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The Flash - Paradox - Review: "Damage Control"

17 Oct 2016

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This week I had the reverse problem I had with the premiere: the first 20 minutes were absolutely atrocious for me, but the second half of the episode actually managed to fix many problems for me, which has me way more hopeful than before, however there is something that is very worrisome: Barry. Is. An. Idiot.

Cut dry. very simple, there is no other way to put it. Every single scene that plays out showcases why he shouldn’t have undone Flashpoint. The only problem there was the rival who was defeated and a Wally in slumber, things weren’t so bad, and coming back to this timeline in which Barry’s mom dies, everything is fractured, with the team broken and Cisco’s brother Dante being dead. Congratulations Barry, there is one more death in the world.

Look, this kind of storyline development can work. While some didn’t like Fringe’s 4th season, I thought that it made an impressive point of the impact people have on our lives and how single decisions can change the course of time and characters. However, all of that was kickstarted by Peter’s decision to save both universes, while here it is all caused by Barry’s selfishness. That kind of distinction sets the table for 2 ways in which the story is handled: in Fringe, it was inevitable, as Peter sacrificed himself for the greater good. Here in The Flash, it was completely avoidable, which makes all of this all the more frustrating to watch.

There is so much to cringe about in this episode as Barry explores this new timeline like a complete moron. I just shook my head by the sloppy way Barry navigated this universe and how everyone else, while noticing something was off, couldn’t make sense of what happened: I’d think Cisco, Joe or Caitlyn would have been able after seeing Barry time travel before.

But before I get into everything that is messy, let’s talk Arrowverse effects: we learn that baby Sara has been replaced with baby John, effectively creating the Connor Hawke we met on Legends of Tomorrow. This was a particularly cool nod to the ramifications of messing with the timeline: it hints that more things could have been changed and I’m surprised that the writers actually did something.

Now, the whole sitting with Felicity varies in between nice and awkward. When Barry tells everything that has changed we see the saddest version of Cisco, and it’s just off. I get why, but this kind of character treatment to Cisco is very unfair, especially after last season he managed to make up with Dante now we have a version that never did. I get that The Flash is trying to make us realize the dire consequences of changing time, but this is just frustrating and it’s a pain to watch. Cisco is not the kind of character I want to see like this, not without having seen that development.

Every scene in the first 20 minute mark have something very awkward to them, like Barry trying to trick everyone into dinner. Dear god, I felt like I was watching parent trap or something, and I got secondhand embarrassment by the sloppy way Barry dealt with it and how neither Iris nor Joe could tell what he was doing when it was so blatantly obvious. What was played as a funny scene ended up being just awful.

Thankfully, Jay Garrick comes to the rescue: really, not only he saves the timeline, he outright saves the episode. Everything after him actually hits the landing; the way he convinces Barry to let things be is true and earnest. Going by experience, telling him that he made the same mistakes was actually powerful and meaningful scene that gave The Flash a lot of momentum back. I particularly love his line "We are not gods, we are men" which gives a so much needed nuance to the episode and it's the kind of ego cool down Barry needs so much.

I’m way more hopeful after that scene and after everything that happens next: the team learns about what Barry did and his honesty starts rippling through and put things back together. For Cisco, it sucks, because he never got his brother back and the fact that Barry did get them for a moment it just burns like hell and I really, really felt for him. And I honestly don’t like that the writers did this merely so there would be stakes (that’s called sloppy writing), but I do appreciate that, since they did it, they explored it a bit more instead of just leaving us with sad and mad Cisco.

Everything regarding the Rival and Alchemy is boooring, the play such stereotypical villains that I just couldn’t care about them aside from the fact that Alchemy is giving people their Flashpoint powers back. That last bit is interesting, but Rival and Alchemy are just a jerk with a thirst for power and an ominous, mysterious villain, with no charisma or interest to carry the episode as antagonist. The best thing to come of it: Cisco’s saving the day.

It was awesome to see a tag team in between Cisco and Barry fighting the rival. I hope we get more of that in the future, to which Cisco says “maybe someday”. I really hope that “someday” comes soon enough, because it looks cool. (Heck, add Caitlyn to the mix since she has Killer Frost powers now).

I appreciate what the show is doing with Iris: she is making sense as she tells everyone to just consider what Barry did was a mistake and try to move forward. I appreciate that because it stops the doom and gloom mood and it makes Iris look like a very reasonable character instead of someone who holds grudges. In that same scene Caitlyn says “we all have secrets” making the reveal at the end painfully obvious (as soon as she said it I said out loud “Killer Frost”).

Now, one second to talk about Tom Felton’s Julian: I think it is painfully obvious that he is Alchemy. Maybe he is not aware of it and it is a second personality thing, but it’s just feel like it. I hope I’m wrong, because I’ll be glad to be surprised, but as of right now I’m pretty sure that’s it. Also, I hope The Flash gives him more to do as he really didn’t get much material to flex out his acting muscles, mostly antagonizing Barry.

In the end, things are being fixed. The start was incredibly messy and I personally found it insufferable, but as the episode brought along Jay Garrick it started to course correct. I think the show can start doing great things again now, but I’m not about to deny how awful the beginning one. But as Cisco says, what’s to come may be “pretty bitchin’”.

Grade: C+

About the Author - Pablo
I'm 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 occasional reviews for Halt and Catch Fire and regular reviews for The Flash season 3
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