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iReview :: The Flash #301 “Flashpoint”

Season 3 of The CW hit The Flash is already shaping up as the most unpredictable of all the DC TV series. Welcome to “Flashpoint” where anything can happen…

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Careful what you wish for. Clearly it’s never a good idea to travel back in time and trifle with your own history. At the conclusion of last season on The Flash, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) had just had enough! In a final confrontation with his sworn enemy ZOOM, before The Flash was ultimately able to stop the madman from destroying his world and saved the multiverse in effect! The villain, although, struck our hero with a terrible blow — murdering Barry’s father, Henry Allen (John Wesley Shipp) right in front of his eyes.

In the race of his life, The Flash took down ZOOM, but the damage had been done, and Barry believed the universe owed him one.

Though he had finally won the girl, Iris West (Candice Patton) believed that Barry could never be happy, not while he wrestled with some unanswered questions, so Barry felt he had no other choice, but to travel back to the single greatest defining moment of his life: the night that his mother, Nora Allen (Michelle Harrison) was taken from him by another speedster, the time-traveling Reverse-Flash (Matt Letscher). The Flash is determined to stop the man in the yellow suit, the man he believes is responsible for all of his grief, from carrying out his plan — and he travels back in time, to that crucial moment, and stops the Reverse-Flash in his tracks!

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The Flash — “Flashpoint” — Pictured (L-R): Candice Patton as Iris West and Grant Gustin as Barry Allen — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Effectively saving his mother, stopping yet another vengeful foe from carrying out a threat against him, Barry Allen as changed everything — creating a “Flashpoint” event that irrevocably has consequences — a butterfly effect — on the history and evolution of events that follow. And although Barry Allen has fulfilled one of his greatest wishes, to have a life where both of his parents are alive and well, everything else has changed. Everything.

The Central City that Barry now inhabits is very similar to the one that he’s always known, except that he is no longer its defender. There’s another “Flash” in town that is dealing with the metahuman threats, especially in the form of one particular baddie calling himself The Rival aka Edward Clariss (guest star Todd Lasance). A speedster who fancies himself “the fastest man alive”. No longer having to concern himself with the responsibility of being a “hero”, Barry Allen focuses on the things that are more important to him now — being a son in a loving family, great at his job with the CCPD, and reigniting those feelings he had for that “special girl”.

In this timeline, Barry Allen and Iris West didn’t grow up as best friends, in fact — the entire structure of the West Family has been compromised. Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), Barry’s surrogate father, is not the loving and responsible, decorated Central City detective that took in Barry after his father was wrongly convicted and sentenced to Iron Heights Prison for the murder of his wife. Joe is now hardly able to pull himself off the couch and meet his responsibilities in the CCPD. Barry is constantly running interference for the office with Captain Julio Mendez (guest star Alex Désert another alum from the original CBS 1990 “The Flash” series).

What’s worse, it appears that Joe is estranged from both his children and has a tenuous relationship with Iris and Wally West (Keiyan Lonsdale) the son that he just discovered he had. The siblings on the other hand couldn’t be closer, in fact Wally has inherited the powers and the title of Central City’s new “The Flash” (although the name “Kid Flash” suits him best) and is singlehandedly attempting to take on the Rival, with little success. Having pursued Iris and begun a courtship, it isn’t long before Barry reveals to her (and Wally) the truth about his super speedster alter ego, The Flash, but has a harder time convincing them about the “rebooted” timeline he has in effectively inspired!

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The Flash (Grant Gustin) teams up with Central City’s new protector Kid Flash aka Wally West (Keiyan Lonsdale) to take on a new enemy threaten the city.

Confident that if they are to stop The Rival from his rampage of Central City they are going to need all the help that they can get, Barry insists on putting together “Team Flash” beginning with enlisting the support of Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), except that in the new “Flashpoint” timeline Ramon is a billionaire industrialist who wants nothing to do with (either) Flash’s vendetta on crime. Upon seeing Iris and Wally when they arrive at his lab, Ramon asks them all to leave — including Barry whom he’s never met.

