The Flash 3×02: Paradox

Or: If you don’t learn from your first mistake, try to make it again.

There are a few definitions for the word paradox, but the one that rang most true for this show reads like this: A situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities.

That’s pretty much where I am on this series as a whole. Some things I just adore, others not so much. Many characters and plots seem to be one thing but then contradict themselves later. It’s a light show, it’s a dark show. It’s well-written, it leaves much to be desired. Barry is smart but makes stupid mistakes. Barry’s the fastest man alive, but everyone else is faster etc… It can be confusing and/or frustrating.

Paradox falls into the same area. Things are back to normal but they’re not, Barry fixed the timeline but he didn’t.

Regardless, I enjoyed this episode more than the premiere. I think it’s because there were actually consequences and emotional fallout. It can be said they were resolved too fast but that seems par for the show and alas, always has been. Let’s dig in!

Having realized things aren’t exactly right even after fixing flashpoint, Barry panics and bursts in on Felicity in Star City to madly babble his problems. Apparently Felicity is far enough removed for him to confess to and not worry/care she’ll hate him because he didn’t dare mention it to anyone in Central City he is close to. Felicity (complete with the braided hairstyle she never has worn and never will again to show us the differences in the timeline) serves as the plot function for Barry to talk to in order to spell out for the audience what things are now different.

  1. Joe and Iris don’t talk now, and Barry’s not sure why.
  2. Cisco doesn’t smile and seems really angry at him.
  3. There’s a new guy at work with a snooty Brit accent and attitude to match who really doesn’t like Barry much.
  4. Also, epidermal person shaped husks are being found. That’s definitely a new one.

Things Unchanged:

  1. Wally is still his adorable self and trying to navigate his arguing family the best he can. (Also back to not a speedster. Rats.)
  2. Besides walking on eggshells, Caitlin seems the same.
  3. Most important, Iris is still interested in exploring a future with Barry. But she no longer remembers their kiss (shock me!) and how she told Barry to do whatever he needed to do to heal himself. Because of course she doesn’t.
  4. Also unchanged, the way Barry’s eyes light up when Iris suggests giving the thing between them a try.

As Barry fumbles his way through his new/old life he slowly gleans more details. Iris is angry at Joe for not telling her Francine was still alive. Wow writers, thanks for trying but it’s a year late. As much as I love Joe that is a huge and devastating thing to do, and Iris should have been angry the first time. Candice Patton and Jesse L. Martin do a fabulous job playing the tension and sharp edges that now define the father/daughter relationship.

Cisco’s brother Dante is dead, killed by a drunk driver months ago. Cisco is grieving their relationship that was never as good as he wanted it to be, and that he now will never have the chance to change it for the better. OMG that hurts. And Cisco is still angry at Barry about it.

It’s still unclear as to why Julian doesn’t like Barry.

Also, while checking to see if anything in the Arrow side of things is changed, Diggle suddenly has a son and not a daughter. THAT IS IT BARRY ALLEN FIX IT NOW!!!!!! THERE WILL BE NO ERASING OF BABY SARA!!!!! I don’t know why, but this really irks me. Kids are not interchangeable, and that baby girl was beautiful. Ok moving on…

Felicity gives the least helpful advice as well and tells Barry to “fix it.” If it was that simple I don’t think he would have come in a panic to discuss it with you, Felicity.

Meanwhile, Edward Clariss is having flashes (lol) of the other timeline and starting to lose his mind. So what better way to regain your sanity than to wander into a secret lair complete with chanting robed figures and a leader with a gas mask and a bad cold called Alchemy? (I’m assuming Edward was somehow summoned there or he is just one really lucky wanderer.)

Edward has visions and wants them to stop. That’s fair. Alchemy offers him this other life. He accepts without a pause. It’s really nice to know that whatever girlfriend/wife Edward was sleeping next to the night before is so easily forgotten and moved on from. He gave up his life reeeeeeeeally easily. I hope my husband would at least think about it for a few minutes before he gave me up for speedster power.

Cut to another metahuman husk found on the shore. Julian is working the evidence and refusing any kind of help from Barry. Barry speed steals a sample to take to S.T.A.R. Labs and wonders how he has worked with Julian for the last year. Apparently, he says that a lot.

