Well, the Flash is back. And it jumps headlong into the world of Flashpoint, it pretty broadly follows the same concept as the comic of the same name with Barry Allen against all logic interfering in his mother’s death at the hands of the Reverse-Flash which causes a different world than the one he left to appear. While it would be interesting to explore a world where Barry got to live a normal life with his parents and Wally West was the Flash in his place (aka the status quo most people who’ve read the comics grew up with.) While this would be an interesting premise for a few episodes, or even a season with Barry getting the life he always wanted, the episode manages to burn through that entire plot within minutes with Barry wanting his old life back.
Grant Gustin as usual manages to do a great job of playing Barry’s normal character dynamic against people who can’t recognize him, however by comparison most of the cast really doesn’t get much to chew on. The major problem being that some of the characters are exhibiting dynamics akin to the Earth-2 versions of their characters, while some characters like Caitlin are barely there for a cameo, or like Harry are ignored entirely. The one bright spot should be getting to see Wally in action as the Flash, and Keiynan Lonsdale does do a good job of selling the earnest nature he has as Wally to contrast with the more sullen and resentful Earth-1 Wally we saw through most of Season 2. However, a major problem going on with that is the writing goes out of its way to undermine any gravitas whatsoever from Wally being the Flash. From the news, to his friends, to Barry himself constantly undermining it by him being called “Kid Flash”, or the barrage of mistakes he makes. It takes what should be a fun moment, and makes it into a joke. This isn’t helped by Wally’s arch-nemesis “The Rival” having perhaps the lousiest costume design on an episode of the Flash yet, as well as having the thinnest motivation with him wanting to prove he “has no rival” (get it yet?). On the bright side Matt Letscher gets to give a somewhat nuanced performance as the Reverse-Flash for once as both Barry’s trophy (he even gets to eat!) and as Barry’s savior once his mistakes cause everything he’s built to fall apart.
Perhaps the biggest mistake of this episode is that it barely bothers to spend time with Barry’s home life beyond a few perfunctory scenes with him being needled for essentially being a loser. We don’t get to spend much time with the Allens before everything gets reset (even violenter mom death this time!) and all we have to show for it are vague allusions to broken character dynamics, and that Barry Allen is once again the most selfish character on the show. The only thing that’s learned is the same lesson Barry needs to learn every season: that he can’t break time for his own purposes or because of his parental issues, it’ll catch up eventually. While this could’ve been a fun episode, it quite honestly is a letdown. Hopefully it’s not a sign of things to come.
3 out of 5 Rivals
- The Rival is the oldest version of the Reverse-Flash concept. While there’s very little depth to the Edward Clariss character here, that’s about par for the comics as well. While the “awakening” of the Rival in the regular timeline is somewhat interesting, I can’t extend much interest after Zoom.
- So can we agree Barry Allen is the worst on this show? He took a wrecking ball and it only made things worse. Not to mention he’s pretty creepy to Iris.
- Matt Letscher with a hobo beard is pretty awesome, I must admit. But I’m interested to see if Doctor Alchemy is any good here.