First came the Flashpoint, now arrives the Paradox. For those who are unaware, DC Comics made an animated film about Flashpoint and called it the “Flashpoint Paradox”, these episode are a testament to that. And not unlike the original story, Barry’s return to the “real” timeline was not as he remembered it.
This is both good and bad. On one hand, it allows certain changes to happen in a natural way and not feel forced. On the other hand, certain changes are REALLY forced, and both Barry and the audience has to adapt on the fly. For any new viewers, the adjustment isn’t too bad, but for longtime fans…not so much.
My biggest problem with “Paradox” was that it played out like “Welcome to Earth-2” in regards to Barry thinking he can simply walk in on things and play it smooth without ramifications. Now to be fair, his talk with Felicity was actually very good for setting it all up. He would go to Felicity for help because he trusts her completely and knows she won’t blow her top unlike say Joe or Oliver. But what happened afterward? Well…
I refer to Felicity’s line about Barry, how “he was like pudding, and everyone likes pudding”. That’s true to an extent…but when we’re force fed pudding over and over again? It gets old. After all he had done, and the time traveling he has done, what made him think he could just “fix” things so simply when he had no idea what was going on in this new timeline? That dinner scene, and its setup was particularly cringe worthy, and was easily the worst part of the episode.
Now, the real question was, would he try and go back in time to “fix” things right? The answer was yet…but…Jay Garrick showed up!
Look, I was thrilled when Zoom was not the real Jay Garrick, and that John Wesley Shipp was the one true Jay Garrick from “Earth 3”. So having him return in this fashion (though very much unexplained in some aspects…) was very cool. As was his chat about Barry about time travel. He talked very differently from Henry Allen, which was important. He was more blunt, more ribbing to what Barry was doing, but he also had the wisdom of an aged speedster. His advice to “move forward” was very poetic, and did indeed help things go forward.
Moving to the more positive stuff, the debut of Dr. Alchemy was so freaking cool. A lot of people have complained about how all of Flash’s big bads are speedsters. Well, that’s not Dr. Alchemy. From his look, to his haunting presence and voice, it’s clear he’s very different from Reverse Flash and Zoom. And the fact that he can (somehow) give people powers based on their lives in the Flashpoint universe? That’s pretty cool. I look forward to seeing who else will show up (as the Rival was the only one we had in the beginning episode), as well as learning how and why he can do that and remember the Flashpoint universe.
The Rival was also handled well here, I liked him in the premiere, and to see him “reborn” and out for revenge was just as cool. Yes, he was a throwaway villain, but I can think of a lot of Season 02 villains who didn’t get the depth The Rival had.
One the big changes in the new universe was the reveal that Cisco is actively working on a Vibe suit. One that he brought (kind of) to the big fight tonight. While it wasn’t finished obviously, he did note that he’d be up for a team up down the line. Hopefully it’s not too far away.
Then there’s the arrival of Tom Felton (Draco Malfloy!) as Barry’s new “partner” in the crime lab. For what he was given, he did well, but I hope he gets more time and attention going down the line.
One last gripe. The team finding out about Flashpoint was very important, vital even, its resolution was way too quick. Iris and Joe hated each other for months, and now they’re ok? Cisco held Barry accountable somewhat for Dante’s death in this universe…and now they’re bros again? All because “it’s Barry”? Yeah…no.
I accept that these changes are permanent, and as we found out, the changes are a…cold…slap of reality for both Barry and the fanbase. That being said, it’s going to take a few more episodes for us to fully adjust, and hopefully, it’ll be a little more seamless.