It was appropriate for The Flash to work in Soul Asylum's "Runaway Train" this week. Barry's (Grant Gustin) creation and then undoing of Flashpoint resulted in Barry feeling like he should've been getting somewhere but ending up neither here nor there, stuck in a third, still somewhat compromised timeline. (Also, let's not pretend that Doctor's Alchemy's mask wasn't "firefly without a light"-esque. So many layers to that song.)
While it seemed like the events of this new timeline were on a runaway train that was never going to go back to how Barry wanted them, he did at least begin to resolve the conflicts created by his mucking about with the timeline. So here are the five big post-Flashpoint changes Barry had to deal with in "Paradox."
As Barry noted when he explained all the Flashpoint craziness to Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), he had managed to eradicate not one but two kisses with Iris (Candice Patton) because of his various time travel shenanigans (he did it back in Season 1, too). Things looked even rockier as Iris laid down an ultimatum of truth — glad to see Iris' emphasis on the truth hasn't changed at all — for Barry if he didn't come clean about why he was being so weird — i.e. having zero idea what this new timeline was all about.
The threat of, again, having to deal with Barry and Iris engaged in a drawn-out "Will they?/Won't they?/But we know they will because the future!" loomed large over this alteration, but The Flash quickly backed away from that ledge to repeat the porch kiss from the Season 2 finale and get those two crazy kids back on track (they always find their way to one another, after all). This was a good call for everyone. I'm not sure I could sit through another season of Patton dealing with wishy-washing plotting and romances; she deserves better, and now she may finally get it.
2. Joe and Iris were estranged
One of the big West-centric plots last season was Iris and Joe (Jesse L. Martin) figuring out how to navigate one another regarding Francine (Vanessa Williams) being alive. It was resolved fairly quickly since Iris, after dealing with a lot of secret-keeping around her during Season 1, didn't want to hold grudges. In this new timeline, grudges were held, and the two Wests weren't on the best of terms. In fact, they were barely speaking, and no amount of Barry's meddling and Grandma Esther's noodles were going to make it all right.
But this, too, was resolved within "Paradox" as a reunited Team Flash resulted in the reconciliation of one of TV's best father-daughter duos. On some level, I'd like for this to have been played up a bit more, like another episode, but given that the conflict was about Francine and we've already seen that play out, not rehashing it was probably the smart move.
3. Barry and Cisco were not vibing
Perhaps just as concerning as the Allen-West and the West-West relationships in a post-Flashpoint timeline was the Allen-Ramon relationship. In light of Dante's (Nicholas Gonzalez) death, Cisco (Carlos Valdes) was mired in grief and loathing. He wasn't quipping or coming up with nicknames, and his resentment for Barry's refusal to travel back and save Dante boiled over in very productive ways for the show's central bromance. Perhaps more than even Joe and Iris's conflict, this one gnawed at Barry, perhaps due the hypocrisy embedded within Barry's family member-saving decisions.
"Paradox" solved this dilemma quickly as well. Cisco suited up to save Barry from the Rival (Todd Lasance) and then added the "doctor" to Alchemy's name. The episode, thankfully, hinted that there's more to do before Cisco is out in the field more, and hopefully this means more that needs to be done to mend the fences between Barry and Cisco. They don't need to be as rocky as they were here, but more exploration as to what Dante death's does to Cisco is certainly warranted.
4. Julian Albert really hates Barry
So Julian (Tom Felton) is a straight-up new addition to the Flash universe, a fresh glitch in the timeline. He and Barry have shared the CSI lab for a year or so, and they do not get along. At all. Even just meeting him for the first time, Barry pretty much can't stand him, and Barry likes everyone. To be fair, everyone else likes Barry, too.
Which creates some fresh dynamics for the show to explore. The notion that someone simply isn't charmed by Barry Allen means that there'll be a rival of sorts that isn't super-powered (provided he's not Doctor Alchemy, of course; who knows?) and can cause conflict for a part of Barry's life that the show normally plays fast and loose with.
5. Caitlin has some icy powers
Whether the result of Doctor Alchemy's apparent desire to give powers to those who had them in other versions of the world or the result of particle accelerator explosion, Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) seems to have her Earth-2 counterpart's abilities. Is she good? Is she bad? My colleague Megan Vick explores that idea a bit more here!
- Perhaps the most important thing to come about as a result of Flashpoint: Dawson's Creek exists within the Arrowverse, y'all. Now, the mechanics of who plays Dawson's dad is a fun dilemma, but I leave that to others to figure out an explanation for. In the meantime, I'm going to need to know who on The Flash is Team Pacey and who is Team Dawson.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.
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