Welcome back, Speedsters! It’s been way too long, but the day has finally come! Who’s ready for the season premiere of The Flash? If you somehow managed to miss the mega-dramatic finale of Season Two, here’s the gist (the spoiler alert(!) goes without saying): Barry and his team finally managed to stop Zoom -- but only after he killed our beloved Henry Allen. Heartbroken at the loss of his father and his newfound orphan status, Barry decided to piss off everyone by going back in time and saving his mother, royally screwing up the timeline. Now, let’s see how our Scarlet Speedster handles this alternate reality!
We open at Jitters, as Barry psyches himself up to talk to Iris for the first time after three months in the new timeline. Unfortunately, he’s interrupted when the news reports that a new speedster, known as the Rival, is once again terrorizing Central City. Barry races off to find Kid Flash and the dark speedster battling it out, with the Rival seeming to have the upper hand. Still, from the looks of things, Central City is all filled up in the hero department, leaving Barry open to lead a normal life. But, of course, this is the DC universe and things are never that simple.
Back at Jitters, Barry finally initiates a conversation with Iris. The two reminisce about primary school teachers, and it’s clear that, in any timeline, they have a serious connection. (Come on, Berlanti: just give us West-Allen already!) Barry, in all of his wonderful, fast-talking, babbling awkwardness, asks Iris out, and she agrees.
At CCPD, Barry is on Cloud-9 after asking out Iris. The new captain asks for updates on the Rival, but there don’t seem to be any leads. There also seems to be something sketchy going on with Joe, who’s missing from work (not for the first time, it seems). Barry tries, unconvincingly, to cover for him before asking if he can take off early to “meet a friend for dinner”.
But, of course, dinner with a friend is something much more sketch. Barry takes off to an abandoned warehouse where he’s been keeping Thawne, aka Reverse Flash, locked up in a power-dampening cage for the past three months. Thawne asks Barry if he’s enjoying his Flashpoint timeline (he said it!) and warns him about messing with their common enemy -- time. He tells him that they’re living in a mirage that will end them both unless they set it right. Of course, our lovable dummy decides not to listen, instead, embracing the fantasy land (which we all know won’t last).
Later, Barry heads home to his parents, and we get our first glance of Nora, alive and well. At breakfast, Barry’s parents ask him when he plans on living his life, i.e. moving out and dating. Barry tells them about Iris, and they’re just excited as I am (probably less, if we’re being honest).
Back at CCPD, Joe is still AWOL. Barry heads to Joe's place to find him drunk and passed out on the couch. Barry cleans him up and brings him to work, all before he wakes up. Joe asks Barry why he’s suddenly interested in him but comes to his own conclusion when Iris shows up for her date with Barry. Joe tells Iris that he doesn’t approve, but his opinion doesn’t seem to matter, as the two are estranged.
On their date, Barry tells Iris that it feels like he knows her, and she agrees. They talk about his parents and finding the right person. Just as they’re connecting, Barry sees flashes of their memories together and seems disoriented when he comes to. Before they can talk about it, though, the cops reveal that the Flash and the Rival are fighting again. Iris tells Barry that she has to leave -- convenient for Barry, as he rushes off to help Kid Flash.
During the fight, Kid Flash is knocked out, and Barry unmasks him to reveal Wally. Wally takes Barry back to his headquarters (which is considerably less decked out than Barry’s was). At HQ, Barry discovers that Iris and Wally have formed a brother-sister crime-fighting duo. Wally explains that he got his speed from a nitrous formula he produced to boost his car, which activated when his car was struck by lightning, leaving him comatose for nine months (some things never change). After that, he became the Flash -- or, as Barry and Iris call him, Kid Flash (woot).
Barry tells them that they need to stop the Rival. Iris says that the only way they can stop him is if they get help from the one, the only, the insanely rich Cisco Ramon! (Cue the fangirl screams!) In this new reality, Star Labs is now Ramon Industries, and Cisco is the richest man in the America and sort of a douche (albeit a lovable douche -- it is still Cisco, after all).
Cisco is reluctant to help, apparently having helped in the past under the condition that Iris and Wally never return. Barry uses Cisco’s past against him, in order to convince him to help. He tells him that they would work really well as a team, taking down metahumans together as friends (*cough* bromance *cough*).
As he says this, another migraine hits, and Barry sees flashes of his friendship with Cisco. Again, when he comes around, he’s disoriented and confused.
Sure that Thawne will know what’s happening, Barry races back to the warehouse. The Reverse Flash tells Barry that he’s losing memories as a side effect to Flashpoint. He says that Barry’s new reality is overriding his old life, and, soon, he’ll forget everything. Thawne deduces that Barry’s memory loss is linked to his speed. The more Barry uses his speed, the more he’ll lose his memories.
