The Flash, Season 3, Episode 2: “Paradox”
The last half of Season 2 and the first two episodes of The Flash‘s third season have been frustrating, to say the least.
This show, which started as the tonal counterbalance to its brooding brother Arrow, has devolved into a weepy morass with an un-heroic hero. However I think I have found a way to make the first hour of prime time on Tuesdays enjoyable again: until further notice, Barry Allen is a villain in my eyes.
When Barry dropped by the Arrow-lair to visit Felicity, it was obvious she hadn’t talked to Barry much since Season 1. Felicity was all “sweet Barry” this and “smart Barry” that.
While Barry’s intentions during the last dozen episodes have been well-meaning, they’ve also been dangerously self-serving and, dare I say it, villainous (further proving my notion that nothing good ever comes of time travel).
Consider what Barry did in the season premiere. All his decisions were motivated by creating a perfect world for himself with his powers. He didn’t want his parents to die, so he saved them so he could live in their basement. When that lost its charm, he tried to put his group of friends back together and kidnapped one of them to make it happen. He wanted to get back into the superhero game and messed up Kid Flash’s gig. He wanted to hook up with Iris in this timeline so he stole her wallet as part of a hackneyed attempt at a pickup line. He kept Reverse Flash in a plastic box in an abandoned warehouse.
While it’s true Barry’s actions weren’t murderous, they were far from heroic. He decided to leave that timeline only because he was losing memories of his former life, and there was no way Iris was going to hook up with him while her brother was in a coma.
Thankfully, in the latest episode, Barry started to get a stiff dose of karmic retribution. First, while he didn’t land in the darkest timeline, Barry appears to have landed in the whiniest one. That whole “Iris and Joe don’t speak” thing was just an appetizer for the emo buffet of tears and pained looks to come.
Cisco is mad at Barry because Barry refused to bend time to prevent Cisco’s brother from getting killed, despite being willing to change the time stream every time Iris sneezes. Barry’s newly materialized partner came from Hogwarts to hate Barry’s guts (but deservedly so; when is Barry ever not at STAR Labs hanging with his peeps instead of, you know, investigating crimes).
Barry’s attempt at mending fences is a complete disaster (Aunt Esther’s noodles can only do so much). So, after Iris rebuffs Barry again, he decides to hit the reset button and head back to change the past.
Thankfully, the good Jay Garrick, the one who looks like Barry’s dead father, yanks Barry out of the timeline by the ear and gives him the stern, fatherly lecture Barry so desperately needs. Despite only half-listening, Barry gets enough of the point to know there ain’t no going back anymore because there is no perfect world and even the slightest attempt to change the past will have dire consequences.
Though Barry is marooned in the whiniest timeline, he and the team seem to be determined to make the best of it no matter what new villain Alchemy, Doctor Alchemy, throws at them. I exited this episode with a glimmer of hope, but I’m still on the side of Barry’s new partner CSI Draco Malfoy – I still don’t trust him.