent leave a lot of doubt on whether the show is doing more harm than good to itself with this idea, just like there was an hour earlier. And even if they make it so Westallen isn't starting from scratch all over again in this reset world, the even more important Westallen family dynamic between Barry, Iris and Joe is now perhaps forever altered, or at least altered longer than it probably should be. Still, at least the changes are less damaging than the worst case scenarios that came to mind at first.

Flashpoint might have been an idea that could work for an episode, but can it last an entire season, or perhaps last for the rest of this series? Those questions are nowhere near close to being answered by the end of the premiere, and that doesn't even take into account the teaser for Season 3's supposed Big Bad, Tom Felton's upcoming guest stint, or what they're going to do with a normal Wally and whichever Wells shows up this year.

By that standard, the Flashpoint premiere episode is kind of a wash, as we could have just skipped over the first 42 minutes to get to the real starting point of Season 3. Those first 42 minutes are still good for the Westallen fan base, despite the usual dash of cold reality at the end, and do have a few other flashes of innovation and comforting constants.

But for those looking to see if the whole Flashpoint premise can carry an entire season and beyond, and whether it is really wise to let it try, there are no real solid answers to be found here. It may well take the whole season to figure out if it is more gratifying to watch this new altered universe than it is for Barry to live in it.

Yet if this really is Barry's rock bottom when it comes to the consequences of his bad ideas, and if this is the last time he makes it easy for the likes of the Reverse Flash to call him the real villain, maybe something can come out of him repairing and redeeming this mess and himself. However, Barry and The Flash's redemption and repairs may still have a long and pothole filled road to come this year, if they come at all.