Flash Season III- Ep. 1 “Flashpoint”: A Review

Posted: 10/05/2016 in Uncategorized

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Despite the crazy buzz for this season opener, the end results were a mixed bag. The scope of what was attempted was brilliant. The reach, however, might have exceeded its grasp with a potential one off resolution. Now, I understand that however the Flashpoint affair plays out will lead to long term repercussions as all time tampering story lines do. It seems to me that this tale was not given the chance to expand before contracting into the standard rote “fastest man alive” fare. Maybe I have been watching too much Luke Cage and have too high a standard. My opening comments offered, on to my review.

We open with Barry (Grant Gustin) living the life he has always wanted. He happily sees his mother and father (both dead in present timeline) together and happy. Seeing Henry (John Wesley Shipp) and Nora (Michelle Harrison) interacting with Barry was touching and provided some heartfelt dramatic moments. The notion of him living with his parents is gamely addressed with his mother mentioning  “affordable apartments” coming up for rent. Seeing Barry truly happy worked as he truly has earned it with two seasons worth of horror, namely at the hand of the Reverse Flash (Tom Cavanaugh/Matt Letscher) and Zoom (Teddy Sears). With the loss of both parents, we can easily see what motivates him to be selfish and push to regain all that he has lost via his rewriting time. His struggling to ask Iris (Candice Patton) out seemed a step back for the Flash. He has wanted this for so long and pretty much had the traction needed to move things forward with the end segment of season 2, so this ‘gosh golly shucks’ got tiring fast.

Her accepting when he asks her out earns a glib “this is the girl you’ve been stalking for 3 months” from Nora, which again worked, adding needed levity to what becomes another dark turn. Despite the fanfare announcing this season as ‘lighter’ than the last run; the opener provides some very grim fare . The idea that various individuals are inexorably linked to Barry is ably presented, up to and including his daily “lunch with a friend” in which we learn he has captured his nemesis Reverse Flash/Eobard Thawne (Letscher) and keeps him contained in a speed dampening cage. Their meetings are a taunt fest. RF challenges Flash to undo what he has done as it will have grave impact on everyone including the two of them. Barry tells him he has regained all that Thawne has taken from him and advises he go to hell. The notion of selflessness versus selfishness is nicely flipped on to its head. Thawne noting that he isn’t the villain this time has some basis in fact.

The fact that this reality has its own Flash and that it is Wally West (Kieynan Lonsdale) presents a new challenge for Barry. On one hand he is happy to let someone else do the heavy lifting. On the other, he is seeing a very green Flash getting bested by an enemy known only as “The Rival/Ed Clariss”  (Todd Lasance). Inevitably Barry’s path merges with Wally’s which in turn connects him with this reality’s fragmented West family. Barry learns that Iris and Wally are a team. We learned earlier that Joe (Jesse L. Martin) is an alcoholic, broken detective who has lost connection with his children. Barry seeing the “Flash”, whom all mockingly call “Kid Flash”, languish – outs himself and his role in the current events brought about by his timeline tampering.

The convergence of characters is of course inevitable. Iris reaches out to Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) who in this realm is akin to Tony Stark. She refers to him as the wealthiest man in America.  He is a brilliant, ego driven tool but still at heart the same person Barry knew. The “obtaining” of Kaitlin (Danielle Panabaker) plays for laughs; none greater than the fact she is now an opthalmologist. The villain offers nothing new other than providing the means of forcing Barry’s hand to end his ideal reality via the Rival’s critically wounding Wally.

As with other seasons, the speed effects are top tier, including the creation of twin tornadoes by the Rival and the Flash’s dealing with them. Speed and overall effects on the series prove that quality work can be done without the “big four” network budgets.

That the hero of the tale to a degree is Thawne was an excellent bit of story-telling up to his forcing Barry to utter what he needs him to do. Thawne’s warning to the Flash manifesting itself via losing memories contingent on his speed use was an equally cool touch. The Iris/Barry dynamic needs to either move ahead or go away. In this reality, she feels something for him immediately, references it as love and later kisses him. The consequences of the Flash’s return to his own timeline, however, places the prospective couple’s and the West family dynamic in doubt….again.

“Flashpoint” overall delivered, including the threat of another Flash rogue presence via a “reach out” to Ed Clariss in a strange end sequence. What the future holds will inform if this season can deliver overall. I am hopeful despite an uneven start that “The Flash” will remain simply outstanding and well worth your time.

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