Synopsis of 3×01: Barry Allen’s quest to reunite his family lands him in an alternate timeline during the season 3 premiere, “Flashpoint.”
The Flash opened the door to a brave new world in the season 3 premiere, and, interestingly enough, it’s not Flashpoint.
Emotionally distraught by his father’s death and worn down by the growing darkness of his own existence, Barry Allen let his Id lead the way in the season 2 finale, once more traveling back in time to the night of his mother’s murder. Nora’s death was the first domino in the Rube Goldberg machine of the Flash’s creation, but, this time around, the Scarlet Speedster managed to stop the chain reaction cold in its tracks.
Picking up three months later, the premiere sees Barry with an elusive smile on his face. The site of his mother’s brutal death has become a scene of domesticity once more. Nora and Henry are alive and well, their son is a successful CSI with an eye for Iris West, the Reverse Flash is whiling away the hours in our hero’s makeshift prison (a handy little trick that can only be attributed to demonic speedster by the name of Zoom), and there are croissants aplenty. With Kid Flash now tasked with protecting Central City, it seems as if Barry has the life he always wanted.
It doesn’t take Barry long to find out what comic book readers already know, however. The CW’s quirky hero made a dangerous gamble when he played with time, and soon he will have an impossible choice to make – lose his memories and his speed, or allow the Reverse Flash to put the timeline to rights. As memories of Cisco, Caitlin, and his adoptive family start to slip away, Barry looks at the world around him.
In exchange for his happiness, Joe is a self-destructive estranged father (a plot line that is never fully fleshed out), Iris feels like there’s a gaping Barry-shaped hole in her life, Cisco and Caitlin’s unflappable friendship never blossomed, and Wally, a.k.a. Kid Flash, is forced to face off with a villain he can never defeat.
In a controversial move, a weakened Barry lets the Reverse Flash carry him back in time. The iconic villain puts a knife through Nora Allen before dropping Barry back on Joe’s doorstep, warning the Flash that his life will never be the same. It takes the Scarlet Speedster mere seconds to find out that Eobard isn’t kidding.
From The Flash’s fresh spin on the Flashpoint storyline to Barry’s seemingly selfish sacrifice of his parents, the season 3 opener has generated quite a buzz in the fandom. There are obviously those diehards who would have liked to see Geoff Johns seminal tale play out closer to the source material, and those pundits are joined by viewers who believe a mere hour in the Flashpoint universe is a waste of a golden opportunity. Personally, this writer is pleased the series tipped its hat to the alternate timeline while quickly returning us to (a version of) the Central City we know and love.
There were undoubtedly some viewers who were baffled by Barry’s decision to allow his mortal enemy to end his idyllic world. The Flash’s heart is too big for his own good, however, and his guilt over his pals’ Flashpoint fates combined with a realization that, while his real life was certainly speckled with despair, he’d built up a surrogate family that gave him memories he certainly didn’t want to loose. Not to mention the fact that Barry will always be convinced that the best version of himself is one that’s imbued with the Speed Force.
The real question bothering us, however, is how Eobard managed to retain enough power to travel back in time as “Flashpoint” came to a close. If we recall correctly, it was the Reverse Flash’s loss of speed that trapped him in the early 2000s, caused him to steal Wells’ body, and led him to create the Flash in the first place. As always, no one owns suspension of disbelief quite like the sci-fi genre.
The Flash can’t please all viewers all the time, but you can’t say they don’t turn out some damn fine stories regardless. “Flashpoint’’ was a solid start to the season, ultimately setting up the series’ titular hero with a host of new problems (including Doctor Alchemy!).