But Barry is adamant about pulling the team back together and even “kidnaps” Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) who is this altered-timeline is a children’s eye doctor and not the biochemist we’ve known (and loved) all along. On Barry’s initiative alone, they do band together to bring down the Rival, but it isn’t long until Barry learns the truth…

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The Flash — “Flashpoint” —  Pictured (L-R): John Wesley Shipp as Henry Allen and Michelle Harrison as Nora Allen — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash, who has been Barry’s prisoners for the last three months reveals the truth about the damage to the timeline that the Flash has caused by creating the “Flashpoint”. Barry is losing his memories about the original reality and as time folds in on itself it won’t be long until he completely forgets everything — including how to use his powers as the Scarlet Speedster. With so much at stake, including his mental state, Barry agrees along with Iris to return Eobard to that moment in time. The moment when the Reverse-Flash murders Nora Allen in an attempt to set things right.

Barry returns home with Iris to bid his parents one last good-bye, thanking them for “the last three months” before freeing Thawne and succumbing to the effects of the “Flashpoint”.

With Barry unconscious the Reverse-Flash uses the Speed Force to travel back and when Barry wakes up, it looks like everything has returned to normal. Both Nora and Henry Allen are dead and Barry has just beat ZOOM. He returns to the West home and toasts to his father’s memory with Joe and Wally, but when he asks why Iris isn’t there with him, Joe angrily excuses himself — chalking up Barry’s ignorance to grief. Barry learns through Wally that Iris and Joe don’t speak, and haven’t in a very long time!

“Flashpoint” Episode #301 (Season 3 Premiere/Original Airdate Oct 4, 2016)

Directed by Jesse Warn

Story by Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg

Teleplay by Andrew Kreisberg and Brooke Roberts

Inspired by the comic book arc written by Geoff Johns that ultimately re-imagined the entire DC Comics multiverse and introduced “The New 52” timeline to readers, the events in the television adaptation of “Flashpoint” are appropriately scaled down for the serialized television format of The Flash. What was originally a cross-issue event that lead to a complete overhaul of the comic book universe, has been told in an incapsulated one-hour show and wrapped up by the time we got to the credits.

Or has it?

Obviously there are consequences to Barry’s actions. Although his intentions are well-meaning, they are selfish and lead to a total rewrite of the two seasons of The Flash that have come before, but what choice did he have? After all, playing the hero has cost him a great deal. Being the man that saved Central City again and again has lead to nothing but ill-fate for Barry Allen and the contempt and envy of speedsters from not only the the Prime-Earth, but menaces from across the multiverse!

Seeing Barry reunited with both of his parents, even for a few moments is remarkably rewarding, and the scenes between The Allens — Grant Gustin, John Wesley Shipp and Michelle Harrison — are at the core some of the best moments of the episode, especially because of the genuine affection these actors have on display for one another. The same can be said for the chemistry on display between Gustin and co-star Candice Patton, as Barry and Iris get to revisit their courtship and take us along for the ride.

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Together again…for the first time, Barry reveals himself as The Flash to Iris.

This episode featured some of the best work between the series two leads, and Patton continues to very skillfully navigate the complexities of a leading lady who has to deal with super-powers, alternate universes, dopplegangers and rebooted timelines! It makes for some challenges that Gustin and Patton approach beautifully and make us believe that whatever it takes love will keep Barry and Iris together. Hopefully, these two can stop having “first dates” and get to really developing eventually into the love story that fans of the comic book are rooting for.

One of the more exciting moments of the series have come from the introduction of the multiverse and the opportunity that this revelation has given the cast to play alternate versions of themselves. Almost every single cast member has now had to play at least 3 different versions of their original characters, and some like John Wesley Shipp have been reintroduced as all-new players on the field. That this ensemble continues to deliver and rise to the occasion is testament to their dedication and the skill and creativity of the writing staff to keep audiences guessing.

It’s obvious that with Matt Letscher back in the picture the Reverse-Flash will continue to play a role as one of our hero’s most dangerous adversaries. Show runners have already revealed that Letscher’s Thawne will become a cornerstone member of the Legion of Doom which will be taking on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow later this season, but there is a greater menace coming that Eobard eludes to and what that will mean for the Flash is yet to develop.

The episode’s “stinger” reveals that Earth-Prime’s Edward Clariss, the “Flashpoint” reality’s “Rival” hasn’t become the villain, but perhaps with the intervention of a new threat that scrawls the word “Alchemy” on his mirror, this season’s big baddie has just been revealed!

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