‘The Flash’ Post-Show Analysis Season 3 Episode 2: ‘Paradox’
Welcome back to Up To Speed, in which Flash TV show recappers Dylan Todd and Ziah Grace break down the latest episode of The Flash and talk about what works, what doesn’t, and where the series might be headed.
This week, Barry has ruined everything again, The Rival is back, a new villain is lurking in a warehouse, and some people may be harboring secret superpowers. "Paradox" was directed by Ralph Hemecker and written by Aaron Helbing and Todd Helbing.
Dylan: So, Ziah! We’re back after last week’s premiere, where everything got set back to normal, which means that Barry Allen’s streak of messing everything up has finally come to an end oh wait hold up nope, everything is still screwy just in different ways. What did you think of the episode, Z-man?
Ziah: Man, I was pretty disappointed, Dylhouse. Major character beats were reversed by the end of the episode, Felicity was in the episode for no good reason (even if I usually like seeing Felicity in The Flash), and this episode just reminds everyone how terrible the Flashpoint comic series is. It’s garbage. "What if Captain Marvel was actually Captain Planet" wasn’t too bad, but everything else was just the worst, and I’ll be glad to move on.
Dylan: I have no idea what “what if Captain Marvel was actually Captain Planet” means.
Ziah: From the Flashpoint crossover? Did you ever read it? Barry electrocutes himself twice in seven pages and gets all burnt up, but then heals at super-speed; Thomas Wayne is Batman and owns a casino and his wife was The Joker, because Brian Azzarello’s been missing the point of character dynamics way longer than most people have given him blame for?
Anyway, there were some kids that all shouted “SHAZAM” and they combined into Captain Marvel in that. It wasn’t the worst rebooted idea for Captain Marvel.
Dylan: I was gonna say that you couldn’t pay me to read Flashpoint, but then I remembered I will do literally anything for money, so hit me up, ComicsAlliance editors. Make me read Identity Crisis while you’re at it.
Dylan: This episode introduced us to Barry’s grumpy office-mate Draco Malfoy, er, I mean Julian Albert. A brilliant metahuman CSI, the dude is not Barry’s biggest fan and is probably going to turn out to be the alter-ego of this season’s new Big Bad, Dr. Alchemy, right? I mean, I’d love for them to swerve us and have the season’s guest star turn out to not be the bad guy, but let’s be real, you don’t snag Draco Malfoy and have him just be a grumpy co-worker, right?
Ziah: Oh, I didn’t even think of that. In the interest of positivity, I was very into audience surrogate Draco Malfoy as a guy who knows that Barry is just a shady, lying liar who lies.
I was mostly distracted by Alchemy being Alchemy and not Mirror Master. He was writing on mirrors, Dylan! He was writing his own dang name on mirrors to bring The Rival back for some reason. This whole plot made zero sense. It made Zero Hour sense. Right? I guess that’s what we’re doing now? Just throwing in DC crossover names randomly in conversation as descriptors.
Dylan: See, I actually liked this episode. It’s rare that a show gets to completely rewrite itself out of the corners it paints itself into, but here we are in season three, with a completely new status quo that manages to get rid of the stuff that has bugged me since episode one. Barry and Iris not being basically related, the STAR Labbers not needing to keep people locked up in their basement, an alternate universe where Henry Allen doesn’t suck the most. It’s crazy.
Ziah: I mean, yeah, it does neatly fix a lot of things, but the constant “whattttttt, I did all that, that’s craaaaazy” wore on me. The changes to the STARios were pretty good, but we’ll hit that later.
Dylan: As far as the plot goes, I thought it was pretty straightforward: Doctor Alchemy is this season’s particle accelerator explosion/Earth-2 portal that sort of gives them license to add whatever villains they want into the show without much explanation, and also Barry needs to stop futzing with the timeline, so we’re stuck with this reality because coffee cups.
Ziah: So, this episode we get another Cisco to add to Sexy Evil Cisco, Rich D-Bag Cisco, and Cisco Prime: Sad Cisco Who Probably Listens To The Cure. Apparently Dante died in a drunk driving(?) accident and Cisco’s been begging Barry to go back in time to save him, but Barry reserves his bad decisions for his parents. What’d you think of all this?
