Welcome back, Speedsters! It’s time for another glorious episode of The Flash! If you missed last week’s epic premiere, here’s the skinny: Barry lived his fantasy life for three months only to realize that the changes he’d made caused more harm than good. Ultimately, our hero did the heroic thing and commissioned the Reverse Flash to help him set everything back. Unfortunately for him, getting back to normal isn’t quite that simple. Now, let’s see how Barry copes with the paradox reality he’s created ... again.
We open with Barry reflecting on the colossal mistake he made by messing with the timeline (which, I’ll remind you, we all warned him against). Barry races off to Star City to get Felicity’s advice on how to fix the disaster he created. He tells her about all of the changes within his new normal. Although everything seems relatively normal at first, there are subtle differences that make a big difference. In this new reality, Cisco is angry with Barry (for unclear reasons), Iris and Joe still aren’t talking, Barry has a new desk mate who isn’t his biggest fan, and Barry, for the most part, is just utterly confused. On the bright side, Wally seems largely unaffected.
In the cortex after everyone leaves, Iris and Barry discuss their relationship. Barry tells Iris that he took her advice and he’s ready to be with her. When she seems confused, Barry realizes that, in this paradox universe, he and Iris still haven’t kissed. (Cue the witty commentary from Felicity.)
At CCPD, Joe tells Barry to stay out of his relationship with Iris, despite his good intentions. Barry’s desk mate (Woo, Tom Felton!), who is apparently a meta-human CSI, reluctantly updates Barry on their situation and a case they have involving man-shaped husks around the city.
Later, Barry tracks Cisco to what he learns is a grief counseling session. In a gut-wrenching twist, in this reality, Dante is dead, and Cisco is still coping with his loss. Though we now know that Dante’s death has something to do with the tension between Barry and Cisco, we still don’t know exactly why Barry is to blame. Cisco tells Barry to leave, and he complies.
In a flash-forward back to the Arrow Cave, Felicity asks Barry if anything has changed in Star City. At first, everything seems normal, but then Barry discovers that Dig’s daughter Sara is now his son, John. Felicity tells Barry to tell everyone what happened and to figure out how to fix it (rather forcefully, I might add).
Back in Central City, Edward Clariss is still getting flashes from his flashpoint life, courtesy of His Creepiness, Alchemy. Alchemy lures him to a warehouse where he offers him the chance to live his flashpoint life in the real world. Naturally, Clariss chooses his powers, and Alchemy sets forth with his plan.
At a crime scene, Barry’s newest enemy and coworker Julian Albert, discovers another husk by the water. When Julian is reluctant to work with Barry or share any information, Barry steals a sample and takes it to S.T.A.R. Labs to investigate for himself.
In the cortex, the usual witty banter is at a minimum as Cisco and Caitlin analyze the sample. After Cisco leaves, Caitlin tells Barry about Dante’s car accident with a drunk driver, which further confuses Barry (and all of us for that matter) as to why Cisco would be upset with him. Caitlin doesn’t want to put herself in the middle of their dispute, but Barry asks her to convince him to come over for dinner so he can get Team Flash back on track.
After a hilarious segment featuring Barry running back and forth between Joe and Iris in order to trick them both into attending his kumbaya meal, Barry convinces Joe to invite Cisco and Caitlin as “a buffer,” and the plans are set. Needless to say, this arrangement makes for the most awkward meal ever. Barry proposes that they all go on a retreat, but everyone (save for the lovely Wally) is totally against it.
When everyone realizes that Barry tricked them into coming, the dinner is over before it started. Before everyone leaves, Cisco reveals that he’s upset with Barry because he refused to go back in time to save Dante. Before Barry can respond to this revelation, the team gets a meta-human alert, and Barry races off to find Edward Clariss, newly restored as the Rival.
Clariss tells Barry that he knows he changed the timeline (not without a glorious quip at Wally as Kid Flash. Poor ... well, kid). Clariss ensures Barry that he’s not going to get to kill him in this reality, and the two spar. Before any major damage can be done -- it's mostly just running around -- Clariss races off, leaving Barry alone ... or so he thinks. Behind a corner, there’s a mystery man who has been watching this whole exchange.
Back in the cortex, the team stresses about the new speedster. To make matters more confusing, Caitlin reveals the results of her sample analysis, which show that Clariss possesses traces of the speed force but no dark matter (meaning he wasn’t transformed by the particle accelerator explosion). When Barry reveals Clariss’s name before Caitlin, Iris pulls him aside to ask him what he did. Without really answering, Barry races off with every intention to reset the timeline yet again.
