Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my all of my reviews of The Flash here.
Oh, Barry. When will you learn?
“I don’t like this timeline. Let me change it! I don’t like that timeline. Let me reset it! Wait, I still don’t like it. Let me go back one more time…”
Well, I’m glad the show finally addressed Barry’s constant mucking of the timeline by having Jay Garrick step in and essentially say, “For the love of the Speed Force, stop!”
What “Paradox” did not address was how unsympathetic Barry had become in these last 2 weeks. Worse than how disastrous his actions have been is the fact that they were driven by selfishness. And for what? Nora Allen is still dead, but now Cisco’s brother is dead too. And Diggle’s daughter has been erased from existence.
This is actually meaty material for the show to tackle and for Barry to deal with. The problem is, Barry barely dealt with the consequences. He caused the death of Cisco’s brother, and his response was to shrug and tell Cisco to move on. Glad you learned your lesson, Barry, but how many lives did you ruin to get there?
That was the main thing that bothered me about “Paradox”. Luckily, it was an otherwise strong episode.
In the grand scheme of things, “Paradox” achieved two important goals. The first is teaching Barry to stop time-traveling at the slightest provocation. Going forward, this prevents paradoxical plot holes, and raises the stakes now that major events can’t be easily undone.
The second goal is using the timeline reset to maneuver characters and story elements to more interesting places. Caitlin is now a metahuman (hype!), and Cisco is a potential sidekick. Thanks to Dr. Alchemy’s knowledge of Flashpoint, Wally is one step closer to becoming Kid Flash. Is it a narrative shortcut? Absolutely. But it works in shaking up the status quo in ways that might not have been possible before.
In fact, exploring the differences between the timelines was one of the enjoyable aspects of “Paradox”. The fish-out-of-water element was similar to the trip to Earth-2, and it kept the episode engaging. I hope we keep discovering more of these differences in the coming weeks.
One of those is the new character Julian Albert, Barry’s previously nonexistent CSI partner. We don’t know much about him at this point, but Tom Felton was pretty great in the role, especially his disdainful attitude toward Barry.
I honestly could have done without the Rival this week. To be fair, his inclusion was necessary. It introduced Dr. Alchemy as a long-term villain and gave Team Flash a common goal that helped them overcome their post-Flashpoint blues. Still, he’s not a particularly effective character. And he distracted from the more important main storyline of dealing with the consequences of Flashpoint.