“The question you need to ask yourself is…what kind of hero are you going to be? Are you just going to take a do-over every time you make a mistake or are you going to live with them and move on?” asks Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp) to Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) after stopping Barry from trying to go back in time again to fix the problems his friends are going through after he tried to reset the timeline in The CW’s comic-book inspired fantasy action series, The Flash.
Upset and needing a friend to talk to, Barry races to Star City to visit Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) to vent about all the changes that have taken place since he reset the timeline. The episode goes back and forth between Barry telling an intrigued and surprised Felicity to showing the changes back in Central City. First, Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Iris (Candice Patton) are not on speaking terms. Second, Cisco (Carlos Valdes) is grieving over the loss of his brother killed by a drunk driver and extremely angry at Barry for refusing to go back in time and save him. The scene where Barry intrudes on Cisco’s grief support group and Cisco shooting him daggers asking, “What? So now you want to be there for me?” is powerful and unsettling. And third, Barry is not the only CSI in Central City anymore. He shares his office with Julian Albert (Tom Felton) who specializes in the metahuman cases and dislikes Barry. “He doesn’t like me very much,” says Barry to Felicity who responds by saying, “That’s impossible. You’re like pudding…everybody likes pudding.”
Barry wonders if he changed anything in Felicity and Oliver’s lives so he uses her computer and discovers that Diggle’s daughter, Sara, has been replaced by his son, John. Barry, feeling sick, says he doesn’t want to know any more and Felicity tells him to run back to Central City and find a way to fix everything he changed RIGHT NOW.
Back at Central City, Edward Clariss (Todd Lasance) is having visions of the ‘Flashpoint’ timeline, remembering when he was a speedster. He’s also being called to by someone named Alchemy. After having an outburst on a public bus, Clariss finds his way to what looks to be Alchemy’s lair. A hooded masked figure turns to Clariss and calls himself Alchemy (voiced by Tobin Bell). Clariss tells Alchemy he keeps having visions and asks him to make them stop. Alchemy asks him if that’s what he really wants or would he rather have his speed back. Clariss seems to become almost entranced and says he wants his speed back. Alchemy then sends a surge of energy at Clariss.
Meanwhile, Barry is trying to get his family and friends back together which is not an easy task. He manages to use his super speed to race back and forth between Iris at her work and Joe at the CCPD to set up a family dinner together at Joe’s house, telling each one that the other needs to talk to each other about something important. Barry asks Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker), who’s back to being a brilliant scientist and Barry’s doctor, to please invite Cisco to the dinner and for her to join them so he can patch up everything. Caitlin, as always, agrees to help.
Dinner doesn’t go well at all and Cisco’s still resentful toward Barry for not saving his brother. Joe and Iris realize they’ve both been set up by Barry and become angry. The only two on Barry’s side are Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) and Caitlin who remain rather quiet. It’s not long before Cisco’s metahuman app goes off and the group is off to S.T.A.R. Labs to help The Flash go after another metahuman villain. The Flash is surprised to see that it’s Clariss aka The Rival (still in that ridiculous-looking outfit) who remembers the Flashpoint timeline and fighting The Flash and Kid Flash. The two speedsters race around and Clariss is able to give The Flash the slip.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry is confronted by Iris who saw a video of his confrontation with Clariss and realizes they had fought before. She knows Barry and demands he tell her the truth or they won’t be able to move forward with having a relationship. Barry tells Iris everything that’s wrong is all his fault and he has to go and set it right. So Barry races off to the speed force to travel back in time to try to fix the timeline again. As he closes his eyes and tries to focus on a key point in time he sees someone racing at him and that someone grabs him and rips him out of the speed force. Barry is sitting on the ground when he looks up and sees Jay Garrick looking down at him. “Here, put these on,” says the older speedster.
Jay takes Barry to one of his favorite spots to eat and tells him the corned beef hash is the best when Barry asks what year it is. The mature speedster replies 1998. Barry asks if he stopped him just to treat him to a meal and Jay confesses that he’s been watching over Barry ever since Harry (Tom Cavanagh) told Garrick about Barry losing both his parents and that he’s Barry’s dad’s doppelganger. He understands why Barry would want to try to go back in time and fix it, but he explains to Barry using a coffee cup as a stand-in for the space time continuum that if you crack a piece off even if he goes back and puts it back together it will still have cracks and never be exactly the way it was before. Garrick then gives Barry the much overdue speech about them being men not gods bestowed with powers to help people and that he can’t have a “do-over” for every mistake he makes but instead needs to push forward.
