Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my all of my reviews of The Flash here.
Season 2 of The Flash ended in a huge cliffhanger that raised a lot of enticing possibilities. Sadly, the Season 3 premiere played it safe, leaving most of those possibilities unexplored. Despite this, “Flashpoint” still delivered the kind of strong and entertaining episode that we’ve come to expect from The Flash, giving the audience plenty of reason to say, “Welcome back, Barry Allen!”
“Flashpoint” played to The Flash‘s strengths: fun character interactions, great action scenes, and plenty of genuine heart. Not to mention the added layer of wacky time travel/alternate universe shenanigans making it all the more enjoyable.
“Flashpoint” dealt directly with the fallout of last season’s cliffhanger, as Barry found himself in a world where his parents were alive. But of course, that wasn’t the only change. And much like “Welcome to Earth-2”, a lot of the fun in “Flashpoint” was derived from exploring these changes.
This world’s Flash was Wally West, complete with a Kid Flash costume as a wink to the comics. Cisco was the richest man in America, and about as friendly as Earth-2 Wells. Iris didn’t know Barry. Joe was a broken man.
The interactions between all of those characters, combining the familiar with the new, was one of the highlights of “Flashpoint”. The sheer thrill of watching speedsters battle—in this case Barry, Wally, and a new villainous speedster named the Rival—was another.
And of course, Reverse-Flash was alive and well, held captive by Barry. Taunting him with warnings that he will regret his decision and beg him to kill his mother again. And though he was no Tom Cavanagh, Matt Letscher still did a great job selling Eobard’s cruelty and hatred.
Naturally, Thawne’s premonitions came true. Barry realized his mistake, and his selfishness. He realized that you can’t magically put back together what has been broken—not without consequences. So he went to his hated enemy and asked him to kill his mother again.
On its own merits, “Flashpoint” was a very good episode of The Flash. What’s disappointing about it was that it could have been even better.
“Flashpoint” was never going to be nearly as big as its comic book counterpart, not on a TV budget. Equally unlikely was the hope that repercussions from “Flashpoint” would spill over into Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow. The reality is that those shows have their own viewers and ongoing stories.
But to limit the alternate “Flashpoint” universe to merely one episode feels like a waste. I understand the reasons behind it, both from a creative and corporate point of view. But I do think those reasons could have been easily circumvented. If the trip to Earth-2 was given a two-parter, why couldn’t Flashpoint have lasted for 3 episodes or more?
It’s true that I should review the episode based on its own strengths and not my expectations. But in this case the two are related. Because constraining such a big story and character arc to one episode had negative effects on “Flashpoint”.
And that’s my major hang-up with the Season 3 premiere. One episode simply isn’t enough time to take a character from being happy in this new existence, to begging his mortal enemy to murder his mother. The situation would have to be truly dire to warrant such a desperate decision from Barry. That was not the case in “Flashpoint”.
Those missteps are forgivable because they’re likely caused by external factors outside the creative team’s control. And the episode itself was as delightfully enjoyable as Flash has ever been. Still, it’s hard to shake off the disappointment in what we could have had.
Luckily, the timeline that Barry returned to has not been left intact. “Flashpoint” itself may have lasted a single episode, but the consequences of Barry’s meddling will hopefully be felt for weeks to come.