“So, what should we call this brave new world that you’ve whipped up for us? I was thinking…Flashpoint,” says the Reverse Flash (Matt Letscher) to Barry (Grant Gustin) while being imprisoned in a speed-proof glass cell in a run-down abandoned warehouse in the first episode of the third season of CW’s comic-book inspired fantasy action series, The Flash.
As the episode begins it’s been three months since Barry went back and changed history by stopping the Reverse Flash from killing his mother. When we catch up with Barry he couldn’t be happier because both his parents are alive and he’s living with them in his old home. He’s still a CSI but with a different Police Captain as a boss who really likes him, and he’s working up the courage to ask Iris (Candice Patton) out. He still has his speed but it seems there is a new Flash protecting Central City so Barry has been living a fairly ordinary life and doesn’t seem to miss being a superhero. When Barry approaches Iris to ask her out at CC Jitters, he sees a news story on the television about Kid Flash going up against his enemy “The Rival” and decides to go watch the action up close.
Barry speeds to the part of the city where Kid Flash and The Rival are fighting. Keeping his distance, Barry watches with a light smile on his face as this other Flash in a yellow and red suit fights The Rival who’s suit looks like it came from a costume shop. (Up to this point the outfits of the heroes and villains on the show were always impressive.) The Rival hurls a few lightning strikes at police cars and also one at Barry who is about to use his speed to dodge it but Kid Flash speeds over to Barry and saves him. “You okay?” asks the young speedster. “Yeah, thanks,” answers Barry as The Rival speeds away. As Kid Flash starts to chase after him, he says that The Rival is really starting to get to him. “Don’t worry. You’ll get him next time, Flash,” says Barry, enjoying the fact he doesn’t have to be a hero anymore.
Barry races back to CC Jitters and this time is successful in starting up a conversation with Iris; he even gets her to agree to go out with him. This new timeline does seem to be going Barry’s way, but it has a price. The first is the West family dynamic. Joe (Jesse L. Martin) is now a lazy, angry, drunk detective who’s not on good terms with Iris and is going to get suspended if he gets caught being late to his shift again by the Captain. Barry doesn’t have the same relationship with Joe or Iris because in this timeline he never had to live with them. In fact, Joe doesn’t like Barry in the least, even though Barry is constantly covering for him. This new antagonistic relationship is on display when Barry goes to Joe’s place and uses his speed to get a hung-over Joe dressed and to work (he’s already an hour late) and Joe responds by basically telling him to leave him alone.
Barry leaves work a little early telling the Captain he has dinner plans with a friend when in actuality Barry has brought dinner to his prisoner and enemy, Eobard Thawne/Reverse Flash. Keeping him in a speed-proof glass cage, Barry seems to enjoy gloating to his nemesis that he has everything back that he and Zoom took away from him. Thawne tells Barry, “This isn’t your home. This is a mirage that will end us both unless you let me out.” Barry enjoys seeing Thawne get angry and tells him he’s never getting out. Thawne warns Barry that their enemy is already after them. Barry doesn’t understand and asks about what enemy. “Time,” replies Thawne. He continues to warn Barry that he’s created a new timeline and before long he’ll be begging him to kill his mother again to set things right. Barry just shakes his head and leaves.
While on his date with Iris, Barry tells her about his parents and how close they all are. Just then he has flashes of memories of the original timeline and then they’re gone from his mind…permanently. At the same time, police officers race to their patrol cars and Barry asks them what’s going on. They tell him Kid Flash and The Rival are fighting again and tell him the area needs to be evacuated. Iris apologizes and tells Barry she needs to go, but also says she definitely wants a rain check on their date. Barry speeds off to where Kid Flash and The Rival are fighting up on a building when The Rival throws Kid Flash out a window and he begins to fall to his doom. Barry quickly looks around to make sure no one is there and uses his powers to create a wind to slow Kid Flash’s fall. He lands in a dumpster and Barry checks to see if he’s okay. He removes the speedster’s mask to reveal it’s Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale).
Wally takes Barry back with him to his place and reveals he’s been working with his sister Iris to take down The Rival. Iris is concerned that Barry was only interested in her because of her brother, but he tells her that’s not the case. He asks Wally how he got his powers and Wally tells Barry that he was in a car racing on the streets when it got hit by lightning. That plus the chemicals he used to give the car extra speed combined and made him the speedster he is today. Barry offers to help them stop The Rival and Wally and Iris are only to happy to add him to their team. Barry suggests they go to S.T.A.R. Labs and Iris and Wally look at each other funny.
In the next scene the three heroes are at what used to be S.T.A.R. Labs but is now known as Ramon Industries. Yes, it seems Cisco (Carlos Valdes) bought it from Harrison Wells after becoming one of the richest men in America by selling his inventions and apps. They approach Cisco who wants nothing to do with their crime- fighting adventures, reminding Iris and Wally he created Wally’s suit but that was all he was going to do for them. Barry starts to try to talk to Cisco as though they’re still friends and the irritated billionaire tells the “string bean” that they don’t know each other. Barry tries again calling him Mr. Ramon, which Cisco likes, and tells him that he knows deep down he wants to help people. Barry shares a story Ramon told him in the original timeline about his brother, and Cisco is moved and confused about how he knew it. Barry senses someone is missing and looks something up on the computer. A big smile crosses his face and he speeds out and back in with Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) who’s surprised and confused asking, “What just happened?” “Wait, did you just kidnap this person?” asks Cisco. “No. She’s I mean eh well maybe…we need her. She’s a scientist,” replies Barry. “I’m not a scientist, I’m a pediatric ophthalmologist,” answers Caitlin still confused as to where she is and how she got there.