Barry starts plotting to get everyone gathered at dinner that night. After securing Caitlin and Cisco, he starts in on Joe and Iris. That takes a lot more jumping through hoops (or racing back and forth) to maneuver but he finally manages. It’s a cute exchange watching him dash back and forth between the two, and Iris’ “Hi…” when he shows up and starts babbling is really funny to me. Also, Iris has an office what is this delightful new change?!  After promising Iris husk information Joe never consented to give and wrangling the right Grandma Esther recipe to entice her over, Barry is feeling pretty sure he can fix most of the issues he caused. I’m not going to mention that Barry being out of breath and having a stitch in his side is really odd for a speedster. Barry, you need to work out more or something.

The awkwardness of the dinner is actually fun for me. There’s nothing like trying to navigate the tricky dynamics of family squabbling to attempt reconciliation on all sides. It’s not so easily done as Barry learns. Cisco sums it up perfectly. “Epic fail, party of six.” He does give the reason why he’s so angry at Barry, though. He wants Barry to time travel and save Dante, and up to now Barry has refused. The dinner is interrupted by the speedster app, and Barry heads to the bridge where a speedster was sighted. Turns out it’s Clariss, all speedy again and wearing that Rival Halloween costume. He’s a little ticked that Barry changed the timeline and took all his power away from him. A speed fight/race ensues. I was rolling my eyes to see Barry once more behind a villain speedster, but was delightfully surprised to see Barry catch up and slam Clariss. The resulting skipping skidding tumble across pavement made me happy to see. Really, with so much running we should be seeing more of this. Getting interrupted running full pelt is going to bring some serious tumbling. Anyway, Clariss disappears once he figures out he can’t quite beat Barry like he thought he could.

The next scene makes me so happy. While the team tries to find answers about the new speedster, Iris has done her own digging and found out something else. You can pinpoint the exact second she knows Barry is keeping secrets. She confronts him in the hallway with camera footage of Barry and the Rival, and it’s pretty clear they know each other. I was so proud of her when she told Barry he needs to come clean now, and if he lies their relationship is over before it starts. He has already lied about being the Flash. If they want to be together she should never be accepting lies from him, and he should never be giving them. That’s not how a healthy relationship works. Good for you, Iris. You deserve someone who won’t lie to you.

Barry doesn’t lie, but he still avoids the truth. He apologizes and leaves to go start his mistake all over again. HOLY CRAP BARRY WILL YOU EVER LEARN? I was shaking my head so hard. Thank goodness for Jay Garrick yanking Barry out of the continuum and into 1998. And then comes another favorite scene.

I’ve never made it a secret how I felt about Henry’s treatment on the show last season. He was shoddily dealt with and killed for angst, and I’m still annoyed about it. (This applies to other characters too.) Jay being played by the same man didn’t make that go away. But dang if John Wesley Shipp isn’t a lovely actor. He brought all of Henry’s wisdom but infused a different, slightly more gruff and direct manner into Jay. They are two different men with the same face. That’s good acting, and he sucked me in. Jay gives Barry the talking to we have all wanted to give him and asks Barry what kind of hero he wants to be. One who does a redo every time he makes a mistake, or one who lives with the mistakes he makes and owns them? Also, his demonstration of a broken timeline repaired but still cracked with a diner cup was a thing of beauty. Bless you Jay, I was going to rage quit if you hadn’t shown up. (LOL no really, I knew you were coming.)

Barry returns to the team and is finally honest about everything. The results are to be expected. Cisco is understandably angry that Barry refused to save his brother but saved his own mom. The others are disturbed and upset and everyone is allowed to feel that way. My greatest disappointment is that they weren’t allowed the screen time to really delve into it. Side note: Again, Carlos delivered when Cisco confronted Barry about his choices. and his yelling “I don’t care!” resonated with me a lot. Too often Cisco is relegated to comic relief. Carlos is capable of much more than that even though he does funny so well, and it’s nice to see him get something meaty story-wise.

Oh look, Barry is approaching Julian for help. LOL. OMG. As much as I love Barry, the way the writers have written him lately makes him much more frustrating.  It seems to help me vicariously exorcise some frustration to laugh at Julian’s forthright dislike of Barry. He needs some opposition in his life, the writers routinely make his close circle forgive him too easily for some really grievous errors.

But Barry manages to get info from Julian’s file that helps him track down the Rival, again at the old sawmill. (Fish in a pond, man.) Problem is, the Rival brought a buddy and Barry doesn’t have Wally this time.  Meanwhile, in a scene too quickly arrived at and too quickly resolved, the team’s anger at Barry is hastily shelved when Iris acts as the voice of reason and argues for Barry’s side, defending his decision as a quickly made one to protect someone he loved. She even brings up Cisco betraying Barry to save Dante, which Cisco concedes is a good point. Caitlin chimes in that they all have secrets. They are interrupted by Barry’s vital signs, which report him getting walloped by Alchemy and his nifty blue light. The team has to decide what to do quickly.

