The Flash: Season 3, Episode 1 — Flashpoint Review

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★★★★★

Spoilers are coming at a blur, so don't say that you haven't been warned!

Regular Cast: Grant Gustin (Barry Allen/The Flash), Candice Patton (Iris West), Danielle Panabaker (Caitlin Snow), Carlos Valdes (Cisco Ramon), Keiynan Lonsdale (Wally West/Kid Flash), Tom Cavanagh (Dr. Harrison Wells), Jesse L. Martin (Joe West); Guest Starring: Matt Letscher (Eobard Thawne/Reverse-Flash), Alex Desert (Captain Julio Menez), Michelle Harrison (Nora Allen), Todd Lasance (Edward Clariss/The Rival), John Wesley Shipp (Henry Allen), Keri Adams (Bethany Snow). Written by Brooke Roberts from a story by Greg Berlanti & Andrew Kreisberg; Directed by Jesse Warn

Speed has never been an issue with The Flash, but that doesn’t exactly hold true with the third season premiere, ”Flashpoint”, an hour of television that covers so much ground in forty-three minutes that it begs the question, why?

Well established by the show is the fact that Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen has parent issues involving speedsters: his mother was murdered by the Reverse-Flash in the series’ first episode, and last year his father was killed by Zoom. In the season two finale, having defeated Zoom, he finally decides to do what he’s contemplated numerous times — he travels backwards in time to save his mother, thus changing his life (and a lot of other peoples’ as well, as it turns out). Reality has altered around him and, like Marty McFly in Back To The Future Part II, he has to acclimate himself to this new environment.

For starters, his parents are alive and he’s been enjoying the past three months with them. Joe West, his surrogate father in the regular timeline, still works as a detective, but is suffering through a bout of alcoholism; Cisco is a tech billionaire (and a bit of a deuce), Caitlin is an optometrist (?) and Wally West, it turns out, is the Flash in this universe, given the nick-name “Kid Flash” by Iris (which he bristles at each time he hears it). There’s also a new villainous speedster in the form of The Rival (Edward Clariss, played by Todd Lasance), who is, appropriately enough, the chief rival of Kid Flash.

Added into the mix is the imprisoned Reverse-Flash, who, having stopped him from killing his mother, Barry is holding in a speed-dampening cell, with the intention of keeping him there for the rest of his life. Needless to say, that plan goes through a radical shake-up when Barry starts losing memories of his previous life due to what his opponent refers to as “Flashpoint” as a result of the new timeline. In the end, Barry has to do the unthinkable and free the Reverse-Flash to put things back on the right path — by having him travel back in time to murder his mother as he was intended to do. From there the Reverse-Flash deposits Barry back home in the present, suggesting that things may still not be what he expects. That’s proven when it’s revealed that Joe and Iris are estranged for some reason that everyone but Barry seems to know. In the episode’s coda, a mysterious figure known as Alchemy approaches this world’s Edward Clariss with the promise of returning the life that was stolen from him.

As demonstrated last year in the Earth-2 episodes, the show’s cast proves itself adept at meeting the challenge of creating subtle alterations in their characterizations and the way in which they play off of each other. At the center, of course, is Gustin, who is able to project a very human element despite the outlandish storyline. On the guest star front, Todd Lasance comes across a bit thuggish as Clariss/The Rival, and one will have to see how he evolves as the impression is that he will be a presence throughout this season. On the other hand, Matt Letscher gets to show a little more depth in his return as Eobard Thawne, who, as he notes, gets to play the hero this time, the irony being to do so he has to murder Nora Allen. Additionally, when he and Barry share their mutual hatred for each other, he does have a moment of wondering which of them is right, an intriguing bit of introspection. Hopefully he’ll be fleshed out further between appearances on this show and as a member of the Legion Of Doom on DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow.

Where things falter, as noted at the outset, is the fact that the creative decision was made to condense all of this into one episode. As a result, it fails to have the resonance that the writers are hoping for. Even when Barry says his final goodbye to his parents, it doesn’t carry the weight that it should since we haven’t had that much time to watch them interact with each other. Another major complaint is the use of The Rival in that he is yet another speedster to go alongside Reverse-Flash, Zoom and, now, Kid Flash. Admittedly speedsters are a major component of Flash’s rogue’s gallery, but the fact that every time you turn around there’s another one takes away from Barry’s uniqueness. One would hope that attention could be turned to villains of a slower sort.

A solid start to year three that nonetheless fails to meet its true potential.

Empire's review of The Flash season three, episode two, "Paradox"

Season three of The Flash currently airs on the CW in America, and premieres 25 October on Sky1