‘The Flash’ Post-Show Analysis Season 3 Episode 1: ‘Flashpoint’
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.
It’s been a long, long Flash-less Summer, unless you count Grandmaster Flash in The Get Down, but we’re finally back. This episode, Barry screws up a good thing, everyone forgets what an original timeline looks like, and John Wesley Shipp says “Slugger,” twice! Does he get paid each time he says it? Let’s find out… together. "Flashpoint" was directed by Jesse Warn, from a story by Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, and a teleplay by Andrew Kreisberg and Brooke Roberts.
Ziah: Dylan, first of all, how are you? Good summer? I’ve spent most of mine blissfully offline, and it’s been lovely, but in between building a cabin in the woods and learning to catch salmon with my bare hands, I felt that something was lacking. I missed this. I missed watching our second-favorite speedster (Ride or Die for Wally) screw up his life in weekly chunks with you.
Dylan: My summer was basically just me sitting in my front window, watching the sun go down and the sun come up, counting down the days until I could watch this TV show with you. Also, I went to Universal Studios and drank a Butter Beer, but mostly it was waiting for the show to return. And here we are.
Ziah: So, Flashpoint! Did you also find it serendipitous that we got that name from a guy obsessed with tinkering with the past to make the perfect hero he read about when he was a child, regardless of whose lives he changes to make that happen?
Dylan: “Serendipitous,” is definitely a word you could use to describe that coincidence. The judges would also accept “lazy” or “quite a reach.”
Ziah: This is The Flash, so speed puns are of course the name of the game — that game being Tag, but seriously. Did you get a laugh out of Barry telling his prospective newly non-sister date that “speed is [his] problem”? It’s a good thing he can coast on multiversal connection, cause that is a bad pick-up line Bear-Barr.
Dylan: So yeah, let’s talk about this a little. So they Flashpoint-ed their relationship to remove the ickiness of the brother-sister relationship they had in order to turn it into a weird stalker situation where Barry’s waiting at CC Jitters for her, hoping to bring up that they went to elementary school together. This is sort of a wash, right? Not any better, not really worse?
Ziah: Well, we left out him literally stealing her wallet to then gave back to her. That’s some messed up stuff. Even his mom thinks that he’s stalking her!
Dylan: Yeah, her acting like it’s the cutest thing that their son is following a lady around was... weird.
Ziah: Man, that woman’s so stoked to actually be alive, she’d tell him anything. It was like a subtle Twilight Zone episode going on in the background of the show this week. “Don’t send your mother to the corn field, Barry!”
Anyway, I know it was great seeing Cisco successful and all, but did you have a hankering for our favorite misanthropic science guy too? I was hoping we’d get a Flashpoint Wells to go along with everyone else. I even came prepared with a name! H3 Wells. Cause he’s the third Wells we’ve met? Get it? Get it?
Dylan: No-Wells is some serious BS, and I’m not talking about Baloney Sandwiches. It’s malarkey. Hogwash, even. Part of the fun of this alternate reality-type episode is seeing the different iterations of these characters, even if Flashpoint Earth is basically just a bummer, what with the alcoholic Joe West and the no Harrison Wells. It’s no Earth-2 (or Gorilla Grodd universe, for that matter), is what I’m saying.
Ziah: It’s kinda going swell for everyone else though. Wally’s got purpose and a better relationship with his sister, Cisco’s strutting like a sexy Einstein, and uh… Caitlin’s doing eye… stuff?
Dylan: I’ll give you Wally, though after season two they’ve managed to iron out his character a little better, but are you really gonna sit there and tell me that douchebag-ponytail business suit Cisco is better than Earth-2 Vibrating Crime Boss Cisco? Did you start smoking drugs behind a Safeway over the summer break, Ziah?
Ziah: Hey, I didn’t say he was better than 2 Cisco 2 Sensual, those were your words. I’m just saying the vest works better for him than a Brazingles t-shirt.
Dylan: One thing is for sure, no matter what Earth they’re on, the secondary cast will always get to stand around, looking at computer screens and narrating the action to Barry over an earpiece. Some things are constants. It’s comforting, really.
Ziah: It’s the Alfred Equation. Oh, we should get to the villain of the episode eventually, huh? What did you think of off-brand Hawkman? Err, I mean, The Rival. Even for a show with a good 15 one-note villains per season, he’s pretty boring. You get anything from him?
Dylan: Ziah, the nose --- or lack thereof --- of his mask bugged the ever-loving crap out of me. But yeah, he was another one-off villain with paper-thin motivation and a pretty unmemorable gimmick. (Another speedster! My lands!) And his name! The Rival. It’s literally like they put in a placeholder name and forgot to find-and-replace a better name before they sent the script off. The sting at the end tells us we haven’t seen the last of him, so hopefully we get a little more to appreciate when he returns as a flunky of this season’s Big Bad, Alchemy.