Thankfully, Earth-3 Flash pulls Barry out of the speedforce and into Central City, 1998. He tells Barry that Harry updated him on Barry’s situation (including his dopple-dad status) and that he’s been keeping his eye on Barry. He says that Barry can’t just reset every mistake he makes. No matter how many times Barry tries to fix his mistakes, the timeline will never look exactly the way it did before. Flash-3 tells Barry that he needs to figure out what kind of hero he wants to be and decide if he can live with his mistakes and move forward.
Back in the cortex, circa 2016, Barry finally reveals what he did to the team and explains flashpoint. Naturally, they’re not exactly thrilled by this revelation. Cisco feels especially betrayed, considering that Barry refused to save his brother but was willing to save his own family. Barry, to his credit, still refuses to go back again. Alone with Cisco, Barry tries to explain why he refuses to change the timeline for a third time. He tells Cisco that, if he goes back to save Dante, someone else could get hurt and that guilt like that isn’t something you want on your conscience. And of course, he would know. He says that all he can do is move forward, and he hopes that Cisco can do the same.
Back at CCPD, Barry asks Julian to read his report on Edward Clariss. Though Julian is reluctant, eventually he lets Barry take a look. In the file, Barry realizes that Clariss’s husk actually originated in the old sawmill (that place is like magnet for super villains!) and races off to face the Rival alone. Unfortunately for Barry, Clariss isn’t fighting fair and brings out Alchemy to help in the battle.
Meanwhile, in the cortex, Iris urges the rest of the team to forgive Barry for the damage he’s done to their lives. She reminds them of past mistakes they’ve made, including Cisco telling Captain Cold (*tearful sigh*) Barry’s secret identity to save his brother. She says that families forgive each other, and she and Joe embrace. Caitlin agrees with Iris, and they all consider it. Before they can make a decision, Barry’s suit alerts them to his distress.
Back at the sawmill, our hero is getting his speedster butt kicked by Alchemy and the Rival. Thankfully, before the Rival can kill Barry, Cisco shows up (decked out in what must be his new Vibe suit) and uses his gauntlets to land a blow on the villain. Together, Barry and Cisco take the Rival down.
Back in the cortex, the team searches for information on Alchemy, and Barry reveals that Alchemy gave Clariss back his speed. This prompts the first new nickname of the season from Cisco (introducing Dr. Alchemy), who seems to be a little more like his adorably witty self. Barry tells the team that he thinks everyone who had powers in flashpoint will get them in reality (which means more Kid Flash!). The team is determined to find Dr. Alchemy before he can change anyone else.
In forgiveness news, the team tells Barry that they don’t want to know about their past lives -- complete with Cisco channeling Harry by stating “What’s the point, Allen?”. Of course, this means that Wally won’t know about the possibility of him becoming a speedster.
After the West family leaves, Barry tells Cisco that he’d love for them to team up again in the future. Although Cisco still isn’t quite ready for that level of bromance, he teases the future partnership by telling Barry that he might be ready someday. And I think we all agree that it would be “pretty bitchin’”.
Barry tells Caitlin that she has nothing to worry about. He says that, in flashpoint, Caitlin seemed to be the least affected (aside from a vocational change, that is). As Barry leaves, Caitlin reveals that she didn’t quite escape unscathed in this reality. Looks like Killer Frost might be making another appearance soon.
Back at CCPD, Julian confronts Barry about stealing the sample. He tells him that he doesn’t trust him and that he doesn’t like things he can’t trust. Julian says that he knows something is off about Barry, even if he’s the only one who can see it.
At the West house, Barry and Iris have another moment on the porch. Barry asks Iris again if she wants to know about flashpoint, but she says that, no matter what happens, they’ll always find each other. Nothing else really matters. Finally (you know, again), they kiss, and it looks like West-Allen might actually be a thing this season!
We end, like last episode, with Clariss and Alchemy. Dr. Alchemy tells Clariss that he failed and expresses his discontent in a pretty nasty way. Not sure we’ll be seeing much of the Rival in the future. Pity ... he was starting to grow on me.
This episode was pretty darn incredible! Although I missed the usual witty banter between Barry and Cisco, it was great to see Cisco play something more than the comic relief again. Not for the first time, the audience got to see just how great Carlos Valdes is and how versatile he can be as an actor. Shout out to Tom Felton for making an amazing enemy for Barry, although I’m hoping that will eventually turn into a frenemy arrangement. If not, hey!, we all know Felton is great at playing the bad guy (*cough* Draco *cough* “My father will hear about this!” *cough*). In any case, there is so much I’m looking forward to about this season that I don’t know what to do! And, who knows?, maybe that incredible crossover episode will include some Vibe, Kid Flash, and Jesse Quick action! Is it next Tuesday yet?
But enough about me! How did you feel about this episode? Tweet us your responses and predictions!