Barry returns to S.T.A.R. Labs where his family and friends have been wondering where he’s been and tells them he needs to tell the truth. Everyone is shocked and hurt when Barry tells them about the Flashpoint timeline he created and how he has changed all their lives by his incredibly selfish acts. Cisco takes it especially hard telling Barry, “So it’s okay for you to use your powers to save someone in your family?” Barry tells Cisco that he’s sorry and he’s learned that he can not go back again and alter the timeline. He has to move forward and he hopes Cisco will be able to one day soon.
Barry goes to the CSI lab to ask Julian for a favor. Julian has been working on a case of a new metahuman attack and Barry wants to see his report thinking it might give him a clue where to find Clariss. Barry lies to Julian, telling him it might help with another case he’s working and Julian reluctantly complies. It works and Barry speeds over to where Clariss aka The Rival (a stupid villain name) is hiding out. Unfortunately for Barry, it’s a trap. Clariss has been joined by Alchemy who uses his energy blasts on The Flash knocking him down and out of breath. Barry asks who he is and what he wants and Alchemy tells him that he’s going to “prepare the world” which Barry realizes means he wants to restore powers to the once metahumans.
While Barry tries to fight back and keeps losing (it is two against one after all), Team Flash is still struggling with the whole alternate timeline story Barry told them and Iris and Caitlin are the first to back up Barry saying he made a mistake. Iris reminds Cisco how he revealed to Captain Cold The Flash’s identity to protect his brother. Caitlin reminds everyone that it’s their Barry after all and then she realizes he’s in trouble by looking at his vitals on the screen. Just as Clariss is about to plunge a very big spike into The Flash, he gets knocked off his feet by an energy blast. Cisco aka Vibe has arrived to save the day! “Leave my friend alone,” he says as both Barry and Vibe defeat Clariss together.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, the group tells Barry they don’t want to know how their lives were different in the other timeline and they agree to move forward together. They all agree they need to find out who’s Alchemy, who Cisco adds a ‘Dr.’ to and Iris and Joe go off to CC Jitters to work on their father/daughter relationship with Wally tagging along. Barry tells Cisco it was great backing him up and maybe that’s something they can do from time to time. Cisco tells Barry he’s not there yet but maybe one day and walks off with a small smile. Barry and Caitlin smile at each other and Barry admits he’s happy things are starting to get back to sort of normal. He looks back at her and says she doesn’t have anything to worry about from the other timeline, that she wasn’t affected that much and adds “unless you’re moonlighting on the side as a pediatric ophthalmologist.” Caitlin looks confused and he smiles and says it’s just a timeline joke. As he leaves, the smile on Caitlin’s face fades to concern and fear. She looks at her right hand as it starts to turn cold and has freezing air coming from it. (Barry, what have you done to poor Caitlin?!)
The final scene is in Barry’s CSI lab where Julian tries to give Barry the results of his report because it might help that case he’s working on and Barry says there was no connection after all. Julian tells Barry that he’s on to him and that when he asked for the file he already knew the metahumans name even though Julian never told him. “I don’t trust you and I don’t like who I don’t trust,” says Julian as he leaves.
Review of The Flash ‘Paradox’:
Filled with heartache, sorrow, and regret, episode two titled “Paradox” still managed to included some of the much-needed humor while taking a darker turn for Team Flash. The performances were much stronger in this second episode with Barry feeling the guilt and despair of all the pain and problems he had created for the people he loves the most in his life.
The two stand-out performances in this episode go to Grant Gustin and Carlos Valdes as Barry and Cisco. The two scenes with Gustin as Barry trying to fix their friendship and Valdes being unable to forgive his best friend for not saving his brother are heartbreaking and unsettling. To see these two who are so close being torn apart was painful to watch. The new tragedy in Cisco’s life and the sad upcoming metamorphosis for Caitlin will undoubtedly alter and change forever the dynamic of the show. If that will be a positive element, possibly igniting the show with a new crime-fighting team out in the field or a negative tearing them apart and leaving Barry to work alone and possibly against a close friend now turned deadly enemy, is still to be revealed. Here’s hoping Barry, Cisco, and Caitlin will find a way to always be Team Flash.