Ziah: Oh man, that name. I remember reading some comics review way back that criticized a young hero for having a cookie-cutter name, and the first comment was basically, “Well, yeah. All the good ones are taken. What’s he going to do? Call himself Super Spider-Man?” And that’s kind of where we are these days. The Rival is just (Bad Guy But We Couldn’t Actually Call Him That).
Dylan, no way. Isn’t the big bad Mirror Master? Because of the mirror? I thought The Rival was meant to be Flashpoint-ed Alchemy?
Dylan: Oh geez, who knows? You’re probably right. But seriously, if CW Mirror Master is reduced to just writing stuff on mirrors, I will sulk forever.
I did like the return of the Matt Letscher’s Eobard Thawne/Reverse Flash tho. He was appropriately creepy, even though Flashpoint Barry is still pretty keen on holding his villains in a little box and shoving greasy burgers through the bars at them while having Very Serious Talks.
Ziah: Haha, yeah, that was great. At least he didn’t kill him! Ol’ Barry’s getting better at that, sort of. Also, glad the show finally addressed how weird it is that everyone thinks that the future where Zoom kills Mrs. Allen is the correct one. It can’t be, right? Since a literal time travel literally changed the timestream to create it? I mean, the show doubles down on it by ignoring that they addressed it, but at least it was mentioned.
Dylan: It’s a universal truth that the DC Universe is the Dead Parent universe. It’s a law, like gravity or the Alfred Equation or having to wear pants at the pizza buffet.
Ziah: I forgot them one time, and it’s cruel of you to keep bringing it up.
Dylan: Hey, look on the bright side: at least it gave you (and your parole officer) a chance to introduce yourself to all your neighbors.
Ziah: Okay, two times. Still, at least John Wesley Shipp got to say “slugger” twice. Does he get paid each time he says that, you think?
Dylan: I sure hope so. Those veneers look expensive.
Ziah: Hey, did you find it offputting that the TV calls Wally “Kid Flash” and no one else does? It just felt like it was there to remind people that, “hey, he’s not the real Flash.”
Dylan: Well, he’s not. The Real Flash is a world-class screw-up who literally rewrote the universe to get his mommy back and then steals wallets from ladies to trick them into dates. My main complaint is that he’s not really a kid, but I guess Twentysomething Flash isn’t as catchy.
Ziah: Millennial Flash! It’s his fault the cable companies are dying and people don’t read newspapers anymore!
Dylan: Millennial Flash! Why isn’t he buying disposable napkins? Is he sexting?
Hey Ziah, did you think it was weird that after the cliffhanger of last season’s finale, they spent precisely one episode in this new reality and then undid it as quickly as they could? I would have put good money on them milking the concept for more than one episode. It might also have lent a little more gravity to the drama in the episode, which sort of fell flat because you just know Barry’s going to undo it as soon as it becomes obvious that he screwed up this reality, too. I mean, I’m the first to call this show out for stretching things too thin, but it felt like it was wrapped up a little too easily.
Ziah: Yeah! They even asked Arrow if the show would be affected by it, and I could’ve sworn someone said Legends of Tomorrow definitely would? You’d think they’d at least dedicate a two-parter. Also, speaking of changing the timeline back, how hilarious was it that Barry goes all “I prioritized my happiness” when Cisco is rich, Caitlin is probably not constantly dealing with dead boyfriends, and his parents are happy?
Also, just putting this out there, maybe it would’ve been more heroic for the calculating villain who is constantly ruining Flash’s life to have escaped and changed it back, rather than Barry saying, “Aw, yeah, kill my mom, otherwise I gotta re-enact Failure To Launch, and I really don’t think I can emulate Matthew McConaughey's career past that”
Dylan: Ah yes, Failure To Launch. A true gem in the Matthew McConiverse.
Ziah: One of the pioneers in the “Leaning On Ladies” Rom-Com genre.
Dylan: Speaking of ladies who get leaned on, do you have any idea how wonderful it would have been for Flashpoint Caitlin to still have the worst dang luck with boyfriends? Also, you gotta hand it to this show to have “I need you to kill my mom,” being a thing the hero says to fix everything. Comics and comic book shows are weird, man. I mean, there’s the hint that Barry’s Flashpoint-ing kind of goofed things up in subtle ways that we’ll see as the season progresses; and not-so-coincidentally, gives the writers a chance to fix things that are more foundational to the show, like the Barry/Iris relationship that’s sort of been a stumbling block since Day One, but persists because Grant Gustin and Candice Patton have pretty good chemistry.
Ziah: Man, if they can fix that, I can finally stop wincing every time some future man tells her she’s Mrs. Allen, as if that’s not something she should be running screaming from.
Well, anyway, here’s to being back to writing these with you, Dylan. Here’s hoping we don’t have any more incredibly boring speedster villains for Barry to fight all season.
Dylan: I admire your youthful naivete, Ziah. Until next week, fellow Flashers!