Barry keeps trying to explain to the group about the time travel and the new timeline but Wally doesn’t want to believe it, Cisco finds it amusing and awful that somewhere there’s a time when he’s not filthy rich, and Caitlin is still unclear what is going on. Iris pulls Barry aside and tells him she believes him and asks him if in the original timeline they knew each other and how. He tells her it’s complicated and she smiles knowing that they are meant to be in each other’s lives. Barry gets another bad headache and gone are more memories from the original timeline. He races out to go see Thawne.
Thawne tells Barry that this new timeline is erasing the old one and soon all his memories of the original one will be gone. When that happens this new timeline will be permanent. Barry asks why Thawne’s memories are okay and at first the Reverse Flash doesn’t know but then he realizes the truth and laughs, telling Barry, “Your speed. The more you use your speed, the faster you lose your memories.” Barry becomes angry and walks out not wanting to believe it. Thawne yells after him, “Who’s the villain now, Flash?!”
Back at Ramon Industries, Caitlin – being the brilliant mind she is – finds a way to use one of the programs to track The Rival. Both Flashes team up and go after him, but when The Rival taunts them Wally turns stubborn and takes him on first instead of as a team as Barry suggested. It looks like Kid Flash has The Rival beat at one point but he makes the horrible mistake of turning his back on his enemy and The Rival stabs him with a pipe. Upset, Barry tells Wally he’s going to get him out of here but The Rival tells The Flash he’ll only let him leave if he beats him. The Rival then uses his speed to create two tornadoes. Barry keeps losing his memories and begins to think he won’t be able to win, but Iris gives him a short and effective pep talk which allows Barry to remember how he beat the Weather Wizard back in the pilot episode. Using his speed, Barry unravels both tornadoes and knocks off The Rival off his feet. Barry makes the same dumb mistake and turns his back on his enemy and just as The Rival is about to strike, he’s shot multiple times. Joe West has just saved The Flash and Barry (who isn’t wearing his mask so Joe knows who he is) says Wally is the wounded Flash laying there on the ground.
Barry gets Wally back to Ramon Industries but for some reason he isn’t healing the way Barry does. Caitlin apologizes that she can’t do more for him and asks if she can go back to her life now. A sad and hesitant Barry nods yes and she leaves. Realizing he has made a mistake, Barry heads home with Iris to say goodbye to his parents one last time. After hugging them and telling them how much he loves them, Barry goes with Iris to see Thawne.
Barry’s speed isn’t working well and he keeps getting the headaches, so it’s up to Thawne to speed them back in time to kill Barry’s mother again. “Today, I get to be the hero,” says Thawne as he speeds them off into the past and once again the Reverse Flash kills Barry’s mother. (Seriously, this needs to be the last time the show revisits this particular moment in time. It’s just too painful and it borders on being redundant.) He returns Barry to the present time and lets him know that he’ll have to wait and see what else is different now.
Barry enters Joe’s house and finds Joe and Wally there. Barry hugs Wally happy to see him okay and the three of them toast to the memory of Henry Allen because now that the timeline has been put back and corrected both of Barry’s parents are gone. Barry asks where Iris is and Joe gets angry and says he’ll just chalk that up to grief as he leaves the room. Barry asks Wally what’s wrong and Wally tells Barry that Joe and Iris aren’t on speaking terms. Barry sits on the couch, shocked, and asks out loud, “What have I done?!”
The Flash Season 3 Flashpoint Review:
Surprising and fun, season three episode one titled “Flashpoint” brings the fantasy action series back with some of the humor, action, and tone that was in the first season but sadly missing in the second. It reinvents new versions of most of the original characters, except for Barry and Iris, to show that although Barry’s life is much better in the new timeline it comes at the price of everyone else he cares about. Caitlin never met Ronnie and never married him, plus she’s not a brilliant scientist but a pediatric eye doctor. Cisco became rich but lost most of his soul. Worst of all, Joe became a drunk, unlikable jerk.
The stand-out performance goes to Grant Gustin who finally gets to play Barry happy, which is something the audience hasn’t seen since his dad got out of prison. Gustin really knows how to play Barry in all levels of his emotions. The cocky attitude he has when he visits Thawne and enjoys having his mortal enemy caged and helpless is refreshing and very human. The despair and sadness that Gustin displays while trying not to let on anything is wrong as he says goodbye to his parents for the final time is heartbreaking.
With Joe and Iris not speaking, scenes showing a new villain in Central City, and clips also showing Caitlin’s hands turning icy cold, this season of The Flash might just be the best one yet.