Dylan: My least favorite part of this episode/timeline is Cisco. For one, Barry explains to him that him messing with the timeline is In Fact Very Bad and he still pouts. For two, Barry just got done telling him that he basically had to let his mom get murked again in order to get things this way. Sorry your brother is still dead, but now I got two dead moms and a BFF who is a constant sulking baby, so I’m not exactly thrilled with the outcome myself.
I’m just not understanding why they decided that Cisco, the one character who has been consistently delightful, is the one they need to mope up this season. I can see maybe Carlos Valdez wanting something to do besides be a goofball, maybe?
Ziah: It was a weird choice! Also, yet another person that Barry’s basically killed through his bad decisions, huh?
Dylan: Good old Barry Allen, the Multiverse’s biggest screw up. Let’s be honest though, at least this Cisco has Vibe powers and the beginning of a Vibe suit. You gotta admit that’s pretty great.
Ziah: Yes! And Danielle Panabaker might get to do something this season besides yell at screens with those Killer Frost powers showing up at the end. I am very into both those characters getting more to do and hopefully getting some A plots or B plots or C plots while Barry acts like a D-hole.
Dylan: See! This episode wasn’t all that bad. One thing, though: I don’t find Dr. Alchemy scary like at all. Is it just me? He looks like a dork and he sounds like a dork. Dorktor Alchemy.
Ziah: Yeah, I laughed out loud when he showed up. He looked like off-brand actors trying to drum up Halloween work outside of Knotts Berry Farm in November. Just a sad sight. I like Dorktor Alchemy though. That’s good stuff.
Speaking of catchy-dumb names for characters, where is Twells? We’re at Episode 2 of no Tom Cavanagh and I’m hurting, Dylan.
Dylan: He’s listed as appearing in every episode this season over on IMDB, so maybe later in the season? I kind of got the feeling from the few references to him in this episode, that this timeline’s Wells/Twells sort of played out very similarly to the first two seasons' appearances, which means version one is long dead and replaced by Eobard Thawne, or back in Earth-2 with Jesse Quick, being Twellsariffic. Or, depending on how much they want to mess with time travel, is Eobard Thawne? It’s confusing, but yeah, I’m missing him, too.
Ziah: Yeah, I genuinely forgot he was called “Harry” when Papa Flash told Barry that he was the one who filled him in on all the behind-the-scenes plots stuff, so his absence hit me even harder this week.
Speaking of Papa Flash, why was that scene set in 1998? That was wild. I loved it, but it was bizarre. Maybe he’s really into late '90s pop music? He’s gotta got 'N Sync with his “Backstreet Boy Barry”?
Dylan: And Soul Asylum? Really? This is is how people my age know that this show is being written by people who were barely alive in the '90s. Frickin’ Millennials, Ziah. You guys are ruining everything.
Ziah: I mean, this is true. We ruined sexting and newspapers, I’m sorry. You olds can't do your sex messages through newspaper ads now.
Dylan: If it was good enough for granddad, it’s good enough for me. What else do we need to talk about? Gross skin bags? Rival redux? The noodle dish?
Ziah: Let’s definitely not talk about The Rival Redux, because the fact that he’s even in a second episode is ridiculous. Preposterous even. Let’s talk about those gross skin bags, and Barry’s rad-as-hell sunglasses he wore to the beach. That was the coolest outfit Barry’s worn in three seasons, even if it was CSI: Miami cosplay.
Dylan: Oh man, now I wish they’d leaned into it and gave him a David Caruso-esque pun for the skin bag scene.
Ziah: “Look at this gross sack of empty pale skin. Haha just messing Julian, what did the supervillain leave us?”
Dylan: Poor Malfoy never knew what hit him.
So we ended the episode with Rival getting killed in Iron Heights by Alchemy, Caitlin getting all Killer Frosty, and things sort of almost getting back to normal for Barry and Cisco. Oh, and Barry and Iris smooched. Again.
Ziah: Rival got killed, Caitlin’s a killer, and Barry and Cisco’s tension was killed, huh? Was it a... killer episode for you, Dylan?
Dylan: Oh dip! Now who’s David Caruso-ing it up?! CSI you back here next week?
Ziah: Yeaaaaaah! *"Who Are You?" plays*