The Flash: 3.01 Flashpoint
Like many shows with strong first seasons, The Flash suffered a little from what the US call a sophomore slump. It was still a fun superhero TV show with a great villain in Zoom, but it was often marred by a bit too much angst (often from Barry himself) and a frustrating ability to squander great ideas and characters too soon (Earth 2 evil doppelgangers, I'm looking at you). But when it was good, it was really good. The season ended with Barry Allen irritatingly forgetting all the implications of time travel and speeding back to save his mother. Fans of the character knew where this was going - a change of reality - and that is where season three picks up, as the show takes on the infamous 'Flashpoint' storyline.
Flashpoint gave usa glimpse of what that new reality would look like. There were some very fun moments but also a sense that this new world was dealt with far too quickly; failing to quite live up to its potential is a phrase I could have levied against most of season two. Fortunately even though Barry's action were reversed far too soon, it seems his meddling with Tim will have some permanent ramifications moving forward.
What was nice was that the episode didn't feel the need to make the changes resulting from Barry saving his mother blindingly obvious. There was a great deal of subtlety in the way in which the audience learned about this new reality. In fact it wasn't immediately apparent that his mother and father were alive. Barry was still a CSI and still had his powers, even if he wasn't the main star in town.
In this version Wally West was Kid Flash (I loved his frustrated attempt to get people to drop the 'kid' part) facing off against a villainous speedster, the Rival. Despite being dressed in black, this baddie looked like a cheap knock off version of Zoom, but that was kind of the point. Barry Allen tried to create the perfect life but his parents aside, it all paled to what it used to be. Iris was still Iris but she didn't know who he was; admittedly a little odd as they knew each other as children...but hey, would you recognise someone you played with as a kid if you passed their adult self in the street? Wally was a slightly less effective version, the Rival a cheapo Zoom.
Without taking Barry in and raising him as a child, Joe fallen out with his children and found solace in a bottle. Star Labs was no more, Caitlin was just an ophamologist and Cisco - still a genius - was not the fun loving ally Barry knew. It was great to see him as a billionaire inventor largely out for himself. Carlos Valdes was clearly having fun as this cool, colder version of the man we all know and love. Not that he was totally without merit, having grudgingly made the Kid Flash suit for Wally.
Candice Patton was the standout of the episode, remaining the one constant in Barry's life. As Wally's sidekick in the fight against crime, Iris continued to prove her worth and her scenes with Barry, particularly their attempt at a date were lovely. It was a great move to have her believe Barry totally when he revealed what actions led him to this reality. I wonder though what she will be like now that those actions have been reversed. The final twist that she doesn't speak with Joe showed that Barry had done real damage, even when he realised he had to let Thawne kill his mother.
The most interesting aspect of the episode was that Barry Allen was the villain, not the hero. Not only had characters like Joe suffered in exchange for his parents' lives, but he played the very role Zoom did last season, keeping his enemy locked up in a cage for months. Eobard Thawne (aka The reverse Flash) may be a very bad man but Barry's actions were little better. It took time catching up with Barry, erasing his memories, to force Barry to realise his mistake, Thawne the unwitting guide.
The pace of the episode was good. It didn't drag out Barry's realisation as each time-erasing flash made him more desperate but at the same time, it didn't feel as if enough was done with this reality. It's like Earth 2 last season; there was a huge sandbox to play with and it felt as if the show barely scratched the surface. I would have liked the story played out over a couple of episodes, with more done to show this alternate reality; perhaps it was the budget that drew it to a close too soon? At least there are certain to be ramifications over what Barry has done, and not just the broken relationship between Iris and Joe. I'm intrigued to see where it goes next and I hope this is enough to make Barry Allen the hero again. If the results of his latest stupid decision doesn't do it, I don't know what will.