The Flash: Season 3 Episode 1 review – Flashpoint
This week, The CW’s The Flash returned with its much-awaited season opener, Flashpoint – an adaptation, of sorts, of the infamous Flashpoint comic book by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert. Below you’ll find our spoiler-heavy review.
Even given how much we love this show, we couldn’t help but come away disappointed this week. We knew that this season premier wasn’t going to be a direct adaptation of Flashpoint (no Thomas Wayne, no war between Themyscira and Atlantis, etc) and that the Flashpoint content wouldn’t be season-long, but what has been provided is so far removed from the brilliance of Flashpoint that we simply weren’t gratified.
Flashpoint itself (the comic) is daring, powerful and refreshing. This premier presented us with a far tamer Flashpoint universe, which only has loose similarities with the comic, like Barry’s mother being alive. For 3 months Barry has lived in this new world, comfortably enjoying the company of his parents, before a speedster called The Rival begins to place “Kid Flash” (The Flash in this world, AKA Wally West) in danger, causing Barry to interact with this timeline’s Wally, Iris, Cisco and Caitlin.
Just like in the Earth 2 episodes, we did enjoy seeing new alternate versions of our beloved characters. Here, Caitlin is not a scientist at all and Cisco is the richest man in America. Both of these offered some endearing moments, including Cisco declaring his outrage that there are other timelines in which he’s not rich. We also enjoyed seeing an stubble-ridden incarcerated Eobard naming this timeline “Flashpoint”, but this was already revealed in the trailer for this season, long before this episode arrived.
The subject of questionable actions on Barry’s part seemed to be a focus for the writers this week. First Barry steal Iris’ purse just so that he can have a reason to talk to her. While this is innocent enough, it’s still technically theft. Later on in the episode Barry steals Caitlin away and places her in the room with Iris and the others, which leads the others to point out that Barry technically “kidnapped” her (the look on Barry’s face when it dawned on him that he did indeed kidnap Caitlin was fun to witness). Both of these are certainly harmless enough occurrences, which hurt nobody, but it does pull into focus the interesting point that Barry does indeed have blinkers on sometimes, causing him to undertake questionable (and illegal) actions without realising what he’s doing. This focus is no doubt a way to parallel and reinforce the fact that Barry’s saving of his mother was itself a rash act of Barry’s that didn’t have enough thought behind it, which in turn causes bad things to happen to good people.
The best line for us this week came from Eobard himself. After Barry asks Eobard to kill his mother (something Barry gave into too easily, if you ask us) and tells Eobard that he hates him, Eobard says “I hate you too and sometimes I wonder which of us is right”. This added a real rationality and reasonability to Eobard’s character, whereas usually he’s just outright wicked and self-centred, so we appreciated this little addition.
After some interesting new changes being posed in the newly reset timeline, like Iris and Joe not talking, the episode ends with ‘ALCHEMY’ being etched into a mirror. This is in the bedroom/en suite of Edward Clariss – the man who was The Rival in the Flashpoint timeline but who is presumably just a normal guy in this reset timeline (given that we never saw The Rival appear on the show). For those wondering what ALCHEMY could refer to, there is a famous villain in the comics called Dr. Alchemy, so the word is undoubtedly a reference to that character being introduced this season. However, whether it is Clariss who will become Dr. Alchemy or whether he will be merely come across Dr. Alchemy’s path (the voice – voiced by Saw‘s Tobin Bell – seemed to be disembodied and belonging to a person who is not Clariss) remains unclear (no doubt, Tobin Bell will continue to do the voice when the mask is donned, either way).
To circle back to our sorest point – the exclusion of Thomas Wayne – we understand that Greg Berlanti and co have certain limitations in place to not show Batman on the small screen, given DC’s big screen ventures, but truly, it’s a missed opportunity and we don’t see why Thomas couldn’t have been featured (who doesn’t have a big role in the DCEU, beyond dying at the beginning of Batman V Superman – Thomas being played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan). In order to make this great show truly something special, we can’t help but feel that Berlanti and co should have pushed for the inclusion of Wayne or some more notable Flashpoint content.
On the podcast Fatman on Batman Marc Bernardin did hypothesise that somewhere in the alternate timelines that this season is presenting it might be shown that Green Arrow is Oliver Queen’s father, rather than Oliver Queen. If this is the case, then this might be a nice way of nodding to the Thomas Wayne plot, without actually touching upon the character of Batman. We’re all for that, as something is better than nothing.
Next week’s episode is titled Paradox, which completes the alternative title Flashpoint Paradox (used for the Flashpoint Paradox animated film) and marks itself as something that will continue to deal with the time issues that we saw arise at the end of this episode (in the now corrected timeline). For those who aren’t already, we highly suggest that you follow and listen to Kevin Smith’s podcasts – particularly Fatman on Batman – as not only are these excellent, but Smith is also directing again this season (Episode 7, right before the huge multi-show crossover in Episode 8) and he’s a huge fan of the show. He talks about the show endlessly, including letting little tidbits slip about what’s to come, or telling brilliant behind the scenes stories about his time on the show. We guarantee that you’ll learn a lot that will compliment your experience of this season.
Image credits: The CW