THE FLASH: “PARADOX” REVIEW
BY JONATHAN KINCAID
I’d like to start off by saying that I’m thoroughly pleased with this episode. It perfectly accomplished what it set out to do, which was explore the consequences of Flashpoint. To me, it was very interesting seeing the effects of Flashpoint and exactly who and what was different as a result. And honestly, on a broad scale, there really wasn’t a whole lot of substantial change. The changes were pretty minor but had devastating repercussions. Barry thought he could “reset” the timeline by having Thawne go back in time and kill his mother once more, but he was gravely mistaken. And since this whole episode essentially centers around the differences brought on by Flashpoint, particularly with certain characters, I’d like to delve into that and discuss some of the key differences with certain characters in depth. Let’s start with Cisco. We found Cisco still mourning over the death of his brother, Dante. However, his brother didn’t die at the hands of Zoom; in this new reality, he was victim to a reckless drunk driver. I found this to be a very interesting spin on things, primarily because Cisco had fallen into a deep dark abyss of despair and pain. And that’s somewhat understandable given the assine and senseless circumstances surrounding his brother’s death. More intriguing though is the fact Cisco projected much of his grief onto Barry, being upset with him for not going back in time to save his brother. I felt like Cisco was acting unnecessarily cold and unfair toward Barry. Yes, Barry could go back in time and save him, but there’s no telling what else he’d alter in the process. It’s far too risky and could potentially further jeopardize the timeline, something that Cisco failed to understand. Cisco stays like this for the vast majority of the episode, clinging onto pointless sorrow which only serves to further deteriorate his friendship with Barry. It’s not until the very end of the episode that he finally accepts that his brother is gone and there’s no bringing him back. This realization brings Cisco and Barry closer together, but still, it’s apparent that it’s going to take quite sometime before they become the best of friends again, if ever.
Moreover, another thing that had changed for the worst is the relationship between Joe and Iris. This was somewhat hinted at toward the end of the season premiere last week, but as an audience we weren’t aware of all the factors at play and so we were essentially left in the dark. Now, however, we know precisely what’s going on between Joe and Iris, and needless to say it’s not good. Before I get into why their relationship is in shambles, I’d like to say that seeing them so withdrawn from each other is frankly quite sad and disheartening on every level. I mean, we’re used to seeing them together as father and daughter, inseparable. And now they’re more distant than ever which is just sad, but I digress. The sole reason why Iris is so angry with Joe is because he didn’t tell her that her mother, Francine, is actually alive. Now Iris’ frustration and anger toward Joe is completely understandable if you ask me. She obviously felt betrayed and deceived, and rightfully so. She trusted her father more than anybody else, and yet he was the one who deceived her. Albeit, at the same time, I also understand why Joe did what he did and where he’s coming from. He was only trying to protect her, and it’s no secret he felt as though Iris was better off without Francine in her life. Barry, who I think felt relatively guilty and responsible for all that was wrong with this new timeline(as he should), tried to set things right between them, but all efforts proved fruitless. The tension between them lasted for most of the episode. Though I’m happy to say that in the end Iris was able to look past Joe’s deceit, realizing how inane the situation really was. They made amends and father and daughter were reunited once more. I must say though, it’ll be interesting seeing how their relationship develops in future episodes, but I’m sure it’ll all work out.
Something else that we learned of this episode that I thought was pretty meh was the fact that Iris and Barry never kissed in this new timeline. They both still had feelings for each other and wanted to take a shot at an intimate relationship, but no, because of Flashpoint they never actually kissed. This was pretty much whatever to me. It wasn’t something that really warranted a lot of care I personally feel. I say this because the state of Barry and Iris’ relationship was certainly not the most pressing matter in this episode. In fact, it’s probably the least urgent affair in my opinion. Not to mention the fact that we’ve seen the two of them kiss twice before, even though those timelines were erased. So, in a sense, this simply wasn’t as pertinent as some of the other things that transpired in this episode, and it was kind of just there. But in the end, just like during the season finale of season 2, Barry and Iris had a very fond moment outside on the front porch of the West residence, and yes, they kissed. So it’ll undoubtedly be interesting seeing how their dynamic develops in episodes to come. But again, even though this wasn’t a particularly meaningful difference, I thought it was still worth mentioning at the very least.
Moving on, there’s a new face in Central City, well to us anyway. Julian Albert(portrayed by Tom Felton), apparently works closely with Barry as a fellow forensic scientist at the Central City Police Department. Right from the get-go, it’s clear that Barry and Julian aren’t exactly fond of each other. In fact, I think it’s safe to say they intensely despise one another. Their partnership proves to be an uneasy one, with the couple failing to get along. Notably, Julian consistently tries to one-up Barry, either as a means to assert his intellectual dominance over Barry or to compensate for a lack of self-confidence. Whichever way, they simply aren’t good playmates. Also, it’s important to note that somehow both Cisco and Caitlin seem to be familiar with the ornery forensic scientist to some extent. As of now, however, there’s no telling exactly how acquainted they are with Mr. Albert as it was briefly touched on. At the end of the episode, Julian confronts Barry, asking him how he could have possibly stolen the husk without him noticing. This excites me, mainly because Albert is becoming increasingly suspicious of Barry and questioning who, or what, he really is. Seeing this mistrust unfold more and more throughout upcoming episodes will surely be interesting to say the least, and I can’t wait to learn more about Albert as a character as I believe he’ll have a much larger role to play as the season progresses.
Edward Clariss, who we know to be the Rival from Flashpoint, also played a huge part in this episode. How he came into play and got his speed back through Alchemy was pretty cool and fascinating. Alchemy was somehow able to give him his speed back along with his memory of his life in Flashpoint through means which are currently oblivious to us, so Clariss spent most of the episode trying to exact revenge on Barry and friends. Needless to say, he ultimately failed and was stopped by Barry and Cisco during one last confrontation. This was really awesome, because it opened up the possibility of Barry and Cisco teaming up more often in the future. Clariss ended up in Iron Heights, which made for a pretty predictable and generic outcome. But back to Alchemy, there’s still a lot of mystery surrounding him and his nature. We’re not entirely sure what his motives are or what he’s fully capable of yet, but I think it’s safe to say we’ve only scratched the surface with him as a character. Something tells me that he’ll be serving as the big bad for the time being, and I’m perfectly fine with that because there’s plenty of interesting things the CW can do with him.
The ending of this episode was very uplifting. After Barry came clean with everyone and revealed how he altered the timeline and tried resetting it but to no avail, he offered to tell everyone what they were like where he was originally from. Surprisingly, they declined his offer. Instead, in the very end, they chose to put aside petty grievances and start anew together. Admittedly, it was very pleasing seeing everyone embrace each other, especially after being so detached from one another for so long. There’s no denying that everyone still has a long way to go, but it’s definitely a good start. And with Jay Garrick keeping a close eye on Barry ensuring that he doesn’t lose his way and screw things up again, I’m confident that things will be alright for the immediate future. And as far Caitlin, I think we should all be wary of her for the time being. Although she hasn’t openly displayed any villainous characteristics, at this point there’s no telling what her true intentions are. I have absolutely no idea how she could possibly be Killer Frost in this new timeline, but I’m very curious to find out how and whether the coldness will consume her.
VERDICT: All in all, with the exception of Barry and Iris’ relationship being presented as a matter of utmost urgency and the confrontation with a considerably generic and laughable antagonist who outshined the real baddie, “Paradox” was an overall satisfying episode that potentially sets up a lot of interesting possibilities(particularly with Alchemy and Caitlin) for future installments.