'The Flash' season 3 premiere recap: seeing the world that could have been in "Flashpoint"


If you had the chance to change your fate, would you? In the season three premiere of the CW's The Flash, Barry Allen learned that getting the life you always wanted isn't what it's cracked up to be. "Flashpoint" shows us a world that could have been, but most definitely shouldn't be.

(Editor's note: Spoilers ahead for the second season and third season premiere of The Flash.)

At the end of season two, after losing his father, Barry Allen made the brash decision to go back to the night his mother was killed and stop Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse Flash, from setting everything into motion. In "Flashpoint," we see that it worked. 

Allen travels back to the future, with Thawne as his captive, and finds his parents alive. But the red-suited hero discovers that getting what you want comes at a cost, including losing your speed, losing your girlfriend and making all of your friends alone and miserable. 

The episode picks up three months into Barry Allen's stay inside the "Flashpoint" alternate universe. Barry lives an inconspicuous, cheerful life at home with his now-alive parents, but after he decides to ask out Iris and unmask Kid Flash (surprise, it's Wally!), Barry's idyllic life starts to unravel.

Living in a forced alternate universe comes with some downsides, apparently. Thawne warned Barry time will catch up with him, and indeed it does. Every time Barry uses his speed, he loses memories of his old life. As if that weren't crushing enough, Thawne then informs him that he could lose his abilities and the old timeline altogether if he keeps it up.

Meanwhile, another sinister speedster, The Rival, has been terrorizing Central City, and Kid Flash can't defeat him. Barry is forced to get the team back together, which means revealing himself to Iris and Wally, enlisting Cisco and sort-of kidnapping Caitlyn. Together, they defeat the Rival, but only after Joe shows up and puts a bullet in the dude's back. 

Like last season's Earth Two, the alternate "Flashpoint" timeline gives the cast opportunities to play variations on their characters. Carlos Valdes gets the most to do as Cisco, who in this world is a tech billionaire and owner of Ramon Industries formerly known as STAR labs. This Cisco is a pompous, trumped up version of the geek we know and love. Jesse L. Martin's Joe is an irresponsible drunk for reasons unknown. Caitlyn, as played by Danielle Panabaker, is a bewildered children's eye doctor. Keiynan Lonsdale finally gets to suit up as Kid Flash, which the show had been hinting at since his entrance. Interestingly, Tom Cavanagh's Harrison Wells is nowhere to be found.

With the show hitting the reset button at the end of season two, it seemed like we'd be in the "Flashpoint" universe for all of season three, effectively erasing two seasons of character development. Thankfully, the alternate timeline is a mostly contained stunt. Barry frees Thawne at the end of the episode, and the two travel back to the past to kill Barry's mother. Barry goes back to the future after that and everything was back to almost normal. 

Before zooming off, Thawne warns Barry his decision to reboot time and then put it back will have ripple effects. Sure enough, Iris and Joe aren't talking, for some reason. Bringing the show back to its main timeline but messing around with the continuity, there is a more sustainable path forward than erasing everything. It'll be interesting to see how Barry doles out information from the "Flashpoint" timeline and how his actions affect the rest of the characters. 

But what the hell is "Alchemy?" The episode ends with a stinger that showed Edward Clariss (the Rival) waking up to the sound of an ominous voice and a message scratched into his mirror: "Alchemy." This may be a nod to The Flash comic book villain Doctor Alchemy, though it's unclear whether Clariss will assume the role of Dr. Alchemy or is simply receiving a message from him.

"Flashpoint" gives Barry the opportunity to see what his life could have been and allowed him to come to peace with the life he has. The episode itself references It's A Wonderful Life, and that really says it all. In the end, Barry is ready to say goodbye to his parents and set the world back to how it should be. But all actions have consequences.