Barry is fighting for his life and almost lost it when the Rival is blown off his feet. YESSSSSSSS Vibe has arrived! I’ve waited a long time for this! It’s good to see Cisco this way.

So the team is now aware of Alchemy ahem, Doctor Alchemy, and that he is “preparing the world”. Barry theorizes that everyone who had powers in flashpoint will get them back in this timeline. The others inform Barry they don’t want to know what their lives were like in flashpoint. The West family is united once more, and Barry asks Cisco about joining him in the field. Cisco declines for now but appears to be moving forward. That was fast. Barry cracks a weird flashpoint joke and leaves Caitlin alone, and we get to see the secret she’s hiding. She’s got frost hands and we should expect to see Killer Frost in the future. Bummer Caitlin.

Back at Barry (and Julian’s) lab, Julian confronts Barry about knowing Edward Clariss’ name before he saw the file and that he must have stolen a sample from the last husk. He makes it clear he knows Barry is hiding things and that he doesn’t trust him. It’s pretty clear that figuring out Barry’s secrets is going to be Julian’s goal in the future. Bring it on, this should be interesting.

Finally, Barry returns to the West house to find Iris on the front porch. They discuss the fact that Iris doesn’t want to know about her life in flashpoint, and she figures they always find each other. It’s so true, Iris. In a parallel to the end of last season, they kiss. It’s almost the same as the last one and finally Iris will remember it. Barry’s small nod of happiness after was really perfect. Now things are right. Now everything has fallen into place. It’s a beautiful scene. But I kind of grieve for all the lost beautiful moments along the way. Iris deserves to remember them. As much as I adore westallen, the writing has dampened my feelings a certain amount. I really hope that changes in future eps.

Oh, also Clariss gets attacked by Alchemy in jail. Bad guys are so unforgiving!

Next week we get Jesse and Harry back!

Soapbox, thy name is Barry:

  • It’s kind of irritating that a generic villain gets to be angrier at Barry for time travel meddling than his friends and family. They got some moments of it, but Edward was allowed to be angry about what was taken from him and the fact that he felt something was missing for most of his life. He also brings up an interesting point insisting that being a speedster is how his life was supposed to be. Who decides? Who should have the power and/or wisdom decide how someone’s life is supposed to go? Does anyone have that right? Which way is the correct one? Or is there no real “correct timeline”, and we’re all just feeling the repercussions of everyone else’s choices? Barry finally learns that he was messing with things he had no business messing with, and nothing he does leaves others unaffected. In other words, you don’t live in a vacuum Barry.
  • I am starting to see the writing on the wall regarding the writers. They will continually gloss over feelings and reactions of anyone not Barry while amplifying his. Iris arguing for Barry was disappointing, and I’m saying that as a westallen fan. Her and Joe’s issues being instantly solved made it worse. Iris is the heart of the team and the show in many ways. She truly is a voice of reason and the most rational person in any relationship. I don’t doubt that she would eventually arrive at exactly this point. What I do doubt is that she would get there immediately following the discovery of Barry’s lapse in judgement. Humans rarely work like that, and strong emotions usually move in first after a nasty blow like that. Anger, resentment, frustration and loss would all take precedence before the rational side gave you a look at Barry’s side of the argument. It feels like a cheap copout to have Iris and a few minutes later all of the team decide to forgive Barry so easily and so quickly. It robs each character of their right to feel anger and loss over such a thing and to take the time they really need to deal with it. If the team had reached this place even a few episodes later I would feel it had been earned. But this way is again glossing over important emotional fallout and sprinting for the finish line. Because there have been moments where a character was written completely contrary to how they really work for plot advancement, I appreciate that they had Iris at least true to character in this moment. But I resent that they got her there so quickly and then proceeded to add insult to injury in having her forgive Joe without discussing it onscreen even once. If they were going to go ahead and rectify the mistake made last season in burying Iris’ feelings about her father fabricating a lie that her mother was dead, the least they could do was take this opportunity to flesh it out the way they never did before. It would have gone a long way in making me trust them more. But again, they have shown their desire for a lazy and easy resolution. I am disappointed for Iris and the entire team.
  • Don’t really see the point of mashing Felicity into the episode. She really did nothing to help resolve the problem and served as a sounding board. It wasn’t necessary to the plot or the episode. It would have been nice to see someone else in the show serve that function or plot spelled out to the audience a different way.

