No matter what we may think at the time—especially when we aren’t thinking—our actions have consequences. It seems obvious enough but all too often it seems that our heroes, the ones that fight for the greater good, oftentimes forget this little nugget. And Barry Allen’s the biggest offender…

The first words we hear from Barry’s introductory voiceover is “I made a big mistake”. He continues with his actions from ‘Flashpoint’ to Felicity and how things have changed since he returned to the current timeline. Though he doesn’t have all the answers, he eventually discovers the major changes for Team Flash:

  • Joe withholding the truth about Iris’s mom has them at odds
  • Dante, Cisco’s brother, was killed by a drunk driver
  • Barry shares his CSI lab with Julian “Arrogant like Draco” Albert, the meta-human specialist
  • Oh, and Sara, Diggle and Lila’s baby girl, is now baby John. And it doesn’t look as if Lila’s the mommy
Barry and his professional "rival", Julian Albert.  They don't like each other much.
Barry and his professional “rival”, Julian Albert. They don’t like each other much.

So, knowing what he knows about how screwing with time left him and the others in their current situations, does Barry come clean with the group and ask for forgiveness? His initial plan is to get everyone together and hope for the best but, when that doesn’t work, Barry sets out to reset the timeline and get things back to their original state. While that initial desire is understandably human (more so when you think about a hero wanting to save the day), it’s also reckless and arrogant. One could argue such manipulations are the traits of a villain who doesn’t realize he’s the bad guy. It’s a reminder of the Reverse Flash taunting Barry during ‘Flashpoint’ about the true villain in this particular story.

Thankfully, Barry’s stopped from potentially making things even worse by none other than Jay Garrick who pulls our Central City speedster right out of the Speed Force and right into…1998?

With the very appropriate “Runaway Train” playing over the speakers and a glimpse of Dawson’s Creek on the boob tube—a nice little Easter Egg for you John Wesley Shipp fans—Garrick, who now knows he’s Henry Allen’s doppelganger, hits Barry with the cold, hard truth: there are consequences to time travel and, as men, they need to understand that mistakes will happen. The true test is how we respond to bad decisions and setbacks. Barry’s need to make things right almost negates his ability to hear Jay’s message but he finally does listen and does one of the most difficult things someone can do: come clean to those closest to you where your actions have irrevocably changed their lives.

Edward Clariss is the Rival. Yet another speedster...let's hope his story is not the same old song as other speedsters.
Edward Clariss is the Rival. Yet another speedster…let’s hope his story is not the same old song as other speedsters.

Team Flash isn’t too happy about Barry’s revelation, especially Cisco, whose anger at Barry stems from the speedster not traveling back in time to save Dante from the drunk driver. It doesn’t look good, not until Iris steps up to bat and makes me proud. Last season, Iris was given the Felicity treatment: the strength of her character was diminished from the previous year. She stands up for Barry, the conviction of her words brings the team around and with but a moment to spare as Barry’s getting his hat handed to him by the Rival (with an assist from the mysterious Alchemy. Nothing new or truly interesting happens during the fight, a brawl where Alchemy inexplicably disappears after giving Barry the business, though the Barry/Cisco team—up where Cisco’s “Reverb” powers are on display—hints at Cisco’s future fighting crime.

As the episode’s antagonist, Clariss doesn’t get much screen time; we only get to see his Rival side and nothing else about him. And after Dr. Alchemy (thanks, Cisco) proclaims his failure, Clariss gets a less than amicable visitor to his cell. What that means for his future as Flash’s rival remains to be seen.

Though Clariss’s fate remains up in the air, Iris and Barry’s relationship seems to be headed in the romantic direction. It’s not a surprise considering their comic history and the show’s done a great job reminding us that she is Barry’s anchor; no matter where he goes, no matter how lost he becomes, Iris West is his anchor, his lighthouse. She’s Barry’s home.

The Flash Lane

  • Now that we’re stuck with this timeline, I’m rather excited to see how the changes affect the narrative going forward. We’ve already seen Cisco in better control of his powers but we also get Caitlin’s Killer Frost tease. Are her powers just now emerging or have they been there all along (in the new timeline)?
  • Tom Felton played the jerk quite well as Harry Potter’s nemesis Draco Malfoy and he does a fine job in ‘Paradox’ as Julian Albert, Barry’s non-powered rival (as it currently stands). Rumors have swirled that he may be the alter ego of Doctor Alchemy and, while that could be true, would it be better to have him just be Julian Albert? He’s a sharp guy and, if he isn’t the good doctor, his distrust of Barry and own title as metahuman specialist may put him on the path where he will actually cross Alchemy. And who knows what’ll happen then.
  • Speaking of Alchemy, when he tells Barry that he’s preparing the world, what does it mean? Barry believes that Alchemy and his Philosopher’s Stone may be the catalyst to give all the folks from Flashpoint their powers (as Alchemy does with The Rival). That would mean Wally’d return as Kid Flash though there could be others we didn’t see in ‘Flashpoint’ that may also be affected. It still doesn’t give us the 411 on Alchemy’s endgame but that’s fine by me. We’ve got a long season ahead of us, you gotta leave room for some surprises.

‘The Flash : Paradox’: 4 Flash bolts (out of 5)