Barry Done Messed Up
When we last saw Barry Allen, he had just finished up the “Race of His Life” in the season two finale. While he was finally successful in defeating Zoom, it came at a cost, and Barry once again found himself unable to save a loved one. Fed up with feeling unable to do anything resembling protecting those he cares about, Flash sped off to right what he sees as the turning point in his life, and saved his mother from ever being killed. This is where we find him during the season premiere of The Flash, at his “Flashpoint”, where his seemingly perfect existence may actually make him the villain of his own story.
It’s hard to talk about CW’s “Flashpoint” without mentioning the massive DC Comics even that inspired it. For the uninitiated, “Flashpoint” in the comics actually affected the eniter DC universe, changing many characters in significant ways. It actually sparked the New 52 story lines after that version of Barry “fixed” what he’d done.
Now a story of that magnitude is technically possible with Arrow, Legends and Supergirl all being on the network. It could even be used to explain Supergirl now being in this television universe, when she wasn’t before, but this version of “Flashpoint” is being played as a personal adventure. As such, we won’t see the ramifications it would have had on the rest of the superheroes floating around.
That said, “Flashpoint” was still a fairly cataclysmic event for Barry Allen and the rest of Team Flash. At the start, we find out that Barry has been living in this alternate universe for three months, or you know, the length of a summer break, and has gotten into the routine as his alternate self. Trying to bridge some of the differences caused by his saving his mother. Namely, starting a relationship with Iris. Other than his love life, which he does actually get off the ground, everything else is aces. His parents are alive, he has his same job, and there’s even another Flash running around to take care of meta’s.
Even with all of those seemingly happy endings, this new timeline left Barry empty. A superficial happiness from a resolution he didn’t earn. He didn’t have anyone in his life from Team Flash, as he wasn’t around to bring those people together. Flash made the team effort a standard practice across all of the CW hero shows, so to see that aspect of Barry’s life being taken in his “happy” timeline hammered the point that maybe he wasn’t better off having saved his mother. Add to that, Barry was keeping Reverse Flash locked in a cage in order to keep the balance of the universe. Again, doing this under the guise of happiness. No real blood on his hands, but hardly acting as a hero in this case.
In actuality, Barry was very much acting on classic villain rationality; he’s doing this because he thinks it’s right, and it was only after he’d realized that the longer he stayed in this alternate timeline, the less of a grip he had on his former life. Even worse, the more he used his powers, the faster he’d lose his memories. Further driving home that Barry wasn’t truly ready to become part of this new timeline if he wasn’t willing to let go of his original life.
“Flashpoint” did what I didn’t think was possible, and wrapped out this section of the story pretty quickly, opting instead to start a paradox thread where just because he allowed Reverse Flash to kill his mom, it didn’t mean things would go back to normal. Too early to tell how I feel about more speedster villains being introduced, but I do trust the writers enough at this point to do something fresh. I’m not well versed in Flash’s Rogues Gallery, but I do know it’s more than just a series of even faster dickheads that want Barry to suffer. Since this Earth altering story has been relegated to just the Flash universe, wrapping this part up quickly feels less cheap. I just hope we’re not retreading too much territory with Barry battling speedsters who know about his family life. Still, this was a strong start to the season, focusing on emotion rather than spectacle.