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The Flash - Flashpoint - Review + POLL

I’m really struggling with the last 10 minutes of The Flash season 3 premiere: up to that point, everything was fun and enjoyable, and really interesting. I was feeling engaged, and I felt like the show was heading towards the right direction: the cast, as always, was reliable, but many of the characters that had issues, like Wally and Iris, felt on point during this episode. The dialogues were fun and sharp, and overall I was feeling like The Flash that I loved during season 1 (and sporadically during season 2) was back. And then those last 10 minutes came in and ruined everything.

The thing is, I just don’t get why Barry chose to undo the whole Flashpoint, and I think that’s the biggest disservice you could ever do to the iconic storyline from the comics: both in the comics and the animated movie, Barry had to let her mother die because if he didn’t let that happen, the universe would implode, everything would be destroyed. Here in the TV show, he does it because Wally is in a coma.

As a fan of Flashpoint on the comics and the animated movie, I was nervous about how the show would tackle it. I knew it would be way different here, but I was ready to accept the changes. Heck, it was pretty fun over the course of the first 30 minutes! The reverse flash was captured by Barry, the characters were in interesting places, there was great banter among Barry-Wally-Iris, I was coming to like this new timeline, but then the rug is pulled under me.

Barry’s reasoning to undo what he did is because people are suffering due to the changes that he made. Now, hold on a second: no one died here, Wally would either wake up himself or he could have been saved by the power of Cisco’s money or some meta human or anything. Instead, Barry chooses to sacrifice both of his parents so that he could wake up. You trade 2 living people for a guy in a coma, and those 2 people are your parents. What were you thinking Barry?!

Thematically, I get it, Barry is a hero and he doesn’t want to think that his selfish actions got people hurt, however, in the great schemes of things, there are less people dead because of what he did. And possibly not just his parents, Ronnie may still be kicking it somewhere, either as Firestorm or not, the original Harrison Wells, and who knows who else? What he did didn’t ruin the universe, it actually made things better. And he decides to undo all of that because one guy wouldn’t wake up immediately.

My biggest problem with Flashpoint is not that it was light or that Barry decided to reverse his decision, it is that both of these things don’t connect well. It feels like the only reason it was honestly decided to end the storyline this quickly is to avoid complex explanations on the other CW shows (heck, even Supergirl would have been affected since Flash crossovered there). So, instead of making a cool homage to one of The Flash’s most iconic storylines we get 2 disjointed bits that don’t make sense together.

If I were Barry, I would have tried to solve how Wally could wake up and accept that my memories would fade: after all, someone else would have The Flash mantle, and there would be more good people on this world. I see no downside to that. Maybe the fact that Joe is a drunk, but that’s not something that can’t be fixed (ask detective Lance on Arrow). This kind of quick backtracking because of a simple missfortune makes the whole flashpoint storyline pointless. Why hype the sh** out of a storyline that concludes on one episode? And I know some of the changes will stick, but this feels like a cop out.

In the comics and the animated movie, the decision to undo this reality comes from learning that you can’t mess with time or else the universe will break, and everything you hold dear could potentially break (and it does). Barry has to accept that, as much as he wants his mother to live, he must comes to term with what happened to him or otherwise everything else is going to be destroyed. It was a clear and cut motivation that was really hard for Barry to accept, but at the same time, it taught him to accept what happened to him, and it made for an incredibly tense, amazingly filled with action, and very emotional tale.

Here we get lots of fun, which is completely fine, but a resolution that is just lazy writing. And it’s very hard for me to excuse lazy writing in a show that has shown so much care for its character. It’s like the writers are working really hard to make Barry seem more and more stupid as the show goes on and I don’t like that. Every choice he has been making lately feels like one step forward, two steps back. It doesn’t feel like the mistake here is flashpoint, but rather that Barry decided to end it, which shows up how screwed up the whole situation is.

Now, I had to get that off my chest first, because aside from that, this was a very good premiere episode. I must have used the word “fun” a lot of times already, but I just can’t help express how much I enjoyed the first 30 minutes of the episode: the banter was amazing, the new versions of Cisco and Caitlin were a marvel to watch as they react to Barry’s entrance in this world, there is the ominous warnings from Eobard Thawne about the need to go back (which will later lead to disappointing ending) and the heartbreaking realization that, in this timeline, Joe is a drunk and essentially useless around the CCPD. There is a lot of good world building, a lot of nice interactions, and the new versions of every characters are either a delight or interesting to watch.

As douchy as Cisco may come across sometimes, Barry does reach his humanity and his softer side, Caitlin is just adorable, Iris seems more loose and fun, Wally more mature and the only downside is Joe’s drinking problem, but which put him in a more interesting position as for the first time ever we see him at his lowest point: Joe has always been a great character, but the exploration of a darker version of him was an interesting proposition, which sadly didn’t get explored as the final minutes of the episode just effectively erase that.

I just loved this new world The Flash made for us: I was cautiously optimistic about this plot going forward, and I believed that something big was on the way in the coming weeks, that we would see the cracks in the paradise and we would get to be more time with this “new cast” of characters, learn about their new lives and traits as The Flash showed us why we are not allowed to stay. Instead, a fight that went wrong made it so that we had to come back.

