The second season of The Flash didn’t necessarily end on a great note as the first, but the final moments of ‘The Race of His Life’ certainly lived up to the promise of being a compelling cliffhanger for the fans. Barry Allen finally got tired of losing his loved ones to another one of his enemies and this time he decided to do something about it instead of coming to terms with it. He chose to go back in time and stop the Reverse Flash from killing his mom. Even before we had gotten the official confirmation, it had been pretty obvious where the show was headed with its storyline and it was basically the catalyst for the 2011 mini-series Flashpoint.
Hence, it was no surprise that the third season kicked off with the episode titled ‘Flashpoint’, but it is best to enjoy the episode on its own merits rather than comparing it with the source material. Sure, in a perfect world, it would have been great to see the series adopt the entire Flashpoint comic, which would comprise characters from all four of the DC shows on The CW. Just think about all four shows beginning their new seasons that tied into a huge crossover. Wouldn’t that have been something? Supergirl could have replaced Superman and the Green Arrow for Batman.
All these heroes would come together to help Barry in undoing the terrible mistake he has made by trying to rewrite history. Then, there would be a new status quo when everything went back to normal just like in the comic. However, based on the hints that were dropped by the showrunners and the cast in the last couple of months, it was obvious that they were not sticking to the comics. The show’s take on Flashpoint was more intimate and quiet, which wasn’t such a bad thing because it is not about watching costumed characters come alive on the screen.
Rather, it is more about following the emotional journey of Barry Allen through all its ups and downs. While we didn’t get a superhero team-up in the show’s version of Flashpoint, but it did focus on the emotional fallout of Barry’s decision in the finale. A lot of the strongest moments of The Flash have been those that honed on in Barry’s relationship with his parents like the phone call in ‘Welcome to Earth-2’ and his goodbye to his mother in ‘Fast Enough’. This episode decided to tap into that abundant well again.
Barry managed to remake the world through sheer force of will and his parents are in it. He is happy with his new life and for once he is at peace and smiling. It is a good change after the darkness that was brought on in Season 2. Nonetheless, even though he had gotten his parents back, Barry’s life has an emptiness to it. He lost all the things that had made his old life worth living like his relationship with Iris, Cisco, Caitlin and Joe have been wiped off. Barry is content on letting ‘Kid Flash’ protect Central City in his place.
In a way, this subtle conflict was much more interesting. Instead of focusing on undoing a catastrophe, it was more about how hollow Barry’s existence had gotten. Grant Gustin gave an excellent performance as outwardly peaceful and happy, yet feeling a deep-seated unease underneath that only grew. The episode explored the alternate universe like the Earth 2 duology and that was fun to watch. Caitlin has become an ophthalmologist whereas Cisco is now a billionaire. Joe, on the other hand, is at the risk of losing his job as he is an alcoholic flake. As far as Team Flash is concerned, it now includes Iris and Cisco only.
Cisco was hilarious as usual and the meaner version of Joe was also fascinating. However, Iris stood out the most even though she was the least changed in this alternate reality. This was because she exhibited a certain confidence and assertiveness that she had lacked previously and this proactive and tougher Iris was really good. It would do the show good to push her in that direction. Barry still has the knack for ruining his romance with her. Apart from that, it was nice to see Keiynan Lonsdale’s Wally to don a costume for the first time. The Kid Flash costume was taken directly from the comics.
Wally and Barry had a bit of an antagonistic dynamic, which was fun to see and probably a sign of what to expect when Wally does become Kid Flash in normal reality. But, the problem is that we don’t know if he will as there is the conundrum of ‘too many speedsters’. Todd Lasance’s The Rival was introduced and it wasn’t really appealing because it means that another speedster is the villain. Lasance had a dorky costume, but he was fine in the given role, even if we don’t need another speedster as the villain.
Luckily, Dr. Alchemy may be taking point on villain central for now, if the final scene is any indication. But, there is no denying that Matt Letscher did a great job as Reverse-Flash in the premiere, which couldn’t have been easy as Tom Cavanagh had worn the costume for the villain’s appearances in the first season. In short, this version of Flashpoint was undoubtedly more subtle and intimate than the comics, but it would have been better if the conflict had lasted for two episodes instead of just one.
The character arc came off as a bit rushed as the whole conflict had to be detailed in just 45 minutes. Barry had to accept that while his new life was ideal, it couldn’t last in the long term and he had to make the transition rather hurriedly. He had to doom his mother all over again by setting the Reverse-Flash free. Sure, watching Wally get wounded mortally was a great motivator, but they could have built-up the story a little bit more to what should have been the most agonizing decision of Barry’s life.