The Flash: “Paradox”

flashseason3

Jim’s Thoughts

The Flash gave us another watchable episode this week. True, Flash didn’t have as steep a hill to climb to get back there as Arrow does, but it’s nice to see at least an okay start to the season.

What’s interesting here is it looks like the show is trying to address some of what started showing its weakness last season. Kyle and I have criticized Flash on several occasions for leaning too hard on the time travel/alternate reality mechanic. It’s killed a lot of tension in the show, and this episode brought Jay Garrick in to tell Barry he needed to quit messing with the timeline. The broken cup example was weak, and the dialogue was on the nose, but if the end result is the show picks a reality and sticks with it, it’ll have done its job.

The funny part of this “no more do-overs” speech is seeing how the show is giving itself a giant do-over with the villain. Last season, Zoom was presented as a fantastic nemesis. He was legitimately disturbing, and when he was unmasked and shown to be a love-sick Hunter Zolomon puppy, it was ruined. Dr. Alchemy reminds me a lot of Zoom, his voice, his presentation, his big plan involving other rogues, and it feels like the show wants Alchemy to be their do-over from Zoom. Here’s hoping they don’t botch it this time.

The Iris storyline is still boring me, but there’s a segment of the fanbase that watches for the romance (*cough* TUMBLR cough*), so I can live with it having a place on the show. The only problem will come if they start pandering to that demographic like Arrow did by making last season all about Felicity.

The teaser about Snow becoming Frost was interesting, and they’ve certainly more than hinted that some transformations are on their way. This risks overcrowding the screen again, so let’s hope Barry doesn’t disappear in his own series.

Tom Felton (you know him as Draco from Harry Potter) debuted properly this week, and I think it was a strong performance on his part. It’s a chance for interesting character moments at Central City PD, so let’s hope he gets more to do, and that side of the series gets some build to it.

As with a lot of the personal conflicts on this show, the team’s ability to put grudges aside was rushed and handled badly. That’s a common problem with CW programs, they just don’t seem to understand how anger works in human beings. I’ve come to expect it now, but it’s still worth mentioning.

Kyle’s Take

I was wrong last week: wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

That was Rival (the third version of Reverse-Flash/Zoom in bed and Doctor Alchemy whispering to him). I had no idea Dr. Alchemy was a cross between Zoom and a Pokemon. His dialogue played like a possessed Pikachu. Alca—alca—alca—Me!

In all seriousness, I agree with Jim that Alchemy is a step in the right direction. I’d even say that he borrows from Zoom (the voice and presentation) and Reverse-Flash (working behind the scenes and transforming others into meta-humans), and those are two great developments. Go back to when two main villains worked.

We haven’t seen the last of time jumps this season. Barry feels guilty for altering history and in effect, killing Cisco’s brother. The Flash will also have to deal with Caitlin as Killer Frost and that will most likely result in The Flash turning back time. What Flash has done is hint that there will be greater consequences (besides Time Wraiths) when Barry does time jump—it’s no accident that Jay Garrick’s appearance resembled a Time Wraith. I might be okay with continued time jumps this season in regards to Barry developing as a character (he should retain knowledge of these timelines) but that’ll kill any character development for everyone else. But Flash appears to be settling on a timeline, or at least getting close to one it can live with, and if the consequences are dire enough, Barry won’t be time jumping in the future.

I’m also tired of the Iris love story—it’s the least interesting part of the show for me—but Flash is a CW show and there has to be some romantic angle, no matter how inert. Part of the mind-numbness of the Iris love story can be blamed on all the time-jumping. As soon as Flash settles on a timeline, the Iris storyline could have space to grow. We’ll see.

We’ll also see if Flash can produce normal human interaction with its characters. All conflicts (animosity among characters) were smoothed out too quickly. This is another reason why I think Flash will time jump again soon. If these versions are the characters the show is settling on, why did the show drop the tension? Of course, I mentioned The Flash’s inability to build tension last week. This is not a new problem.

Overall, “Paradox” was an enjoyable episode with some minor hiccups. I’m excited to see what happens next—so much so that I’m including a conjecture section.

Conjecture

I tend to be wrong because I read the tea leaves a lot. I added this section so I can delineate when I’m stating fact (or my opinion on actual show developments) and when I’m looking to the future. Since this is a look at a possible timeline, a potential spoiler alert is in order.

According to inside sources, this season of The Flash will be broken into two parts and each part will have its own antagonist. The first half (before the mid-season break) will feature Doctor Alchemy—we know Dr. Alchemy’s the main antagonist for at least the time being, so this tracks—and the second half (after the mid-season break) will showcase The Black Racer.

Remember when I said that The Flash set up greater consequences in regards to time traveling during “Paradox?” Well, The Black Racer is the Flash version of death and chases down speedsters for various reasons. One of those reasons could be changing the timeline too much. If this is the case, consider The Black Racer as a 1,000 Time Wraiths merging to form Death.

As far as Julian Albert (Tom Felton) is concerned, I agree with Jim that he did a good job and earned a larger role, but I included Albert here because it’s obvious that Felton is Doctor Alchemy.

The Flash had Dr. Wells tracking meta-humans in season one, and Albert’s doing that here. Albert is also the third nipple, a character who sticks out and doesn’t belong, like Jay Garrick (Hunter Zoloman/Zoom) from last season. Albert’s character name was originally Julian Dorn, but The Flash wanted to honor the source material by naming him Julian Albert and the only Flash rogue named Albert is Doctor Alchemy—but you can call him Al. And finally, the item that powers Doctor Alchemy is a philosopher’s stone, and the Harry Potter franchise has some history with philosopher’s stones. (That makes me wonder why the American version of Harry Potter’s first novel was changed to the Sorcerer’s Stone, when Dr. Alchemy predates the Harry Potter series by several decades.) It’s almost type-casting for Felton.

That’s all I have this week. Thank for you for reading.

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