I have to say, I never liked the Barry-Iris relationship since they always seemed like brother and sister to me, growing up with the same dad (with Barry referring to Joe as dad multiple times) and as such it struck me as too incestous. But here, it worked! I could feel the chemistry, and I could actually see them as a couple, as two people who met and just clicked together, and that’s something I’m really sad the show is saying goodbye to, because for the first time ever I did like Barry and Iris as a couple, and I felt like Iris finally did added something to Barry as a person, proving the trust, support and love that somewhat felt forced during the show’s first two seasons.

Everything about Flashpoint started off great and sadly got derailed: a world with lots of potential, a storyline that could have easily built up momentum and even inject more life into the other CW shows, with lots of stakes, with fun and light tone, but slowly swimming into darker territories, all of that gets thrown away by the last moments and it ends up with the one of the most frustrating lines delivered by Barry: “What did I do?!”

I could not help but feel very frustrated. What happened to the people that made The Flash relatable? What happened to the awesome season 1 writers that made this show awesome, not by making fanbait storylines, but actually developing stories from the character’s reasonably made choices? I’m very worried that this show is following Arrow’s path of doing stuff just because it seems cool or because they have to force drama: one of the worst things about Arrow season 4 was how stupid it made Oliver look, and I’m worried the same thing will happen to Barry.

Do The CW superhero show have an expiration date on their quality? Are they all bound to start being silly and lazy written pieces of television? I honestly hope not: I still see a lot of potential for The Flash and Supergirl, I think both can excel at delivering relatable superheroes, with a light tone, a heart of gold, occasional darkness and some heartfelt drama, but there are too many inconsistencies as of late and I’m feeling less and less optimistic.

That doesn’t mean I will give up on The Flash or that I will call it bad TV. Heck no! Even with the last 10 minutes of this episode, I still have a high regard for The Flash. However, I am worried: I feel like the show is walking on a dangerous path that, if not treated carefully, could alliante fans. I can already feel many upset fans who loved the original flashpoint storyline, alongside other people who will just be upset by the abrupt ending of it. And that is a very dangerous road to walk.

I’ll continue on hoping for the best: the last 10 minutes can’t negate the enjoyment I had for most part of the episode, but it sure makes me nervous about the direction the show is headed. Let’s hope week 2 holds up much better.

Grade: B-

Stray Observations

-Welcome to my weekly reviews of The Flash! I hope you enjoyed reading my opinion regarding the season premiere, and I'm eager to hear your thoughts as well! Even if you disagree with me that's fine! It will make for a more interesting discussion :)

-Some of the flashpoint changes will stick. We know Iris is not living with Joe, but that’s about it, and it will have very minor effects on the other shows. Care to theorize what they will be?

-It doesn’t matter what timeline you are in, Bellyburger will always be the go to place for prisoner’s food.

-In a world where there are meta humans, time travel and multiple timelines are not very far fetched, so I’m glad people didn’t question Barry’s explanation all that much.

-Iris speech to Barry when he was fighting the Rival was cheesy, but it felt way more heartfelt than any other she gave before.

-Other things I found disappointing: the fight with the Rival was pretty lame. I guess if it was better executed I would have given the episode a “B” instead of a “B-”.

-Also, could we have villains that are not speedsters? There is so many possibilities with so many meta humans, and after the Reverse Flash, Zoom and the Rival, I just want a breathe of fresh air. Maybe Dr. Alchemy will change that.

-Speaking of it: the Dr. Alchemy foreshadow was pretty lame. However, I do expect great things from Tom Felton. Bring that Draco Malfoy energy to The Flash! (my Potterhead side speaking).

-How is it that Joe hasn’t been fired in the flashpoint timeline? The captain must be a very patient man (actually, he seemed like a pretty decent dude).

-KidFlash was thrown as much as possible. I liked that the first few times, but after a while it felt too on the nose and I was starting to get annoyed, just like Wally.

-Missed opportunity: a hello from the time cop crew of Legends of Tomorrow. Isn’t something like Flashpoint something they should look into? Worst time travel team ever.

-I usually like Grant Gustin’s acting, but his performance while having his memories erased is not only too familiar, but too over the top. Come on Grant, you are better than that.

-Things you can do to help make Barry’s decision more understandable: go deeper about his pain of seeing Joe suffer from both alcoholism and fear of Wally dying (which this episode did very subtlety, and very mishandled I must say), an honest selfish desire to keep being The Flash (which as selfish as it is, it could be one motivator), a sense of loss of control on this world and fracture, and a feeling that his parents were not really themselves, but actually felt like strangers. All those things, if explored correctly over the course of the season, could make me more forgiving towards this episode, but I will still say it was a rushed mistake. If you can’t do the flashpoint storyline properly, don’t do it at all. This ended up being nothing but a missed opportunity made just to build hype and for fanservice reasons.

About the Author - Pablo
I'm 24, currently studying Psychology while also writing fantasy books (one already published in my home country, Chile, you can check it out on the facebook icon). I watch many different types of shows, including my favorites Game of Thrones, Mr. Robot, Jessica Jones, and about 23 more. Currently writing reviews for The Flash and occasional reviews for Halt and Catch Fire
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