BY: JONATHAN KINCAID
With the long-awaited debut of season 3 of the Flash tonight, Barry Allen finds himself in a strange new world. He no longer feels any pain or suffering, but a sense of relief and solace. Everything and everyone he once knew is now completely different; friends he once had deep relationships with are now absolute strangers to him and he now has his mom and dad back in one piece, something he’s of course always desired. But most notably, he’s just Barry Allen in this unfamiliar new timeline. For the first time in a long time, he no longer has the responsibility of being the Flash and serving as Central City’s noble protector because there’s somebody else to fulfill that mantle for him. At first things may seem just fine, but as he spends more and more time in this bizarre new place, he begins to realize that the perfect world he longed for is nothing more than a mirage with major repercussions.
We know that it’s been about three months or so since Barry has altered the timeline by saving his mother from the wraith of the villainous speedster Eobard Thawne. In that stretch of time, Barry seems to have finally gotten what he’s wanted all along, a seemingly normal life without any loss or pain to afflict him. Simply put, he’s been leading a happy life with both of his parents. However, he still has vivid memory of his life before “Flashpoint”, so he’s well aware of who and what he was then. He’s living a very different but yet somewhat familiar life now; he still works at the Central City Police Department as a forensic scientist alongside a more bitter Detective Joe West who doesn’t seem to have any pride in his job; his parents are both alive and well together at long last; Iris West and him are no longer best friends who grew up together. Every little thing has been rewritten and redid as the result of Barry’s rash actions.
Early on in the episode, we learn that Central City has been under attack for quite sometime by a menacing new speedster known as the Rival. Needless to say, he isn’t unrivaled; Wally West, now the brave and heroic speedster Kid Flash in “Flashpoint”, now acts as the sole defender of Central City, protecting it against remorseless criminals like the Rival. While Barry is trying to muster up the words to spark up conversation with a now curious Iris in the cafe, the news suddenly reports that Kid Flash and the Rival are facing off in the city. Naturally, Barry instinctively rushed to the scene. Upon arrival, one could say he was somewhat delighted by what he saw. It was at this very moment that he realized he was no longer the Flash, but an ordinary citizen of Central City witnessing two speedsters clash firsthand. This time around it wasn’t him wearing the costume saving the day; it was somebody else, and that relieved him. That burden was his no more. After an intense confrontation between the two speedsters, the Rival ultimately managed to escape, meaning Kid Flash failed to stop his reign of terror once again. Barry, in utter awe and shock, took the opportunity to admire the courageous speedster before he too fled the scene.
Eventually, Barry finally garners his composure and starts a very awkward conversation with Iris at the café. Being as smooth as he is, he manages to score somewhat of a date with her. This obviously means a lot to him as he still has very intimate feelings for her despite their lack of history in “Flashpoint”. More interestingly though, we finally get to see what’s become of the Reverse-Flash, Eobard Thawne.
Apparently, Barry’s kept him locked up in some kind of remote warehouse ever since he stopped the sadastic time traveler from murdering his mother. We first see the scruffy-looking speedster imprisoned in what appears to be a cage of sorts when Barry thoughtfully brings him some Big Belly Burger. Thawne isn’t amused. He warns Barry that he will inevitably escape and make him pay for what he’s done, a warning which Barry unwisely disregards. He also explains to Barry that he doesn’t fully understand what he’s done and how it will impact the order of things. Barry doesn’t seem to take Thawne’s warnings seriously, and why should he? He’s living a perfectly happy and normal life now, unlike before.
Later on in the episode, the Rival strikes again. Kid Flash and the malicious speedster engage in yet another confrontation in the city. This time, however, the Rival manages to get the best of Kid Flash, causing him to crash through a skyscraper window and fall from a considerable height. Luckily for Kid Flash, Barry was there to lend a helping hand. Barry intervened and saved Kid Flash by creating a vortex of wind to help break his fall, which worked. Kid Flash landed in a bin of full of scrap and junk. He was momentarily unconscious from the impact, so Barry took the opportunity to see who was behind the cowl. Barry was in disbelief and shock; it was none other than Wally West, the brother and son of Iris and Joe West. Seconds later, Wally comes to. Still in shock, Barry then addresses the now unmasked speedster as “Wally”. This of course confused Wally. How could some random stranger know his identity? Afterwards, Wally takes Barry back to his base of operations where they become more acquainted with each other.
Barry soon begins to realize that something is seriously wrong. He starts experiencing these really weird attacks here and there. They’re visions of the timeline before “Flashpoint”. As the episode progress, they become more intense and prominent. This is precisely what Thawne warned him about. Confused and worried, Barry goes to Thanwe for answers. He explains to Thawne what’s been happening to him. Thawne, in much amusement, explains to Barry that the more he uses his speed, the more his memory of the original timeline will be erased.
It becomes clear that Wally alone can’t defeat the Rival. He’s tried countless times and failed. They were desperate for any help they could get. So, they went to the richest man in America, Cisco Ramon. He’s the CEO of Ramon Industries and awfully cocky about it. Initially, Cisco was unwilling to help, not wanting to take part in any such conflict. It’s at that point Barry reveals to Iris and everyone else how he altered the timeline and how he too is a speedster.Barry realizes that he must help them in order to finally take down the Rival, despite his condition. After some deliberation, Cisco agrees to help as well. The group formulates a plan with the assistance of Caitlin Snow(who Barry “kidnapped”) to put an end to the Rival once and for all.
Barry and Wally suited up and awaited the arrival of the Rival at an abandoned site. As expected, he showed up. The speedsters exchanged some words, then Wally charged at the Rival engaging in a flashy fight with the sinister speedster. Barry watched as the two fought. After dealing many hits, the Rival managed to badly wound Wally by stabbing him with a rod. Barry rushed to his aid in a panic. Barry had to take him on by himself. After an intense fight, the rival created two twisters which Barry at first had difficulty stopping as he was plagued by yet another vision, but he ultimately managed to stifle the two twisters and take down the Rival, thanks to the help of Detective Joe West who arrived on the scene at the last minute. Barry revealed to Joe there that he too is a speedster by removing his cowl and informing him that his son had been severely injured. They got Wally back to Roman Industries where they were able to stabilize him.
When everything was said and done, Barry realized what he had to do. In order to make things right, he had to let Thawne go back in time and kill his mother. He went to Thawne and agreed to his proposal and freed him. Before this, Barry took the opportunity to be with his mom and dad for one last time. This was incredibly hard for Barry – for three months he had gotten what he always wanted, to be with his mom and dad. Now, accepting what has to be done, Barry allowed Eobard to take him back in time, kill his mother, and put him back where he should be. There, Thawne told Barry that things won’t exactly be the same, and that they’ll undoubtedly be noticeable consequences for his actions. Things seem to be alright at first, but it’s not until we learn that something has happened to Iris that we understand what Thawne meant. There’s no telling exactly what yet, but it just goes to show that what Barry did, altering the timeline in such a drastic way, had a huge impact on things, and now he has to deal with the repercussions.
OVERALL RATING: 9 – the season premiere accomplished what it set out to do in broad sense, but the world of “Flashpoint” could have been explored a little more.