Tidbits:

  • “How about Thief?” The shut down and removed delivery of the new Cisco was amazing acting on Carlos’ part. I am impressed when I realize how he delivered ultra rich playboy Cisco last week and immediately turned around to show us grieving angry depressed Cisco this week. His lines at the Grief Support Group were beautifully moving. Bravo, Carlos.
  • HAHAHAAAAAAAA I gotta say, I love Julian Albert. His snark is a balm to me, and Tom Felton’s delivery is delightful. Welcome to the Flash fam Tom!
  • Kudos to Jay Garrick for forcing Barry to take a big (18 year) step back so he could actually stop and think about his bad life choices. Also, I think he took Barry to that year specifically because he was hoping to hear the song Runaway Train, and that song fit perfectly whether you apply it to Barry’s issues of running from his mistakes or the new timeline he created that can’t be ignored.
  • “We’re not gods, we’re men who for whatever reason have been given extraordinary powers.” More Jay please. Also, I want Joan. I’m greedy.
  • “I need you to for a second imagine that we’re actually friends.” “Can’t do it.” HAHAHAHAHA Tom’s comic timing is beautiful. I want to see him and Carlos in a scene together. They would tear it up! As it is, he and Grant work really well off each other.
  • Sorry, not impressed by Alchemy. His voice invokes no fear, and his mask makes me think “are you my mummy?”
  • “Stay away from my friend.” WOOOOO I have waited so long to see Cisco in the field as Vibe and working his sonic blast magic! Too bad it took the writers a flashpoint to fix that error.
  • It was nice to see Iris use her journalism skills to bust Barry on keeping secrets. I would like to see more of that in a bigger way please.
  • “Oh wow. You’ve really got this good guy routine thing down, haven’t you? And everyone just buys it.” That was a great moment Julian.
  • “Too slow, Flash.” That was a lovely moment of playful dialogue.
  • “I guess in my mind wherever you go you’ll always be Barry, and I’ll always be Iris. And we always find each other.” I LOVE THIS LINE.

Possibilities

  • If everyone who had powers in flashpoint will get theirs back I vote for Wally as one of the first. But that does bring up interesting possibilities. Will Doctor Alchemy approach Wally or give him visions? Will Barry tell him and they decide to use Wally as bait to lure him in? (We all know how well that went with Zoom.) What if it becomes clear Wally’s on Barry’s side, will Alchemy then attack Wally like Clariss? There is a lot of good potential here. But I just want Kid Flash back!
  • Anyone notice the camera lingering on Julian and his tweezers as he created a scene of mini objects in a glass bowl, including a man, just the way he wanted them? Does that indicate he just likes to be in charge and to be able to trust people as he says or does it speak more to possible desires to manipulate and control? Doctor Alchemy is already changing lives, Barry has too, will Julian somehow get into that as well?
  • In the promo pics there was one of Iris and Joe at the crime scene looking tense. Considering later Barry promises information from Joe on the husks I’m betting she arrived to try to get some information on them and Joe told her no. I bet actual dollars she had some kind of burn to lay on him about withholding information from her. I want this scene just for that burn, lol. The West kids are really good at that.
  • Cisco is entitled to take his time dealing with his loss and his anger at Barry, but whenever he does get to a better place I would really love to see him in the field more.
  • Four husks found before the final one that was Clariss’. Who are the other four?
  • It’s a matter of time I think before Julian figures out who Barry really is. This should be interesting.
  • Think we’ve seen the last of the Rival? I kind of hope so, his costume is laughing I meanlacking.
  • Jay is welcome back anytime. He needs to be the true mentor Barry needs, and I’m pretty sure he won’t turn out to be evil.
  • Westallen is moving forward and it’s about time. I hope it is handled well. Next ep we get a date!

Feel free to hit the comments!

I deeply apologize, but this may be my last review. The paradoxical writing has led to much frustration and robbed me of some joy in this show. I make it a point to talk about what I like and be positive, but right now I feel like all I do is complain. I refuse to be a jaded negative complainer. So I’ll take it on an episode by episode basis from here on out. If I have an episode that resounds well and I want to be positive about, I’ll write a review. If it’s just a complain fest I’ll refrain. I want to contribute positive affirming material to the world, I never want to be someone who drags things down and I won’t start now. So thank you all for reading, hope to have something for you in the future. 🙂

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One thought on “The Flash 3×02: Paradox

  1. I love this review! I love the show but I share much of your frustrations with the writing. Primarily, I feel disappointed with the way in which the writers cycle through plot lines and character arcs so quickly without doing their due diligence. It’s pretty lazy writing. I hope that changes but we’ll see 😦

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