TV Review: The Flash - Season 3 Episode 2 "Paradox"
EPISODE 2: "Paradox"
SYNOPSIS: Barry (Grant Gustin) realizes the effects from Flashpoint are much greater than he thought. Meanwhile, Barry meets new co-worker Julian Albert (Tom Felton) and is surprised by Julian’s immediate disdain for Barry
REVIEW: The underwhelming debut of Flashpoint last week left me feeling a bit disappointed by the build-up to the third season of The Flash, but this follow-up hour absolutely makes up for it by introducing the true ramifications of Barry Allen's actions in trying to reset the timeline more than once. The end result is what we thought was Flashpoint was merely where this story arc is starting and there is a lot more on the way. We also get our first look at the new bad guy, Alchemy. I am going to flip on my assessment of the first episode and say that this season is looking a hell of a lot brighter than it did one week ago. Still, with more than twenty episodes to go, a lot could change.
The episode opens with Barry opening up to Felicity Smoak about his actions with the timeline and the reveal that there are new changes he did not expect: Iris and Joe are not talking due to the secret about her mother being alive, Cisco holds a grudge against Barry for not going back in time to save his brother when he was killed by a drunk driver, and a new coworker named Julian Albert (HARRY POTTER's Tom Felton) who hates Barry. We even learn the repercussions have leaked onto Arrow as well in that John Diggle's daughter is now a son. Felicity's advice is sound: Barry has to fix it by any means necessary. So, the logical decision is to go back and try again, right? Not if Jay Garrick has anything to say about it. The Earth-3 Flash pulls Barry out of the timestream and explains why going back will not make a difference and he just has to make due with how things are now. This is a gutsy move as that means whatever changes are now in place are permanent.
So, Barry gets to work trying to remedy his error and faces off against a familiar speedster: The Rival. Edward Clariss, whom we see finding Alchemy along with some followers, is given his speed back by the new, mysterious villain who aims to shape the world for his own nefarious purposes. Clariss confronts The Flash for stealing his previous life which is caught on film by Iris. Barry then decides to reveal to the team what he did and the results it left them with. It is a lot for the team to swallow, but they eventually decide that Barry meant no ill will. Meanwhile, Barry steals evidence of human husks being investigated by Julian and learns the whereabots of Clariss and heads to meet him. As they fight, Barry is thwarted by Alchemy and energy blasts he is able to control. Clariss and Flash battle and just before The Rival can kill Barry, Cisco shows up and uses his vibe skills to give Barry an advantage.
With Alchemy nowhere to be found, Barry easily defeats The Rival and takes him to Iron Heights. This leaves the team to chat and discuss who this mysterious new foe could be and how it is possible he can bestow powers on people who don't seem to have any gifts. Barry theorizes that anyone in the Flashpoint timeline will start getting their powers back. The team also rejects Barry's offer to tell them about their lives in the Flashpoint timeline and things seem to be back to normal. Iris and Joe have reconnected, Cisco is working on forgiving Barry, and Caitlyn seems to be the same. That is, until she reveals that her metahuman abilities are kicking in. Could we be seeing her deal with becoming Killer Frost this season?
We also see Julian confront Barry about stealing evidence about The Rival. Julian explains why he doesn't like Barry and it is because he doesn't trust him. Barry doesn't think too deeply about this accusation, but it is going to have ramifications as the season continues. In fact, I am going to go ahead and predict now that Julian Albert is actually Alchemy. I will be shocked if the villain ends up being anyone else. In the closing moments of the episode, we see Alchemy kill Clariss in prison for failing to stop The Flash, but there are few revealing clues to link the new bad guy to Albert. Still, you don't cast Draco Malfoy and not have him play the villain, right?
A much better episode and one that uses Flashpoint in an unconventional way. I am now understanding that this is not a literal adaptation of the comic story which would not have worked for obvious reasons. Still, by introducing this new timeline as the permanent one is a bold move. Does this truly mean the changes to Arrow are permanent as well? That would be a complex set of changes to maintain, so maybe there will be a true reset or merging of timelines at some point this season. I do hope we get to see Kid Flash make a return appearance. The balancing act that The Flash now has to worry about is keeping the timelines and multiverse elements straight now that we have three timelines and three Earth variants all in continuity. For a comic fan, this is heaven. For the average viewer, it is likely a headache.
NEXT ON THE FLASH: "Magenta" airs October 18th - Barry (Grant Gustin) and Team Flash are thrilled to reunite with Earth-2 Wells (Tom Cavanagh) and Jesse (guest star Violett Beane). Wells confides to Barry and Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) that Jesse has all the powers of a speedster and has been saving people on his Earth. He is concerned about her safety and wants them to talk her out of using her powers. Meanwhile, Magenta, (guest star Joey King) a new meta who can control metal, terrorizes the city.