Thawne tells Barry that, unless they set the timeline back, they’ll lose everything. Eventually, Barry will forget that he’s the Flash, cementing the alternate timeline. Shaken up by this revelation, Barry reveals his powers to Wally, Iris, and Cisco. He tells them that he’s going to help them stop the Rival.
Barry explains Flashpoint to them, which, naturally, they’re reluctant to believe. Wally is still hesitant to accept his Kid Flash demotion, and Cisco isn’t too fond of his middle class alter-ego. (it’s okay, real Cisco! We love you!) Barry tells them that he’s been hiding for too long, and the Rival needs to be stopped. He wants to help them take him down.
Cisco says he’s not interested, but we all know he’s just in denial. Barry realizes they’re missing something and zooms off to get (or kidnap, that’s up for debate) Caitlin -- or a non-scientist, pediatrician version, anyway.
Iris takes Barry off to the side and tells him that she believes him. She says that she felt like something was missing in her life until she met him and that she knows that they were in love in Barry’s reality. Back in the Cortex (it’s been WAY too long since I’ve said those words), Caitlin (who appears to still be a genius) and Cisco manage to track the Rival to the Old Sawmill.
Barry and Wally race off to confront him. At the mill, the Rival proves his lack of fear by revealing himself as Edward Clariss. (I’d stow that name away; there’s no doubt it’ll be important later.) He calls them pretenders and tells them to bring it on.
Disregarding their plan to work together, Wally -- who is eager to prove himself -- rushes the Rival. Though he seems to have the upper hand, the Rival manages to stab him in the back, gravely wounding him and angering Barry.
Meanwhile, the CCPD captain sends Joe to help the Flash. In the midst of fighting the Rival, Barry loses more memories, leaving him vulnerable. With Barry distracted, the Rival creates two twisters, prompting a predictable (and seemingly infallible) witty nickname from Cisco (can anyone say “Weather Wizard”?).
Feeling defeated, Barry tells the team that the twisters are too strong for him to stop. In a scene so reminiscent of the pilot episode that my nostalgia sensors were on the fritz, Iris tells Barry that she believes he can stop the Rival and that he needs to believe in himself. He needs to believe that he’s the Flash.
After this rousing speech, Barry is motivated enough to unravel the twisters and beat the Rival. When the Rival tries to get in a sucker punch, Joe shows up and shoots the Rival before he can kill Barry.
With the Rival defeated, Barry reveals his identity to Joe and they both rush to help Wally, who is still hurt. Back in the Cortex, Wally isn’t healing like he should be. Barry realizes that saving his mother did more damage than good and asks Iris to help him make things right.
Barry and Iris head to the Allen house, where Barry says an emotional goodbye to his parents. As they’re leaving, Barry begins to lose more memories and tells Iris that they need to hurry.
In the warehouse, a reluctant Barry asks Thawne to kill his mother to set the timeline back on track. Iris wishes Barry good luck and asks if she’ll know that things changed back. He tells her it’ll be like it never happened. She kisses him and he prepares to go.
Unfortunately, Barry is too drained to make it back alone. Thankfully, Thawne is invested enough in the true timeline to help him. Back in the past, Barry stops Thawne again, but the new Thawne returns and kills Nora.
Finally, we’re back in the original timeline, and Barry returns home to find life the way it should be ... or not. The Reverse Flash tells Barry that things won’t be exactly right for him. Everything looks pretty normal until we learn that Iris and Joe are estranged. It looks like Flashpoint had some unexpected side effects on reality.
We end with a shot of Edward Clariss, aka the Flashpoint Rival, in bed. A disembodied voice speaks and tells him that it’s time to wake up. The word 'Alchemy' is scratched into the mirror, and we’re left to ponder what else Barry managed to screw up in the real world!
As per usual, this episode of The Flash took me through a whirlwind of emotions. It was great to see Iris and Barry interact without all the drama (even if did only last half a second). And billionaire Cisco was a freaking hoot. I will say that I was a bit disappointed that the Flashpoint reality only lasted one episode. Of course, I’m sure we’ll be feeling the effects throughout the rest of the season. I’m also hoping we get more of Kid Flash in our reality, not to mention a little Jesse Quick action in the near future. (Side note: did anyone else really miss Harry in this episode?) In any case, this season is shaping up to be one of the best yet, and I’m looking forward to finding out how our Scarlet Speedster fares in this screwed up world (especially against Doctor Alchemy)!
Until next week, Speedsters! And don’t forget to tweet us your reactions to this week’s episode!