The Flash Season 3 Episode 2 Review: “Paradox”

The Flash

After a fun premiere from The Flash, there was hope that the show would settle into it’s long-term form to begin setting up the season once again. While there were a ton of great moments in the Flashpoint universe episode, the whole idea of Barry messing with the timeline is feeling like old news on this show. On one hand, viewers are tuning in for an origin story of sorts that shows Barry developing into the Flash character people have come to know and love in the comics, but on the other hand, it seems like the writers have been repeating themselves and the lessons they are teaching the show’s character. Time travel is an extremely cool element to be able to logically incorporate into a show and The Flash has it very easy and has done a lot of cool things with the idea. Yet, when through two full seasons and now the first two episodes of the third show a character failing to learn the limits and rules to time travel, it begins to feel like the viewers just tune in for another week of, “How’s Barry going to mess up the timeline this week?”

As seen in the closing moments of last week’s premiere, Barry decides he’s done living in his fantasy timeline and wants to return home to retain his memories, but when he arrives he discovers Joe and Iris aren’t talking and haven’t been for a while now. It is revealed more and more that other major things have changed too; Cisco is now mopey and grieving because Dante was recently killed by a drunk driver and Barry has refused to go back and alter it, Joe and Iris don’t talk because Joe lied to her about her mother, Tom Felton a.k.a. Julian Albert is a clashing Meta-Human expert with the CCPD who shares the lab with Barry, and Caitlin is now also a Meta hiding her powers from everyone.

Wow that’s a lot.

The Flash never fails to incorporate the fun aspects from it’s comic book origins, but it almost feels like in some aspects they are flowing away from creating great stories with impactful and emotional payoffs in order to provide fun stories that don’t seem as well thought out. “Paradox” is a constant ping-pong match of a good and bad story ideas that struggle to provide something consistent. While last night’s episode had plenty of great emotional moments thanks to the fallout of Flashpoint, certain things don’t feel earned and are hard to immediately attach to. The scene where Barry comes clean about what he’s done, to the point where he’s crying in front of everyone, is extremely well-done. Not only because Barry gets visibly emotional, but because it finally gets all of the people closest to him to forget about their conflicts for a brief moment to be there for Barry. The Flash doesn’t fail to show the bond it’s characters have, but how many passes is Barry going to get for being immature?

While the show is only through two episodes of it’s season, it already feels like time travel has been used as a crutch to alter details just to please the fans. The use of Earth-2 last year seemed like a great way to do fan service with Killer Frost and Reverb, but now feels like writers were testing the waters to gauge reactions to the idea of converting Caitlin and Cisco into Meta-Humans full-time. It’s really cool to see their characters develop more, but it feels like a short cut and unearned at this point. The Flash is beginning to wear out the usage of time travel and it also weakens Barry as a character each time he fails to ignore everything he’s learned through three seasons. Barry is a great character because of how much he cares about his friends and family, it makes him a relateable character that you want to root for; yet, each season always comes back to the same point and his character seems to disregard everything he’s been through and learned to selfishly save his parents. While I’m sure this is definitely the final lesson for the hero, how much does it take for him to understand this one point? Barry has been told multiple times that he can’t mess with the timeline too much and he even watched Zoom be caught by a Speed Force demon for the same reasons. It gets tiring because eventually the fun goggles disappear and it becomes clear that Barry is stubborn and time travel is being overused.

On top of this, time travel is being used as the reason for the creation of one of the season’s main villains; The Rival. The character was, once again, a great tease for big fans of the Flash comics with his introduction as the main antagonist for Wally in Flashpoint. Why was there a need to do anything past that? The Flash has featured a major villain speedster three seasons in a row now, and while there is obviously something more complicated going on with Alchemy, it still feels similar to things viewers have seen in the previous seasons. The Rival just doesn’t have any good motive as a villain; he reveals he has memories from both timelines now too and is mad Barry supposedly took years away from time he could have spent as The Rival.

Boohoo man.

The Flash has always succeeded with displaying how close their characters are with one another and that they truly are “Team Flash;” however, how many times will viewers have to worry about the timeline when Barry and Iris kiss? How many times will petty conflicts cause a temporary, basic division between fan favorite characters? As mentioned before, “Paradox,” is a real mixture of The Flash’s bright points and flaws; the emotional stuff between the characters is always very well-done and the cast just has a natural chemistry, but on the other hand a lot of the writing seems to be fan service to comic book lovers with a lot less growth. The show is only two episodes in and it seems like this was the end of “Flashpoint” (or should we call it Floppoint? Ha…) for good, which is a great thing. There’s nothing to worry about with The Flash, at least not yet. As long as the writers transition into the former greatness that blends the fun comic book moments with well-written stories, everything will be okay, but it’s been a weird start so far.

Other Thoughts:

  • Vibe powers were pretty fun, definitely excited to see Cisco get into the field but sad we missed out on some middle portion of his powers developing and him getting more comfortable with controlling them.
  • Honestly, when Barry was running back again, I thought he was going to cross paths with Black Flash and realize he was screwing everything up.
  • John Wesley Shipp as Jay Garrick on Earth-3 was literally the best he has ever been on The Flash. I just absolutely loved his tone, speech and swagger as Jay and look forward to more eventually.
  • I will admit that Sadsco’s “I dunno, the Thief” gave me a quick chuckle.

[Photo via The CW]

The Flash Season 3 Episode 2 Review: "Paradox"


The Flash continues to deal with the fallout of Flashpoint as Barry begins to come to terms with what he’s caused to happen.

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